Presentation tools: what we learn from overhead projectors (Video)

Showzone Team

In this Showzone episode, Nicolas discusses the value and lessons we can learn from the overhead projector, a once ubiquitous presentation tool.


Despite its outdated reputation, Nicolas highlights the benefits of this device, such as its reliability, ease of use, natural operation, and the fact that it allows presenters to face the audience while in use.

In an effort to replicate these advantages with modern technology, Nicolas suggests incorporating a webcam feed into presentations. He demonstrates how to set up a webcam to point downwards at a desk, and incorporate its feed into PowerPoint presentations, providing an overhead view similar to the old projector.

Nicolas concludes that this a simple and cost-effective method can add a dynamic element to presentations and maintain audience engagement.

Video Transcription

Hello! I am Nicolas from Showzone and today we will be talking about what we can learn from this old device right here, the overhead projector. Perhaps you remember the overhead projector. It has been a helpful presenting tool and has lasted well into the digital age. Even with one still standing in a corner in your conference room, I would personally refrain from using it in a business setting.

Marshall McLuhan, a communication theorist, famously stated in the 1960s: &rquo;The medium is the message&lquo;. The act of using an overhead projector in itself tells something to your audience. For me, the use of the overhead projector would make the presenting feel a bit old-timey. If you still use it wear a jacket with elbow patches to complete the look!

But what can we learn from the overhead projector? What made presenting with an overhead projector great?

I really like the reliability and the ease of use of the device. Point at a wall, flip a switch, good to go. Then I like how it feels natural to operate. One can sit and use a marker for more exact drawings than when standing in front of a whiteboard. And the main benefit that I see is that the speaker still faces the audience when using it. The connection is not lost. No turning one's back.

Can we get those benefits with today's tools? Yes, incorporating a video feed into your presentation is surprisingly simple. Only need is a webcam and a stand and you are ready to go. Both items can be purchased for cheap or borrowed.

There is a conference room across the hall. Let's go set it up! Place the stand over a desk and attach the webcam to point downwards at the table. On your computer I will show you how to add the webcam feed on a PowerPoint slide but there are other options such as Apple QuickTime.

Here, in PowerPoint, we have three slides. On the second slide I would like to have the video now in the insert ribbon of PowerPoint. Select ”Cameo“ and place it. Then you can select the camera drop-down to use your webcam. The great thing here like with the overhead projector is that I can switch to an overhead view, yet still keep a connection together with my audience. Quickly making a drawing changes the pace of the presentation a little and brings back the attention of your audience.

In summary, this is a fairly simple and cheap way to give your presentations more pizzazz. If you have tried this approach or something similar? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below. That is all from me today thanks for listening and may your next presentation be amazing!

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