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The iPad is a presenter’s Godsend

iPad is my new full time presentation laptop.

I’ve given over a hundred presentations using slideware programs like PowerPoint or Keynote (Apple’s software). Every one of those was run off of a laptop. Except for the last two.

Those last two were done off of an iPad using Apple’s Keynote app ($9.99). Those presentations were so much easier to set up and run that I will never use a laptop again. Okay, maybe in a rare case. Otherwise I’m sticking with the smaller, lighter, easier-to-set-up device. Most people who present should immediately ditch PowerPoint and get an iPad and create presentations on that device. Here’s why.

Getting a computer set up for a slideshow is still a daunting proposition. I’m tech-savvy, and it always sets me on edge when I have to set up. Over the years I’ve gotten good at trouble-shooting, but danger is always close at hand.

The main problem is getting the display settings right. Then there’s the trick where you have to find the Play button on the laptop which is bridling with new display settings and making it harder for you to find things after they’ve been resized. The iPad doesn’t present any of these issues.

Here’s how it works with the iPad. You plop it on the podium; you connect the VGA connector to the special iPad adapter (~$30 from Apple); you press Play on the iPad. If you’ve charged your iPad there’s no need to supply electricity; it has plenty of juice for hours of presentation.

The most recent version of Keynote for the iPad is plenty powerful for some really sophisticated presentations. I usually embed movie clips in my slide. Keynote on the iPad handles this flawlessly. The last slide deck I used was over 110 Mbs; no problem.

Sadly (not really) you can’t run PowerPoint files on the iPad. But you can use the desktop version of Keynote to convert them, and that’s what you should do. Now. Before your next presentation. PowerPoint stinks. And running it off of a laptop is a sign that you’re not right with God.

Okay, I’ll have to confess the iPad isn’t perfect. Two problems: (1) the audio out jack seems not to work when you’re showing a movie clip that has sound; and (2) you can’t use a portable clicker to advance the slides.

But there are workarounds. For the audio issue I just let the iPad external speaker play and hold a mic near it. That works perfectly, and gives me precise audio control (by moving the mic closer or farther). The remote advance is not solvable to my satisfaction, but the benefits of the iPad are so great that I don’t care. To advance slides remotely you can use the iPhone Keynote remote ($.99) but this isn’t elegant. At least not to me. So, I just stand at the podium, or walk over to it, when I want to advance a slide.

More benefits? Yes indeed.

The iPad displays the time at the top of the screen, and will also display notes or the next slide. You set this up easily and quickly (more so than on a laptop) from the presentation screen. Also, jumping ahead to a slide several slides farther down is a snap. You just tap the left hand side of the screen to pull up a slide tray and then tap the slide you want to jump to. The audience never sees anything but the next slide (as though it was the one next in line and a natural transition occurred).

To advance slides naturally just tap anywhere on the screen (except the leftmost side, which pulls up the aforementioned jump tray). You can swipe if you want to go back, but it’s usually better to use the slide tray.

Getting used to the iPad to actually demo takes a little practice. Getting used to setting it up takes no effort at all. And dispensing with the the trauma of potential pitfalls is the reason that most presenters need to investigate this new tool ASAP! Seriously. The iPad rocks for presenting.


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to join my inner circle.
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