Presenting with the iPad

Joe Kisell
11 May, 2011
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Apple’s $12.99 Keynote for iPad lacks many of the snazzier features found in the desktop version of the product. But the program has improved markedly since its initial release, now giving you much better control of a presentation without requiring you to look at an external display. You can give impressive presentations from your iPad and perhaps even leave your laptop behind‚ if you prepare well and know what to expect. Get your presentation ready Keynote on the iPad can import presentations made in Microsoft PowerPoint or in Keynote for OS X, but in both cases you’re likely to lose a great deal during the import process. Say goodbye to some fonts, transitions, and builds that aren’t available on the iPad, plus audio and more. (Presenter notes are now supported, however, whether created on the iPad or imported from a PowerPoint or Keynote for Mac presentation.) Therefore, when feasible, create your presentation directly on the iPad. If you intend to use graphics in your presentation, prepare them in advance on your Mac (Apple recommends PNG format) and sync them to your iPad using iTunes. To avoid losing data during import, create your presentations directly on the iPad using one of Apple’s standard themes. If you do use Keynote on a Mac, be sure to read Apple’s Best Practices for creating a presentation on a Mac for use on an iPad, which guides you in selecting compatible templates, fonts, and other features. The usual way to move the presentation onto your iPad is to open iTunes, select your iPad, click on the Apps tab, and select Keynote. Drag your presentation to the Keynote Documents list. Then open Keynote on your iPad, go to the Document Manager (if it’s not already visible), tap the folder icon in the upper-right corner, and then tap your presentation. A service called DropDAV makes this process simpler by enabling Keynote users to connect to Dropbox via WebDAV. The service is free for users of free Dropbox accounts; those with paid Dropbox accounts must pay a nominal fee. Use an external display If your audience is very small – perhaps you’re showing your portfolio to a potential client or giving your boss a quick demo – you could show your presentation on the iPad itself, albeit without the help of presenter notes. But you’re more likely to hook your iPad up to a projector or other display. To do so, you’ll need an appropriate adapter, which plugs into your iPad’s dock-connector port on one end and the video input on the other. You’ll get the best results (and the highest resolution) using a display or projector with either the Apple Digital AV Adapter (for displays with HDMI inputs) or the Apple VGA Adapter (for displays with VGA inputs). If you’re connecting to a television with neither HDMI nor VGA inputs, you can instead use the Apple Component AV Cable or the  Apple Composite AV Cable, as appropriate, although both offer lower resolution than the Digital AV and VGA adapters. With an iPad 2, either the Digital AV or VGA adapter lets your iPad mirror everything from its internal screen onto the external display, which may be useful if you want your presentation to include demonstrations of other iPad apps or content that’s not within Keynote itself. However, note that on the original iPad, where mirroring is unavailable, Keynote itself produces no external video signal until you tap the Play button (which is probably what you want anyway). Don’t let this confuse you when you’re setting up for your presentation and initially see no video on your external display. If possible, when using an iPad with an external display, set your iPad on a lectern or table and keep it stationary during the presentation. It’s cumbersome to hold an iPad that’s tethered to a display, and if you get too animated with your hand gestures, you run the risk of the cable falling out (or tugging at the display). If that’s not possible, try to use an extra-long video cable to maximize your range of movement. Control the presentation Once you tap Play, you can use your iPad to control the presentation as well as provide extra hints for yourself (a cheat sheet, if you will) that the audience won’t see. In the earliest releases of Keynote for iPad, if you had an external display connected, you couldn’t see your presentation on the iPad’s screen itself; the iPad functioned only as a remote control, and you had to position yourself to see the external display. Fortunately, in version 1.3 and later, you have several options for displaying your presentation plus presenter notes on the iPad. To change what’s on the iPad’s screen when using an external display, tap the Layouts icon and then one of the follow buttons: Current (the current build of the slide as shown on the external display), Next (the next build, which may or may not be the next slide), Current and Next (current and next builds side by side), or Current and Notes (current build and any accompanying presenter notes). This final layout is the only one to display presenter notes, but you can supplement it by tapping the button in the upper left corner to display a list of slide thumbnails, which can aid in navigation (tap a thumbnail to jump directly to that slide). In the Current and Notes layout, you can see presenter notes underneath your slides. The thumbnails on the left are optional. To advance to the next build or slide, tap once anywhere, or swipe toward the left. To go back, swipe toward the right. A nice extra in Keynote for the iPad is a “laser pointer”: Touch and hold on the iPad’s screen to show a red dot, which moves with your finger on the main display. Lift your finger and the dot disappears. This is very useful when you want to call attention to a particular area of a slide. To end the presentation (and turn off Keynote’s video output), tap the Close icon.

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