You stand at the front of the room to make your presentation, but this time it’s different: You are doing it all with your iPad! With a little preparation and practice, you can use your iPad as a sleek, subtle tool to educate and convince your audiences—without a supporting IT cast. As always using your iPad instead of the technology you’ve grown comfortable with comes with a few challenges.
Challenges and Solutions for Presenting with an iPad
The hurdles of presenting on your iPad can all be overcome with apps, practice and maybe a few adjustments to how you work. Let’s take the challenges one by one.
1. There is no PowerPoint for iPad. If you are creating presentations on a PC, you are probably using Microsoft PowerPoint and will have to convert your presentation so it can be used on an iPad, which will likely require some cleanup. You may also find that the app you use to show your presentation doesn’t let you edit the presentation on your iPad as you would on your PC. Here are a few solutions:
- Avoid conversion issues by keeping your presentation’s fonts, transitions and animations relatively simple, and if you embed media, make sure it’s in a format the iPad can display.
- Allow extra time after you’ve finished your presentation on the PC and opened it on your iPad to identify and resolve any conversion issues.
- Use a presentation app (like the free SlideShark app) that presents few or no conversion issues and allows you to change the order of the slides in your presentation on the fly.
- Avoid the conversion process completely by writing your presentation on the iPad with one of the more fully-featured presentation writing and editing apps, like Apple’s Keynote.
2. Your iPad may not display everything the same way your computer does. When your computer is hooked up to a projector, you can use the screen to mirror whatever you are doing on your computer screen, in addition to displaying the content of your presentation. The same is not necessarily true on your iPad. Depending on the iPad model, your connection and the apps you’re using, you may only be able to display the content of your presentations, and not necessarily mirror what you’re doing live on the screen. (For example, you might be able to show a PDF of a signed contract, but not draw a circle around the liquidated damages clause.) Here the solution lies in carefully planning and practice. Practice everything you plan to do during your presentation with both wired and wireless VGA and HDMI connections to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
3. You may be Internet-dependent. Some presentation apps require that you convert your presentation through their corporate servers, but that may not be appropriate for some client materials. Other apps may show your presentation in a list on your iPad, but may not store a copy of the presentation locally, even if you’ve opened it and flipped through the slides. Or, if you plan to present wirelessly, you may need some level of Internet access to accomplish that, too.
- If your Internet issue is client confidentiality, the solution is either to remove the confidential material from your presentation or use an app that does not process your presentation on its servers.
- To make sure that your presentation is really on your iPad, use an app that lets you confirm that your presentation is saved locally, usually by marking it as a favorite, and then try running your presentation with your iPad’s Wi-Fi setting turned off.
- If you’ll need to present wirelessly, make sure your iPad has its own 3G or 4G connection, or get a personal WiFi hotspot that you have tested and know will work when you need it.
4. You are your own IT crew. If the upside to presenting with an iPad is saving the expense of a supporting crew, the corresponding downside is that you must be able to hook everything up and resolve all of your own technical glitches. That means dealing with any issues caused by your hosts’ inexperience connecting iPads to their presentation systems, too. Here are ways to avoid iPad presentation glitches.
- Remember to change your iPad’s Auto Lock setting to “Never,” and turn off all notifications in the Settings menu before you start your presentation to avoid any unwanted interruptions.
- Be prepared to hook your iPad up to a projector with either a VGA or an HDMI connection. Bonus tip: If your host’s projector has a separate audio hookup, plug that into your iPad’s headphone jack, too, even if your presentation doesn’t include audio, to avoid creating extra hiss.
- If you’re planning to present wirelessly, bring adapter cords so you’re not stranded if the WiFi wimps out.
- Consider using an iPad handle attachment that will let you secure the adapter cord to the back of the iPad, so the cord doesn’t slip out while you’re presenting.
- Make sure your iPad’s battery has plenty of juice, because you cannot charge while an adapter cord is plugged in.
- Have the same backup plans you’d have if you were presenting with a computer. Put a backup copy of your presentation on a thumb drive or somewhere you can get to it on the Internet. Take paper copies of the most important slides. Best of all, bring a knowledge of your material so complete that no technological glitch can stop you from your mission.
Finally, the best way to solve any presentation problem? As the old joke goes, “Practice, practice, practice!”
Carol J. Gerber is the Owner and Founder of Gerber Amalgamated LLC, a legal technology consulting company devoted to helping attorneys make better use of technology in their practices. Carol’s class, Practicing Law with an iPad,” has been approved for 1 credit by the New York State CLE Board and can be customized for your firm or legal department.