How to View Your Data Without Being Tethered to a Laptop

Have you thought about presenting using a tablet or your phone?

Lisa B. Marshall,
December 21, 2015

A reader recently asked me an interesting question about how to more easily utilize technology in his presentations.

Hi Lisa -

I am a regular listener of your podcast and subscriber to your newsletter. I give presentations to large audiences with PowerPoint slide decks, sometimes on projection screens that are out of my view or would require me to turn away from the audience to read my own slides. Because the material is often very technical and frequently updated, memorizing isn’t an option.

I want to move about the stage and down into the audience more. What I need is a software/hardware function, and I’m hoping you can suggest something that works well. I want to be able to view my PowerPoint slides and control the progress through the slide decks from my hand-held tablet (iPad) to control the presentation laptop as I move around. Any suggestions?

Bill P

Thanks for the question, Bill! You are clearly an excellent presenter, since you realize that a good presenter doesn’t turn away from his listeners to read his slides. I’ll address the question about hardware, but then make a few other suggestions that might be helpful.

There are apps available that are compatible with iPhone and iPad which give you complete control of your PowerPoint from your hand, while anywhere in the room. You can even see your slides from your hand—although, with technical data, you may find it difficult to see the details. Two that I have found are called MyPoint PowerPoint Presentation Pro and iClickr Remote for PowerPoint. There may be others with a variety of features, but that should get you started. But I have to say that I haven't used those tools ... why? Because in general I prefer simpler more reliable approaches.  

As an alternative, you can ask for a monitor to be set up for you. Most larger venues have this function built in. Your slides will be projected to a large monitor that is on the floor in front of the stage. If you look closely at TED Talks, you can often see the monitor on the floor. This can work well, but again, if the slide is data intensive, you may not be able to see the details you need from a distance (although, if the slides are done properly that shouldn’t be a problem!)

Again, in my experience, however, tech solutions aren't always reliable, and I wouldn't risk having tech as your only option for the presentation. I can’t tell you how many times I was told I would have WiFi, or a monitor, or a some special accomodation that just didn't pan out. I was very glad I had backup.

So for backup, and for those who are not as tech savvy as you are, I’d like to make a couple suggestions:

The easiest way would be to simply create a PDF of your presentation. Just turn your favorite slides into PDFs and download to your iPad. This way you can see the details on your ipad as you move around.  But, in this case you still have to carry the clicker with you. If you are using the iPad for every slide, it could get awkward; but for a few key slides, it would work just fine.  

Another option is to just print out your slides so you have them in your hands. In this case, you really won't be able to do this with every slide, so just choose your top three to five, the most important ones that really make your presentation move forward. This way you can still move closer to your audeince when it really counts. I like this solution becuase even if all technology fails, print outs ensure you'll always have access to the detailed data.

Another option is to put the three key printouts on the front seats in the audience. (People rarely sit in the front row.) You can tape them to the backrest,  lie them on the seats, or put them on the table. When you’re walking across the front of the room, looking oh-so-casual and mobile, you won’t have anything in your hands and you’ll look like you have it all in your head. And yet, with a glance that they won’t notice, you’ll see your prompts on the seats in front of you. Works like a charm!

I hope this is helpful! I do understand that a technology solution is "cooler," but for me, until these systems are more reliable, I prefer not to take the risk. Let me know what you try and how it works for you.

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business

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