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Presenting with the iPad

Joe Kissell, | May 10, 2011
Dreaming of the day you can leave the heavy laptop behind and give all your presentations from your iPad? Joe Kissell explores how the newest mobile version of Keynote and the iPad 2 change what's possible.

Apple’s $10 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.

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 of $3 to $6 per month. (For more transfer tips, see “Move files between your iPad and Mac.”)


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.


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