Presentation Technology

Present wirelessly with your iPad, iPhone or tablet – Go on! it’s not so hard

I saw a guy speak at a high profile conference last year. He was rubbish. His speech was dire, full of cliches and devoid of a point. He was smug, hard to hear, harder to listen to and he went on for 20 minutes beyond his allotted time. I hated him, his skinny jeans, and his message. But as I went out to the cold coffee and lukewarm pastries at the longed for break, I listened to the crowd.  They had absolutely loved him.

”That was so cool. How did he do that? I have to know how that works…” Adulation.  I kept my own counsel and thought about it.

None of the people were talking about his speech content. They were all talking about the technology that he used. He used his iPhone and iPad wirelessly to show his Keynote slides and link to live Twitter feeds, website demonstrations and YouTube clips.  And, that, he did do well- it was impressive even though the point he was trying to make with all that information was…

But I guess as as he was CTO (I can think of my own acronym – it would be Cocksure Tech Oik) of a famous technology company, he did succeed where many others failed. He wowed the crowd with his technological cleverness  and that was the message he left with them.  I thought ‘berk’, the rest of the crowd thought ‘God’. So I’m wrong here, I admit it, OK?

But being wrong, did make me think. I thought if he’d have had a brilliant speech, and delivered it as competently as he did the crappy one, even I’d have wanted to marry him at the end. So why can’t I accept that technology, used well, can make a good speaker even better, and a poor speaker seem much more relevant and capable than he really is? So I decided to use his example as one for the competent speaker to use to bolster their credibility and impact through the deliberate adoption of the most modern technology. Yes, that means smartphones and tablets as our tools of choice.

It’s so easy to take to the podium with these newer bits of kit- like Apple’s ‘AirPlay mirroring’- that there’s really no excuse for the professional speaker not to, so if you’re tempted to ‘up your game’, and use your iPad and iPhone – like gadgets for your PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi presentations, this article is for you.  And just to reassure you, the technology is so good that you don’t even need to be a CTO to set it up. When you’ve done it, you can perhaps even leave your laptop behind on your next business trip‚ if you prepare well and know what to expect. In the following posts We’ll look at 3 options- 1) Safe, wired. 2) Wireless via Apple airplay 3) Wireless via similar technology, but not Apple.


Option 1 – Safe Keynote App and iPad/iPhone for PowerPoint, Keynote & Prezi

The easiest way to present with an iPad or iPhone is to use the tool and Apple’s apps, wired to an external display. Apple’s Keynote for iOS 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 supported, however, whether created on the iPad or imported from a PowerPoint or Keynote for Mac presentation.)

If you are going to present like this, it’s probably worth building your presentation directly on the iPad, but you don’t have to.  If you’re using Prezi, the new desktop app makes the downloading from your account on, syncing and presenting as easy as pie.  Prezi is also built for multiple platforms and so the iPad/iPhone and android apps all work really well.  But if you’re presenting when wired to the projector or TV, the only real benefit to you is that you don’t have to take your laptop. S it’s probably not worth all the effort.

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. Once you’ve created your presentation, you need to move it to your iPad. Although the iOS version of Keynote supports iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud feature, which automatically syncs documents on all your iOS devices with Apple’s servers, and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion does now have access to iCloud’s Documents in the Cloud. So transferring is relatively easy to do.

If you don’t use iCloud, another 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. Or, if you want the convenience of cloud-based syncing without iCloud, a service called DropDAV ($5 per month) enables Keynote users to connect to Dropbox ( ) via WebDAV.

One note: If you’ve already created a presentation in PowerPoint, also take a look at SlideShark, a free (and £45 ($64) paid for a much better version)  iPad and iPhone app for viewing and displaying PowerPoint presentations. It’s not perfect, but it does a better job supporting PowerPoint documents than any other app I’ve seen.

Use an external display

You can, of course, use the iPad as a standalone, if your audience is very small—perhaps you’re showing your product to a potential client or giving your boss a quick demo—you can show your presentation on the iPad itself, albeit without the presenter notes-mbut just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I hate to use iPad for that 1-1 show as the screens really too small to show anything but the best made, graphic rich, text lite presentations. But you’re more likely to prefer using a projector, TV or other display tool.

Plug it in –  The simplest and most common way to connect iPad and/or iPhone to the external display is to plug a video adapter into your iPad’s Dock connector, and then connect that to your display. The main problem with this cabled approach is that it’s hard to walk around without losing the cable and looking like an idiot.  But if you’re OK with limiting your mobility as you speak,  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).

But be careful when you buy any of the cables.  There are hundreds of them so make sure that the adapter you buy is for your version of the iPad and/or iPhone. Here are the adapters on Amazon for the later generation Iphone (5 onwards) and iPad (2.0 onwards).

Also remember that if you have an element of sound in your presentations, the HDMI cable will transfer sound and video, while the VGA approach requires you to connect your iPad using the minijack (or headphone jack) to an external amplification system to hear the audio, which is a pain in the neck.

Mirror a newer iPad

With an iPad 2 or later, either the HDMI (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 1.0, where mirroring is unavailable, Keynote produces no external video signal until you tap the Play button (which is probably what you want anyway).


Option 2 – Wireless Presenting with iPad & iPhone

If you prefer to roam across the stage holding your iPad or iPhone while you speak, which does- when all goes well- add a certain panache to most speakers; you can send your presentation’s audio and video wirelessly using AirPlay mirroring—provided you have an iPad 2 or later running at least iOS 5.

To pull off this trick, you’ll need an AirPlay receiver connected to the projector or display and on the same Wi-Fi network as your iPad. Apple’s Apple TV can serve this purpose, if you happen to have one handy- and I bought one and the HDMI cables needed from Amazon last week for less than £150 ($200) all in.

Alternatively, assuming a Mac or PC is available, you can install either of two similar utilities: AirServer (Mac version, £10 ($15); Windows version, £6 ($8) or AirSquirrels’ Reflection – Mac only,£10 ($15). Either of these apps can turn a computer into an AirPlay receiver, no Apple TV required. They even support displaying screens from multiple iOS devices at the same time. So there’s no good technical reason to avoid doing it.

Once your AirPlay receiver is set up, you can mirror your iPad’s display by double-pressing the Home button, swiping the multitasking bar toward the right, and tapping the AirPlay button. Tap the name of the device you want to use for mirroring and then set the Mirroring switch to On. Here’s a simple video to demonstrate…

Practice at home or in the office

The great thing about all of this wireless (and wired) technology is that you can practice setting it up in your home or office in advance of your venue, and I’d recommend that you do just this.  It’ll pay off when you arrive at the venue.  And remember that the organiser, your client, and the audience will blame the presenter for his ineptitude if the technology doesn’t work.

Talk to the conference organiser well before the event

Finally, it’s worth talking to the conference organiser and/or the the support before the event to make sure that they can live with you requests for access. This is getting more and more important as companies get more and more paranoid about security. Even loading your slides or worse, Prezi is difficult with weeks notice, and impossible on the day.

I was doing a series of speeches at a global bank you’ll have heard of last month, and it took 3 weeks to get a guest wireless login to allow me to set up my wireless system. My client at the bank was technically unskilled, so the only person I could talk to was the tech support guy, who was absolutely brilliant. He’d set everything up, tested it, stress tested it and was all ready for me so all I had to do was turn up and speak. The VP from that business who followed me though had done nothing. So as he started to present he realised that he had the wrong set of slides and no way of changing slides as he spoke. So he had a fit, then a meltdown and left.  He looked like what he was on that day. Unprofessional, bad-tempered and second-rate.

Always take a backup

Even though I’m pushing you to try this new technology, you should take care. I do. I’m a speaker and my client has paid a lot of money to get me and their people there, and so I should make sure that I have a backup should the main system fail.  For me that backup takes 2 forms.

  1. All my stuff on a laptop, logged in and ready to go.
  2. The ability to do it all without any visual support.

So when, as happened only last week, all of my planning fails to stop a technical failure, I can simply smile, plug in my backup and carry on as if nothing has happened.

And that ability to say what you want to say, in a way that adds confidence, certainty and panache to the message, is what we’re after isn’t it. And that’s why you should at least consider expanding your skills and setting yourself free by present at the leading edge of technology. Why? Because there’s no doubt, when done well, it adds impact to you and your message.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top