technology, hospitality, and plumbing…

Tips for iPad Presentations

In General on August 28, 2010 at 16:39

Keynote on iPadSince the iPad came out, it’s become a must-have for hoteliers. Seduced by the wow-factor, they saw instantly how they could use it as a marquee item in their properties.

Sales teams and managers also saw how they could be used as tool for presentations: have you been to a conference recently and not seen lots of people armed with iPads? Thought not.

Consequently, in my day job at Keen, i’m seeing a lot of clients asking for iPad presentations. I’ve already discussed the downsides to producing iPad and iPhone apps (cost, cost, cost!). The conclusion there was to focus on building mobile internet sites. However, given that conferences often offer only patchy WiFi coverage (meaning a web-based presentation may not be ideal), we’re left with one practical solution: Keynote for iPad.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Keynote is to Apple what PowerPoint is to Microsoft — the flagship presentation product. Keynote has the advantage in lots of ways, and you’ve really got to thank Steve Jobs for this — he had this developed to satisfy his needs when presenting his Apple keynotes. At US$9.99, the Keynote app is a bargain!

So what is there to watch out for? Here’s my list, based on recent experience.

Getting Started
The best, best, best way to create the presentation is on a Mac, using Keynote. Although you can create using the iPad itself, it will drive you nuts, believe me. So, if you don’t have a Mac, borrow one, or get some help from someone who does, and you will finish the presentation so much quicker. Concentrate on the basics, the text, the images, the sequence of slides, etc, and once on the iPad, take care of transitions and other goodies. For you PC users, you can also create the presentation in PowerPoint on your PC, and import in the same way, although you may need to do some reformatting.

Size Matters!
The iPad screen is 1024×768 pixels, so preparing the images before hand, so they fit this exactly, will allow great fullscreen images which are crystal clear. Larger images will also work, but when they’re shrunk down, they won’t look quite as good. When preparing the presentation, there is an option to create using this size — use it.

Navigation Choices are Limited
Although it’s possible to add links into a Keynote presentation (on the Mac), these can’t be used for internal navigation on the iPad, only for sites on the web. You’re forced to create internal links using the Inspector, which is quite laborious. Safest and easiest is to use the standard navigation: simple backwards and forwards, or touching the screen on the left to show the thumbnails of the presentation, allowing the user to select a particular slide. You can try more advanced navigation techniques later.

Getting the presentation on your iPad can be a pain
Apple pushes iTunes as a way to sync files to the iPad. This is great for the standard stuff, and makes music and podcasts easy, but transferring a single file…that’s more difficult. You could use iWork.com, Apple’s online hub for iWork (part of the suite of tools, similar to Microsoft’s Office). The problem with iWork (apart from the registration process, which in itself is not straightforward) is that the process of transferring the file is not without problems: certain things are stripped from the presentation, for example web links, so this isn’t a great way to transfer files. Better to use iTunes for this. Look here for a great tutorial on How to import presentations to Keynote on your iPad. Watch out if you are tempted to sync your iPad with a different machine after you have added your presentation — iPads, iPhones and iPods do not play well when syncing with other machines, and you may end up losing the presentation.

Video works, and can be lovely!
I say ‘can be‘ because the first few times we tried it, adding a video from the Photo Library on the iPad, the results were horrible. Keynote will compress the video, which generally murders it — too much loss of quality. Better to add the video to iTunes, and then in the Apps tab, transfer the video to the iPad on sync. This lets you add the video to the presentation without compromising the quality.

Allow yourself plenty of time
It can be a frustrating process — the lack of multitasking on the iPad means that moving out of Keynote requires you to spend several clicks getting back to the presentation; editing text by touch is painful; testing, takes time.

It may seem like creating a presentation on the iPad is more trouble than it’s worth, but as soon as you see the crystal clear text, images, and video, and then enjoy the look on your clients’ faces when they see the presentation on the iPad, you’ll know it’s all worthwhile.

When the basics have been mastered, then it’s time to look at more interactivity, and using some of the great advanced transitions and feature on Keynote. It’s worth pointing out that we’re still on the first major version of Keynote for the iPad (it’s now version 1.1), and no doubt it will improve over time, both in terms of its featureset, and its usability.

So don’t delay, if you haven’t got it already, go ahead and download Keynote.

I’d love to hear your own tips for creating great iPad presentations

Anthony Green – August 2010

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