Delivering Presentations with the iPad

I teach a college class on Visual Communication twice a week. So that means that twice a week, I pack up my laptop and haul it to class. It’s not that heavy, but since it is our main computer, taking the laptop wasn’t always convenient. So I figured I’d try using my new iPad (with the VGA adapter) and Keynote for the lecture.

Building the presentation

I’m really impressed with Keynote for the iPad. I was able to create a very simple presentation on the iPad in about 30 minutes. It’s intuitive and very easy to use.

Please note: This version of Keynote cannot do everything that the full version of Keynote can do. There are limitations - typeface selection, limited customization of templates, difficulty importing existing presentations. And the way you sync documents is exceptionally clumsy. 

If you are wanting to build an amazingly complex presentation, you’ll need to do it on the Mac. If you need to access an existing library of Keynote or Powerpoint presentations, I’d stick to using the laptop. But for building (or importing) a simple presentation, it’s nice. And considering that it’s $10, I’d say it’s well worth the price.

Hooking up to the projector

The VGA adapter looks pretty simple. Plug it into the dock connector, connect the VGA cable and you are good to go… And for the most part, it is that simple. Be aware that when working from Keynote, video projection doesn’t start until you hit the play button.

When the iPad is in presenting mode, your slides show through the projector and the iPad has a simple forward/back control. And you can simply tap to advance. If you push and hold on the iPad touch screen, a faux “laser” pointer pops up.

My only complaint is that the slide thumbnails are so small. In my classroom, the screen is behind me and over my head, so I occasionally had to turn around to see what slide was being presented.

A screenshot of the presentation screen for Keynote on the iPad.

Will I do it again?

Absolutely. I use relatively simple presentations for my classes. So Keynote is perfect for how I’m using it. Plus not having to lug my laptop to class is nice. I’m optimistic that Keynote will continue to improve on the iPad… But as a lightweight presentation setup, the iPad is absolutely a winner.