10 Things You Need to Know When Presenting with Your Tablet

By Julie M. Hansen

Though more than 40 percent of the American adult population owns a tablet, you still can ride on a certain novelty wave if you use your tablet to give a presentation or demonstration. Tablets are lightweight, fast, and flexible, and they set a less formal tone for smaller or more casual presentations.

And by allowing you to walk around, switch between applications, use a whiteboard, and do other cool options, they can create a more interactive presentation. Following are ten must-know tips to help you get the most out of your tablet in your presentation.

Use a stand

When using your tablet to present directly to one or two people, you need a stand. Holding a tablet perfectly still for the length of a presentation is physically impossible. Every time you interact with your prospect, you’ll find yourself in a new position and your prospect in turn will have to readjust to see the screen. Folding screens are too flimsy. You need something sturdier that you can count on. Here are some good options:

  • Belkin’s FlipBlade Adjust: A good value ($30), this aluminum stand folds down into 3.75 x 5.5, and opens in four different angles. Good for all tablets but it’s larger size makes it ideal for older, bulkier tablets.

  • CoolerMaster’s JAS mini: Also aluminum and the same price, it’s a little smaller than the FlipBlade at 4.4 x 2.4. It’s available in five colors, if that kind of thing is important to you.

Keep it clean

At the risk of sounding like your mother, “clean your tablet before your presentation!” Carry some pocket cleaners in your case or car and give it a thorough wipe before you start your presentation.

Disable notifications

After cleaning your tablet, the next thing you should do is disable notifications. You certainly don’t want a push notification from your Facebook account to interrupt your presentation. Although some older model tablets may require you to disable notifications on an app-by-app basis, newer Android tablets and iPads allow you to activate a Do Not Disturb feature.

To activate Do Not Disturb on your Android tablet, follow these steps:

  1. Go to device Settings.

  2. Go to Sounds & Notifications.

  3. Turn Do Not Disturb on or schedule a time to turn it on and off.

To enable Do Not Disturb on your iPad, follow these easy steps:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Find Do Not Disturb.

  3. Switch the manual slider to ON.

Connect to a projector

If you’re presenting to more than two people, you’re going to need a projector. More than two people and you have your audience members jockeying around to see the tablet or the disruption of passing it around. You can connect your tablet to a projector in one of two ways:

  • VGA or HDMI: You can connect your tablet directly to the projector by using the appropriate cable and the video port on your tablet. Most newer projectors use HDMI but video and input ports vary widely so find out the requirements of the projector you’ll be using and purchase the appropriate adapter or cable to fit both your tablet and the projector.

    If you’re connecting to a projector with VGA and your presentation has sound or music, you need to connect your tablet to an external speaker to hear the audio.

  • Bluetooth wireless: If your tablet is Bluetooth capable (which most newer models are), you can connect to a projector that is also Bluetooth ready. Here’s how to connect to a projector via Bluetooth on a tablet:

    1. Activate the Bluetooth feature on the projector by pressing the button or making a selection on the screen.

      In the case of older projectors, you may need to insert a Bluetooth USB adapter into the projector’s USB port.

    2. On your tablet, choose Settings from your menu.

    3. Select Wireless Networks.

    4. Select Bluetooth Settings and turn On.

    5. Choose the projector from the list of devices.

    If you have an iPad, you need to access wireless through AirPlay — a feature included on your iPad that allows you to wirelessly stream media to an AirPlay-capable device, such as an Apple TV or a Mac or PC with AirServer.

    Here are the steps to connect your iPad to an AirPlay-capable device:

    1. Make sure you have an AirPlay-capable device plugged into the screen that you’ll be presenting on.

    2. Turn on your AirPlay device.

    3. Connect your iPad to the same wireless network that the AirPlay device is connected to.

    4. Open the Control Center on your iPad.

    5. Select your AirPlay device.

      Enable mirroring if you have an iPad 2 or later if you want to have the same display on your iPad screen as on the display screen.

Choose your presentation platform

There are a few familiar faces but fewer choices when it comes to creating and sharing slide decks on your tablet. Here are the main players and some things to consider when choosing your platform:

  • PowerPoint: If you have PowerPoint on your computer, you can find the app version for your tablet or iPad very similar and fairly easy to use. The basic PowerPoint app is free, which allows you to create and edit slides on your tablet or iPad, but to access more advanced features, like the ability to view Presenter Notes, you need a qualifying subscription to Microsoft Office 365.

  • Keynote IOS: Keynote is the default program for iPad. Keynote also works with iCloud, so your presentations are saved and automatically updated on all of your Apple devices. You need to get the Keynote IOS app ($10), which can import presentations made in PowerPoint or Keynote.

    If you create your presentation in Keynote or PowerPoint on your computer, you’re likely to lose many of your fonts, transitions, builds, and audio in the import because they’re not available on the tablet. You can avoid this by creating your presentation directly on your tablet, or using the SlideShark app, which I discuss later in this chapter.

  • Google Slides: A free app available for tablets and iPads. You can create, edit, and share new presentations as well as open, edit, and save PowerPoint presentations. It automatically saves your work as you go.

Control your presentation with PowerPoint or Keynote

Even though there are many similarities between using PowerPoint or Keynote on a computer and a tablet, you want to familiarize yourself with a few differences before you give a presentation. The last thing you want to do is to struggle with the basic mechanics in front of your audience.

Here are some tips for using PowerPoint on your tablet:

  • To start the slide show, tap Slide Show, and then tap From Beginning.

  • Swipe from right to left to go forward. Swipe left to right to go backward. You can also use the arrow buttons in the lower left corner of your screen.

  • To use Presenter View, tap the screen to show the Presentation Menu Bar, click the Circle, and select Show Presenter View. (It’s only available with an Office 365 subscription.)

  • To end the show, swipe down in the middle of the slide. Then tap, End Show.

Here are some tips for using Keynote to present on your iPad:

  • Select the slide you want to begin with and tap Play.

  • To view Presenter Notes, tap Layout and choose either Current and Notes or Next and Notes.

  • To advance to the next slide, tap once anywhere on the screen or swipe left.

  • To go back, swipe right.

  • To hide the slide navigator, tap anywhere on the slide.

  • To end the presentation, pinch anywhere on the screen or tap the Close icon.

Show your presentation with SlideShark

SlideShark, which is the leading app for showing PowerPoint presentations on your tablet, preserves all your fonts and images. You can also share an online version of your presentation that others can view on-demand from any device, and you can track and view the results. It’s free and simple to get and to use. Here’s how:

  • Go to the SlideShark website and set up a free account.

  • Upload a PowerPoint file to your online account. The slides are then automatically converted to a mobile-optimized format.

  • Use the SlideShark app on your tablet or iPad to download your converted presentation and show by hitting the green Play button.

Use your tablet as a whiteboard

With the right app your tablet can turn into a portable whiteboard that you can either use straight from the tablet or project onto a screen. Great for brainstorming and capturing ideas and feedback, the whiteboard feature gives you a quick and easy way to make your presentation super interactive.

Several apps are available, depending on how creative you want to get:

  • Whiteboard: Collaborative Draw (Android) and Whiteboard: Collaborative Drawing (iPad) This is a free whiteboard app that allows you to open any image or photo on your device and choose from a full-spectrum of colors and marker transparency levels. And, you can save and share your work.

  • Splashtop Whiteboard: This app ($35) has a lot of power and a version for your Android or iPad. You can annotate anything, use gestures to draw, highlight, or write, take snapshots on the screen, save them and then email them to your prospect. You can use a wide variety of colored and sized pens, stamps, highlighters, shapes, and text tools over existing content or on one of the flipchart backgrounds. This app is highly collaborative and worth the investment if you’re a creative type.

Plan for blackouts

The ability to black out your screen during a presentation is an important functionality to have to direct your prospect’s focus. The computer option of hitting the B key or the blackout key on your remote isn’t currently available on tablets but you can still create the same effect with a little pre-planning:

  • Creating a black slide: Insert black slides in your deck wherever you’re planning to engage in a discussion or need to have all eyes on you. If you need more flexibility, create one black slide and jump to it by entering the slide number each time.

  • Blocking the projector: Place something in front of the projector lens — a book or file — until you’re ready to go back to your slides.

Get the right slide aspect

If you’ve ever watched a movie made for the widescreen on an older television, you have an idea of what the slide aspect can do to your images. Android tablets have a ratio of 16:1 — close to the standard widescreen aspect of 16:9 and well-suited for widescreen. However the iPad and many other tablets have a 4:3 aspect ratio so if you create your slide deck in another ratio, your images may be distorted when you convert to PowerPoint or Keynote. Here is what you need to know to avoid image distortion:

  • Standard slides (4:3 aspect ratio): Your slides will fill the screen on your iPad or other 4:3 aspect tablet. However, if you’re using an Android tablet, presenting on your iPad to an Apple TV, or using a newer projector with a 16:9 aspect, your slides will fill the height of the display but not the entire width, giving it a less professional look.

  • Widescreen slides (16:9 aspect ratio): These slides fit the full screen of an Android tablet but on the iPad or tablets with a 4:3 ratio they’ll fill the width of the screen but not the full height. Use 16:9 aspect slides when you’re presenting on an Android tablet, to a 16:9 video projector, or using AirPlay to project your iPad on an Apple TV.