photo courtesy of Stuart Whitmore
After my last post on public speaking, I kept having more ideas of things I wish I'd said. Like some technical issues. Like . . . what do you do when you have to fly to a presentation? Then I saw this tweet from author Erin Bow: "BTW, the complete stack of MS for PLAIN KATE, which I use as a prop for my HS writing presentations, just *barely* fit in one suitcase."
So let's talk.
Traveling and Presentations
I'm paranoid. I never want to end up at a talk without my most important materials: my notes and handouts. So when I travel by plane, I "carry on" my physical notes, printouts of my handouts for copying if necessary (and/or the actual copies), my netbook with my notes, and a USB thumb drive with all my notes and my handouts. Props go in checked luggage. Props are nice to have, but they aren't absolutely necessary. YOU are the presentation.
PowerPoint, Video and Internet Access
I can speak to this from the conference director side. I've seen speakers come with their CD/DVD, laptop, USB device and not been able to get it to work because "someone else" set it up for them and they don't really understand it. If you want to use technology that you are not familiar with, practice it on a variety of computers and/or projection systems. And, be prepared to graciously go on without it.
Even if you bring your own laptop, don't assume that the host will have the correct cable to connect your computer to the projector. If you're running a windows machine, you're probably okay, but did you know that each Apple laptop has a different style of "dongle?" If there is tech support at a conference, he/she will not have every possible connector. And definitely don't get angry at the conference presenters for not providing what you need. (It's true--I've heard about speakers throwing fits and complaining afterwards as well.)
Oops, I Forgot!
About ten years ago I left an announcement PowerPoint show at home. Was it absolutely necessary to have it? No, but I wanted it. I had arrived early. The moment I realized my error, I called my husband, who is a computer guy. He posted my slide show up on my website and gave me the url. I used the school's computer to pull up that page on my website and ran the PowerPoint presentation from there. These days we have Google docs and dropbox and other web services where we can store backups--use the tools. Obviously, if your venue won't have internet access, this option won't be available to you.
Old School Slides
If you're using film slides, you should probably provide your own slide projector, or at the least, make sure the type of carousel you have will fit their projector.
Netbooks, Notebooks aka Mini-laptops
If you're using a netbook to show internet sites, be aware that your screen size probably will not match what the projector shows.* I learned this one the hard way. I had no scroll button on my screen, and couldn't see the full view of what the audience could see on the screen behind me. Eventually I figured out I could turn around to see what they were seeing, but that makes for awkward speaking.
*How to possibilities (for windows machines) 1. Connect your projector (or a large second monitor) to your laptop/netbook. 2. Hold the windows key down on your keyboard and press the letter P for projector. This may give you options to choose Duplicate, which give you the view on your screen on the projector. You may have to modify the resolution (more on that below in step 4). Both resolutions must be the same. If former not available: 1. After you've connected your projector (or a large second monitor) to your laptop/netbook, right click on the desktop background on your screen. 2. Click on Display Properties/Graphic Properties, or you might have ATI or NVIDIA control panel option to get you to display properties. 3. Under Display Devices, you'll have options, such as: Single Display, Dual Display (Clone), and Extended Desktop. You might see a question such as "Do you want to extend your desktop onto this monitor?" Either way, you want to change it to Extended Desktop. 4. You should have a box that shows you the different sizes of each "screen" (projector or 2nd monitor) and your computer--the two need to match. 5. Next chose clone. In either case, when you are done, make sure your laptop is back to Single Display. If this sounds too complicated, get a techie to help you figure it out.
Going from PC to Mac
Recently, I created a PowerPoint slideshow to use for a presentation. I talked to the event organizer about equipment. He said he had a Mac and that it should be able to open the PowerPoint in Keynote, so I didn't need to bring my laptop. I sent my presentation to him via email. Yep, it opened, although it changed some fonts. (Note to self, use very basic fonts!) But, I wondered, what did it look like?
I met with a friend who had a Mac also with Keynote. She opened up my presentation and I saw that some images were a bit big and that some spacing was off on a few lines where I'd put in manual breaks to make it look how I wanted. We resized images, fixed spacing issues, saved the presentation in Keynote and I re-sent that to the organizer. It worked well for my talk.
The next day I was working on a second presentation for the same event. I used simpler fonts and when I used images I made no spacing changes in my text near the pictures. Instead, I changed the size of the image if necessary. This time, because I was adding last minute items inspired by the questions at the previous presentation, I didn't have time to look at it on someone else's Mac. Fortunately, because I kept the PowerPoint presentation formatting simple, it worked well. (The only transitions I used were to add text or image on mouse click.)
Remotes are wonderful things for a presentation. Then you aren't nailed down to the computer keyboard or slide projector to change slides as you talk.
I like being in a room that is small enough that a microphone is not needed. That means I can wander while talking. Obviously in a larger room, the speaker may need to be miked. Best is a wireless. But if all that is available is a stationary, you'll have to stay still.
I'd love to hear what others have experienced with the technical side of speaking. Feel free to comment. (If you can't see the comment box, click on the title above, then scroll down.)