If you have to present multiple elements over the course of a seminar or long meeting, it can be very annoying for your audience as they watch you jumping around from app to app and or from one slideware file to the next.
Nowadays, most computers have sufficiently powerful graphics cards, that you can use the ‘Presenter View’ in PowerPoint (‘Presenter Display’ in Keynote) and I have written about the value of – nay, the essential need for – these tools – in the past.
Using a multi-screen approach requires that you have an extended desktop with a second monitor – either a physical large-screen TV, or a data projector – connected to your computer. Here’s the trick:
When you are setting up your system at the beginning of your session, open the desktop control panel and change the background colour for the display monitor to white.
That means you can move around between apps and files to your heart’s content on the desktop of your actual computer, while your audience remains blissfully unaware of how much technical fiddling is going on in the background.
Most of my lectures and training presentations are on white backgrounds now, which makes this technique work particularly well. I set my screenshow view options to present all my slides on the second monitor, giving me my messy desktop, my tools and notes on my laptop. You should also set up:
  • A browser window set to full screen for anything you want to show live from the web (I simply hide or minimise this once it’s set up, then use a browser window on my laptop to find what I am looking for and paste the URL into the display window when I want to show it).
  • A video tool and DVD player – set the full screen option to show videos on the big screen.
  • A graphics app to show images, similarly set up to display on the main screen – I use slideshows in iPhoto and present single images from folders using Preview.
  • A PDF viewer similarly set up to display on the main screen.
Using this set-up, I can retrieve anything from the bowels of my computer and have it up on the display screen in a matter of seconds; very useful in an interactive session where questions need to be addressed straight away.
Another simple strand to this technique is to have your PPT files open on your laptop in ‘Slide Sorter’ view. This gives you the flexibility to jump around in your presentation, and skip something you may have already covered in response to an interjection, or which you have discovered is not going to be or relevance to this particular audience.
I recently used this file and skipped Section 3, which is all about fonts, saying We’ve already covered Section 3 in our earlier in-depth discussion of onscreen fonts [click – display the number 3 slide] so I’m going to jump on to point 4 here [click – displayed the number 4], and talk about everybody’s favourite subject – bullet points” [click – and proceeded with the preso]
We have all sat through talks where the presenter clicks frantically past a series of, “We don’t need to get into this material” slides. Far better that you accomplish that seamlessly and without your audience’s knowledge.
I say again, this approach is primarily needed in longer sessions, be they meetings, training days or lengthy seminars; but no matter how long or short your talk, it is very useful to be able to bend the technology to your will, rather than having to slavishly follow its whims.