Better powerpoint: presenter view

6 12 2010

I use Powerpoint, well Keynote anyway, in almost every presentation I give. I will discuss the pros and cons of using multimedia to accompany a presentation in another post. What I wanted to share here is the use of the “presenter view” to improve presentations.

All presentation software can mirror what that audience is seeing on your laptop screen. If you position your laptop at the front of the stage you then have a monitor screen allowing you to see what is happening behind you without having to turn around. I am always amazed by the number of people who comment on how I didn’t need to turn around and look at my slides. They ask how I managed to memorise so many of them. I didn’t, of course, I was just looking at my laptop.

If you ever speak on a big stage you might be offered the use of a “confidence monitor”. This is a screen, normally hidden from the view of the audience but easy for you to see, that shows you what is being projected on the screens behind you.


You can see the monitor in the image on the left hidden at the presenter’s feet where the audience can’t see it.

Even cooler and more useful than this is to use “presenter view”. It is possible in both powerpoint and keynote to have the screen of your computer show both the slide the audience can see AND the next slide in your presentation. Not only can you glace down and see exactly what your audience can see but now you can see what is coming up next as well.

As an aide memoire this is massively useful. In the heat of the moment, after a distraction or when giving a presentation that you haven’t practiced enough is it very easy to forget what is coming next. Being able to glance and see the next slide allows you to look like you knew all along where you were going. You will never get lost.

It really comes into its own when you use it in combination with a remote presentation device. I’ll consider these another time but they are basically remote controls that allow you to simply advance the slides in your presentation whilst standing up to 10m away from the computer itself. Being able to see exactly what is coming up next. Walk away from the laptop and advance the slide at exactly the correct moment whilst looking in completely the opposite direction from either the projector screen or your laptop makes you look like a presentation God!

Enabling this feature in Keynote is not the most obvious thing in the world. Firstly, it isn’t an option until you are connected up to an external monitor so the first thing you need to do is plug your computer into the projector. The next thing to do is to turn of “mirroring mode” which is the computer’s default setting. You want the computer not to “mirror” what is on the screen and this will automatically engage “presenter mode”. The way to turn off mirroring is to click on the monitor symbol at the top of the screen or if the resolution of the projector means that you can no longer see this icon select: system preferences- displays and then turn off mirroring. Don’t bother to look for the feature until you have plugged an external monitor in as you just won’t see it as an option.




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