Five tips for creating a successful presentation with an iPad

With a few tips and tricks, you can ditch your laptop and use just your iPad to create presentations that are both fun and educational.


Presentation with Keynote

The iPad can be an immersive and fun way to present during a meeting or conference. With a bit of practice, you can even ditch your laptop and just go with your iPad. While we can't guarantee your presentation will be a hit, we can offer some some tips and tricks that will make your life as a presenter a little easier. We'll cover a few different issues that come up and offer some solutions to each so that your next presentation will be as flawless as possible.

For the examples below, I used Keynote as the presentation software. However, many of these tips and tricks will work with other tools, including Haiku Deck, Prezi, and SlideShark.

1. Disable notifications

The first thing you should do when presenting with your iPad is disable notifications. You definitely don't want push notifications to interrupt your talk or create a distraction. The easiest way to do this is to navigate to Settings | Do Not Disturb, and once you're there, switch the Manual slider ON (Figure A).

Figure A


Figure A

Turning on the Manual Do Not Disturb mode will stop all notifications from appearing on the device.

With this option enabled, your device will not show incoming FaceTime calls or alerts. This is an excellent feature to enable whenever you're presenting. A small moon icon will appear next to the battery indicator to let you know that Do Not Disturb mode is enabled. Once you've finished your presentation, you can switch the Manual mode to OFF.

2. Connecting to a projector

With an iPad or iPad mini, there are a few ways to connect your device to a projector. The main two ways are through AirPlay or a Dock/Lightning port adapter. With your device connected to a projector, you can easily start your presentation and have it viewable by your audience.

Connecting with AirPlay

AirPlay is the easiest way to get your device's screen appearing on a projector or TV. To use AirPlay, you must have an AirPlay-capable device plugged into the screen that you'll be presenting with. The best AirPlay-capable device is the Apple TV, but you can also use a Mac or PC with AirServer (or another AirPlay streamer application) installed.

Once your AirPlay device is connected and running, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your iPad to the same wireless network that the AirPlay device is connected to
  2. Navigate to Control Center (swipe up from the bottom of the screen on iOS 7)
  3. Click AirPlay 
  4. Select your AirPlay device
  5. Enable the Mirroring option (Figure B)

Figure B


Figure B

AirPlay mirroring is a great option for displaying your screen externally.

With AirPlay Mirroring enabled, what you see on your device will be viewable on the AirPlay-capable device's display. AirPlay streams over your network, so slower networks may experience a laggy connection or choppy video.

Connecting with VGA or HDMI

Apple offers both HDMI and VGA adapters for iPads with a 30-pin Dock connector, and newer iPads utilize the Lightning port (Figure C). Once you've established a connection with one of these cables, what you see on your device will instantly show up on the screen, without any configuration.

Figure C


Figure C

The HDMI or VGA dongle is a good wired option for displaying your screen externally.

If you wish to stop showing your screen via the connector port, you can open Control Center | AirPlay (Figure D) and select your device from the list instead of Dock Connector. If you're using a digital out (HDMI), then audio will be passed through the same port, without any additional cables needed. However, if you're using the VGA adapter, you'll also need to hook up speakers through the headphone port on your iPad, if needed.

Figure D


Figure D

When using the HDMI or VGA dongle, the Dock Connector option will appear in the AirPlay menu.

While Apple sells some really nice connectors for this, you can often times find better priced cables through or other online retailers and resellers. I've had excellent luck with and recommend those cables next to the official Apple ones.

3. Remote control

Using a remote control can make presenting easier, because you can walk around while giving your talk and still maintain control of the slides in Keynote or your other presentation tool. With Keynote, you can control an active presentation from a different iOS device.

First, download Keynote on your iPhone or another iPad, then launch the application. Next, open Keynote on the device that you'll be presenting with and navigate to Tools | Presentation Tools | Allow Remote Control, and then enable the switch for Enable Remotes (Figure E).

Figure E


Figure E

Enabling Remotes in Keynote gives you the option to walk around while presenting.

On your remote device, open Keynote and select the small Remote icon in the toolbar in the Keynote presentations list. You'll be given instructions that will prompt you to go to Tools | Presentation Tools | Allow Remote Control on the presentation device, and then select the iOS device that will be the remote control in order to link it over Bluetooth (Figure F).

Figure F


Figure F

The Keynote Remote feature is built into Keynote for iOS.

Once it's connected, the iOS device can serve as a remote control, showing the current slide, the next slide, and the current time at a single glance (Figure G). Swipe left or right on the remote control device to change the slides back or forward on the presentation device.

Figure G


Figure G

The Keynote Remote view shows the current slide, next slide, and the current time.

4. Giving demos

With Keynote in presentation mode, you can easily exit the application by tapping the device's home button. So, if you wanted to give a demo in Safari, you could tap the home button, open Safari, give the demo, then re-open Keynote. The Keynote application will continue where you left off, displaying the slide that was last open when you exited.

5. Laser pointers

In Keynote, you also have access to a hidden laser pointer. To activate the laser pointer, simply tap and hold the current slide on the presenting device and move your finger around to point. A small red laser dot will appear on the screen (Figure H) and allow you to easily point out something on a slide.

Figure H


Figure H

Lasers can help you point out things on the screen.

Unfortunately, the laser pointer feature of Keynote doesn't work from the remote device. However, it's a great way to point something out on a slide without having to walk to the projector screen and identify it there.


As you can see, the iPad creates a very appealing interface with lots of tools for presenting, without the use of a laptop.

Do you use an iPad for presentations? If so, do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.

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Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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