Controlling slides in your presentations

Being able to move around when you make a presentation is a god-send.  I’m not suggesting you wander around as you present, but being able to move around and not being tied to your laptop gives you a lot of options. Remote controls are pretty much a requirement for a serious presenter.

control your presentations better with a 'clicker'A fellow presenter recently asked for some advice on getting a new remote control (his old clicker had just died after many years of service) and the broad response was to get a Logitech R700 – which he duly did! For me, however, that’s an un-necessarily  complicated piece of kit. I like something a lot cleaner with fewer buttons. That’s personal, of course.

Up until now, in fact, I’ve used my iPhone5, linked to my Macbook.  Why? Because it allows you to see your slides on your remote and in fact you can even set it up to show your slides, your notes or the next slide. Put another way it’s an in-your-hand version of Presenter View. Like most of Apple’s stuff, the interface is as clean as you like but if you need to you can do all kinds of sexy things with it, like draw on your slides in the middle of your presention!

By the way, here’s a very quick and very dirty video of how to link my iPhone to my iMac. Skip it if you don’t have a Mac! 🙂 Apologies for the shoddy green-screen!  Once done, you can have your presentation’s slides visible in the palm of your hand! I love it and, frankly, couldn’t understand why other people didn’t do the same. The convenience of seeing your slides in your had makes presentations sooooo much easier – particularly if you’re not 100% comfortable with it and haven’t memorised what slide comes next etc.

All of this smugness, however, has just been thrown up in the air by a gift from a happy german client, who sent me (totally out of the blue!) an inateck (the WP2002 Wireless Presenter). It’s an alternative to the traditional presentation clicker – it keeps your hand free by sitting on your finger, rather as a chunky ring might do!

Here’s my initial review.

First impressions – how does tool present itself? 😉

It's not presented very well, is it!
It’s not presented very well, is it!

To be honest, first impressions were a bit dull. It’s as though they’ve seen how cool Apple packaging is, (and other suppliers too, now) but only seen them in black and white TVs built in the 1950s.  It’s ugly as hell.

Hey ho!   So long as it works, eh?

better presentation might be possible!Things don’t get better when you open it up, I’m afraid. It’s still ugly has hell!  But now I’m reminded of one of those silly secret agent decoder rings you got free in comics when you were a kid. They weren’t cool then and they aren’t cool now.

So far, so dull.  😉

 

Getting going

Things get better here. When I slip the connector into my USB slot I’m given my usual challenge of recognising my keyboard (I should probably look into that at some point as I don’t think other people are always presented with that issue… but things worked just as you’d hope.) The way to use it is this:

  • charge the ring from a USB with the cable the include
  • pop the receiver into the USB
  • touch the button on the ring
  • watch things happen just like you’re using a bigger remote control!

Magic!

A few things to note… I don’t know how quickly it charged. I was busy this morning so I just put it in and left it charging for a few hours while I researched for a presentation. For all I know it could have been fully charged in six minutes! Secondly, there’s no laser to use as a pointer like there is in some bigger, hand-held devices. On the other hand, my opinion is that if you need to use a laser as a pointer you’ve designed your slide badly in any case.

It feels a little clumsy in my hand at first and I had to experiment with the best place and orientation for it.  In the end I settled for it with the control on the inside of my right hand, mounted on my ring finger (where I’d wear a wedding ring if I wore it on my right hand). From the outside it looks like I’m wearing a thick, black ring.

better presentations with a bit of magic tech

After only a few minutes, however, I got used to it and – as you can see – it gets in the way so little that I can wear it while I type this post. Good stuff. Wearing it like that puts the button I’m going to use the most (forward) almost directly under my thumb if I curl my hand in a little, so I’m hopeful.

(Yeah, I know, my hands aren’t beautiful!)

Using it for actually presenting

This is the acid test of course.  Does the convenience of not having a remote control in my hand make my presentations sufficiently better to mean I don’t regret losing the advantages of controlling my presentations via my iPhone with all the advantages that brings me?

Sort of.

I’ve used it a few times now – not enough to be absolutely sure, so the jury is still out, a bit. What I can say so far though, is that there’s one thing I’m sure of and one thing I’m still debating …

  • if I used a traditional, hand-held clicker to control my presentations I’d almost certainly change to this toy, as the plus of having my hand free is absolutely fantastic.  You don’t realise how inhibited it makes you to hold something until you’re not inhibited any longer!  And I say that as a pro, with thousands of hours of presentations under my belt. If anyone has got used to handling a clicker and being comfortable with it, it’s me
  • on the other hand, I miss being able to see my slides on my iPhone5.

One dirty trick that’s crossed my mind is that because I can connect my iPhone via a WiFi that my laptop generates and the inateck is working via blutooth (I presume!) there’s no reason why I can’t have both going at the same time. For moments when I’m not quite so confident I can have my trusted iPhone running the presentation’s slides and for other times I can use my magic ring.

Yes, I know I called it a magic ring – it really does feel a bit like something out of a fantasy game!

Conclusion – does it make my presentations better?

Not much to add, really!  🙂

Gesticulations are cleaner than when I’m having to hold something. And I’m giving over a little less of my head-space to worrying about holding something. It’s not a biiiiig percentage of my head, but it’s potentially significant.  I like it. It frees up your hands and does what it’s supposed to do.

My main complaint is about the feel/finish.  I’d be happier paying a bit more for something that felt a bit more robust and less likely to break. It’s a small thing, but in terms of confidence every little bit helps.

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