10 Presentation Tips for the Mac

Whether your presentation tool of choice is Keynote or PowerPoint, when you give a presentation on your Mac, the last thing you want is for something to go wrong. Here’s my top 10 list of helpful tips that will help you get the most out of presenting with your Mac.

1. Run Through Your Presentation Before Presenting

PowerPoint and Keynote will play together, but they don’t always play well together. If you’re moving presentations between applications or even just between computers, give your presentation a good run through before showtime.

2. Test Out the Hardware

If you’ll be presenting with an external display, using external speakers or something similar, test all of this before your presentation. Your Mac’s screen will flicker as it adjusts screen resolution to match what it’s connected to (if you’re mirroring displays). Test all of this beforehand so you’re prepared and not dealing with unexpected complications.

3. Simplify Your Slides

This one is purely a stylistic suggestion, but you’ll be doing your audience a favor if you simplify the text on your slides as much as possible. Do you enjoy reading a lot of text when it’s displayed on your television? Neither do your viewers.

4. Use a Soothing Color Palette

Make you presentation stand out with a color palette that works well together. If you need some inspiration, visit Adobe’s Kuler website to see a variety of color palettes submitted by users. Search for one that fits your needs or upload and share your own.

5. Turn Everything Else Off

When you are presenting, make sure any unnecessary applications are closed. Growl notifications, incoming iChat messages and bouncing dock icons are not appropriate for a presentation. If you’re the type of presenter who uses a few slides but speaks at great lengths on each one, make sure your screensaver and sleep settings (if using a laptop) are disabled to prevent your Mac from accidentally going dark. You can adjust these settings in the Desktop & Screen Saver and Energy Saver panes of System Preferences (subscription required). Remember that portable Macs store energy saver settings differently when you use your battery and when you use your power adapter!

6. Presenting a Website? Load it Beforehand

If you’ll be presenting websites alongside your presentation, go ahead and load those beforehand. This will save you from wasting time while the pages load and will still be able to serve its purpose in your presentation even if you are unable to connect to the Internet when you are presenting. Better yet, you could even include screenshots of the website you want to show. That way, if for some reason the pre-loaded version in your browser doesn’t work, you’ll still have something to show. While you’re at it, if you’ll be displaying any other application while presenting, go ahead and have it loaded too. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a splash screen for 30 seconds while you and your audience wait for Photoshop to load.

7. Got an iPhone? Use the Keynote Remote App

Apple’s 99 cent Keynote Remote app will let you use your iPhone or iPod touch to remotely control your presentation. It can advance slides and return to previous slides and can even show you your presenter notes. The only catch is that you must have a Wi-Fi network to use it. If you do not, you can set up a computer-to-computer network with your Mac.

8. Don’t Have an iPhone? Use the Presenter Display for Keynote or PowerPoint

With this mode (accessible under the preferences of each application), you can customize a view to display your current and upcoming slide, show your presenter notes, view a clock and a timer. With Keynote, you’ll need to make sure that your primary display is set to the projector or whatever device you connect to your Mac. Since Keynote uses the “alternate display,” you will need to make this change so that the Presenter Display will show up on your Mac and not your external display.

9. Bring Handouts

So many people overlook this tip, but it’s just about as important as backing up your computer (and we’ve all been guilty of not paying attention to that tip too). If technical difficulties get the best of you, you’ll still have physical copies of your presentation to fall back on. Plus, handouts make a great way to give your audience a leave behind, should you wish to give them out at the end, or they give your audience something to follow along with and add their own notes if you hand them out beforehand.

10. Make A Good Impression

Saving the best for last, a snazzy PowerPoint or Keynote is nothing if the presenter stumbles their way through. Take the time to be familiar with your slides and be able to speak to them with comfort. You don’t have to be the next Steve Jobs, but take your time and be able to present your actual topic.

Do you present with your Mac? Found any great tips that work for you? Give us and your fellow readers your thoughts in the comments below.

Related TechUniversity Screencast: Keynote Transitions & Effects (subscription required)