One of the iPad's more intriguing business uses is making presentations before a live audience. The device is portable and fun to use, and the swipe and pinch gestures can make for some dramatic presentations. Sadly, iPad presentations haven't lived up to their potential - especially for users of Microsoft PowerPoint. But the lastest version of Brainshark's free SlideShark app could help change that.
Normally, the latest version of a mobile app wouldn't merit coverate on ReadWriteWeb, but this is a game changer, especially for experienced speakers who are used to running their PowerPoint presentations with "presenter" mode. This is the ability to see your speaker notes and adjoining slides on the computer monitor at the podium, while the audience sees only a separate screen with the slide content. It is how I usually like to give my own speeches.
iPad Presentation Problems
There are several issues with giving a speech using an iPad. First is the actual connection to a digital projector. There are two methods you can use: either a wired connection with a special VGA or DVI dongle that fits to the bottom of the iPad, or with a wireless AirPlay connection to an Apple TV device. If you go wired, you better make sure your iPad is fully charged iPad, because you can't connect it to a power source while you have the dongle in place. Using an Apple TV means you have to cart around yet another device and get it set up properly. Neither is very satisfying.
A second issue is that Microsoft doesn't yet make an iPad version of PowerPoint, although Apple has an iOS version of Keynote. If you're a PowerPoint power user, there are a number of products that can display iPad presentations. VMware's Sliderocket is another free iPad presentation app. Or you could use the offline iPad app from Prezi.
Of course, you could junk the whole Powerpoint-style presentation ethos and move into a new era: this is what Alfresco is trying to do with its occupymeeting.com ebook manifesto here, along with a collection of tools for those that are interested. But many business people have years of deep experience with PowerPoint presentations and may not be quite ready to give up their slide decks. Many companies still prefer them, as well.
The Power of Presenter Mode
Most of these iPad presentation apps don't support presenter mode, and just show everyone whatever you have on your iPad screen. That can be limiting for speakers used to seeing their notes and their current position in the entire presentation. That's where SlideShark shines. iPad 2 and 3 users can plug into a projector or TV to simultaneously view slide notes, view separate timers for time spent on individual slides and the overall presentation on their mobile device - while the audience sees only the slides. There is also an animation counter. Of course, speakers can also choose a full-screen mode for both the presenter and the audience. In either mode, animations display on both screens. You can see a sample screenshot below.
Brainshark's newest SlideShark isn't going push the world of presentions in some brand new direction. Instead, it finally makes it possible to comfortably give an iPad PowerPoint presentation using the tools and views experienced presenters already count on. SlideShark version 1.6 is available today for a free download here from the iTunes App Store.