Saturday, 8 June 2013

Get Your Own Projector

My new Planar PR3020DLP Projector
Pretty much every time I have been asked to give a presentation for the last several years, the organization inviting me to present has been able to provide a projector for me to use with my presentation. I use a MacBook for my presentations, and the Mac is pretty good about “just working” with almost any projector that I have hooked it up to. Because of this,  I have been lulled into a false sense of security, and have never bothered to spring for my own projector.

So let me tell you about my last three presentations. The first of the three, we were meeting at a local community centre, and the fellow that was bringing the projector was not there when I arrived to set up. The meeting started, and he still was not there! Thankfully, he arrived a few minutes later. Now I was scrambling to get the projector set up minutes before my presentation was to start. Trust me, that extra surge of adrenaline right before giving a presentation is not needed.

The next presentation, the projector was permanently installed in the room, so no worries, right? And as always, I was there plenty early. Good thing too. In this case, my Mac let me down, and it didn’t “just work”. I always use the presenters screen option in Keynote, so that my presentation appears on the projector, and the presenters notes and next slide appear on my laptop. This way, I can see what my next slide is, and see my notes in case I need a reminder. I know that I coach my readers to rehearse their presentations so thoroughly that they practically know their material by heart, but this particular training session ran for two days, and had hundreds of slides, so I really needed the crutch offered by the presenters screen. It wouldn’t work. No matter how much I fiddled, Keynote insisted on sending my “presenters screen” to the projector, and the audience screen to my laptop. I finally solved my problem by mirroring the screens between the two displays, and using my iPad with Keynote Remote to give my presenters notes.

The last of these three presentations, my host kindly provided a projector, and was there plenty early, so that I could set up. But in this case, their projector was not working properly. The colour on the projector was really odd. We figure that the green channel was not working. As it turned out, the wonky colour of the presentation wasn’t a game killer, and the presentation went pretty well, but boy I would have been happier if everything was working okay.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long story while I get to the point. My brother recently upgraded his projector to a fantastic new high def projector, a really nice machine. Here's where the story gets good.  My fantastic brother gave me his old projector! While its not as nice as his new machine, it has several years of good use left in it, and it produces a nice, crisp, bright image.

It occurs to me that my life has just gotten a whole lot easier. Now, I can set up my presentations and rehearse with the actual projector that I will be using in front of my audience. I can test all the settings in advance, and I never have to worry about the person with the projector being late, or not coming. I can still ask the organization inviting me to speak to have a projector available as a backup.

I was an idiot all along. I should have done this years ago! I was really lucky to get a free projector, but I did some research for this post, and I found that projector prices have really dropped in the last few years. You can get a good machine for $500 or less. Presenters, make your life a whole lot easier, get your own projector!

(As a footnote, I finally figured out why my presenters notes were appearing on the wrong screen. In keynote, go to Preferences, Presenter Notes, and make sure the box next to “Use alternate display to view presenter information” is checked off. And a second footnote, I have the world’s best brother!)

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