I’ve watched too many presenters struggle to connect their laptops to a venues AV system or embarrass themselves with laptop failures. Here’s some steps and setups I use to try to avoid this. Let me know if I’ve missed something, you disagree or what I’ve said doesn’t make sense!
- Always make sure your laptop is connected to a mains electricity supply or is fully charged.
- Don’t place your laptop next to or below any containers with liquids. One accident will ruin everything.
- Have a memory stick with a backup of the presentation. Save the files with the fonts embedded and with the individual video clips.
- I have a dedicated laptop for presenting and minimise the amount of programmes installed on it. I still use Windows XP as it’s so reliable compared to later versions. plus any files I create are more likely to be compatible with other systems.
- Make your laptop desktop look presentable. Think about the background. Why not use a custom logo or a simple plain background. If you’re cloning the screen to the projector don’t have a mass of Icons or shortcuts.
- Use “presenter mode”. Means you can navigate slides easier, see the time, view upcoming slides, read notes etc.
- Set your laptops volume to 2/3rds. That way the venue’s speaker volume can be set to this value and you then have the option midway through a presentation to increase or decrease the volume (I use my remote to do this) rather than rely on a non-existent sound technician.
- Turn off “system sounds”. Like startup, shutdown and system beeps (ie. plugging in a memory stick). Really annoying to hear that over a venue’s PA system.
- Turn off any auto updates.
- Never rely on having internet access to show content. Have hard copies of any files/videos on the laptop.
- Don’t have it connected to the internet during a presentation as that will slow things down or start unwanted installations.
- Make sure the screensaver won’t override your presentation software.
- For some time I struggled to connect my laptop to projectors over some CAT-5 systems – the laptop wouldn’t recognise a connection. Eventually I discovered an internal setting in my laptop’s configuration. There was a choice to auto-detect a VGA connection (the default) or to leave the VGA socket switched on permanently. By switching to the latter it solved this problem.
In a previous post I outlined the tech gear I carry with me. See https://sciencemagician.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/my-presenter-tech-bag/