*Image by Eric Sailers
In the last month, I presented one-hour iPod touch sessions at the CUE and CSUN Conferences. Since I work in special education, the topics covered the iPod touch for students with special needs. The sessions were divided into labs and presentations. The labs involved iPods for participant use, whereas the presentations did not. I learned a lot in the process of preparing for and presenting at the conference sessions. In this posting, I’d like to share tips, tricks, and tools from my experiences. My hope is others will understand the importance of and learn more about presenting mobile devices with apps at conferences.
Presenting at conferences is not only about speaking to an audience for an hour. This is especially true when it involves giving justice to a device with extraordinary software: the iPod touch. There is a lot that goes into a successful session, which all begins with preparation.
During my preparation, one of the first tasks was procuring iPods for the labs. The next task was building a slide show. I roughly followed Carmine Gallo’s guideline of 90 hours: 30 hours for organizing ideas, 30 hours of building slides, and 30 hours for rehearsing. I also implemented other ideas by Mr. Gallo, who has great resources for presenting like Steve Jobs:
Prior to building slides, I created a concept and I typed an outline. I included content for the iPod touch as a learning tool, accessibility features, accessories, the SETT framework, and apps by category. Once the outline was completed, I began building slides. I used Keynote with my MacBook Pro 13” to create professional looking slides. My slides involved more images than words, because my talk ultimately tells the story. Plus, research shows that individuals recall more from images.
Once I created slides, I shared them with colleagues for feedback. The primary piece of feedback was that I had too many lab slides. I agreed. I soon realized that labs require far fewer slides to accommodate a sufficient period of hands-on time with iPods. I ended up with over 30 slides for the one-hour presentations, and fewer than half the number for one-hour labs.
It was finally time to rehearse, which involved my slides and app demos. I rehearsed the slides utilizing features in Keynote (in the play menu) for rehearsing and recording with various time options. I also rehearsed with my girlfriend to make sure that everything sounded fine when speaking in front of someone. For apps, I practiced demoing the ones I had, and I downloaded the ones I didn’t. Some developers were generous in providing me with promo codes.
There was one last item to complete preparation: handouts. I needed handouts for the labs and presentations. I created a one page handout with a list of apps on the front, and accessories on the back. I also needed tutorials for the labs, so the participants could have guided practice with the apps. I utilized tutorials that I previously created, along with tutorials from the iPods 4 Special Needs Ning. Once I had the handouts in order, then I visited a local Fed Ex Office for copies. I requested a sufficient number of handouts to accommodate the room capacities for my sessions.
When I arrived at the session rooms, I organized my equipment. That involved the following tools:
- Projector cable with mini-VGA Adapter
- iHome speakers (for rooms without a sound system)
- iPod touch
- Note: Amazon offers low-cost earphones with mic
I set up the iPevo Point 2 View camera so the iPod touch had high resolution at a sufficient size. I began by zooming 1.25x with continuous focus, then I switched to single focus after the iPod touch screen was focused. The result was a stable image in focus. The camera image ran in the background, while my Keynote slide show ran full-screen.
Handouts were distributed for the presentation and lab sessions. In the case of labs, the participants also received earphones with mic, and iPods in exchange for a picture ID. At the end of the labs, the participants returned iPods to retrieve their IDs. My co-presenters helped with distributing iPods, in addition to presenting slides and demoing apps. They did an awesome job, and I couldn’t have done it without them. Rather than speaking on their behalf, however, I will discuss my personal experiences with the sessions.
During the slide shows, I did my best to clearly articulate the information that I rehearsed. I add-libbed a little, adding humor when appropriate, otherwise I stayed on message. I also referenced the apps and accessories handout when it coincided with my slides. During the slide shows, I intermittently hid Keynote to demo apps with the Point 2 View camera, then I returned to Keynote. The trick here is command H to hide Keynote, then run Point 2 View camera in full-screen mode. When completed with the demo, press the esc key, then return to Keynote via command tab.
As I mentioned, I demoed apps throughout the sessions. Prior to demonstrating with the camera, I presented slides comprising screenshots and details regarding the apps. I highlighted standard Apple features that appear in many apps, and features unique to given apps. Additionally, the apps were presented in relation to categories (e.g., communication, organization, reading, etc.) that I determined, so the presentation didn’t appear as a hodgepodge of apps. Then, using the camera, I showed a couple iPod touch tricks, such as using the search for locating apps, and pushing the home button for accessing the 1st page with settings. I also mentioned more tricks can be learned at Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand site. After that, I demonstrated apps that coincided with the categories in my slides (e.g., Proloquo2Go, Percentally, Cat in the Hat). I tried my best to show as many features as possible in 1-3 min. demos per app. Included in the demos were selecting options and settings for apps because those features are often overlooked by users. At the end of the sessions, I mentioned how I could only show so many apps. And, if they wanted to know about more, they could access my list.
In labs, the participants had hands-on time with the iPods. Following app demos, they tried the apps in association with the aforementioned tutorials. They also did self exploration of the apps. As they explored, I circled the room to answer participant questions. It was great helping the participants, and getting to know them.
As you probably noticed, I spent much more time preparing than presenting. I needed the prep time to carefully think through the details of my sessions. The result was more professional looking and useful information for participants. Plus, it made me feel much more comfortable when speaking. Public speaking isn’t the easiest thing for me, but sufficient preparation makes it a whole lot easier. In the end, it enables me to do something I truly enjoy: share with others.