There at last! After much research, and after having discarded a billion solution, I believe I have found the perfect presentation kit.
Before venturing into the products, some of which are being sourced as I speak due to funny delivery limitations (I thought we were in a global market) let me recap what I think every professional presenter needs to deliver great performances:
- Portability – I certainly cannot wheel along crates of equipment “just in case” I may need to deliver a presentation and while I, like many of you, have delivered impromptu presentations using nothing but my laptop’ screen as the only visual support, I have suffered all along for the limitations that this implies.
- Speed of setup – this is an imperfect world. Things never work as they should; the sound file will not play. The animation will freeze. The movie will not start or it will be out of sync. Now, in big conferences there is usually time the night before to iron out these wrinkles, but not so in many customer situations, where your best chance for everything to work as planned is to use your own equipment which therefore must be up & running, pronto!
- Industry standard break points in the chain – A/V people hate me for this, but they are just too far behind. Their world has not progressed from still frame Powerpoint slides in Comic Sans. So save yourself the aggravation: if you invited me to speak to your event, I won’t send you my slides and I won’t load them on your PC, period. This is not because I don’t want to share them – in fact I make a point of loading each and every one of my presentations on Slideshare. The ideal presentation kit, however, should break down in components that are easily coupled to the available A/V equipment through standard interfaces and no franken-cables!
- Wireless – is it just me, or the long VGA cable snaking across the table feels so ’80s? I want to move, I want to walk, pace the stage as I please, but I still like to have my laptop at hand, mainly for reason #5 but more in general because for Heaven’s sake, everything else is wireless, why not my presentation? I have been in so many meeting rooms where the ideal placement for the projector is dead in the center of the table and the ideal location for the presenter laptop is at one of the ends, meaning you’ll need a telco-sized coil of thick VGA cable. And note that when I say wireless I do not mean the brain-dead version projectors manufacturers have tried to smuggle as wireless: I want full motion video, HD and – why not – 5.1 sound if I so fancy. I want the whole shebang, minus the cable.
- Monitoring – hey, I am a lazy sod. I have been irreversibly spoiled by the nice presenter layout of Keynote (now available also on Powerpoint). I like to know how long I have been blabbering, how many more slides I’ve got, which one comes up next. Unfortunately these freebies are only available if my laptop is within reach.
- Resolution – I understand that showing stuff in 3D on a panoramic arena-sized screen requires a little more complex equipment; I have seen the crews of rock groups putting together their stuff. My requirements are lower than Bono’s, but do I really have to live with sub-XGA resolution? In the age of retina displays, must my eyes hurt when I show stuff on screen?
- Mobile – is it such a given that every presentation should be done off a laptop? How un-cool is showing a mobile app from… a laptop?
Then there are a couple of nice-to-have’s:
- I cannot see another pile of books under the projector to tilt it up. I just cannot. I want some degree of mechanical independence from stupidly installed screens or dwarf-sized tables.
- My dislike for cables extends to all sort of cables, including power cables; so a little battery juice would be very nice, thank you!
- The assembled kit should not look like a kludge built by dr. Everett Scott
- and, last but not least, it should not break my piggybank. I am willing to invest, say, up to €500 for the complete solution (excluding the cost of the laptop, of course)
I just realized this post is long enough already, so I will post the solution as soon as I receive the last bits