How To Give A Presentation With Your iPad

Ever looked at your iPad and asked it this question, “So, what else can you do for me?”  Sure you have.  And you may have looked at it and wondered how in the world this thin flat device can do more for you than serve up web pages or great looking emails.  You may have heard that your iPad can help you give great presentations at a meeting or for a group of people, but you don’t really know how it’s all done.  Well wonder no more. Because here is your chance to put that iPad of yours to good use.


How To Give A “Great” Presentation With iPad

Giving presentations with iPad sure beats carrying around a laptop with associated cables and dongles and a sore back.  Because it is light and portable you will be thankful once you learn the ropes on giving presentations with iPad. Many people may wonder how to do this and while it might seem simple to some, it really can be a mystery until you have mastered the basics.  Let’s dive in and by the time you are done with this article you will be able to do the following:

  • Understand what you need to give a presentation
  • Know how to connect the appropriate equipment
  • Understand what works and what doesn’t work
  • Learn some apps that can help you

So are you ready to get going? Great. Grab a tasty beverage and let’s go down this road together.

Gadgets You’ll Need To Give A Presentation

The first thing you need to get is an Apple iPad VGA Adapter.  As luck would have it, here is an article on how to use the iPad VGA Connector.  We wrote this about a month ago and it’s still very relevant.  Read that and then come back here with all your new knowledge.  Basically the VGA connector allows you to show photos, slide shows, and even YouTube videos on a big screen TV or via a projector.  If you choose to show your presentation on a TV, then that article will definitely help you understand how to do that.  Essentially, it depends on the TV you have.

If you plan to use a projector, then you will also need a place to project your presentation.  You can use a blank wall or an official screen as well.  Either one will work just fine.

If you are going to use a projector, keep in mind that the Apple VGA Connector is mean for a projector with a VGA connection.  Most projectors have these but some of the newer ones are coming with HDMI and/or USB connections as well.  If you have a projector and it does not have a VGA connection then you can get adapters.  Here is what a VGA connection looks like:


See the gray area?  That’s the VGA connection and this happens to be a “female” type connection.  Your projector (or TV) will need to have a “male” type connection for this to plug into.  The male connector has pins that stick out.

So in summary, you will need the following pieces and parts for your presentation:

  • One iPad
  • One Apple iPad VGA Adapter

You will also need one of the following but not all:

  • TV that supports VGA or HDMI or Component (for HDMI and Component you will need an adapter which is outlined in the article referenced above), or
  • A projector with VGA connection and a screen to display your presentation

For the pieces and parts that’s really about it.  The good news is that once you have all this “stuff” you are almost ready to go.

The Material

If you are giving a presentation, then it is likely you are going to be creating it in one of two programs: Keynote or Powerpoint.  We will discuss each scenario below and show you how to get your presentation with iPad.

Microsoft Powerpoint

If you are using Powerpoint on your Mac or PC then you will want to get that onto your iPad in order to give your presentation.  Here are a few ways you can do that:

  1. Export your Powerpoint slides as pictures. Basically you will have all your Powerpoint slides ready to go and then you will export them within the program as pictures.  At this point they are no longer in the Powerpoint format and they are simply images.  Place these into your default “Pictures” folder on your computer and then when you sync via iTunes the images will be placed onto the iPad in the Photo app.
  2. Export your Powerpoint slides to PDF and then sync them to your iPad via iTunes.  The downside to this is that you lose all your transitions and any audio or video.
  3. Import your Powerpoint presentation into Keynote on the desktop or on your iPad.  Both the desktop and the iPad version of Keynote allow you to import Powerpoint and it will be converted to the Keynote format.  Note:  this is not always a perfect conversion as you can lose some valuable transitions, etc. when doing this but it is the quickest and most convenient.
  4. Use an App to read and edit your Powerpoint slides.  Documents To Go (Premium) is probably one of the best apps for reading and editing Powerpoint. It is $16.99 but you do get what you pay for.  We talked about Documents To Go here.

Getting a Powerpoint onto the iPad is most easily done via iTunes.  When you plug the iPad into your computer, iTunes will launch and this is where you can import your Powerpoint using the Keynote app (and the Apps Tab in iTunes).  Documents To Go has a sync service as well and it also works via WiFi.

If you converted your Powerpoint over to Pictures or PDF then you will sync these as you do any other PDF or image file and they will show up on your iPad.

Apple Keynote

There are five ways to import your Keynote for Mac and Microsoft PowerPoint files into Keynote for iPad.

  1. Receive as an email attachment. Preview the file and tap the “Open in” button to open it in Keynote for iPad.
  2. Copy from your MobileMe iDisk. If you subscribe to MobileMe, you can store files on your iDisk (from your PC, Mac, or the Web) and open them from Keynote for iPad.
  3. Copy from a WebDAV service. If you have access to a WebDAV service allowing you to copy stored presentation, you can open them from Keynote for iPad. See Using a WebDAV service for more details.
  4. Download from the web (including public beta). Preview the file and tap the “Open in” button to open it in Keynote for iPad.
  5. Transfer from a Mac or PC using File Sharing in iTunes. The Import button in the My Presentations view accesses the files transferred to iPad.
So now you have your equipment, you have your presentation on your iPad and all you need next is to figure out how to put all this together and make it “work”.  Refill your tasty beverage and let’s move on.

Putting It All Together – The Presentation

Alright folks let’s make sure we have what we need.

  • iPad – Check.
  • VGA Adapter – Check.
  • Projector (or TV) – Check.
  • Keynote or Powerpoint file on the iPad and tested – Check.

Here’s what’s next:

  1. Set your iPad up on a Stand if you wish (did you see our custom iPad stands?)
  2. Plug one end of the VGA Adapter into your iPad and the other end into your Projector (or TV)
  3. Turn on the iPad
  4. Tap the Keynote app and then tap to load up your specific presentation
  5. When you play the show in slide show mode, the iPad will automatically detect the VGA connection and you will automatically see it.  It’s like magic.

Now you can show the world your presentation.

Hopefully this guide has been helpful.  Read it through and then read the related articles and you will be a Pro in no time at all.  For the most part, it’s a very simple process once you have done it a few times.  Using the iPad for presentations will most likely be your preferred method once you get the hang of it.  There are some minor drawbacks such as learning to get your files onto the iPad itself but give it a try and you can always come back here to ask questions.

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Originally posted 2010-11-09 15:47:27.


  1. Doug Portmore says:

    What are the options for advancing the slides remotely? Are there any wireless clickers that can be used in conjunction with Keynote and iPad?

    1. Shane says:

      Hey Doug,

      Great minds think alike! I was actually going to prepare a post today to discuss this and show some options!

    2. Shane says:

      I wanted to let you know that I did a ton of digging and could not find any suitable solutions for this. I found some apps that are supposed to control your slides from an iPhone but they do not work. So…as soon as I run across something that actually works I will do an article on it!

      1. Doug says:

        Yeah, I couldn’t find anything suitable either. Thanks for looking.

  2. I’ve given a few presentations now on my iPad. I created the presentation in Keynote on my iPad to avoid having to do any file transferring. I used the iDemoWeb app to display a web browser (showing real-time online tool functionality was part of my presentation). It worked great, although I spent the first 10 minutes or so answering questions about my iPad. I should be selling them. :)

    1. Shane says:

      Hi Christy!
      Great to see ya. Yeah, I spend all my time answering questions too and then when I pull out my MacBook Air that’s where I wish I had an affiliate link to pull out ;-) So how has it been giving presentations on the iPad?

      1. Hi Shane!
        I’d say presenting with the iPad is as easy if not easier than with a laptop. FIguring out how to turn the projector on and get the display clear enough to read was more of a challenge than the plug and play of content using the iPad. You do feel a little naked without a hunk of metal in front of you, but I think it’s been a great experience so far. And I am not a techie by any means, so if I can do it, anyone can do it. :)

  3. Mark says:

    I created an app to fill the gaps of wanting to see what is on my ipad screen while presenting, and also having a remote control.

    Point App

    Feature Highlights:
    * Import photos from your iPad photo library, including slides in JPEG
    * Rearrange the order of your slides on the fly
    * Display your current slide on the iPad screen while it is connected to a projector or external monitor
    * Remote control your slides with the Control Point app for the iPhone and iPod touch
    * Remote control your iPad volume with the Control Point app for the iPhone and iPod touch
    * 10-hour iPad battery life with WiFi & 3G switched off.
    * 18-hour iPhone battery life with WiFi & 3G switched off.

    1. Shane says:

      Thank you for the comment!

  4. Eric Bjerke says:

    Shane, I can’t seem to figure out how to play the slideshow I just made with keynote. Isn’t there an option to play on a continuous loop without having to tap for the next action? Thanks for everything, man.


    1. Shane says:


      Hi there. If you made the keynote on a Mac, read this thread and I bet it solves the issue. I have seen this before!

      1. Eric Bjerke says:

        Thanks, but I created it on the iPad. Maybe they will fix this in the next update of keynote for iPad because right now it appear it is not possible. Seems kind of lame, huh?

        1. Shane says:

          Hey Eric,
          I think this goes into that list of “things we want to see improved on the iPad”! I think this is called “kiosk” mode as it self runs, but that is definitely not in the app version of keynote.

          1. Eric Bjerke says:

            Well, Shane, a friend of mine got me on the right track, just when I thought it was not possible. Turns out that when you are on the transitions menu there is a tab that you see on each slide that tells the style of transition to the next slide. If you touch that tab, it brings up all the different styles possible. But there is another menu under “options” on the same menu and you can select “tap to start” or “after previous transition”. You can also set the amount of time before each slide transitions. I still haven’t found a way to make it loop back and start again but I think there is probably a way.

            I think it is pretty funny that my searches and my looking through apple help didn’t reveal this to me, but a random friend on facebook who saw my frustration in a status update knew.

            Thanks, again!

            1. Shane says:

              And I sure wish I would have known! I think that what happens since all this is so new is that people don’t use these apps in such detail (yet). I looked on mine but did not see that at all!

              I did some searching on the Looping and I can tell you that all of the forums say that it’s not possible…even in the Apple forum. Apparently, they know it’s an issue.

              Could I do a blog post based on your finding and what you learned?

              1. Eric Bjerke says:

                You certainly may. Of course, I could loop it at least a couple of times by copying the show over again right at the end of the first one.

                Now my challenge is to figure out what keynote help means when they say that you can add music or video “by importing from a presentation that has that has the music or video.” Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem like some sort of Catch 22? HAha. If I had a presentation with video or music, I wouldn’t need to import it! I assume what they must mean is that you can’t do it on the iPad version of Keynote unless you create it on the Mac version and import it. I will see.


                1. Shane says:

                  That really is kind of odd. Are you seeing this in the Keynote help within the app itself? That is true about the looping,you would have a slight gap but no one would really notice.

                  I thought you “could” add in video. Actually – since there is no true file system then what it says kind of makes sense. However, I would think you could add in audio or video as long as it was from iTunes and especially since you can add photos!

                  I’m gonna try it too.

                  1. Eric Bjerke says:

                    Shane, here is the link to the apple iWork help for keynote:


                    It sounds to me like I need keynote on a Mac that already contains the music or video I wish to ad.

                    I will be anxious to see what you find out about it.

                    1. Shane says:

                      Well I can add photos to keynote with no issues but even though I have some videos and of course audio on my iPad, I cannot add it. I made up a really quick keynote on my mac that had one small sound clip and then did the import and it “embeds” it into the keynote version on the iPad so it sounds like it’s about 50% functional….what are you finding?

                  2. Eric Bjerke says:

                    I haven’t made any progress yet.

                    1. Shane says:

                      LOL I only got so far…..did you see the updates today?

  5. Corey Sigouin says:

    I have an Ipad2 and was wondering how to add YouTube videos to my KeyNote application presentation. Is there a way to copy and paste the videos to the slide?

    1. abi says:

      You can’t copy and paste streaming content which is what YouTube content is.

  6. Brett Levy says:

    Hey Shane

    Thanks for the great article – have you figured out how to present with video embedded? I used Office 2 plus to get my ppt onto the iPad – it works really well – problem is where the slides with Video are – there is no option to play the videos?

    Thanks in advance.

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