If you’re a Mac person and do lots of presentations, you’ve probably already learned the many benefits of migrating from old-school Microsoft PowerPoint to the slick Keynote presentation application from Apple. It’s part of the iWork suite and with very little effort just makes your presentations that much more attractive and polished.
What you might not realize is that there are some very compelling reasons to run it dual-screen rather than the simple, rather retro “mirrored screen” mode when you have a projection system or bigger screen plugged into your computer.
By default, when you play a Keynote presentation and there’s only one display, the slides are full screen on both the computer and the second display. The keyboard lets you access all sorts of nifty shortcuts, but it’s still very basic. If you’re a PowerPoint junkie, though, it might be what you’re familiar with.
Keynote is smarter than that, however, and if you run in dual screen mode, you’ll find that the external display gets the full-screen slide, while the presenter’s screen shows the current slide, a thumbnail of the next slide, current time and elapsed time since you started the presentation.
If you’re organized enough to have lecture notes, they can be displayed on the screen too, little bullet points that remind you of the key topics you want to touch on while that slide is displayed on the screen. Smart, useful.
Here’s how the presenter’s screen looked when I taught a class last week:
I particularly appreciate being able to see the slide coming next, helps me have smooth transitions in what I’m talking about and the points I’m making, plus it helps the dreaded “oh yeah, I did keep that slide in my deck” sort of glitch.
What most people that use Keynote don’t realize is that when you’re looking at the presenter’s screen there are a bunch of neat things you can do. Just move your cursor up to the top of the screen and a toolbar pops up:
Click on “Slides” and it’s a breeze to navigate through your slides without anyone in the audience seeing what you’re doing…
Click on “Black” and it simply turns the secondary screen black, hiding your slides. Useful if you switch to a panel discussion or Q&A, or are between presentations but are planning on continuing with the same slide deck. Another click and the presentation is the most recently displayed slide, as you’d expect.
Click on “Options” and you can easily swap which display gets the fullscreen slides and which gets the presenter screen, among other things:
My favorite trick in this spot is to choose “Scale Slides to Display” but if you’d like to tweak or modify the presenter display (for example, to include your slide notes), choose that and you’ll see there are a bunch of useful tweaks available:
The time remaining feature is a great one, particularly if you’re an event or conference organizer and want to ensure that your speakers keep track of time and finish on time. Just set it to their time slot minus five minutes (Q&A, ya know) and it’ll automatically count down once they start the actual presentation itself.
Finally, click on “Help” while you’re here too. There are an astonishing number of different keyboard options available to you in presenter mode:
Most useful of this bunch to me? Knowing that “Home” and “End” actually jump you to the edges of your presentation without the audience seeing Keynote itself. Frankly, in my opinion, any time the audience has to see your application, rather than your slides, it’s a sign of being rather an amateur. Avoiding all of that = good.