PowerPoint from the gadget in your pocket

Can you really deliver a PowerPoint presentation directly from an Apple iPod, RIM BlackBerry, or Palm Treo? The answer is "yes," and I'm going to tell you how to do it.

No, I'm not talking about the many easy, well-known methods of using your gadget as a "remote control" unit to advance slides on a laptop or to view PowerPoint slides on the device itself. Most iPod users can figure out how to show pictures on a TV. And Windows Mobile devices are easy to use for presentations -- they even come with PowerPoint Mobile.

See How to Deliver a Better PowerPoint Presentation

I'm talking about hard-core mobile presentations using your iPod, BlackBerry or Treo; starting with your PowerPoint slides and presenting on standard business projectors -- without a laptop.

Why would anyone want to do such a thing?

There are legitimate and practical reasons - including:

- Using your gadget as a last-resort backup in case your laptop fails;

- Freeing you to travel on business with no laptop at all;

- And preparing you to make your pitch anytime, even when there's no laptop handy.

But the best reason is this: Presenting directly from an iPod, BlackBerry or Treo is a flashy way to show off. Nobody in the room will forget you -- or your presentation.

Here's how to do it.

From an Apple iPod

Presenting from any mobile device involves three parts: conversion of PowerPoint slides, displaying the converted slides and connecting the gadget to a projector.

Any iPod with a color screen can be used as a presentation device. But first you need the right software.

A US$20.95 product called ThinkFree Office 3 Show, iPod Edition, lets you create, edit, convert and store your presentations on your iPod. The conversion process saves each PowerPoint slide as a .JPEG image. To present, you scroll through those .JPEGs using the normal photo viewing function of your iPod (choose Photos, then Slideshow Settings).

A US$17.95 software application called iPresent It converts PowerPoint slides to iPod-displayable images. (If you have a Mac and convert from Apple's Keynote software, rather than PowerPoint, the software will even preserve your builds and transitions.)

Another app, the US$14.95 iPodSync, is designed to synchronize your iPod with Microsoft Outlook, turning your iPod into a PDA. A free download for iPodSync users called PowerPoint Exporter batch-converts PowerPoint slides into .JPEGs for presenting.

If you're a cheapskate and don't need all these other options, PowerPoint lets you "Save As" either a .TIFF or JPEG, which you can use to create a slideshow and run from your iPod. It's time consuming, but the price is right.

To connect your iPod to a projector, buy a US$59.95 product called the Monster iTV Link for iPod and use the high-quality S-video option. You'll also need to buy the US$39.00 Apple iPod Universal Dock if you don't already have one. You can leave the iPod in its cradle, and advance slides using the included remote. (Bonus: You can also use this gear at home to connect your iPod to your stereo, TV and computer.)

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Mike Elgan

Computerworld
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