For the past few months now I have been using my iPad 2 for just about everything. Reading, writing, social media, photos, web browsing, even video editing… it does it all in one neat little package. Read my previous post on why I love it so much here.
But today I’d like to share specifically on what I’ve learnt about the iPad has a communicator’s tool – in my case for teaching and preaching…
Firstly, can I just say what a pleasure this device has made the entire process – eliminating so many previous steps, taking paper and printing completely out the picture, and enabling me to prepare and present better, faster, and more remotely. Here’s how I do it…
Step 1: Mind-mapping
I always start off by brainstorming general thoughts or impressions. Things on the topic I have to present that immediately jump to mind, stand out, or have been on my heart. For this I find mind-mapping to be extremely effective. I don’t necessarily have to worry at this stage about structure or outline, and mind-mapping allows me to simply splurge everything in my mind onto paper, including articles I have come across, tweets, links, Bible verses, even pictures or photos.
For this I use two programs – on my desktop: MindJet Manager (Free), on my iPad: iThoughts HD ($9.99), and on my iPhone: iThoughts (Free). These programs sync seamlessly so whether I am at home on the couch and something jumps to mind, or at the office at my laptop, I simply add to the map and all 3 devices stay perfectly synced.
At this stage I just have to mention Evernote (Free). This is undoubtably the app I use the most on my phone, laptop and iPad, and is incredibly powerful and useful! It allows me to capture ideas, thoughts, photos, websites, quotes etc etc instantly; organise my thoughts effectively; and access that information fast from anywhere. It is basically my brain on the web.
Step 2: Word Processing
After brainstorming, I begin the process of getting it down into a logical structure. With my mind-map open and at hand I start with a basic outline or a scripture as a skeleton, and then fill in the “meat” with stories, anecdotes, illustrations etc. This process usually takes the longest and requires some refining. I’ve found it helps to have a “cobb” – a single “main point” upon which everything else hangs. You may expand that idea into more sub points or applications, but ask yourself, “If my listeners get one thing and one thing only, what do I want that to be?” At this stage you have to be ruthless to stay true to the “main thing” and eliminate everything else that does not point towards or illuminate your main idea.
For this stage I use Microsoft Word for Mac on my laptop, or Pages ($9.99) on my iPad. I find these two programs are the most powerful, allow me to use the formatting I like, and using Dropbox (free) I can keep them in sync.
Step 3: Exporting
Once I am happy with the content, the next step is to get it on to my iPad ready for presenting. Of course you could always just present straight from Pages or from your Word doc, but I find that to be limiting. You can’t easily alter the text and the scrolling down feels unnatural. I prefer using GoodReader ($4.99), which in my opinion is one of the best apps for the iPad and certainly worth every penny!
Because I like my words to be big on the iPad screen, I format my text to 22 Arial and then save the doc as a PDF file, before copying the file to Dropbox. GoodReader works hand in hand with Dropbox and so I can simply open any Dropbox file from within GoodReader and I’m good to go.
Step 4: Presenting
GoodReader has many features but what I like about it most is the intuitive scrolling and zooming, the ability to highlight, scratch out, or add text on the fly. You can even add diagrams and free-hand drawings to your notes in case you get some last minute inspiration. It also has a very handy “auto-lock” function that prevents the screen from auto-rotating as you move around. Just make sure you adjust your “sleep mode” under settings on your iPad so it doesn’t go to sleep in the middle of your talk!
I also know that the iPad can be used in conjunction with a VGA out and Keynote ($9.99) to present powerpoint presentations effortlessly and stylishly, but I have not yet explored this myself…
Well, if you’ve read this far, well done! I hope that this helps those of you who communicate and/or teach regularly and that it will help you present with greater confidence and clarity! Good luck!