Essential iPad apps for presenters; Issue #257 March 20, 2012

Presentation Tip: Essential iPad apps for presenters

Apple’s latest iPad was released last week and many presenters either already have an iPad or are considering purchasing one. I have had one for about a year (the iPad 2) and have found it very valuable for my work. In this article, I want to share what I consider to be some essential iPad apps for presenters.

GoodReader – This is the first app I suggest you purchase when you get your iPad. It is a file viewer, but it is so much more than that when you dig into all the capabilities it has. I use it primarily as the best PDF viewer I have found. I have eliminated paper speaking notes and use a PDF copy that I view in GoodReader. One great feature is the ability to add handwritten notes to the PDF so I can make last minute updates to my speaking notes. GoodReader can also display images one at a time or in a loop. This means that you could even show your slides (as images) or photos from your iPad.

Penultimate – This app allows you to take handwritten notes on a virtual pad of paper. I use it to capture audience expectations at the start of the workshop. I no longer need a flipchart because of this app. If I want everyone to see what I have written, I can hook the iPad up to the projector and we can all see it. You can also use custom paper designs. I have created a design that has two slides on one page and I can sketch out the slide headline, slide visual, and data source while I am travelling. Then I or someone else can use the detailed slide outlines to create the actual slides.

Dropbox – DropBox is more than just an app, it is a service that can be used on your iPad and elsewhere. This service syncs files from your computer to their cloud space and then you can access the files on your iPad. I have found it to be the best way to move files back and forth between the iPad and my computer. It allows you to keep a copy of travel information, slides, handouts, and other important files in a place that you can access from different devices. Because many apps also allow you to access Dropbox, you can easily import the files into apps such as GoodReader. This service is free for a limited amount of storage and you can pay for more storage space if you need it. Learn more and register at

SlideShark – When this app was released, I hailed it as the best app for presenting PowerPoint slides on an iPad and my opinion has not changed. This service allows you to upload a PowerPoint file to their site from either your computer or your iPad. They convert the file into an iPad optimized format. You download the optimized file to the iPad app and you can now present it on your iPad. The conversion is the best I have found. It preserves fonts, most animations, images, and virtually all of the key features you will use. It does not handle more advanced features like hyperlinks and embedded videos, but most presenters won’t use those anyways. You can sign up and get extra storage space in your account by using this link

I am sure that those of you who have been using your iPad in presentations have other apps to suggest. Go to my blog at and add your comments so we can all discover iPad apps that help presenters.