A PowerPoint Jam

Trying to find a PowerPoint solution minutes before our presentation was hair-raising!

Trying to find a PowerPoint solution minutes before our presentation was hair-raising!

Recently, I was doing a presentation at a conference for reading teachers with two other authors.  The three of us had met twice to plan our session and had conversed via email.  Two of us had pre-loaded our PowerPoint shows onto my netbook and gave them a test-drive.  Our third partner lived a bit farther away, and didn’t have a chance to load her show.  She also was going to arrive a little later than us, but in plenty of time for us to transfer her show from her flashdrive to the one computer.

 Then – panic.

 Her show, created on a Mac, wouldn’t load onto my PC.  I’m enough of a TechoToddler to know what I didn’t know – and that was how to coax one device into talking with another.  Then suddenly I remembered something my husband had said – that PowerPoint, without the bells and whistles, is really just a series of images.

Time was ticking away.

The solution was to convert her images into jpegs.  But how?  Luckily, my colleague’s husband was working from home.  He found her file and exported it as individual jpegs and sent them via email.

The clock was ticking louder as each image downloaded.

But, just in the nick of time, she was able to transfer the images onto my netbook.

Instead of one click to launch a show as with PowerPoint, she had to go back to the desktop to find each image during her presentation.  The good thing was she had already labeled them in numeric order, so they were easier to find than if each had been given a title. Finding the images became a bit of a game, and the participants were very understanding – they even joined in the treasure hunt for each slide.

So what was the Big Take-Away for me?  When doing a group presentation, load and rehearse everyone’s show before leaving home.  And don’t panic if things don’t go as expected.  Options fly out of your head when your adrenaline is surging and you’re in flight mode.  Have a back-up plan in place.

All's well that ends well.  Michelle Markel, Mary Ann Fraser & Alexis O'Neill breathing easier post-presentation.

All's well that ends well. Michelle Markel, Mary Ann Fraser & Alexis O'Neill breathing easier post-presentation.

Oh – and remember, if all else fails, talking was invented before PowerPoint.  It’s okay to just do your presentation, painting pictures out loud with words.

9 Comments on “A PowerPoint Jam”

  • I am just now graduating from overhead projector images to powerpoint and with be giving my first pp presentations in West Africa this month – on a Mac, with a thumb drive backup. I’m crossing all digits that 1) things will go well or 2) if they don’t, someone will be able to fix it. Oh, and I’m also taking my old acetates images along with me just in case.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. To my list of “important things to check or ask” I shall now add:

    “Mac or pc?”

  • My heart began racing all over again just reading this, but your advice is right on the mark. I might also add that having notecards as a back up for any talk is probably not a bad idea. You just never know when a computer is going to get pissy.

  • My husband always takes overhead transparencies with him as a backup. I thought this was a great idea. However, overheads are slowly becoming obsolete, so “..talking…” will have to do in an emergency and maybe some singing and dancing!

  • This is why I still use transparencies! Eek! I have yet to find a school that doesn’t have an overhead somewhere. They are still used, trust me on that! I also have all my images in photos, too, so that in a pinch I can use an ELMO, which many schools also have. I’ve heard too many nightmare stories involving pp, especially from Mac owners. Nope, not for me!

  • Carolyn – Up until recently, I’d toally agree with you — that most schools have overhead projectors. Until I got to a school that didn’t. Not even one anywhere in the district (and my hosts were librairians who would know!) I’ve since converted to PowerPoint — but I bring my own equipment: an Acer netbook computer, a slim Casio projector and my show on a flashdrive, just in case. These items weigh about the same as my collection of transparencies and take up about as much space. My peace of mind is enormous knowing I have this in my kit!

    By the way, at the school with no overhead, I had to quickly translate my program to an Elmo, but the color qulaity was pitiful and the gymnastics I had to execute in order to make things run smoothly would’ve made a comic Youtube piece!

  • Interesting Alexis! I didn’t realize the projector was that lightweight. Hmmmm….

    I’m loving all these tips! Thanks for doing this!

  • This definitely proves that you always need a “Plan B.” I’ve shied away from PowerPoint presentations since you never know if they’re going to suddenly not work. What works for me is interactive presentations, where I ask the kids to make up a story with me, or to draw with me. That gets their attention, and there are no PowerPoint failures.

  • When working with small groups, I think the more personal the better. But where it gets tricky is when you’re in an assembly of 250 or more kids and it’s hard for the kids in the back to see what’s going on up front. That’s why I think a combo of interactive elements along with images (whether they are PowerPoint slides, transparencies or very large pictures & props) works for the bigger groups