Meetings and presentations are a way of life in the business world and there’s nothing worse than dragging around a bunch of files and equipment to them. It would be great to have everything that's necessary for a presentation or meeting stores in one place. And if that one place was a thin and lightweight piece of technology—like an iPad—it would be even better.
Whether it’s a structured sales presentation or a casual brainstorming session, here are some iPad apps that help you do everything for a presentation, from creating slides to taking minutes.
Keep in mind that many of these apps allow you to transmit what is displayed on the iPad screen to a TV or projector—all you need are the appropriate cables, which are available in the Apple Store.
When the Situation Calls For Planning and Organization
Keynote is part of the Apple iWork suite. The app offers a tutorial to explain how to create a presentation file, but Keynote is very intuitive and user-friendly. There are only a handful of themes to choose from, but they are all classic and aesthetically pleasing. Keynote offers standard editing capabilities, including animation. It is also compatible with PowerPoint, so you can open and edit PowerPoint files—and the presentation can be emailed in Keynote, PDF or PowerPoint formats.
If you need to include charts or tables, you can purchase Numbers and Pages, the other productivity apps in the iWork suite.
Power Presenter lets you display a presentation (Keynote and PowerPoint included) that's been converted to a PDF file. There are two ways to open the PDF file on your iPad—you can upload it via the file sharing function in iTunes or you can upload it from an e-mail by holding down the attachment icon. Once the file is uploaded, you can present it, mark on slides using the pen and erase markings, and email the marked-up slides to your audience. The app also has a whiteboard feature and provides access to the web with one tap.
2Screens Presentation Expert is similar to other apps when it comes to presentations, web browsing and whiteboard capabilities. It provides the ability to make notations, save the file to your iPad and email the presentation to others. This video tutorial is a great overview of the full features of this app.
One thing that sets 2Screens apart is its companion app, 2Screens Remote, which costs $2.99. If you have both apps, you can use your iPhone as the remote for your iPad to move through the presentation.
If the idea of having a remote appeals to you, but you don’t have an iPhone to run a second app, you can turn your iPad into the remote using mbPointerHD. All you have to do is connect your iPad on a network computer with the presentation.
The app is very straightforward and allows you to move through the slide presentation using your iPad as the remote—one button takes you to the first and last slides. You can also white or black the screen, use a pen and erase.
Quickoffice is compatible with the Microsoft Office suite, and it has a tutorial for each product: Excel, Wordand PowerPoint. Quickoffice enables you to create a presentation in which you can add shapes, change colors and rearrange the order of slides. The finished file can be printed and saved as a PDF.
It is important to remember whenever using any kind of app to transfer and store files, you should check the file and make sure it works. When I initially saved a test file directly to my iPad, I lost the graphics embedded in the PowerPoint. It’s also key to note the compatibility of files—in my test, I wasn’t able to open .pptx (MS Office 2007 and older) files.
For Casual Meetings and Brainstorming Sessions
GoDocs grants access to Google Docs, which many people use as repositories for group project files and to share Word and Excel files. In my own experience, I’ve been on many a conference call during which we were all viewing the same Google Doc file.
Using this app, I was able to access my Google Docs without any trouble, but I did have some challenges uploading a PowerPoint presentation. It's a good lesson for any time you’re in charge of a meeting or presentation—always have a Plan B in case you can’t access a file.
Sadun’s Whiteboard is simply that—an electronic whiteboard—and it can be projected to an external TV or projection screen with the right hardware. This whiteboard app offers many pen colors, marker widths and the ability to add text as well as photos. Editing functions include undo and erase. After the whiteboard is created, it can be saved directly to the iPad and sent by email to others.
8. Idea Boards
Idea Boards offers a whiteboard along with a chalkboard, graph paper and legal pad. This app has more backgrounds than Sadun’s Whiteboard, but not as much functionality—you can't move or erase objects on the board. According to their website, the makers of this app promise more board designs and functionality (including the ability to export as a PDF) in the future.
If you’re not sure how much you would use a whiteboard app, this app could be a good way to test the waters without incurring a big expense. You can check out a demo here.
Ever had those moments where you need to visualize something? Corkulous can give you an electronic corkboard, on which you can place photos, post-it notes, contact info and to-dos. The app allows you to store multiple cork boards, and it also has the ability to nest them. Corkulous understands its role as an idea board, and so it provides the flexibility to email cork boards to others and to lock them so no one else has access, just in case you’re conjuring up some secret plans.
In addition, Corkulous has a companion app called Todo that allows you to export your cork board into a to-do list if you need a way to put those ideas into action.
Someone always ends up being the scribe at meetings, and the scribe usually has to carry note-filled pieces of paper back to the office and transcribe them. Enter Penultimate, which allows for note-taking directly on the iPad—you can write and draw using your finger as the pen. Once you're done taking notes, you can email the file to everyone right then and there. Writing with your finger takes some getting used to, but once you're used to it, the feature is very convenient.
Instaviz is great for those times when you need a beautiful flow chart but can’t seem to draw a nice-looking circle. Using shape recognition software, Instaviz takes your rough sketches and turns them into perfect shapes and straight lines. Its editing feature allows you to include text, change fonts and add color to enhance the look of the diagram. The app also lets you select and delete shapes in a diagram.
Once the diagram is completed, you can save it to your iPad or send it to others. The app also allows you to duplicate the diagram, in case you want to use the foundation of one graphic to start another.
As a bonus, here’s an app to watch: Office2 HD. This is a Microsoft-compatible app that currently allows you to create and edit Word and Excel files on your iPad—and the developers have an update in the works that will add PowerPoint. I got a sneak peek of the PowerPoint features, which allow you to create a slide presentation, including editing features like colors, shapes and photos. So, if you’re looking for one app that will allow you to create, view and edit your Office docs, this could be it.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of apps to help you in your next presentation or meeting. And, pairing these apps up with your favorite file storage app such as Box.net or Dropbox will only add to your productivity.