PG's Super Paranoid Guide to Delivering Live Laptop Presentations
October 2019 (perspective of an assistant professor)
I summarize practical tips for making sure your laptop works when you're presenting in front of a live audience.
This article is a spiritual successor to PG's Super Paranoid Guide to Running User Studies (and Giving Live Demos).
I've given hundreds of presentations and attended thousands of them (counting both class lectures and formal research talks), so I've seen all sorts of technical problems come up. Why? Because ...
Laptops are notoriously unreliable when hooked up to projectors or external displays, since every hardware connection is subtly different in invisible ways and those code paths in your apps aren't well-tested.
Here are some things you can do to maximize the chances that your laptop works when presenting live. I'm assuming you're using PowerPoint or a similar desktop app like Keynote.
Level 1: everyone should do this!
Level 2: Paranoid
Level 3: Super Paranoid