Are iPads and tablet PCs viable substitutes for speaking notes?
May 14, 2010 12:16 AM   Subscribe

Could a tablet PC or a device like an iPad feasibly be used instead of paper notes in public speaking?

Having never used or indeed seen anybody else use one, I'm interested to hear of any experiences in using relatively small-screened devices in public speaking environments. In particular, is finding a page quickly in an electronic document, through a touch screen, more unwieldy than flicking the pages of a bound folder or set of notes?

For the record, I'm looking for ways to reduce paper waste at work.
posted by Fiasco da Gama to Technology (10 answers total)
Yeah, totally doable. I don't know that an iPad is the right device, but a tablet PC would totally work.

However, given the sheer enormity of the time wasted as people fuck around trying to get the projector/microphone/lights/slides/music/video to work, having another device that's going to break down or flummox somebody would annoy the bejesus out of me.
posted by Netzapper at 12:40 AM on May 14, 2010

I saw a stand up comic use an iPhone last week. It was a friendly room, so lots of comics used notes, but the iPhone didn't work for me. Lots of time apparently flipping through menus.

That doesn't mean it wouldn't work, just make sure you're organized.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:40 AM on May 14, 2010

I used a MacBook Pro & Evernote for my notes for a presentation talk a couple of days ago & it was fine. With an iPad you could use an app like Stanza which makes it easy to enlarge text to an appropriate size and flip through a document by tapping the edge of each page or sliding with a scrubber bar.
posted by i_cola at 1:34 AM on May 14, 2010

Sure. Two points: first, use a large font size (16 pt or higher) and landscape format, for ease of visibility. Second, use a PDF file or a tree-based RTF-capable program for the notes. Straight word processors are not helpful in this context.

As Netzapper suggests, a good public speaker should be capable of forging ahead if his electronic crutch collapses beneath him.
posted by yclipse at 4:32 AM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Tablet PCs with OneNote are the tool for this job. The downside of the tablet PC right now is weight. You just can't hold it in one hand for long without getting very tired. For extended standing or even for taking notes while seated, it's a good idea to invest in a shoulder strap/case to keep the screen at the right angle. For standing at a podium, you should have an angled stand.

Handwriting on the iPad is "not there yet". Even if you use a stylus like the Pogo Stylus, you're still going to have problems because your hand contacting the screen will throw it off. It's probably going to be a long time before the iPad becomes hospitable to true stylus-based applications.

Depending on your needs, you might want to look into an old HP TC1100, a celebrated device of olden days which could split into 2 parts, the screen and the keyboard/body. HP's working on a similar device now, but it may or may not have pen input.
is a really good site that reviews and keeps track of all the devices, with an eye toward a pen-based computing style. You can see lots of videos of the iPad and other devices in action doing the sorts of things that you would probably want to be doing.

Feel free to message me if you want more detailed info about what it's like to use tablet PC's.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:41 AM on May 14, 2010

I did this just a few weeks ago, when I had to give a talk at a conference. I used my iPad the same way I would have used a regular old print-out of my speech, and it worked out well -- I was able to edit the document on the fly (and was therefore able to see my last-minute changes in an actual font instead of trying to decipher crossed out words and scribbles and arrows and whatnot on a wrinkled page) and since I had the iPad in its little folder-type case, it just looked like I brought a folder to the lectern with me (so it wasn't too "look at me! I have an iPad! You other people should feel bad, with your crumpled up speaking notes and laughable oversized index cards!").
posted by mothershock at 6:09 AM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: For a speech of any importance, I would bring the same notes on paper as a backup in case there were battery issues or other technical problems with the iPad. So it might not reduce paper as much as you imagine.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2010

I saw a presentation given using Keynote on the iPad. It was smooth, but he never really had to look for a specific slide instead of just going to the next slide, so I can't speak to that.
posted by ignignokt at 7:03 AM on May 14, 2010

It seems you could go even smaller. I've noticed a trend of tv reporters reading from iPhones.
posted by kongg at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2010

Response by poster: You've all been very helpful, thank you.

At this stage for my office it does look like there's too little advantage in high-tech to justify the cost. Once iPads come out in Australia though I might have to play with one to assess it. For work, yeah.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:28 PM on May 19, 2010

« Older They say it used to cost $5,000 to fly from NY to...   |   Fixing fonts in Opera and Chrome Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.