- by Joel Wagner
For almost two years now I've been preaching and presenting every week in different churches and I've learned to adapt to just about every conceivable setup when using powerpoint!
Probably every pastor and missionary will tell you "Technology is great... when it works!"
Yes, I've seen my share of unexplainable glitches; loose connectors that have to be held in by hand during the presentation, remotes that don't work, projectors that oddly resize my screen, movies that play sound but not the video, screens that shake due to interference from the audio cable....
But technology is a great blessing for communicating our ministry vision, I can't imagine the last two years without it. Technology though can be a black hole, an endless pit of research. And trying to keep up with the latest cutting edge advancements would be exhausting.
As preachers and ministry leaders we have to resist the urge to be "tech junkies."
We just don't have time for that. But I believe we can, with a little advise and direction, keep up with the necessary technology to help us communicate more effectively. Whether it's showing a presentation or simply working through the outline of a passage, we can use some simple tools to help our people be more engaged.
One of those simple tools is the iPad.
While becoming an increasingly advanced device there are some iPad programs we can learn fairly easily that will help us maintain a balanced use of technology.
Most churches I present in have a simple set up: one projector, permanent or portable, with a VGA cable connection for a laptop.
(I've learned a lot about projectors in the process and have been very pleased with the portable Epson projector I carry with me... let's just say lumens on older projectors leave much to be desired! I'll be glad to share some advice with anyone needing a projector recommendation)
There's usually a few variables when presenting in churches:
- Some don't have the laptop connection available at the platform.
- Most setups don't include a "throwback" screen for the speaker to see while he's presenting.
- Some don't have audio jacks to run sound from a laptop
The first two challenges can be remedied with the use of an iPad.
The third problem will require one additional, though simple solution called a DI converter box. It connects any standard microphone XLR cable to a laptop's 3.5mm audio jack - using a 1/8 adapter - and filters the sound so you eliminate that buzzing feedback. I sometime show a DVD from my laptop but I've found I can embed video files directly into my (Keynote) presentation. Either way a laptop isn't necessary for presenting with audio. If you use an Apple TV as I recommend below then you should also be able to connect an audio cable to the Apple TV with a similar setup.
I run my presentation from an iPad mini which allows me to be free from my laptop. It doesn't matter where the projector's computer connection is since I don't have to look at my laptop during presentations nor does my computer need to be in line-of-sight to receive the signal of a remote - I don't use one. In my case the iPad mini's Keynote App functions as the remote for the Keynote program on my laptop (the two can be linked through wifi or a Bluetooth ad hoc network created on my laptop).
I also don't have to constantly be turning around to look at the projector screen to know where I am in the presentation; or if I'm preaching, to read from my outline. What's on the projector screen is mirrored on my iPad in a large enough font that I can read from my device with no trouble. I can also adjust my iPad display to show my current screen while also showing the next screen or my presenter notes.
I know Apple has a PowerPoint App for iPad and Prezi is a web based presentation program that's gaining popularity. Either may also work with my setup or the one I propose below, but I have never tried those apps/programs and cannot vouch for their consistency or ease of use.
I much prefer the Keynote program from Apple for all my presentations. The latest update even has a built in laser looking pointer controled simply by moving your finger on your iPad screen. Or you can select different colors with which to "write" on the screen. I also make frequent use of the navigation feature that lets me see thumbnails of my entire presentation allowing me to scroll through and select any screen to go to. This means I can adjust my presentation and skip ahead based on time constraints. Or maybe in a Q & A time I want to jump to a previous or future slide? Not a problem!
I've been surprised and encouraged by how many people comment on this tech setup. "It's so smooth!" They seem to appreciate that "it's not distracting" and "doesn't feel like a classroom lecture." Many have questions as well: "How do you do that?" "How simple would that be for us to do?"
People see my Mac laptop and assume that the setup can only be done by Apple computer users. But that's where the iPad comes in. I use mine as a remote, but in reality the iPad can run the presentation since the Keynote program is now a fully functional app on iOS devices. This eliminates the need for a Mac laptop and through the use of a device called an Apple TV you can send your presentation to any projector. The Apple device costs about $99, not a major investment. iPads are also fairly cost effective and so many people are now using them.
Since it's easier to show you the simplicity of the setup rather than describe it in detail let me share a video tutorial I recently discovered that walks you through connecting your iPad wirelessly to your projector, see below.
One final disclaimer: There's a lot of debate about preaching from an electronic device, particularly in reading Scripture from a tablet vs. from a printed Bible. While there are valid points on both side of the argument let me just personally encourage you toward giving a priority to the printed word; make a point to read from your Bible! Bring your Bible to the pulpit and primarily use your iPad or electronic device for notes and powerpoint.
I hope this saves you some time and the headache of sorting through a myriad of available options today. And Trust this will allow you to use technology simply yet effectively without it becoming overwhelming or distracting to your people.
Careful communication produces clear understanding!