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SlideShark is the Presentation App to Beat

As I’ve written about before on ProfHacker, I am striving to go paperless at conferences and in the classroom. Aside from saving paper, I simply prefer carrying less with me wherever I go. An iPad or other tablet makes this increasingly possible, but there’s one use for the iPad at conferences and in the classroom that I’ve consistently been disappointed by: running presentations from the iPad.

It’s a breeze to hook up the iPad to a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector, and I love the way the iPad 2 and newer mirrors itself on an external screen. But I always run into the same problems trying to show a PowerPoint deck from the iPad (I work primarily on a Windows PC, so Keynote isn’t an appealing option, especially with a $9.99 price tag).

The first problem is inconsistent formatting of imported slideshows when I use Office suite-type apps like Office2 HD. I can work around this problem by designing no-frill basic presentations with default fonts, of course. But I would prefer not to have to think about these design questions when I’m creating the slideshow on my laptop.

The second problem is the lack of presentation notes. I can’t speak for Keynote, but every other app I’ve tried fails to include my presentation notes, let alone display them when I project my presentation on an external screen.

SlideShark solves both of these problems. This free app handily shows Powerpoint presentations and it displays your notes when you run your slideshow. It’s also a breeze to get your presentations into SlideShark; you can upload them to the SlideShark site, which the app syncs with; or you can grab them from Dropbox or Box.

Here’s what SlideShark looks like when you run a presentation on it:

SlideShark Screen Capture

Highlights of SlideShark

  1. A slide preview in the upper left displays your current slide. If you have  animations on the slide (for example, text that appears with each new bullet point), the preview will also tell you how many animations remain on the slide.

  2. Projection controls in the upper right. These controls include two timers: an overall timer for the entire slideshow thus far and a timer that shows how long you’ve been on the current slide. Elsewhere in the app’s settings you can create timed slides that change automatically, in increments ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds—perfect for Pecha Kucha presentations.

  3. The presentation notes in the lower half of the screen. This is the reason I love SlideShark. It’s the only non-Keynote app I’ve seen to display notes—and display them while you’re projecting to an external screen.

The only drawback to SlideShark is that you cannot create presentations directly in the app itself. You can reorder slides and hide individual slides, but SlideShark is not an editing program. It’s geared toward users who create their presentations on a Mac or PC (though you can certainly create a presentation in an app like Office2 HD, save it to Dropbox, and then open it in SlideShark).

The SlideShark iOS app is free, and it includes 100MB of free space in the SlideShark cloud account—enough for quite a few PowerPoint files. You can remove presentations from either within the app or the CloudShark website to regain space. You can also upgrade to 500MB for $49/year (or 1GB for $95/year). Or, similar to Dropbox, increase your free space in 25MB increments through referrals (such as this one).

Have you tried SlideShark? How do you present from your iPad? And do you have any tips for creating and displaying slideshows on your iPad?

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by Steve Garner]

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