Let's face it, sometimes things go wrong. If you want to play the odds, delivering your presentation without any backup plans, then you're taking a big risk, and eventually it will come back to bite you. Here, we'll review a few of the common problems from a technical perspective and I'll offer my advice on what to do if you find yourself in that situation or how you could have avoided it altogether. We'll cover what to do when the computer won't load your slide show, when the projector can't see your laptop, and when audio and video aren't playing. Whenever you're running the show on a computer other than the one you used to create it, you have to be mindful of audio, video, and version compatibility.
PowerPoint 2010 embeds audio and video by default now, so that's not as much of a concern as it used to be. But if the presentation computer doesn't have the same version as the one you used to design your slide show, you might be in for a rude surprise when you begin your presentation. PowerPoint offers a Package Presentation feature which takes your files, including fonts, video, and audio, and bundles everything together for you onto a CD or USB stick. In PowerPoint 2010, you can find this feature under the File menu in Save & Send.
This feature even allows us to add additional files such as PDFs and other PowerPoint presentations. Here we can Rename the CD, Add additional files, specify a number of Options, such as whether or not to include Linked files, like video and audio, or to Embed TrueType fonts. If we add additional slide shows, we can choose the run order and configure the CD to automatically launch the first and cycle through them. The best part about this feature is that it copies the free PowerPoint Viewer as well, which can be installed onto nearly any Windows computer to display your slide shows, even if they don't have PowerPoint.
And note that if we choose Copy to Folder instead of Copy to CD, we can specify our own USB drive rather than a CD. We would click Browse and navigate to the drive letter that we'd like to save our files to, and hit Select. Clicking OK will add the free PowerPoint Viewer, our slide show, any additional files that we've added, plus any linked files, including video, audio, and TrueType fonts. But for now, I'll just Cancel out and return back to my slide show. The second problem I'd like to discuss is when the projector can't see your laptop.
This often happens when you power your laptop after the projector is already warmed up. Not to worry though, your laptop has a few ways to nudge the projector back into sync. If you're running Windows 7, use the shortcut key Windows Key+P. That's P like projector, and you can toggle the video output of your laptop. You should be able to cycle through the various settings and choose the one that suits your needs. Otherwise, look on your laptop for an alternative function key combination. There is usually an icon showing a projection screen or external monitor, or it might say LCD.
For example, on Dells, this is usually Function+F8. Remember to hold down the FN key as you press the appropriate key. This should cycle through various output modes. You'll want to pause for about two seconds with each key press. A third problem is if the projected image is distorted or skewed. If the projector cannot work with the video setting of your laptop, the image might appear distorted, skewed, or you'll get an error message on the projector which might mention resolution. The video in Chapter05, Display Resolution and Clarity, discusses possible solutions to this problem.
And the fourth problem is if audio and video aren't playing. If your video doesn't display at all, it's likely because your video file can't be found. Perhaps it's on the network and you're not, or maybe it's on a drive that you currently don't have access to. This problem could have been solved by using the Package Presentation feature discussed earlier. If it's just audio that's not working, you have a few things to troubleshoot. First, is it PowerPoint or the entire laptop that's not making any sound? Click the Volume icon from the Taskbar and adjust it.
Recall that as you adjust the slider, you should hear Windows ding each time you make a movement. Make sure it's at the maximum. If you can hear Windows, just not PowerPoint, you might need to click onto the Mixer. Here you'll want to pay attention to the different Volume levels in each of the columns. It may be that your PowerPoint application, web browser, media player, or any other application is down at the bottom, even though the computer itself is at maximum. Note that you can individually adjust these settings.
If things look fine there, check your cable connection next. Many laptops have many jacks that are the same size as your audio cable. You may have simply plugged your speakers into the microphone jack instead. Next, check the power and volume of your external speakers or verify that the audio source of your AV system is set to your laptop rather than a DVD player or Desktop machine. If you can, try plugging in a different laptop or another device such as an iPod. If you're still not getting any sound, restart the laptop and hope that that fixes it.
Remember that the fail-safe backup plan is always have a hard copy of your presentation with you printed well in advance. In a pinch you can use this to guide you through the presentation and you can also make copies of it for your audience.
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