Friday, November 2, 2012

How to conduct an offline presentation using the Chromebook

The offline capacity of the Chromebook is certainly growing. This is a very good thing and continues to add a lot of value to the capacity of the Chromebook to truly be an everyday computer.

While I am connected to the Web most of the day and do most of my work and personal related tasks online, presentations are a "sticky area." I never trust the wifi connection in the room where I'll be presenting, even if the client or host ensures that it's a "fast" connection.

That being the case, I've been nervous at the thought of using my Chromebook for a presentation. There is nothing worse than getting in the middle of a presentation only to have aspects of it fail due to slow, inadequate, or a completely absent connection to the internet.

The only alternative I was aware of was not a great one. I could export the slides from Google Presentations as a PDF. The only problem with that is that I couldn't access "full screen" mode, and I had to scroll through the slides. I consider this option very unprofessional and not one I was interested in using.

Now that my Samsung Chromebook 550 3G is running Chrome OS v23, I now have access to Quickoffice Viewer. (This was previously not available for v21.) Quickoffice allows me to view native Microsoft Office files—particularly PowerPoint—through its viewer offline.

Here is what I did:

  1. Open Google Presentations (or now called Slides).
  2. Export your presentation as a .PPT file. You can export as a .PPTX file, but I had some formatting issues change the layout of the slides. Since Quickoffice is a view-only option, I wasn't able to correct the inconsistencies. I did not have any issues with the .PPT file version.
  3. Click CTRL+M to open the native Chrome OS File Manager.
  4. Click on the "Download" tab (which is your local storage).
  5. Click to open the presentation file. Quickoffice immediately takes over. 
  6. Move cursor to bottom right hand side of screen where you get the options to print, save, etc. (This is similar to how you save a PDF you are viewing online.)
  7. Click on the play icon. You are immediately placed in full screen mode.

Things you won't be able to do:

  • Automation 
  • Slide Transitions
  • Deploy embedded videos
  • Interactive functions

These are not an issue for me because I think they are more distractions than enhancements. (Personal preference and philosophy.) However, it may be an issue if you need them in your slideshow. When I do need to show a video, I simply save the video file to local storage just like the presentation file. Then, I open both and switch between full screen tabs. (This is not perfect or seamless, but it gets the job done without much hassle.)

Of course, if you are presenting to a large enough group, you've likely already emailed your presentation file in whatever format you choose to the event organizer who will run the presentation from the control booth. For most people, they will never give a presentation in that type of setting. This post is intended to help those who run their own presentations in small group settings.

Even though there are some drawbacks, this process at least allows me to run a presentation without the fear of the wifi connection inhibiting the flow of or distracting from the intended experience. This means I still get to travel and use my Chromebook...whew!

What other tips and tricks have you learned about using your Chromebook for presentations?