Hack: Use your laptop computer as a teleprompter for your next Church talk.
I have taken to using my laptop computer as a teleprompter for Sacrament Meeting talks. Trust me, it is not as garish as it sounds. It is actually very easy to do, and is much less distracting than shuffling papers. It also forces me to get the talk written early so I can put it in the computer.
Here is how to do it:
- Whatever you do…. no matter what…. and this is job #1 so pay attention…. always have a paper copy of your notes in your suit pocket. Allow me to repeat myself — Have paper backup of your talk. To sum up this point: Make sure you have your notes on paper, and easily accessible in case your computer dies.
- Write your talk, refine it and get it to the point where you would normally print it out as notes. In my case I work from a hybrid of a bullet point outline & written-out quotations.
- Enter those notes, page by page into a power point presentation. Use huge font, as it is irrelevant how many slides/pages you use.
- Get a “wireless presenter” You plug a small receiver into any USB port, then hold the tiny clicker in your hand. My clicker is 1-1/2 inch across, 3-1/2 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick. It fits easily, and unobtrusively into your hand. No one will even notice it.
- Go through the talk multiple times using the computer, you will gain confidence quickly. It works so well because there is nothing to think about, you get to the end of one page, press a button and you are on the next page. It feels very natural.
- When your time comes, have the computer open and cued up when you walk up to the pulpit. Place it it and start reading. It it as simple as glancing down as you go to see your notes. The font can be very large so it is easy to follow.
- Review & follow step # 1 carefully.
- Here’s the clicker that I have it is currently listed at about $45, but I think I got it on sale for about $20. It is small, which is important. I can keep it in my hand and no one even notices it. The current clickers on the market tend to be a lot bigger and more expensive, and include mouse functions and laser. I think using a laser during Sacrament meeting would be pretty sweet–spice it up a bit– but it is not necessary, and probably breaks the ban on visual aids in Sacrament Meeting.
- I keep both the Receiver & clicker in an old glasses case in my laptop bag.
- I often set the clicker on the pulpit, and push the button with one finger. It is nice because you can set down the button anywhere your hands naturally fall.
- The unattended clicker tens to slide down the slanted varnished wood surface so I glued a bit of that non-slip shelf liner stuff on the back, now it stays put.
- I usually keep a backup battery for the clicker, but if it dies it is not a disaster, you can just go to using the keyboard to advance the slides. The receiver that you plug into the USB port gets it’s power from the computer.
- Mute the sound before the meeting, otherwise computer chimes may sound unexpectedly.
- I get there early, and run my computer power cord to my seat on the stand (avoiding places where peole will walk so they don’t trip). I plug it in as I sit and wait for my turn to talk. I pull the plug out of the back as I head to the pulpit, that way I am starting the talk with a full charge.
- Be careful if you close the laptop while waiting, some shut down, and if you open it as you stand up it will take a while to re-boot, or come out of sleep mode.
- I use a dull yellow background with black text for the slides. I find that is the easiest to read — by far.
- Cutting out part of the talk is very easy.. you just click through it. You can flip through the pages very quickly.
- I always get up to the pulpit before the meeting and figure out exactly where I am going to place the computer. If you don’t carefully prepare, the beginning of your talk awkward at best.. downright distracting at worst.
I use my laptop differently when I teach in the Quorum, I will post about that at a later date.