Technical Notes for Presenters

These instructions apply to a variety of our events -- e.g., our almost-monthly "Roundtable Discussions." It is best to read these directions well in advance of the date of your presentation, because we have found from experience that equipment mismatches discovered at the last minute are unpleasant for everyone involved. You can skip any sections that don't apply to you; you can skip the whole page if you don't expect to be using any of our audio-visual equipment. Questions probably should be directed to Eric Schechter, 615-414-4572,

USE OF A COMPUTER. If you need to borrow a computer, you'd better let us know in advance. And that's not recommended anyway. If you have your own laptop computer, you'll be far better off bringing and using your own. If you use a borrowed computer, it may not already have installed on it the software that you want or need. And even if it does have the right software, the files might not be arranged in the places where you're expecting them. Confer with Eric if there are any questions about this.

USE OF THE INTERNET. We do have an internet connection at our location, and it works most of the time, but maybe your presentation will be on one of the few days when it's not working. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you download from the internet onto your computer, in advance, any files that you might need during your presentation, so that you will not be dependent on the internet. If you don't know how to download certain kinds of files (e.g., from Youtube), check with me (Eric); I can help with that.

USE OF OUR PROJECTOR. We do have a projector which we will be glad to set up for you. Thus, you can show your Powerpoint slideshow, or your video, or whatever, as part of your presentation. However, it's only going to work if your computer has the right kind of port.

The standard port for this purpose is a VGA port, which is shown in the picture at right. It's shaped like a trapezoid, with 3 rows of 5 pinholes each. (It is most often blue, as in this picture, but the color doesn't actually matter.) If your laptop computer has a VGA port, then you have no further concerns about hardware; we have all the wires we need to connect the projector to your computer.

Some Apple laptops have a different shaped VGA port. In that case, what we need is an adapter cable which plugs into your laptop on one end, and looks like the standard VGA port (as in the picture, except maybe for color) on the other end. If you have this adapter cable, then you're fine. If you need this adapter cable, let us know in advance; we'll try to locate one for you.

As a last resort, we have one other option for connecting your laptop to our projector. We have a USB-to-VGA converter cable. It should work with most Windows or Apple laptops, though the picture quality might be slightly less than if you have your own VGA port. You can see it described at this link. However, to make it work, you will need to download and install, in advance, the software that can be found at this link. To download the software, you'll need to know what version of operating system is on your computer (phone me at 615-414-4572 if you need help figuring that part out), and you'll also need to know that the product for which you're downloading software is the "SEE2 UV150 USB."

In addition to having the right hardware, you also need to know how to use it. If you have everything plugged in and turned on, but the computer's image still is not coming out through the projector's lens, then evidently the two devices haven't "found" each other.

Here is a technique that usually solves such problems: Leave the wires in place, leave the projector running, but shut down the computer. Then turn it on again. The reason this usually works is because, when the computer starts up, it always "looks around" to see what devices it is connected to.

If that doesn't work, a more complicated procedure is to try adjusting the settings on the projector and computer. Probably the projector already has the right settings. For the computer, if it's Windows, look for "Control Panel"; if it's Apple, look for "Settings."

It has also been my experience that some problems arise, with some programs on some computers, if the program is set to "full screen mode." If you find such problems arising, just don't use full screen mode -- instead stretch out the window so that it covers most but not quite all of the screen.

USE OF OUR LOUDSPEAKER. We also have a loudspeaker (like a bullhorn, but slightly better sound quality) which might be useful in some presentations -- e.g., if the person making the presentation has a faint voice and is addressing a large audience, or if the presentation includes a computer video or some other computer-generated sounds. Its sound quality is not great for music, but spoken words are quite understandable. We'll be glad to set it up if you have use for it; just ask us in advance.

The speakers that are built into your laptop computer are not loud enough to be heard by people in a big room, nor are the external speakers that you can buy at an office supply store to add to a desktop computer. Those add-on speakers generally are intended to be heard by people sitting around a single conference table; that's a much smaller radius than the audience sitting around a lecture room.