What are the essential apps for iPad presenters? I first compiled this list two years ago and updated it last holiday season; it’s time for another update.  I’m up to 17 apps so far.  I’ll do one more update in early December, in time for holiday shopping for that public speaker on your list.

I love the iPad for presenting.  I use it to create my notes, and then put them up on the comfort monitors in front of me but hidden from the audience. Or, if there are no monitors, then the iPad itself does the job, and allows me to keep an eye on the clock so that I end on time. I also use the iPad to show video – you just need one of those white connectors that Apple provides by the score.  Make sure it can handle the video in the room – there are at least 2 kinds, digital and VGA, that you might need.

Readers of this blog will know that I’m not a big fan of slides, but I do show the occasional one, and it’s easy to do so from the iPad.  At an earlier stage in the presentation food chain, I use the iPad for research, note-taking, and collection of ideas, stories, video, and images for later use.

I love the iPad for presenting because it’s light to carry, fast, easy to use, and relatively crash-free.  I’m nearly at the point where I’m leaving the computer at home, and taking the iPad plus keyboard instead. As soon as I get over wearing both belt and suspenders, I’ll travel computer-free.

So how about those apps?  I’m an app junkie; I have over a hundred on my iPad, and I’m always swapping them out for shiny new ones when they come along.  But here’s my current hit list.

Caveat:  Apps change daily.  This is not a list for all time or even an exhaustive one right now.  It’s just what is working for me today. 

Prezi, Pages, Keynote

If you don’t know Prezi, it’s time you did. It’s slide presentation software, but much cooler than either Keynote or PowerPoint. Then, of course, there are the basics from Apple.  Pages provides word processing for writing out notes, speeches, ideas, and so on.  Keynote is for slides. But do give Prezi a try. Especially if you’re a slide-heavy presenter, this is the software for you.


Still a big favorite. I looked long and hard for this app and tried a bunch of others before I settled on Goodreader.  Basically, it’s a way to store files on your iPad.  What’s the big deal?  You can easily store video, pdfs, slides, etc – and then play or view them with a click or two.  With the right adaptor, you’re set to play video clips with the least muss and fuss I’ve found so far.  And it’s real easy to move video files from computer to iPad with a drag and drop when your iPad is syncing.


My entire life is now stored on Evernote, and that includes the speeches. I use Evernote on my computer, my iPhone, and my iPad.  It’s the single best note management system I’ve found.  You can take pictures, notes – information in any form – and store it for future use in a presentation or simply in your preparation for a presentation.  I use it to store ideas I run across – to ‘remember everything’ as the advert says.

Noteshelf, Explain Everything

There are lots of note-taking apps; Noteshelf is cool because you can hook it up to the projector via the iPad and write in real time.  Voila – instant white board.  It’s great for capturing audience feedback, ideas, and so on in a way that’s visible to the entire audience (assuming you have those giant screens on either side of the stage).  Explain Everything is similar, only with a broader palette of possible things to do to your drawings, notes and images, and the ability to add video, pictures, and so on.

Office HD

This app is one of those combo apps that allows you to read or create a word processing file, or a slide deck, or a spreadsheet.  I like it because it is easy to use and saves you real estate on your iPad, and it seems to coordinate more easily with my mail program than either Pages or Keynote does, so that I can edit documents or grab images and slides on the fly. I’ve often used it to make last-minute changes to speech notes and get them to the conference tech people or just to myself when I use the iPad as a note display device.


Great for moving large files around. And storing them in the cloud.  I’m sure this one is familiar to just about everyone. Essential for dealing with large slide decks on the go.


Good for speakers who need a teleprompter, Teleprompt+ seems to work well and costs less than some of its rivals at $5. Beware the super cheap ones. Podium Pro is a dollar less (at $4) has a number of features like the ability to record your talk, color-code sections and other nifty things. I don’t have deep personal experience with these, but friends report that they both do the job.


One of the basic apps included with iPad software, Clock has a good timer on it, so you can keep track of where you are in your presentation – and not run over.


The best video editing app I’ve tried, great for producing short videos to jazz up your talks.

Skype, Google Hangouts

Use these apps to interview, chat with, or speak remotely – and record the video for posterity.


This app allows you to manage a wider variety of docs, media, web materials, slides, and so on, in your presentations.  You can use it as a whiteboard, or a monitor to see what’s on the big screen.  The app also apparently allows you to access the web live; I haven’t dared to try that in a speech yet, because of all the opportunities for disaster.


This app basically creates a set of note card lookalikes, a comfort for those who like to present with 5×7 cards in hand.  You can sort them, stream them, access them, and move them around easily.  Nice combination of the old and the new.

HT Recorder+

An excellent, simple audio recorder, great for playing audio clips or recording your speeches for review later.

What’s your experience – what are your favorite apps for creating and giving presentations? What has worked well for you, and what has not gotten a passing grade?



  1. A question: What about the fact that the iPad goes to “sleep” when you ignore it? I haven’t considered using on the podium because I don’t want to have to revive it every time I need to look at it. Am I missing some kind of setting where you can make it stay awake indefinitely?

    1. Hi, Susan — Good to hear from you. There is a fix for your dilemma. Go into settings, general, and “Auto Lock” Set that to “Never” and you’re all set.

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