You can swap 35mm slides for a floppyPowerful notebook PC, software and portable projector make presentations convenient
By Rosemarie Nelson
You can create your next meeting presentation minutes before you step to the podium and impress your audience while delivering your message effectively with supporting tools available today. In fact, suppose you were asked to step in as an alternate speaker for a program scheduled in the next day or two. What resources would you call upon to present your case?
First, as your tool for both creating your presentation as well as storing and running your presentation, reach for your powerful notebook PC. Whether its an IBM Thinkpad 380XD or a Dell Latitude CP, (or any of the several other competitive brands and models) your notebook will have a Pentium 233MHZ processor, 32MB RAM, a 4GB hard drive, 20X CD-ROM drive, and come loaded with Windows 95 for under $3,000. In fact, you'll find today's PC notebooks so powerful, that you'll choose to use the notebook in place of your desktop PC, with or without the docking stations that are available.
Your presentation software tool, Microsoft's Powerpoint, supports several methods for creating handouts and slides. But with today's powerful PC's and viewer projectors, and the images you'll capture from the Internet, your best show will be directly from your Powerpoint presentation to your audience. You can skip the step to produce slides and save money as well as reduce your time constraints. In fact, without needing to have your presentation completed in advance for slide production, you'll be able to quickly add those last minute thoughts or new interventions to keep your speech current and state-of-the-art.
With Powerpoint, you can import an outline that you created in Word or WordPerfect, for example, and your presentation's backbone is begun. Of course, to more fully illustrate the message, you'll want to include clipart, photographs and/or X-ray images on your screen as well.
The computer store shelves are full of clipart options for a variety of interests including medical applications. The quality and price of scanners has provided many PC households with a handheld scanner or a brand such as the EasyPhoto Reader that provides good quality photographic images to import into presentations. If you have access to digitized X-rays from a radiology information system, you can import those files to your presentation. Or, for a quick selection of a variety of images, you can find sources such as www.netmedicine.com on the Internet. It's a simple process to insert an object into your Powerpoint presentation, whatever file type (i.e. .bmp, .jpg).
And there are plenty of free programs that act as helper applications to significantly improve JPEG (.jpg files) image quality. An example of a good viewer program is Lview Pro. Browsers such as Netscape or America Online have less than optimal built-in viewing capability and by incorporating a good viewer program such as LView Pro, you can see the downloaded images with much more clarity.
The last piece in your travel bag is a True XGA projector such as the Sanyo PLC-8800N. Presentation technologies call for multimedia in a small, light, compact, portable device and the manufacturers have produced tremendous tools in prices around $5,000 or $6,000. Of course, if you don't need to own your own projector viewer, you'll find that these are now standard supplies (just like a podium and a microphone) in convention meeting halls, as well as hotels that routinely provide meeting services. A quick phone call to the meeting audio visual support group will usually result in a projector viewer waiting for you to arrive and to plug into your PC. These devices are truly plug-and-play, providing the utmost in convenience and reliability.
With a notebook PC, your presentation (saved on a floppy diskette as back up protection), and your projector viewer which fits easily into your carry on bag, you are the self-sufficient and thoroughly prepared presentation speaker. Your host will be thrilled with your preparation and you'll reduce all pre-speech anxieties knowing you are projecting the best image possible in today's technological market.
Rosemarie Nelson is vice president, business development, Health Care Data Systems, Dewitt, N.Y. RC@mail.hcds.com
Computer Link welcomes suggestions about future topics for the column and questions about the use of computers in orthopaedic practice. Send your suggestions to the Bulletin at AAOS, 6300 N. River Rd., Rosemont, Ill. 60018.