The goals of this document are:

  1. To inform you on how to best use the presentation space and the tools the Physics and Astronomy department makes available for your Comps presentation.
  2. To identify ways to minimize the number of “surprises” that can occur during your presentation.

Presentation Apps

Your choice of presentation application matters. We suggest using some version of MS PowerPoint rather than a PDF editor to develop your presentation, mainly because PowerPoint has the ‘Presenter View’ mode which displays a countdown timer and private notes area that are displayed on your laptop, but not on the projection screen.

Try to use the same version of your chosen presentation app for your actual presentation as the one you used to develop it. Different versions of PowerPoint can display your presentation differently, so if you develop your presentation on your laptop, but present on a different computer with a different version of your app, you might be unpleasantly surprised.

Presentation Tools

We can lend you a ‘Comps Kit’ containing a Clicker, Laser Pointer, and Countdown Timer.

A Clicker enables you to remotely switch slides in your presentation. This frees you up to move around the room while giving your talk, making your talk more dynamic and interesting. Clickers work with most, but not all computers, so it’s a good idea to test it with your laptop during your walk-through (see ‘Presentation Spaces’ below).

The Laser Pointer is much brighter than the laser built into the Clicker, which is too weak to use in large rooms.

The Countdown Timer enables you to keep track of how quickly you’re working through your presentation material and help you make your 35-50 minute mark.

Presentation Spaces

Approximately a week before your talk you will receive an email from Bruce Duffy asking you to schedule a walk-through of the space and to reserve the space for practice talks.

Bring your laptop to the walk-through (if you plan to use it) because one goal of the walk-through is to make sure your laptop plays nice with the room’s presentation system.

Presenter Kiosk

The rooms have Presenter Kiosks with these components:

  • A small touchpad control panel
  • A built-in dual-boot computer (Mac-mini)
  • An HDMI cable (with Lightning, Thunderbolt, and USB-C adapters)
  • An Ethernet cable for your laptop
  • A Document Camera
  • Buttons that allow you to raise and lower the table (located on the table’s front left corner)

Presenter Kiosk touchpad control panel:

The Anderson 036 control panel lets you choose whether to drive the projector using the built-in, dual boot Mac-mini computer, your laptop, or the document camera. It also enables you to raise and lower the projection screen.

Presentation Computer or Laptop?

I would advise against using the on-board computer for your presentation for 2 reasons: 1) Its configuration resets when you log out, deleting all files you’ve saved on it, and 2) The version of the presentation application you’ve developed for your talk with may be different than what’s on the presentation computer.

That said, if you choose to use the presentation computer, here’s what you need to know:

  • Put all the digital resources (pptx, movie files, etc.)  for your talk onto a USB keydrive — don’t rely on the internet or the availability of any network folders.  It could be your bad luck that Carleton’s servers are down — it’s happened.
  • The computer’s power switch is located in front of the kiosk just to the right of the white “ON ->” label.
  • The presentation computer (a Mac Mini) is dual boot — when the computer has booted or just finished its refreshing cycle you must choose either the MacOS or Win10 operating systems.  Use the keyboard’s arrow keys to select and then hit the return key.
  • The USB port is located just to the right of the Mac-Mini’s power button.
  • NOTE: If you use PowerPoint’s Slide Show mode on the Win10 image you may notice that the 2 views are swapped: your Notes view appears on the big screen and your public view appears on the computer monitor. If that happens, go to into Slideshow mode, look for the ‘Monitors’ drop-down menu, and select ‘Automatic’ or ‘Monitor 2 Crestron’ (instead of the ‘Primary’). Another failure mode is when the 2 displays show the same view and you can’t see your Presenter View notes. In this case the 2 displays are in a ‘mirror’ configuration. To fix this, enter the word ‘Display’ in the text type-in field next to the ‘Start’ menu button on the lower left of the Win10 screen and select ‘Displays’ from the popup menu. In the ‘Displays’ window that appears, scroll down to ‘Multiple Displays’ and change the drop-down setting from ‘Duplicate these Displays’ to ‘Extend these Displays’.


Using a laptop is preferred, if you have one.  To use it, plug in the HDMI cable on top of kiosk and select ‘Laptop’ input source button on the Kiosk’s touch-pad control.

If your laptop does not have an HDMI port, but does have a Lightning, Thunderbolt, or USB-C port, use appropriate HDMI->XXX adapter on the ring of adapters attached to the end of the HDMI cable.

IMPORTANT NOTE The Presentation Kiosks no longer support VGA.  If your laptop is an older model with only a VGA port make sure to borrow an VGA->HDMI Adapter from me.

Room Lighting

Ideal lighting is low light in back, and good lighting up front, except just in front of the projection screen.

In Anderson 036, lighting is controlled using the light switches located to the right of the white boards (when facing them).


The Physics department will record your presentation and post it to the ‘Comps-Archive’ Google Drive folder within a few days for the benefit of those Physics majors who were unable to attend. See Viewing Recorded Oral Presentations for instructions on how to access this folder.

Sharing your comps video

The simplest way to share your comps presentation video is to download it to your personal computer and then then upload it to cloud based storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Once you’ve done that you can get a shareable link and email it.

If you don’t want to use either of those services, you can use the “Filesender” utility, which allows you to upload your video to a server and then send an email with a download link to your designated recipient(s).

Miscellaneous notes and suggestions

Download, don’t stream:  Download any digital resources (movie clips, sound clips) to your computer/keydrive that you intend to use *before* your presentation.  Avoid the need to stream/download content during your talk.  More than one comps presentation has been compromised by YouTube access failures at the critical moment.

There are several free tools that allow you to capture streaming video for inclusion into your presentation. A good free one is clipgrab

Timing:  Your goal is to talk for 35-50 minutes (50 if you’re aiming for Distinction).  Most people talk faster during their actual presentation than during their practice talks.  You can compensate for this by preparing some optional material that can be added or dropped without compromising the primary themes of your talk.

Knowing how much time you have left is important.  Carleton’s wall clocks are unreliable.  If you are using PowerPoint, learn to use the ‘Presenter View’ mode which displays a built-in countdown timer.  Additionally, the “comps kit” comes with a timer for this purpose.

Writing implements If you want to use the whiteboard you’ll need dry erase markers and a dry eraser. Talk to Bruce or Trenne to get fresh ones.

Water:  Bring it.  Talking for 35-50 minutes is thirsty work!

An idealized scenario:

  • You choose your presentation application and create your presentation, making sure you have enough material to hit the 35-50 minute mark.  Now is a good time to decide if you’re going to use a clicker, laser pointer, etc.
  • You schedule your walk-through and practice talks with Bruce when he invites you to do so (typically a week before your comps).
  • At the walk-through, Bruce hands you the Comps Kit and shows you how to use the presentation system, makes sure your laptop plays nicely with it, shows you how to set the room lighting, how to use the clicker, etc.
  • You do one or more practice talks in the presentation space.
  • You rock your comps presentation.

Finally, if you have suggestions on how to improve this document, let me know!

Bruce Duffy