PowerPoint presentations given to a live audience usually involve the computer being attached to a projector. And sometimes the technical issues of getting the computer and projector to cooperate are the downfall of the presenter…

Here is what I hear a lot:
– I have a great laptop!
– I hooked up the projector (via VGA or DVI cable).
– I clicked the Function + F4 keys.
– Nothing happened, my presentation would not show up!

It happens and there are technical complexities, but I run anywhere from 1 to 12 computers outputting to projectors for any given meeting. Here is my approach to assuring the presentation shows up on the projector (note: the following tutorial is based on the Nvidia Control Panel as most of show computers currently run their graphics cards).

1. First, I do not use the Function+F4 key. This is just a shortcut to the control panel that does not show me any of the real settings.

2. I open the graphic card control panel. My preferred method is to right-click the desktop and select “NVIDIA CONTROL PANEL”

3. This opens the Nvidia Control Panel. From here you can see and adjust every aspect of how images are put onto any monitor, or projector, connected to the computer/laptop.

4. I first go to CHANGE RESOLUTION. I can quickly see on the right if the computer ‘sees’ the 2nd monitor/projector by the two display icons.

5. If 2 icons are seen I go to #6. If only 1 icon is seen (the laptop monitor) I then have a few steps:
A. Check cable is plugged into computer.
B. Check cable is plugged into projector (or switcher).
C. Verify projector is powered on and set to correct input.
D. If using a docking station for the laptop (as I do), check docking station has power by checking power supply has light, is plugged into dock and dock has power lights (video out from all docks is not passive and will not work if dock does not have active power).
E. Run the RUN MULTIPLE DISPLAY WIZARD to force the graphics cards to identify and recognize the external monitor.

6. To setup a projector I go to the SETUP MULTIPLE DISPLAYS option.

7. On the right I can tell the computer how I want to use the projector.

1. Do not connect to projector
2. Mirror output to projector (most common setting)
3. Extend desktop to projector

8. Click APPLY.

9. Then go back to CHANGE RESOLUTION. Now the focus is on the resolution setting on lower part of the right side. This number has to be set to match the projector’s resolution.

– If the resolution is set to high, the projector may be unable to use it (and will display nothing).
– If the resolution is set to a widescreen format (as many laptop monitors are) and the projector is not widescreen it will either compress the image or add black letterbox bars (neither is a good option), so the resolution will need to be set to a 4×3 aspect ratio (eg. 1024×768 is the most common).

10. Click APPLY, exit the control panel and get on with the presentation – yeah!

– Troy @ TLC