First-time Zoom presentation

I’m a photographer. All of my “power user” efforts center on processing pictures for exhibition prints. I often speak at events associated with the exhibits where I’m surrounded by my work. I show up with a handful of notes, stand in front of a mic, and go at it.

So now, during Covid, I’ve accepted an invitation to give the equivalent of a gallery talk via Zoom. I’ve used Zoom twice to attend small meetings, never used Keynote or other presentation software. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m hoping for some tips on presentation via zoom—even a simple tool set to get me going in the right direction. I won’t be managing the event, and it won’t be an open meeting other than questions submitted in “writing”. I’ll introduce myself, give some project history, and talk about the work as I show the pictures on screen.

Here’ the gear I have available:
iPhone 11 Pro
iPad Pro
Macs/monitors-no webcams
An old Blue Snowball (?) mic around somewhere
AirPods that won’t hold a charge for the duration of the meeting
Wired headphones
Less than spectacular DSL—about 20 down and 1.5 up

And software:
Keynote (no experience)
Apple Photos (some experience)
Lightroom (lots of experience, but aimed toward processing and printing)

I may never do this again, but I’m happy to invest time and even a bit of money if necessary to come up with a straightforward, entry-level system to get started with. Can you help with suggestions?

First, welcome to the new normal.

As one who has run through the range using Zoom, Panopto, and Google Meet, I would say that Zoom can be the easiest of the set. Here is what I would NOT bother doing:

  • I would not bother trying to convert documents to Keynote. You can do just as well to have your content fully ready as PDF. More below.

  • I would not bother investing any money in more hardware predicated on assuring that your old Snowball still works (see below).

As to the processing that you should do with software in advance:

  • Outline the documents and content that you will present in the order that you will present them.

  • Convert those documents and content to PDF preferably all in ONE layout format (portrait or landscape).

  • Bind those files all together into ONE continuous PDF file.

All of the above steps can be done effectively using Preview on the Mac.

As to the hardware preparation:

  • Assure with certainty that you have a working microphone. If not, get something that can work as a microphone instead of the standard built-in mics on the Macs. Some folks simply use the wired iPhone headsets. I use single-earpiece bluetooth headset (BlueParrot) or a similar but older wired headset.

  • Get the Cameo software from Reincubate to be able to use your iPhone as a substitute Webcam. You will have to do an initial installation to get it to work with Zoom. You will have to test it in advance to get it to work properly and to your liking. But, the end is worth the input in effort. Camo works tremendously well to avoid the need to have to buy a dedicated Webcam.

Finally, as to the preparation after you have everything done above:

  • Log into Zoom and start a meeting.

  • Set up the iPhone with Camo. It helps to have a tripod and an adapter to hold the iPhone. In a pinch, you might consider a stack of books and duct tape. :slight_smile:

  • Test the microphone input.

  • Zoom allows you to share the screen. Test sharing ONLY the PDF app that you will use to show your presentation. Be aware that you are still present in the Zoom viewing as you share your screen (so don’t go doing embarrassing things thinking that your viewers only see your slides).

Now that you are this far, do a test run. Get a buddy to join the Zoom meeting. Have him/her pretend to be the coordinator for the meeting. Do your presentation.

I hope this gives you some useful starting points.



@DrJJWMac nailed it.

I would add: try to put whatever you use for a camera at about eye level, so people aren’t looking up your nose.


+1 on the test run.

Pay attention to your lighting, particularly if there is any portion of the presentation where you’ll be speaking without sharing your screen (so viewers will see you full screen rather than just a postage stamp sized picture next to your presentation). Most important thing is that you don’t want to be sitting in front of a brightly lit background while you’re in shadow. This happens all the time with people who sit with their back to a window. It’s best if the lighting on you comes from in front of you, rather than all on one side, leaving half your face in shadow. A light source slightly above eye level will produce the best results, as opposed to a ceiling light or something else up high that will tend to produce shadows under your eyes.

+1 on dry-run

Also, when sharing, select to share only the app you wish to focus on, not your whole Desktop.
It’ll be much cleaner, as the participants won’t see your whole Desktop, only the selected app you selected to share.

And, just an FYI:
This Zoom widget is not seen by participants, only you:

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The only thing I’d add to the excellent information from @DrJJWMac is to use one of your iPads as a monitor. That is, log into the Zoom meeting as a participant using Zoom on the iPad. This will give you a decent sense of what your audience is seeing and WHEN they are seeing it, as there is some delay involved as the bits fly around the internet.

Keynote, though I love it and use it, is a big headache in Zoom. It either takes over everything (normal slide show mode) or you can have a more manageable window view but then you lose the presenter view. If PDF will work for you, then definitely stick to PDF.


These are all very good suggestions.

One thing that I might try during that dry run: try one AirPod at a time. When the battery on that one starts to get low (it’ll beep, as you probably know) put in the other one and then put the original one in the case.

If you can get through the presentation using them that way, it might be easier than dealing with wired headphones.

This is something that I’ve started doing recently for our worship services, and it’s a great “power tip”. It has also helped me realize when I’ve thought that I had done something but had done it incorrectly. Because I could see what they were seeing, I didn’t have to wait for someone else to tell me there was a mistake, and it was much easier and quicker to fix.

Also, it’s important to remember…

Any decent person watching such a presentation will understand glitches and struggles, and recognize that this is a new world that we’re living in and everyone is doing their best trying to adapt.

Which is a new variation on an old piece of advice: remember that the audience wants you to do well.


Thank you all, particularly JJW. All your contributions have been really helpful. I’m still wondering about presenting the photos. I need to be able to proceed from one picture to the next on cue. There are stories and anecdotes that go with the images and they will vary in length. So, for example, I might want one picture on screen for 30 seconds and the next for 60. That means I’ll be going from one to the next manually. Maybe I’m missing something—can I do this with PDF? I can put the Photos app into full-screen mode and move forward (or back) with arrow keys. Or is there a better approach? And are there any bandwidth considerations for displaying the images?


  1. Can you create a folder in Lightroom? I mean, can you create a group to display only the selected images from that folder in particular?
  2. Can it go fullscreen?

I’d go with that as my first option, since you already know the software.

And, I’d create a backup plan, i.e. create a PDF using Preview, it’s quite easy:

  1. Open Preview
  2. Select Open
  3. In Finder, select all the images you wish to display (you might need to export your photos from Lightroom as JPEG first, to a temporary folder), press Open
  4. A multi-page document is created :tada:
  5. Save it as PDF
    (you can now delete the temporary folder)

Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a PDF that, using Preview, you can go fullscreen and navigate using the arrow keys in your keyboard.

Best of luck!

EDIT: Added step 4 for clarification, some editing

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Hopefully none of this will be necessary with your audience but it’s good to know what you can do:

Consider getting a co-host if you have someone available.

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When you are speaking, particularly in a Q&A session, look directly at your camera not at the audience member’s zoom image on the screen. This gives the feeling of eye contact and is especially important if you are in grid view with a large monitor or multi-monitor setup. It feels odd at first until you get used to doing it.

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This. 100%. Even a marginally-competent assistant is better than nothing, as they can scan through the chat, identify issues, etc.

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