Presentation Dongles

I have my first (hopefully of many) presentation coming up in the next few weeks. I have Mac Sparky’s book, but as it’s a little dated I wanted to hear your thoughts. What dongles are “must have” for presentation day. I will try to get into the room and take a look at the projector, but if I’m not able to do that, I want to have the essentials.

  • I have a MacBook Pro w/ USB C ports only & touchbar
  • I also have an iPad Pro 10.5” that I would love to use if practical
  • I have a 4K Apple TV I could bring if necessary/smart

Advice please! And thanks.


These days, I’d say you want a VGA and HDMI dongle for each machine you intend to present from (or use as a backup).

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I do a lot of presnetations, although admittedly more on WebEx these days than through using a projector/large screen. Ditto on having both dongles, you will absolutely want to have a VGA adapter in addition to HDMI. Word of advice, the Apple multi dongle with HDMI does not always work. I ended up buying this one from Amazon and can highly recommend it:

I would never recommend to carry a screen. If you’re presenting to a small group of people (2-3), you can get away with presenting directly from your laptop or from your iPad. For that, I would also recommend the lightening to HDMI adapter.

One more piece of hardware you should consider is a good clicker / wireless remote presenter.

Other than that my advice would be to keep it simple, the mobile aspect of doing multiple presnetations on the road demands that you keep your setup as less cumbersome as you can.


I would go with the Apple TV, that gives you a common conduit from either your laptop or your ipad. Bring an HDMI cable, and an HDMI to VGA adapter. You should be all set for video and audio.
The presenter I use has a USB A receiver, so you’d need a USB C to A adapter for your laptop. I haven’t tried it, but it should work. Of course that wouldn’t work with your iPad.
If you don’t buy a presenter (which probably isn’t a must-have), I would spring for a green laser pointer, as they show up a lot better, and on a greater range of screens.
Last tip, take your presentation on a thumb drive in PowerPoint format in case all else fails; you might be able to use someone else’s machine.
Break a leg!

Thanks everyone. Do I need to go with the Apple branded dongles? Please, hook me up with some links if you have good third party solutions, if you have time.

Can you recommend a remote? I’d love a green pointer! I’m reading Dave’s book, but that one he recommends seems pretty out of date now. The one he and Katie listed in the show notes on the latest presentations show has mixed reviews on Amazon and I’m unclear if it will work on my iPad Pro. Thanks!

I just realized you linked your remote. Thank you!

Dongle purchased! One down. How long of an hdmi cable is advisable? I’m speaking to a group of about 20 people. I have no idea the size of the room.

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Here’s a discussion with lots of info on remotes. Good luck with the preso!

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I am just preparing a presentation for a huge internation conference {audience ~400).
Minimum requierements:

  • VGA and HDMI
    From my experience:
  • be prepared #3: make sure it works BEFORE the presentation. Never be the one that wastes the first 5min with cables and dongles
  • be prepared #2: I was at a venue that only hat mini Display Port. And my laptop (I was using my company’s Windows machine) didn’t. Because I checked it in the morning, I could solve it BEFORE getting on stage.
  • AppleTV: will you be able to use it? If you are the only presenter, no problem, if you just have a slot in a tight schedule, and wonky WiFi…not.
  • be prepared #3: conferences often have presentation setups and expect you to just deliver your presentation (PPT, not Keynote). I always have it with me on an USB flash drive. Was necessary once or twice.
  • iPad/iPhone: no-gos for me. You will be tempted to stare at it, that’s amateur hour.
  • Pointer: I try to avoid it. Are your slides so complicated you need to explain them? Sometimes I have ones that really need a pointer (graphs from multi-variate regressions, etc.), but most of the time I don’t need one. If you have a slide with some key words/sentences: why should you be pointing at them?
  • be prepared #4 (should be #1): rehearse.
  • and finally: expect everything to go wrong. Did they tell you HDMI is available “100%”: expect VGA. Did they tell you “just send in your presentation, the embedded videos work 100% because we have been doing this for years”: they won’t (happened to me, I asked them to go throught the presentation before and they didn’t work, so I had enough time to set up my own comouter).
  • and some non-technical advice: don’t stare at your own presentation, face the audience. Move, don’t stay glued to one single spot. Your presentation is not for just 1 person or just the first row, switch eye contact.

Thanks @khit. I read those posts and ended up purchasing this. I’m not very optimistic it will work with my iPad, but I don’t want to be stuck next to my device during the presentation. Hopefully it works out!

Hi Doty, I don’t think you shouldn’t worry about the HDMI cable. The general expectation is that the equipment in the room should be ready for presenting and that you should plug your machine and be ready to present.

However, the presenter/remote is important since if the cable is short or the placement of your laptop is not optimal (depending on room set up), you can go through the slides standing physically closer to your audience. I rarely use the laser pointer, but the ability to move slides while walking and engaging my audience is indispensable to me.

For USB-C to VGA, I use the Belkin adapter and in 9 months of using it it has not failed me once.

I also echo the advice on asking your hosts about the set up in the place you’re presenting. Having a copy on a USB drive is also good advice.

I misread your post initially and thought you meant a screen when you referenced your Apple TV. My advice is no, no Apple TV. It will look like a gimmick and some audience members may not take you seriously.

Out of curiosity, how big of a group do you expect to be presenting to on average? And in what kind of context? Business/Techninal/ Educational?

On the topic of which VGA-dongles to buy: I tried two cheaper ones from Amazon (one from Aukey and one from CSL) and I could not get them to work with the projectors at my university. They worked on monitors but not on the projectors. In the end, I bought the Apple Multiport VGA Adapter and it worked flawlessly. I don’t know why this happened but since then, I‘ve been really cautious with third-party adapters.

Curiously, the cheaper ones worked with Windows via Bootcamp on the same machine. :man_shrugging:

The Apple multiport HDMI adapter is infamous for being flaky. So not all Apple adapters are created equal.

General experience is that Apple adapters tend to be overpriced. I don’t shy away from 3rd party adapters as long as they have good reviews and are certified to work with my equipment.

I got my VGA Belkin Adapter from Apple at the time I bought my MBP, they did not offer their own VGA adapter at the time. So Apple themselves also sell 3rd party adapters.

My advice would be to have your presentation ready in PDF format on a USB stick. You can ‘play’ a PDF on any computer of you have an emergency and it’s likely to be an identical match you what you created compared to some random version of PowerPoint which might not show fonts correctly etc. I have need this back up once.

Mac laptops in my experience struggle more with long HDMI cabling. I have had this problem twice in the last two years - the PC users were fine and the Mac users were not. This was solved on one of these occasions by my arriving early and doing some cable re-routing outside the gaze of the AV team.

I have been to one venue where the only cabling was DVI and I was grateful for my Startech threeway dongle which has been absolutely superb.

My final observation after speaking in 32 countries worldwide is that if you choose to use your own laptop at a meeting then it’s largely your problem if things go wrong :smiley: so you need to be highly prepared with various contingencies if things go wrong - back up dongles and versions of your talk on USB sticks or on an iPhone, ready to go if needed. Consider all the single points of failure and have a backup.

I wasn’t implying that third party dongles are bad, I own a bunch of them as well. But, when it comes to VGA-dongles, I can only recommend Apple‘s adapter as the other ones both had very good reviews on Amazon but only worked with some but not all projectors.

Sorry that I didn’t make that clear enough.

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Not at all. We are engaging in discourse on the MPU Discourse :slight_smile: Cheers Sylvan.

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In my experience Macs don’t play well with HDMI cables that provide power too. We have several of these at work and the Amazon basics adapter I got (like the Apple USB C HDMI one) works no problem - but the Apple one does not work at all.

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Thank you everyone for your comments! I will study them carefully when I get home from work. To answer some immediate questions. I am speaking to a Rotary club of about 20 members. We are in a private room in a restaurant, but I believe it will be in the basement and I don’t think I will have wifi available. (Or sketchy wifi at best). I was hoping to use HDMI, but after reading a few comments here, it sounds like that might not be the best option. Also, I was going to play a video clip, but (glad I asked) they don’t have speakers! I have a small Bluetooth speaker that I could take, it will also plug in via headphone jack if I could figure that out. (Maybe the headphone port on my Mac? Or bluetooth to my Mac?) I asked for a pic of the projector and here it is. Ultimately, I’ll need a toolbox like Dave’s, but this is my first (of many to come) presentation in decades and I don’t want to break the bank. Another question, how long should my cables be? I have no idea how the room is set up.55362613180__39D35D30-E3B5-41A4-9B73-9D03C5AD8264

This looks like a nice dongle. Here is a USA link for those who would like it.

I would need something to connect to the USB C port on my Mac, however to use this.

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