Have you ever thought that someone should market a backpack for speakers and preachers? Something that would enable us to get our stuff to the podium in a refined stylish way. Until a few months ago my lectern luggage would have included a Bible, 1/2” note binder, a remote clicker and a water bottle. They just didn’t fit well together. So I changed my podium packing list, substituting a 7” Nexus tablet for the note binder. Not only has that put an end to my juggling nightmares but there are some other benefits that I am enjoying.
Benefits from speaking from a tablet
One thing that I am enjoying more than I anticipated is the smaller footprint. Before it was a squeeze to fit the Bible and the note binder on the podium. In the back of my mind there was this nagging feeling that some time or another I was going to have to call: “clean-up in the centre aisle”. I don’t have those worries anymore. My tablet take up much less space, which means there is no crowding.
Another thing I am enjoying is greater mobility. I like to move around, but if I was going to reference something from my notes, like a quote or a statistic, then I needed to be back to the lectern to do that. My Nexus fits nicely into one hand and I can advance pages with my thumb. All that to stay I can take my notes with me when I wander. I am no longer tethered to the podium.
A third benefit is that my notes are more easily edited. What I mean is that late changes can be made without needing to reprint. As long as my Nexus has access to the edited file then my podium notes are as current as can be.
My workflow to speak using a tablet
Much of my preparation has not changed. I continue to use MS Word to generate an extended outline of my talk. But I have changed a few things to accommodate using a Nexus 7.
It is important to me that what I see when I type is pretty much what I get on the Nexus when I preach. This helps me plan page breaks strategically, or keep the body of a quote together if I want. I found that if I set Word to invoice page size (i.e., 5.5″x8.5″) and narrow margins, that this closely resembled what I would see on my Nexus. I also set the font sizes so that they read comfortably for me. All of this I have saved in a custom MS Word template.
When my notes are finished I save a pdf version of them to OneDrive so that I can access it with my Nexus. Really any cloud-based file sharing service would work (e.g., Google Drive, Dropbox). You might be thinking why a pdf. I wish I could eliminate this step, but so far I find the ‘reading view’ offered by the MS Word app for Android is a bit lacking. The deal breaker for me is that you can’t jump ahead or back to a particular page, you can only scroll one page at a time. However, as a pdf I can use a reader that delivers that functionality, plus it presents the pages as I formatted them in Word.
I have had some bad experiences relying on tech, so I have a Plan B. For me, near the end of writing my notes I print off a version as a booklet (i.e., 5.5″x8.5″). Using invoice page size makes this pretty straight forward. The booklet gets tucked out of sight in the back of my Bible. This printed version may not include last minute edits or inspiration, but if my tablet dies, I have something.
A few other things to consider in using a tablet
I could easily read Scripture from my tablet. I don’t. Reading God’s word from a printed book I believe reinforces some key truths. Scripture (unlike my notes) is not a document that is perpetually being changed, it has a permanency that is better symbolized by a hardcopy. The truth it expresses is of a different order than what I can access with my online device. The Bible is not a news portal nor an archive of past posts and devotional tweets. Its truth transcends what I think and say, what we all think and say. Again I believe a printed Bible captures that better.
There are some technical things to keep in mind. I set my tablet’s screen to stay on, ensuring my screen doesn’t dim at an awkward moment. I adjust my device so that unwanted notifications don’t intrude while I am speaking. I moderate screen brightness so that text can be easily read but not so bright that my face is aglow.
If you are using a device to speak from, let us know some of your best practices.
Some more of the story
Small Tip for using iPad while Preaching/Teaching