The Moving Timeline Keynote Trick

While attending the World Domination Summit I got to finally see (and meet in person) Nancy Duarte. Nancy is a remarkable communicator and helped many high profile clients with presentations, including Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth presentation.

During the presentation she did some timelines where the timeline would move while she spoke. During the WGS geek lunch afterward, several people were asking how she did it. I was happy to explain this is a nut I have already cracked. In order to create a timeline that moves, you simply need to make a timeline bigger than a single slide and then stack them next to each other. Then you can use the Push transition to make it appear as if the timeline itself is moving when all you are really doing is transitioning from one slide to the next. For instance I will take the following three slides. Each one represents a small piece of a larger timeline.

When creating this timeline, start out with one slide and get your timeline set exactly where you want it. Then duplicate the slide as many times as you need. If you need to make adjustments to the actual line, be very careful that you don’t move it vertically or it completely ruins the effect. I also usually add a small dot the beginning or ending of the timeline drawn with a keynote graphics element.

Then I will place them next to each other as they will appear in Keynote’s presentation. When assembled this way you can see it looks like one single timeline even though it’s three individual slides.

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After that it’s simply a question of setting transitions using the Push animation and setting a reasonable length so the audience can follow with you as the timeline tracks across. If this isn’t making any sense to you, I’ve made a short presentation that you can download here demonstrating the effect.

So many of the tricks I use in Keynote are just hacky little visual tricks like this.


Remotely Advancing iPad Keynote Slides


The last few months I've been giving presentations with my iPad and using a remote to trigger slides. I'm not talking about Apple's Keynote Remote, which feels fiddly to me, but an actual clicker. I push the button and the next slide or animation triggers. It even works with the iPad's dock connector connected to a projector. This means I can now walk in a room with an iPad mini and a remote and give a presentation. When I spoke at the Omni Group event last month, I had several people asking me how I did it. The trick to all of this is the Satechi Bluetooth Smart Pointer Mobile Presenter (Amazon affiliate link).

I paid $45 for mine on Amazon. As a remote, it really isn't anything special. It does have a power slider so you can turn it off and be assured it won't run down the battery in your bag. However, it charges through USB so if it dies, you need to plug it in. (You can't just replace the batteries with a few spare AAs.) The laser is red (I prefer the more visible green.) It is also not particularly ergonomic. The buttons are flush with the surface so you can't always figure out exactly where your thumb is without looking down at the remote. My Kensington remote is better in almost every way except for one: It can't advance iPad Keynote slides. Despite all of issues surrounding the Satechi's design, it finally lets me remotely trigger Keynote slides on my iPad.

The Trick

To make this work, Satechi had to get creative. There is no easy way to tell Keynote via Bluetooth to trigger slides so instead they used the iPad's accessibility features to pull it off. There are few steps:

1. Pair the Remote

It is a Bluetooth device and you need to hook it into your iPad. This works just like any other Bluetooth pairing. In this case, a code is entered from a set of numbered buttons found under the Satechi's sliding face.

2. Enable VoiceOver

Next you need to enable VoiceOver in the iPad's Accessibility settings. Set it to trigger on a triple click of the iPad's home button but don't enable it yet.

Once that is done, set the remote to "Accessibility Mode" on the slider on the back right side. The other modes are useful for multimedia or using the remote to present with your Mac. I keep it in my bag as a back up for these purposes but so far all I really use this remote for is to present with the iPad.

Now go find your presentation in Keynote on your iPad and open it up. Then triple-click the home button on the iPad to enable VoiceOver. You'll want to turn down your iPad volume at this point.

That's it. Now you can move forward and backward in your presentation with the remote. That has always been a major gripe for me and now it is fixed with this hacky (yet effective) solution.