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Why Do I See Black Bars in My Presentation?

Written by Cory Cannon | Find me on: LinkedIn

Why Do I See Black Bars in My Presentation? Well, for two reasons: (1) the technical answer as shared below, and (2) the absence of a wePresent device, which eliminates the need for the presenter's laptop or device to be connected to the projector or display-- allowing a wireless presentation. But, since that option has yet to be discovered by most, we'll proceed with the "current" technical explanation with a solution. Read on.

Black Bars

Once upon a Facebook Group, speakers and presenters were sharing their frustrations about tech setup. You know, the common "I haven't even started my presentation, but I can't get it set up the way I'd like." You hear, "Where's the plug-in?" And, "I'm having trouble getting this to play," and so on... Professional presenters must also be pros with last minute changes and adjustments so that NOTHING stands in the way of beginning the presentation on time!

With wanting to produce the best experience possible, here's a sample of a small swarm of presenters trying to troubleshoot problems fitting a presentation to screen.

All names have been removed to respect each individual's privacy:


Question for Mac users in the group. I almost always take my macbook air to presentations with all the requisite adapters for DVI HDMI etc...but have noticed twice that I cannot get my Keynote pressie to fit on some monitors or screens. I have built both 4:3 and 16:9 to fit most standard and widescreen. If it's a widescreen, I do try the 16:9 but I end up with a letterbox type look, black bars on top and bottom and the keynote is stretched. If I use Standard no black bars but stretched and out of shape. I have tried going into preferences for screen size and trying all 3 settings, but none of them make any difference so leave it for Best for display. Is it the projector or Data projector that is the problem? I think it's only some wide screens that give me this issue. Any advice or ideas greatly appreciated.

COMMENTER 1: Turn it into a PDF and presenter from that OR start using Prezi.

CONVERSATION STARTER: have done that...but want to solve the problem if I can rather than using static images And Prezi might work but is another learning curve! And not necessary for me just yet

COMMENTER 1: We teach prezi to college kids now over PowerPoint. They tend to gravitate to it though most don't know what it is before they walk into the classroom. It really is fairly easy and highly impressive. . Good luck!

CONVERSATION STARTER: will certainly look into it, my 14yr old son is quite the expert at Prezi

COMMENTER 2: Just jumping in because I want to follow this discussion. Same issue here, I'm using a Macbook Air as well.

COMMENTER 3: I have MS Office on my Mac and have not had a problem getting the PowerPoint to display properly wherever I go.

CONVERSATION STARTER: I also have a powerpoint version of all my presentations, but I would like to solve the problem with Keynote. (Commenter 2), I wonder if it's just an air problem? Have you tried widescreen on a Macbook Pro? I have a Macbook Pro. I mig...See More

COMMENTER 2: It's interesting that you mention that. I've used a Macbook Pro in the past and never had those issues. Maybe it's indeed related to the Macbook Air. Or the combination of Keynote and Macbook Air? I don't use Powerpoint ... and Prezi makes me dizzy.

COMMENTER 4: Could be the projector's resolution vs your computer's resolution--the number of dots across on one compared to the other. Your Mac is probably higher resolution than some older projectors. You likely have to set the aspect ratio: 4-to-3 or 16-to-9 and the resolution, I.e. 1025x768 or 800x600.

CONVERSATION STARTER: Hmmm (Commenter 4), the projector I used last nite was a data projector, basically a huge LCD screen. And the previous one, was not that old. I tried all the avail settings in preferences in the mac. There are 3 you can set none changed the stretched look at all.
 One other thing I should add, is that I'm using Keynote in presenter view, not mirroring. I think I tried mirroring and it was the same...anyone else?

Heather Nichols: Ok, so here it is: yes, most screens are a 16:9, but there are some that are 16:10. Because 16:9 is the more "traditional" resolution, you may not find that there's ANY presentation software at 16:10. You inevitably will have the black bars for the difference, per the AV specialist.

Even after this group-think, the Conversation Starter ultimately solved her own issue by finding this image/resource posted below. She explained, "Once you have done it once, you shouldn't have to do it again. It's VGA cables and the Appearance settings. VGA because it's analogue just doesn't give the computer or monitor enough information for it to change the settings automatically... Oh just a note, make sure you have the Macbook Air connected via VGA cable to a widescreen monitor before you go to the display settings in preferences."



And although this conversation is on the details of resolution, I'll go ahead and stretch the opportunity to mention that all of these presenters could prevent/solve a lot of their I.T. issues (sans the black bars problem) by utilizing a wePresent wireless presentation device-- as it eliminates the need for the presenter to be wired or anchored to a static position in the room. AND, it doesn't matter if the room setup is with HDMI or VGA connections; wePresent is compatible with both.

Additionally, the presenter can cast the presentation slides to the audience members, enabling the audience to follow the visuals of the presentation from their own devices-- regardless of them having a Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone, since wePresent is cross-platform. Oh, and did I mention that the wePresent WiPG 2000 model pushes video at 60 frames per second? Who doesn't love flawless video play? And yet, who's really getting that?

Do you have questions about how a wePresent device could solve YOUR I.T. problems, prevent awkward moments, and lessen your presentation stress, all while impressing those around you at what seems like I.T. finesse? Contact us at info at we present wifi dot com. Or, call our Dallas office at 2one4-nine35-two4one6. Your wireless presentation wow-factor is waiting for you...

Topics: Meeting Room Tips , Corporate Technology

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