As a creative professional your portfolio is your greatest advocate. No matter how lengthy your resume or the praises sung of you in letters of reference, your client or future employer is as interested in your work as they are in you, if not more. This is a fact of life most of us have taken for granted. We have all worked hard to make sure we put our best work forward, creating portfolios which represent the breadth and depth of our projects.
The ubiquitous "big black bag" is the conventional presentation tool for the visual artist; it serves to transport whatever different media you require in the original format and dimensions your work was created in. While this is a tried and true method, the introduction of tablets like the iPad have added a new class of tool to your repertoire.
Follow your own lead.
One of the most useful aspects of tablets as presentation tools is their ability to display the same online portfolio that your client has already viewed (you do have an online portfolio, right?). This consistency does two things for your client: it establishes that the work they have already seen is 'canon' and, on a more basic level, serves to refresh their memory as to what it was about your work that enticed them in the first place.
While we'd all like to think that our work is sufficiently unique to be unforgettable, repetition is one of the most effective methods of encouraging recognition. When you are repeating not only the work at hand but also the surrounding presentation context of your online portfolio, it becomes hard for your viewer to ignore those subconscious queues. With the time and effort you have already spent crafting your online presence, a tablet provides the benefit of putting this work at your clients fingertips.
Another advantage of preserving the framework in which your work is presented is that you can update your portfolio, say, the day before your interview, without it being jarringly obvious that the work is totally different than that which has been seen before. This is to your benefit; we all tend to favour our latest efforts and feel they are the most representative of our current state of mind and creative direction.
Bring the gallery with you.
Simply bringing your work arranged as it may be in print-portfolios only serves to display the work itself. Think of your online portfolio as a personal gallery space with you as the sole exhibitor. A tablet allows you to place this gallery in the hands of your audience. This grants your presentation a sense of intimacy and exclusivity above and beyond conventional methods. By bringing the gallery with you, you appear not only as creator but also as curator. This sets you apart from your peers; there is a clear benefit to any prospective employer, client, or collaborator in seeing that you know your own strengths.
How big is your "big black bag"? Regardless of your answer, the average gallery—no matter how small—is going to have an inordinately larger amount of space available on its walls than the most monolithic of carrying cases. Consider this: with a tablet you can deliver a concise message, but still take as much work with you as you want. This gives you tremendous flexibility if a client wants to further explore your body of work.
Marshall McLuhan famously stated that "the medium is the message", implying that the capability of a medium to convey a message is reliant on the type of information it transmits. As such, a book is restricted to text and images; audio recordings to spoken words and musical information; and so on.
In this regard, the tablet has a unique ability to convey information across the multimedia spectrum in an elegant and streamlined fashion. The more media, the more messages and the more of a story you can tell to your clients. This is especially valuable if your chosen medium happens to involve audio or video; the tablet, with its hands-on interactivity, lets your client control playback and volume settings for themselves.
Ultimately the presence of a tablet at your next presentation or meeting will yield a more consistent, personal, and versatile experience than either your big black bag or a conventional laptop. So start fresh and give yourself a blank slate.