Guide to Presenting and Using Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

Guide to Presenting and Using Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

It can be hard to remember all the information you intend to discuss during a presentation. To avoid text-heavy slides and missing out on important information, some presenters use notes or flashcards. A more elegant method of presenting your slides is to use speaker notes in PowerPoint.

What are Speaker Notes in PowerPoint?

Speaker notes in PowerPoint are hidden notes in your PowerPoint slides that can be added to help you remember bits of information. Speaker notes are only visible to the presenter and can also be printed with slides for reference. You can use the printed version of speaker notes for yourself or the audience for later reading.

Speaker notes are visible to the presenter during Presenter View, which enables viewing the slide and notes side by side. This enables the presenter to show the audience only the slides, as he/she presents with the aid of notes visible on their screen.

How to add Speaker Notes in PowerPoint
Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

What are the Benefits of using Speaker Notes?

Speaker notes can have a number of benefits and can enable you to not only appear more confident as you present but to also better organize your slides.

1. Speaker Notes Help Avoid Text-Heavy Slides

One of the benefits of using speaker notes is that you can avoid adding too much text to your slides and insert related points as Speaker Notes. This can provide your audience with a clutter-free view of your slides, as you use the notes to ensure you remember all the important bits of information during the presentation.

2. Speaker Notes can Help Replace Paper Notes

Flashcards or paper notes can look inelegant and can cause confusion if they get mixed up. Many presenters end up stuttering or scrambling their notes during a presentation due to this very problem. Presenters can avoid this hassle by simply using speaker notes in PowerPoint.

3. Speaker Notes can be Helpful in Recalling Information

Speaker notes can be helpful in remembering important information when you find it difficult to recall the information. In such a case the notes can be added as a precaution so that you can quickly recall that important piece of information when you have a hard time recalling something.

4. Speaker Notes can Enable You to Stay on Point

With a presentation with a bit of text and an elaborate theme, a presenter can easily lose focus. To stay on point, you can add speaker notes to set the right sequence for you to follow as you present your slides.

5. Speaker Notes can Help you Appear More Confident

The audience appreciates a presenter when he/she has the confidence to look them in the eye and speak their heart out. Presenters who scramble for notes or keep looking at their flashcards can appear less confident.

How to Add Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

Adding speaker notes in PowerPoint is easy and you can insert them just as you make your slides.

Adding Speaker Notes: You can add speaker notes in PowerPoint by clicking the Notes option at the bottom of the slide to open the notes pane.

The option can be used to open or hide the pane anytime. This option is also available via the Notes button in the View tab via the Ribbon menu.

Expand Notes Pane: To expand the notes pane, hover your mouse to reveal the vertical scroll bar and drag to adjust the size of the pane according to need.

Adding Speaker notes to PowerPoint presentations
Expanding the PowerPoint Notes Pane

How to View Speaker Notes in PowerPoint while Presenting

Now that you know how to add notes to PowerPoint, you can view speaker notes in PowerPoint in Presenter View.

Enable Presenter View: You can view Speaker Notes in PowerPoint in Presenter View. To make sure this option is enabled in PowerPoint, go to the Slide Show tab, and check Use Presenter View.

Speaker Notes enabled in PowerPoint Presenter View Mode
Speaker Notes in Presenter View Mode

Select Monitor Settings: From the Slide Show tab, you can also select which monitor you want your presentation to appear on. This can help you ensure that the monitor selected for the speaker notes does not swap with the monitor screen intended for the audience. Usually, setting the monitor settings to Automatic should automatically show speaker notes on your laptop and the view with only your slides to the audience. However, checking these settings beforehand can help you avoid swapping the screens.

Speaker Notes text adjustment interface in PowerPoint
Select the Speaker Notes Monitor Settings

Adjust Text Size for Notes: When in Presenter View, you can also expand or reduce the size of the text using the buttons on the bottom right corner of the screen.

Adjusting Speaker Notes in PowerPoint
Adjusting Speaker Notes Text Size in PowerPoint

Navigate Slides: The arrow keys enable you to move between slides in Presenter View.

Annotate Slides: You can enable the Pen tool or highlighter to annotate slides during your presentation or use the Laser Pointer to focus on parts of your slide using an onscreen laser tool. These options are available via the Pen and Laser Pointer Tools option at the bottom of the Presenter View menu.

Zoom Slides: You can zoom in to a specific slide by selecting the Zoom option and then clicking on a specific section of the slide that you intend to zoom in.

Speaker Notes Zoom option

Switch to a Specific Slide: You can also jump to a specific slide via the See all slides option. This can help you instantly change your slide in a single click, without moving back and forth to find it.

Black or Unblack Slideshow: You can hide or unhide a slide by using the Black/Unblack Slideshow option.

Toggle Subtitles: In a previous post, we showed you how to enable subtitles and captions in PowerPoint. The subtitle button in Presenter View enables you to toggle the subtitles on or off.

Hide Presenter View: To turn off Presenter View anytime, you can select Hide Presenter View from the More slideshow options button.

Creating and Printing Handouts using Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

You can create handouts from your speaker notes by exporting them to a Microsoft Word file or printing them directly from PowerPoint.

Select Notes to Export in PowerPoint
Creating Speaker Notes Handouts in PowerPoint

Export Handouts to Word

To export your handouts to Word, go to File -> Export -> Create Handouts.

This will provide you with the option to select whether you would like to export notes next to slides or export blank lines next to slides, notes below slides, blank lines below slides, or the outline only.

Speaker Notes Printing in Microsoft Word
Creating Handouts by exporting PowerPoint to Word

Below is an example of handouts exported to Microsoft Word from PowerPoint. You can print these handouts from Word anytime via File -> Print.

Printing Speaker Notes Directly in PowerPoint

Print Speaker Notes in PowerPoint using different layouts

Printing Speaker Notes with Slide Thumbnails: You can print speaker notes directly in PowerPoint by going to File -> Print -> Settings -> Notes Pages.

Printing Speaker notes without Slide Thumbnails: If you would like to print the notes without thumbnails, go to View – > Notes Pages, delete the thumbnails for each slide, and then print your notes via File -> Print -> Settings -> Notes Pages.

Printing Speaker Notes in PowerPoint without Thumbnail

Final Words

Speaker notes in PowerPoint can help presenters create uncluttered slides and present information without worrying about messy paper notes or missing out information because of an oversight. Speaker notes provide much needed support to cater to the needs of the modern presenter, with the added advantage of printing or providing handouts to the audience after the presentation, such as citations and links for further reading.

If it’s your first time presenting with speaker notes in PowerPoint, you should try to acquaint yourself with the necessary settings and features of speaker notes to avoid getting confused when using them for the first time. Sometimes, monitor settings can flip, especially amidst an online presentation via Zoom or other video calling apps. To prevent that from happening, you can have a mock call with a colleague to make sure speaker notes aren’t visible. To do that, you can rehearse your presentation by adjusting your screen share view while hiding speaker notes.

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