Do you need to create 2 versions of a presentation? Read on…


We all know that PowerPoint slides should be more visual and less text heavy. It’s better for the audience, better for your speech delivery, and better for engagement levels. Plus you look better when they are nicely designed. But even if you create a beautiful, light and visual set of slides – you’re then often faced with the challenge that half your audience won’t be at the meeting and want to be sent a copy of your presentation. Or they do attend, but still request a copy to review or circulate afterwards. You know this from the start. And so you “have to” add more text here and there to explain your stuff. And perhaps a bit more text here just to avoid confusion, or there to make another point, or for the sake of clarity, then maybe you make one more point. Just to be safe. And unsurprisingly, you’re left with a presentation that is frankly a disaster to present. It’s simply become a document instead (or a “slideument”).

The 2 version solution isn’t great

So the widely suggested solution is to create 2, yes two, versions of your presentation. One beautiful visual thing for presenting, and one less charming but very informative text version for printing or email distribution. But you will possibly be doubling your work load and making last minute edits twice: most likely the night before. That might be manageable (yet annoying), but all too often colleagues will also make edits or give feedback… and the number of versions around can get confusing and overwhelming. And when you reuse these presentations in the future – that’s where you really start to edit in double, or quadruple…

Why text heavy slides are so bad:

It really is important that you don’t present these text heavy slides. The more text the audience is reading – the less they are able to listen to what you’re saying. Your slides are jammed, look a bit naff – so are not a great way to represent your company. For everyone, reading is like listening to a voice inside your head reading out-loud. Out-loud inside your head that is, don’t worry: they can’t hear you. (It’s the talking to yourself you need to worry about). So when listening to themselves read, your audience will struggle to listen to you, the presenter. This shouldn’t be a newsflash – but millions of presentations created every day ignore this.

The not-so big reveal: The solution = create one version!

Right, so just use one version. Use a beautiful light visual deck that will reflect your value. However, also use the Notes Area in PowerPoint to add the extra detail. Wait though, there’s more: You can style the content within Notes View so that it looks professional and complements your slide design. This is not the same as just viewing the Notes Pane beneath the slide (see image below).

Visual slide with Notes Pane in use, shown in Normal View. These would be the slides you present.

Take a look around PowerPoint – there is a Notes Master as well as a Notes View: use both of these to create pages that will work well by sending via email as a PDF.

Choose to print the Notes Pages within your Print Options. You’ll see something like this:

Slide within Notes View – formatted, designed, extra detail added. Select “Print Notes Pages” and print to PDF in the Print Options.

…and send that PDF to those who weren’t at the meeting. One version is the best solution. Plus, this enhanced one version contains your script (i.e. the image on the left, which you can see when you present using “Presenter View”).

With your script there you don’t need to worry about having a mind blank mid-way through. And colleagues or teams could present these scripted versions too and help the whole company to stay on message…

(The minor downside of a PDF is that you’ll lose any cool animation – but you could always send the PPT as well as the PDF. If you’re sure they will look at both…!)

If you think this Notes View solution will help you or your teams, please get in touch.
We can help get you started. Good luck out there!