Use Notes View in PowerPoint for excellent handouts

Everyone knows 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 get cool points when slides are nicely designed.

But even if you create a beautiful, light and visual set of slides – you’re 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 perhaps a handful simply aren’t visual learners. Plus even those who do attend often 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 another line to avoid confusion, or another to make a good point, and for the sake of clarity, then maybe you add one more sentence. 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”).

You might know of course, that you can put script in Notes View in PowerPoint, but even if you do this – they are unformatted and look naff. And surely the Notes View in PowerPoint is just for the presenter, right? Well, no, read on…

The 2 version solution is not the answer:

A widely suggested solution is to create 2, yes two, versions of your presentation.

One beautiful visual work of art for presenting, and one less charming but very informative text version for printing or email distribution. To do this you will likely be doubling your work load and any last minute edits – you’ll have to make them twice. Every time.

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… So let’s leave the idea of two versions behind.

Why do we care if 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 far too “powerpointy” and are a bad 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. I digress… ).

While listening to themselves read, audiences struggle to listen to the presenter. This shouldn’t be a newsflash – but millions of presentations created every day ignore this.

The solution: use Notes Area (formatted) to avoid 2 versions!

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 in PowerPoint 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).

Notes View in PowerPoint

The above image shows a visual slide with Notes Pane in use, displayed in Normal View. These would be the slides you present.
You need to view and design the Notes View within PowerPoint. Then print to PDF and choose “Notes Pages” instead of slides.

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

Choose to print the Notes Pages within your Print Options.

Once designed, choose Print and you’ll see something like this:

Printing Notes View in PowerPoint to PDF

Printing Notes View in PowerPoint to PDF – this preview is what you can then send to your audience afterwards.

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

Boom. Simply send that PDF to those who weren’t at the meeting. Plus, this enhanced one version contains your script (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 – still, you could email over the PPT as well as the PDF. If you’re sure they will look at both…!)

If you think this Notes View in PowerPoint solution will help you or your teams, please get in touch.

Presented can help get you started. Good luck out there!