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Take advantage of PowerPoint's Notes feature

Speaker's notes can turn a rambling presentation into one that's sharp and interesting. Check out this simple outline for teaching your PowerPoint students how to set up notes to improve their presentation delivery.


Many PowerPoint classes focus exclusively on the fundamentals of creating and formatting slides, adding special effects, and running slide shows. As a result, students often don't get the chance to learn about speakers’ notes—which is too bad, because for those who must deliver presentations, notes can be invaluable. If you want to include a quick overview of the Notes feature in your next PowerPoint class, here are the highlights.

Creating notes
PowerPoint offers a couple of methods for creating notes for a slide, but we'll take the most flexible approach:
  1. Display the slide in Slide view, or select it in Slide Sorter view.
  2. Choose Notes Page from the View menu, or click the Notes Page View button in the horizontal scrollbar. PowerPoint will switch to Notes Page view, displaying an image of the slide and a text box for notes.

In Notes Page view, PowerPoint displays the current slide and a text box for the notes.

  1. Click in the text box, and type a sample note. You'll probably want to choose a higher zoom percentage from the Zoom drop-down list for a better view of what you're typing.
  2. To show that notes text works just like any other slide text, make a couple of editing changes, and then reformat your notes by highlighting the text and selecting a different font and point size.
  3. To demonstrate that you can resize the slide image and text box, click a handle and drag. (Hold down [Shift] and drag a corner handle if you want to resize proportionally.) You can also drag both elements to relocate them on the page.
  4. When you're finished, choose Slide or Slide Sorter from the View menu (or click the corresponding buttons on the horizontal scroll bar) to return to your original view.

Modifying layout and formatting for all the notes in a presentation
Once everyone is familiar with how to set up a notes page, you may want to show them how to use the Notes Master to customize the appearance of all the notes in a presentation:
  1. Choose Master from the View menu, and select Notes Master from the submenu.
  2. When the Notes Master opens, you can identify the various placeholders for your students. (If you haven't discussed the concept of masters at all, be sure to explain that they simply act as a blueprint that determines the elements and formatting for all the slides, notes pages, and handouts in a presentation.)

When you first open the Notes Master, you can point out the various placeholders.

  1. For demo purposes, reduce the size of the slide image at the top of the Notes Master by dragging a corner handle, then drag a handle on the text box to make it bigger.
  2. Again, for demo, click anywhere within the label Click To Edit Master Text Styles, and choose 18 from the Font Size drop-down list. (You can click in the labels for additional levels and apply different formatting if you want, but that's not really necessary to show how the Notes Master works.)

We made a few sample modifications to the Notes Master.

  1. Click Close on the Master toolbar to return to your original view.
  2. Now, choose Notes Page from the View menu and show your students how the changes you made in the Notes Master are reflected in the notes themselves.

Printing notes
The final step is to print out a set of notes for the speaker to refer to during the presentation.
  1. Choose Print from the File menu.
  2. Use the settings in the Print Range area to specify the slides for which you want to print notes (or leave All selected).
  3. Choose Notes Pages from the Print What drop-down list.
  4. Click OK to send the notes to the printer.
Are there any typically overlooked aspects of PowerPoint—or other Office programs—that you try to include in your classes? Sendus a note and we’ll share your ideas with the rest of the training community.

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

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