PowerPoint Notes – A Simple Tool to Improve Your Presentations

You probably already know that one of the cardinal rules of PowerPoint presentations is not to read from the slides as you make a presentation. If you do, your audience is soon lulled into turning their attention away from you and exclusively to the screen. Worse yet, they may be thinking, “Why didn’t she just give me a copy of the slides so I can leave?”

A great alternative to engage the audience but still have control of the material is to use the Notes tool in the software. Just in case you haven’t come across it, access it by going into the View menu and selecting “Note Page.” You then have a full-size page with the slide on top and room for–as you might have guessed by now–your own speaker notes that correspond to the slide on the bottom. You can resize the slide and notes sections, depending on the length of your notes.

Thus, you can have a minimal number of words on the slide, or perhaps just a table or other graphic, which you can explain or use as a jumping-off point, all the while with the security of having the notes in front of you. Your audience will only see the slides, not your notes. Present graphics or minimal information on the slides, then add value through your comments.

What’s more, you can make a template in the Notes section to organize your presentation and make the notes easy to scan. Here is one effective technique:

1. Write the main point of the slide first. What do you want to make sure you get across?

2. Add supporting information, perhaps a few examples or anecdotes that you will or will not draw upon, depending on the particular audience. Write a detailed script or talking points, whichever is more comfortable for you and the needs of the speaking engagement.

3. Estimate the amount of time you want to spend on the slide, and remind yourself in the notes. You don’t want to drag things out, but if you have a tendency to talk quickly, this will remind you that you have plenty of time.

4. Include your lead-in to the next slide. Remind yourself if you are beginning a new section, for example, or give yourself a cue such as “Let’s take a look at how that would work in practice.”

5. Include any other information that you want to have on hand that refers to that particular slide.

So how do you use it? Depending on the situation, print out a hard copy (select “Notes” when you go to the print menu) or have a copy of the presentation, in Notes Page view, running on a second laptop. Whatever you do, though, practice, practice, practice!