If you want your PowerPoint presentation to go smoothly, it is important that the speaker knows what to say when each slide appears. One of the tools that can be used to help speakers achieve this is speaker notes. Speaker notes are simply paragraphs of text which can be entered for each slide in the presentation. Although their principal use is to act as a reminder and prompt for the speaker while giving the presentation, they can be used for a variety of purposes.
First of all, they can be used as an alternative to audience handouts. Naturally, this is only possible where the notes contain a summary of the information relevant to each slide rather than personal prompts such as “Remember to tell anecdote.” Secondly, they can be used during the development process to add reminders relevant to each slide. Before finalising the presentation, the creator(s) can then check the entries in the speaker notes to make sure that they have completed everything.
If you are planning to use speaker notes in the way Microsoft intended, they can of course be printed out and referred to as necessary. However, a more subtle approach is use a two-screen setup. Display the presentation on a large monitor while on your own computer, you can view the speaker notes.
There are two modes in which you can edit speaker notes within PowerPoint. Firstly, in normal view, the speaker notes pane is displayed below the slide preview on the right of your screen. Simply click to position the cursor in the speaker notes pane and edited the notes as required. You can also drag the re-size bar at the bottom of the workspace to increase the size of the speaker notes pane.
If you wish to focus on the notes themselves, in the View tab of the PowerPoint ribbon, click on the Notes Page View icon. This gives you a print preview of what your notes will look like when printed and allows you to edit the notes at the same time.
If you wish to personalise the appearance of the speaker notes when printed, you can customise the Notes Master. Masters are a feature of PowerPoint which allows you to customise the format of elements within a presentation by modifying a single master element. By default, the notes master features a miniature of the slide at the top of the page and the notes area at the bottom. It also features a header and footer, the date and page number. You can drag and resize these elements as you see fit. For example, you might make the slide smaller and increase the size of the notes text block or you might move the notes text above the slide.
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