March 13, 2008

Using notes pages in PowerPoint

A lot of public speaking experts suggest using notes pages in PowerPoint as an alternative to reading from slides.

In PowerPoint, below each slide in "normal" view, there is a space to write out notes to accompany the slide. Look below the slide where it says, "Click to add notes." The notes can only be seen by the speaker.

While I agree that anything is better than reading directly from the screen, turning your back to the audience and reciting what's right in front of their faces, there's one big problem with using notes pages.

Notes pages keep you tied to the computer.

Standing at the computer pushing buttons and reading from the monitor is not much more engaging than standing behind a lectern or, in fact, reading from the projected slides.

Notes pages can be good for brainstorming the content that will go with each slide during the creation of your slideshow. I just don't recommend reading from them during your presentation.

Walk away from the computer. Use a wireless remote to advance your slides. If you need to use notes, go ahead and put them on paper. In fact, the lectern is a great place to keep your notes, as long as you're not behind it.

I like to use a document holder (something like this) on a table off to the side, so my notes are close by if I need them and already standing up so I don't need to touch them. But they're not distracting to the audience.

And, most importantly, I'm free to move around the room and interact with my audience, remote in hand. Not chained to the computer or my notes pages.

How do you use your notes pages?

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5 comments. Please add yours! :

Rowan Manahan said...

Depends on the length of the session(s).

For a 30 minute talk on a pet subject, you probably won't need to use the Presenter View too often; but for a seres of presentations delivered over the course of a 3-day training course ...

If your presentation involves delivering value and detail beyond what is up on screen you are either going to have to store it in your head or somewhere else.

I'm a pacer too and I hate being tied to a podium or corner of the room, but I do manage to make extensive use of the Notes function. It think of it as my "just in case" ...

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Rowan. I do use notes (always!), just not the notes page on the computer.

You're an experienced speaker, and I know you don't use that notes page as a crutch. But for people who are already leaning toward reading from the slides, it's just too tempting, if you ask me!

Matthew Cornell said...

I like the idea of the presenter view - my previous boss used it. In my case I do put notes in, but then I print them out as presenter notes. These I set on my presenter table (I don't use a podium either - I like to move around) and refer to them as needed. I sometimes beat up on myself for needing them at all, but hey - it's a full-day interactive workshop. Maybe after I've done 50 of them...

Good stuff, Lisa!

Anonymous said...

How is this for a thought?

Use the notes pages to create your speaker notes, and use them for rehersal etc.

Then when you present, print out the notes pages seperately, and put them where ever you want.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for sharing, Craig.

I usually start with an outline (or a story template, if I'm using the Beyond Bullet Points method) and move that into PowerPoint, so I end up using my outline as my speaker notes.

And I only ever bring one page of notes, sometimes double-sided. I'm much too klutzy and forgetful to try to manage more than one page!

I suppose for someone who wants to keep everything all in one program, the notes pages can be useful and practical as speaker notes.

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