If You Use PowerPoint You Need to Know This!

PowerPoint (or any other projection software) can be a great to enhance your message. When used correctly it can help you explain your message in a clearer way that helps your audience understand your message and learn even more.

But a constant problem that many speakers have when using PowerPoint is that they don’t know where to put their notes. To get around this, they put their notes on the screen and read from this. Unfortunately this has awful consequences for the audience. See here for examples.

But there is a way around this. The secret has been part of the PowerPoint suit for many years, but has been kept a secret from most of us. The secret uses a function of PowerPoint and a function of the operating software on your computer. As I use Microsoft XP, I will talk in terms of that.

The first step is to prepare your presentation in PowerPoint (or Imppress, Keynote, Freelance or any other program) using the “Presenters Notes”. In PowerPoint this is called “Normal View”. In this setting you can create your slide for your audience and make any notes that you will need. You can also see what slides you have in your presentation.

The second part of the secret is to set your computer up to run on Dual monitors. First ensure that you have your computer attached to the projector or this wont work. In XP this is done by following these steps:

  1. Go to the “desktop”
  2. Right Click and select Properties
  3. In the Properties box select the ‘settings’ tab
  4. Ensure that 2 monitors are showing (if they are not you will not be able to use this functionality.)
  5. Click on the second monitor
  6. Check the box towards the bottom of the settings box that says (something like) “Display monitor on this screen”

Once you have completed this set up you will be able to have the audience see the slides that you want them to see and you will be able to see your notes, the slides that the audience can see, what slides you have just shown and also the next slide to come.

By setting up the computer this way you will be able to control your notes, presentation and your message to achieve the results you are after.

You can get more info on this from Microsoft by following this link http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/powerpoint/HA010565471033.aspx?pid=CL100626991033

‘Til next time,


Darren Fleming





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  • http://stephaniegulley.wordpress.com HeyStephanie

    Great resource for those that work with dual monitors. I’ve seen presenters fumble during a presentation by not having it set up the way that you explained it. Plus, it’s also good to note that when presenting, you should always have your AIM turned off. You don’t want to have a random IMs pop up during your presentation.

  • DaveG


    Why do you not mention the presentation manager?
    It is great because on the second screen it puts the presentation and on the laptop screen it puts a copy of it with big buttons for forwards and abck and on the left a scollable bar with preview of each slide so you can easily move forwards or skip. there is also an elapsed time timer top left.

    It also handles the cursor right. IE when over the show on the the cursor is on the projected show, when over the next, or scroll bar it is off the projected show.

    If you run this I think it automatically switches to dual monitor mode (rather than replicated mode). On my Thinkpad there is Fn + F7 key that cycles through the modes (laptop ony-dual-external only).

    I tried this on a MacBook air last week, started the Powerpoint, put on presentation Manager and it just set up the second screen automatically.

    A colleague said the screen briefly flashed up a message saying – ‘negotiating optimal resolution’, but – for me – it just worked transparently. Beautiful.


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