One of the most common questions that has been asked about presenting PowerPoint slides in a Zoom meeting is how to use Presenter View if you only have one screen. Presenters who use this mode have been accustomed to adding their speaking notes in the Notes section below the slides. Presenter View displays the slides on a second monitor or projector and shows you your notes along with a preview of the next slide on your laptop.
With so many business professionals now working from just their laptop, the usual Presenter View doesn’t work because there is no second screen attached. When they start the slide show in PowerPoint, their notes disappear because the slide takes over the screen.
If this is your situation, first see if there is a second screen of some sort you can use just for presenting. If you can connect a TV or monitor that either isn’t being used or can be borrowed occasionally when you have to present, hook it up via cable or Miracast. If you have another laptop or desktop computer, you might be able to use the Windows 10 feature of projecting to another computer screen as a second monitor. If you have an iPad or other tablet, there may be a software/hardware solution to connect it to your laptop (this is likely the least desirable of the choices as it can be less reliable).
If you only have the one screen, here are four options you can use to see your speaking notes while presenting PowerPoint slides in a Zoom meeting.
Option 1: Use a PDF of the Notes pages on the screen
PowerPoint allows you to create Notes Pages with the slide image and the speaking notes for each slide on a separate page. You can create a PDF of these pages and use this PDF to see your notes on one part of your screen while you show the slides in the PowerPoint window. Here are the steps to use this method:
- In the Notes Master in PowerPoint, increase the font size of the text so it will be easy to read. Since the PDF will only be taking up part of the screen, not the full screen, you will need the font larger, usually at least 18 point size, in order to easily read it.
- Create a PDF of the Notes Pages. Either a) use the Save As/Save a Copy function to save a PDF and use the Options link to specify that you want to save the Notes Pages, or b) use the Print function and the Microsoft Print to PDF virtual printer to create a PDF of the Notes Pages.
- Set up the PowerPoint slides to show in a window instead of full screen (see option 4 in this article and video). This allows the slide show to be displayed on one part of your screen while the other part has the PDF of your notes.
- To get ready for the presentation, open the PDF file and the PowerPoint file. Arrange them on the screen so you can see both. You may have to resize the windows of each program so you are comfortable reading each one.
- Start the slide show mode in PowerPoint. Share that window in Zoom so the audience sees your slides. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move through your slides.
- Move your mouse over the PDF of your notes. Do not click on the PDF but use the scroll wheel on your mouse to scroll through the document as you move through the slides. This will take a bit of practice but you will quickly get the hang of it.
- If you suddenly aren’t able to advance the slides, it is possible that the focus of the operating system has moved off of PowerPoint. Just click on the border of the PowerPoint window to get the focus back on PowerPoint. Don’t click on the slide or it may advance to the next slide without you meaning to do that.
I used this method for a webinar recently. The organization was using a different meeting platform but this photo shows how I had my notes on the left side of my screen and the slides in the meeting platform on the right side of the screen. You also see a second device I am using that is connected as a participant so I can see what the audience sees.
Option 2: Use a Word handout export of your slides and notes on the screen
This option is similar to Option 1 except instead of a PDF of the Notes Pages, you use the PowerPoint function to create a Word document of the slides and your speaking notes. PowerPoint has an Export function that allows you to create a Word document that has your speaking notes beside your slides in a long table. You can adjust the spacing and font size in Word after the export. This gives you a lot of flexibility in how you set up the slide images and notes but is more work to create and adjust.
Once the Word document is ready, you follow similar steps as in Option 1 to open both the Word document and PowerPoint presentation on your screen. You show the slide show in the PowerPoint window and scroll through the Word document to see your notes as you present your slides.
Option 3: Use a tablet or phone for your notes
If you need your slides to be bigger on the screen, your screen isn’t big enough for both the notes and the slides, or you don’t choose to run the slide show in a window, you may use a tablet or phone for your notes. Use one of the methods in options 1 or 2 to create a PDF or Word document with your notes. Open that file on your tablet or phone. Now you can use your finger to scroll through the notes on the device while you are presenting the slides full screen on your laptop. Because the screen on a tablet or phone is much smaller, make sure your text is large enough to read easily.
Option 4: Use Presenter View preview
If you really want to use Presenter View, there is a method that can work. It uses a feature that was introduced in PowerPoint a few years ago called Presenter View preview and may only be available in modern versions of PowerPoint. This allows you to see what Presenter View looks like even though you only have one screen. This method also uses a feature of Zoom that shares a portion of your screen instead of the full screen. Here are the steps to follow:
- In setting up your slide show, make sure it is using the default of displaying the show in the full screen and that you have selected to use Presenter View.
- In PowerPoint, press Alt+F5 to start Presenter View preview at the beginning of your presentation. You will see Presenter View on your screen with the slide, your notes, and what the next slide/build will be. You will not see the controls for your Zoom meeting. If you want to jump to a specific slide in the file, use the controls in Presenter View to select the slide you want to display.
- Press Alt+Tab as many times as needed to return to the Zoom control window.
- In Zoom sharing, go to the Advanced tab and select the Portion of a screen option. You will now see a green rectangle on your screen. Use the vertical and horizontal dividing lines in Presenter View to make the size of the current slide larger. Use the sizing handles on the green Zoom sharing rectangle so that it only shows the current slide. Do this before others arrive in the Zoom meeting room so they don’t see you adjusting the display.
- Make sure the focus is on the Presenter View screen by clicking on the arrow key in Presenter View to check that the slides advance. Then you can use the arrow keys to advance the slides during your presentation.
- When you are done, stop sharing the portion of your screen in Zoom.
This video demonstrates this option.
If you use the Notes section of PowerPoint to hold your speaking notes and usually use Presenter View when presenting on a screen or projector, use one of these four options to see your notes while displaying the slides to the attendees in a Zoom meeting. I usually use Option 1 but try the different options and use whichever option you are most comfortable with.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.