PowerPoint Presenter view

The last few versions of Powerpoint have included “Presenter view” which takes advantage of multi-screen mode in Windows to give presenters a much more effective way to manage their speeches.

At the moment Office Watch editor-in-chief  Peter Deegan is sailing the high seas on the Radisson Diamond and has been giving some presentations to the passengers along the way. Usually we keep Peter safely locked away in a small room with a computer and net connection but for once we’ve let him out among his fellow humans .

The last few versions of Powerpoint have taken advantage of the multi-screen mode in Windows 2000 SP3 or later and Windows XP to give presenters a much more effective way to manage their speeches.

Presenter View shows the Powerpoint presentation itself on one screen while the presenter can see a scrollable slide view, action buttons and most important, speaker notes.

In the bad old days you had to print out the speaker notes and flip through them as you spoke, with Presenter View you see them as you go. If you have a more unstructured presentation with no strict order, Presenter View lets you scroll through the slide list and quickly find the one you want.


Before you go into Presenter View you need to setup your computer with dual-screens. If you’re using a laptop computer that means using the in-built screen for Presenter View while the external video is connected to a larger screen.

To do that connect your second display up to the computer, you may have to press a display button on the laptop to make the machine send images to both monitors. Then go to Control Panel | Panel | Settings. Click on the large digit 2 in the blue box then click on ‘Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor’ then Apply.

Now you have two monitors, or more strictly speaking one long screen that is split across two monitors. You can see this work by dragging a window across the screen and it will appear on the second monitor.

With the computer ready, you can get Powerpoint to do its thing. In Powerpoint go to Slide Show | Set up Show and check the box ‘Show Presenter View’, the pull-down list above let you choose which screen displays the main slide show (usually the secondary monitor).

If your computer doesn’t have multiple monitors setup, you’ll get a warning and taken to the display settings to make that change.


Now that you’re setup, start the presentation to see Presenter View. The first slide of your presentation will appear on one monitor while the special Presenter view is on the other.

The Presenter View has these elements:

Slide View

On the left side is a thumbnail view of each slide that you can scroll through. Click on a thumbnail and that slide will appear in the main view.

Main Display View

Dominating the Presenter View is what Microsoft calls ‘Displayed Slide’ but it’s really more than that. In normal circumstances it will show the current slide but it is really a rendering of what is happening on the second monitor.

To demonstrate this, start a presentation then drag an application window (any window will do) across to the second monitor. After a short pause look at the ‘displayed slide’ part of Presenter View and you’ll see the dragged window appearing in that view. This makes the Presenter View more powerful because you can see if some other window has got in the way.

What’s Next

Immediately below the display view is the heading text for the next slide or bullet item,

Slide Number and Elapsed Time

The next line shows the current slide number and time since you started the presentation.

Action buttons

There’s large buttons to start and end a presentation plus move the slides forward and back one at a time. A button will turn the second monitor to black temporarily (just like the B key will do). The large buttons make it easy to click on them, especially when Peter is speaking on a ship in rough seas .

Speakers Notes

The best thing about Presenter View is the display of Speaker Notes. You can see your ‘below the line’ remarks, jokes etc privately while the main slide is shown to your audience.


Presenter View is very handy but takes a bit of getting used to if you are switching between the presentation and other programs (eg in a product demonstration).

It’s best to rehearse and get familiar with the way the two screens work together before going ‘live’.