Presentation Tip: Using Screen Notes

By Pragmatic Institute January 08, 2010

Pragmatic Institute instructors use a handy Microsoft PowerPoint feature to see notes on our laptop displays while showing the slides on the data projector. It generally works by default this way on the Mac but this feature is also available under all versions of Windows. For Windows, you need to update some display settings plus specify the monitor to use in your PowerPoint presentation settings.
Here's how to do it

Windows Settings

If your hardware and drivers have this capability, you'll see two squares (labeled 1 and 2) that represent your two monitors. Otherwise see My settings look different.

With your data projector connected, click on the 2nd monitor (the square with the "2" in it) and then check "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor." You may also need to change the screen resolution of the secondary monitor to 1024x768 (or lower) as many older data projectors cannot display the higher resolutions.  Click OK and you're done with the Windows settings.

It's much easier to set this up in Windows 7. Go to Control Panel, Hardware and Sound.


Choose Connect to a Projector and you'll see this:


Choose "Extend" to use your screen and projector as two separate entities.

You now have the ability to move the mouse from monitor 1 to monitor 2, as if you have a very wide monitor. You can drag windows from one display to the other, which is handy for having email in one window and a browser in the other, or for having your presentation notes on one display with the slide presentation on the other.

By the way, this is handy at your desk too. Having two monitors is great!

Presentation Settings: PowerPoint 2007

With the extended desktop active, you now have to make some changes in PowerPoint. Load a presentation (in PowerPoint 2007) and go to "Slide Show" on the ribbon.

If you have your external monitor connected correctly, click on “Show Presentation On:” and choose your second monitor.

Presentation Settings: PowerPoint 2003

Oh, you’re still using PowerPoint 2003? Load a PowerPoint presentation and go to "Set Up Show..." on the Slide Show menu.

If you have your external monitor connected correctly, you can click on the second monitor under the "Show On:" drop down.

You can now show the presentation slides on the secondary monitor instead of the primary monitor. Your primary monitor can display whatever you want. Some instructors have their PowerPoint notes plus an on-screen clock, and sometimes a browser window or QuickTime movie. If you want to show the rest of your group something on your primary monitor, just move the window from the laptop display to the external monitor.

Presenter's Mode

If you’ve selected Presenter’s Mode (and why wouldn’t you?) your presentation will look like this:

Super! You’ve got a view of upcoming slides, the current time, and your notes! Just what you need to be an effective presenter. Suddenly creating presenter notes is time well-spent.

My Settings look different

If so, you either don't have the hardware or your computer’s display drivers don't support dual video. You can try updating your device drivers by working with your tech support organization or going to the vendor's support site. I’m told the usual culprit is using default video drivers instead of the specific drivers from the video card vendor.

Troubleshooting: Mac

If you’re on a Mac and you’re seeing the same stuff on both monitors, go to System Preferences, Displays, and click the second tab. You’ll see this:

Make sure that “Mirror Displays” is unchecked. If you don’t see a second monitor at all, check your cables and click “Detect Displays” under the Display tab. The Mac can usually detect a display if it’s correctly connected.

Also check out:
Topmost Clock
Our 15 minute countdown timer (PowerPoint)
Wireless remote control from Interlink

Pragmatic Institute

Pragmatic Institute

Pragmatic Institute (formerly Pragmatic Marketing) has continuously delivered thought leadership in technology product management and marketing since it was founded in 1993. Today, we provide training and present at industry events around the world, conduct the industry’s largest annual survey and produce respected publications that are read by more than 100,000 product management and marketing professionals. Our thought-leadership portfolio includes the Pragmatic  Framework, eBooks, blogs, webinars, podcasts, newsletters, The Pragmatic magazine and the bestseller “Tuned In.”


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