How to Use Speaker Notes in PowerPoint

Speaker notes keep a presenter on track during a presentation

Speaker notes are notes added to PowerPoint presentation slides as a reference for the presenter. Notes in a PowerPoint slide are hidden during the presentation and only visible to the one presenting the slides. Print your PowerPoint notes, accompanied by a thumbnail version of the appropriate slide, to keep as a handy reference when making an oral presentation.

Instructions in this article apply to PowerPoint 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; PowerPoint for Office 365, PowerPoint for Mac, and PowerPoint Online.

How to Add Notes in PowerPoint

Keep on track during your slideshow by adding speaker notes to each slide of your presentation. You don't need to write down everything you want to say, just add enough information to keep your speech flowing.

  1. Go to View and select Normal. In PowerPoint Online, toggle the notes pane on and off by selecting View > Notes.

    Normal view in PowerPoint
  2. In the Slide pane, select the thumbnail of the slide you want to add a note.

  3. Place the cursor in the Notes pane. The text in the Notes pane reads, Click to add notes.

    If you don't see the Notes pane, go to View and select Notes. On a Mac, drag the bar below the slide upward to reveal the notes section.

    Notes Pane in PoewrPoint
  4. Type or paste your notes into the Notes pane.

    Notes in the note pane
  5. Save the changes to your presentation.

How to See Your Notes During a Presentation

If your computer is connected to another monitor or projector, you can enable Presenter View in PowerPoint 2016, 2013, and 2010.

  1. Go to Slide Show and select Use Presenter View.

    Presenter view in PowerPoint
  2. Select the monitor that you want to use to view your speaker notes in the Display Settings dialog box. Place a check next to This is my main monitor.

  3. If available, select From Current Slide, Custom Slide Show, Present Online, or Broadcast Slide Show. Each of these views displays your slideshow notes during the presentation.

PowerPoint for Mac works a little differently than the Windows version. To see your notes during a presentation, go to Slide Show and select Presenter View.

PowerPoint Online is unable to open a presentation in Presenter View because it can't connect to an additional monitor.

Tips and More Information on PowerPoint Notes

Presenter View only works if your computer is connected to another display. The purpose of Presenter View is to show something different on your screen than on the one your viewers are watching.

While in Presenter View, you'll see the current slide, the upcoming slide, and your notes. Presenter View includes a timer and a clock that shows if your presentation is running too short or too long.

To exit Presenter View, and end the presentation, select End Slide Show at the top of the screen. If you don't see that option, right-click the slideshow and select End Show.