This month we’re going to look at a new, often overlooked feature of PowerPoint: Using the Reading View to deliver a presentation. This feature was introduced in the 2010 version of PowerPoint and carries on into the 2013 version.

First of all, let’s set the stage for why this feature can enhance the delivery of a presentation. Often a business presentation involves more than just presenting PowerPoint slides. You may wish to show your audience other content like websites or spreadsheets. But, in earlier (pre-2010) versions of the software the only option to deliver a presentation was to go into Slide Show view and then advance through your slide deck. If you needed to present content from other sources there were several ways to put this content on to slides (capturing screen shots, copying & pasting content) but these methods only showed the other content as static pictures that could be displayed on slides. For some content you really needed to show “live” content (actively working websites, Pivot tables, etc.) that you could interact with during your presentation.

There were a few ways to do this in the older (pre-2010) versions:  You could have inserted hyperlinks or Action buttons on to your slides, so you could click on them during the presentation and launch the files or websites you wanted to share with your audience. However, there was a drawback to this technique – the other content then had to launch and load into the proper application. Depending on where you were delivering a presentation and the speed of your internet connection this could have meant several minutes of waiting while the other content loaded, which also meant your audience had to wait along with you.

The other alternative was to have the other content up and running on your computer, but have the windows minimized. That way, you could jump out of your presentation (in Slide Show view) by pressing the Escape key, then move your mouse down to the Taskbar at the bottom of your screen and click on the icon of the content you wanted to show. Then, you could go back to your PowerPoint presentation.

However, this approach also meant that when you pressed the Escape key to get out of Slide Show view, your audience would see the “Normal” view of PowerPoint (they’d see the Ribbons, Slide miniatures and Speaker Notes on the screen. Then, after you were done showing the non-PowerPoint content, you’d have to make sure that you were on the slide you wanted to return to before you resumed the Slide Show view. In other words, this was clunky – if you really didn’t want your audience to see your speaker notes, or if you re-entered Slide Show view but landed on the wrong slide it could bog down your presentation.

So, this is where the new Reading View comes into play, and it is actually one of the easiest things to do in any Microsoft Office application – you just click one view button instead of another as illustrated in the following screen shots.

First of all, where are the View buttons? They are located in the lower right-hand corner of the PowerPoint application window:

Three of these four buttons have always been a part of PowerPoint:  Normal, Slide Sorter, and Slide Show.

But, most PowerPoint users don’t use the new view button that was added in the 2010 version, the Reading View button:

What’s the difference between using the Slide Show view to deliver your presentation instead of the Reading View? Very simple – when you are in Slide Show view, your slide content occupies the entire screen as illustrated below:

The Taskbar is not visible on the bottom of the screen, so even if you have your other non-PowerPoint content loaded up and ready to go, you still have to press the Escape key so that you can see your taskbar to switch to the other content.

But, if you use the Reading View to launch your presentation (just click a different view button) your audience will still see the slide content, but you will have a visible Taskbar on the bottom of your screen to seamlessly switch to other content sources as illustrated below:

Your Taskbar remains visible, simply click the icon for the other content you wish to share, and then click the PowerPoint icon when you wish to return to where you left the PowerPoint presentation. What a difference clicking one button can make!

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