A good slide deck for a live presentation makes a lousy handout. Conversely, slides built to be referenced as a leave-behind are wrong for use as a presentation. If people can read your slides and get all the information they need, there is no need for you to waste their time talking for an hour.
But if you give a good webinar presentation that is useful and beneficial for the audience, they are naturally going to want a way to reference your information after the webinar. A good leave-behind can help you reach more people as it gets forwarded to colleagues by attendees or referenced by registrants who couldn’t make the live session.
One easy way to create a useful handout from your graphics-heavy / text-light presentation slides is to add reference information in the speaker notes section. Summarize the key points you make vocally when you present each slide. This is an excellent exercise in preparing to give your webinar. The act of writing out your information for reference helps you clarify your thoughts and decide how to present each topic point. And in the process, you build your handout.
Once your PowerPoint is complete, with slides that pictorially support your message and notes that concisely encompass the information content of your speech, you have several options for creating an electronic document. There are enough options that I won’t go into them all here. Suffice it to say that you can export to either Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format in a variety of layouts. Here is an excellent article that takes you through the process of publishing to Word for older and newer versions of PowerPoint. And here is an article on publishing to PDF in PowerPoint 2007. I usually bypass the official Microsoft method and just print my notes view to a PDF file using an Adobe Acrobat printer driver.
Occasionally though, you don’t want to include your graphics in the handout at all. You might be worried about making your graphics available for others to steal. Or they might make the document too large and inconvenient for easy reference. Or you might have relied on animations and builds that won’t translate well to a static document format. Or you might just want to use your PowerPoint notes as the basis for a more detailed white paper.
Amazingly, Microsoft gives NO native way to export just your slide notes from PowerPoint to another document format. They always assume you want your graphical slide contents exported as well. Sure, you can export slides and notes and then delete the graphic images from the Word document. Or you can manually copy and paste each slide’s notes into a document. But these methods are time consuming and effort-intensive.
After years (yes, years!) of searching for a way to accomplish this task, I finally found it on an amazing site called PPTools. They provide a macro function that does just what I want. Fortunately you don’t have to understand a thing about macros or programming to use it. You just follow the instructions to open a macro editor, copy the code into the editor and click “Run.” – Voila, you have a text document with your notes neatly separated by slide, minus all graphics.
The site actually gives two different macro versions. One exports just the note text and the other exports slide titles and note text.
If you have never fooled with macros in PowerPoint, you’ll unfortunately discover that Microsoft tries to protect you from evildoers by disabling the functionality. So you’ll need to change a setting to enable macros to run.
Here are the articles you need to read from PPTools in order to use their code.
Code for extracting slide notes (first macro excludes slide titles, second macro includes them)
When you run the macro, it prompts you for a path and filename. It creates a text file and opens Notepad so you can edit it. If you prefer, you can open the file with Word so you can do formatting and change the font.
I’m so happy I found PPTools! It’s wonderful that there are kind people willing to share their knowledge and programming skills to help cover Microsoft’s oversights.