Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Magical 2-in-1 Deck by Nolan Haims

Today the BDG blog welcomes Nolan Haims—former Presentation Director for Edelman who now oversees his own design firm, Nolan Haims Creative—as a guest blogger. I met Nolan at the Presentation Summit and was blown away by his workshop and the helpful PowerPoint tips he taught his audience. In fact, his workshop was so popular, he was asked to present again on the last day of the conference. The secrets he shares in our blog are guaranteed to make you a presentation magician.

The best presenters know not to hand out their on-screen slides as a leave behind for their audiences. But when under the gun and without time to create a separate more detailed handout, distributing slides is sometimes unavoidable in the corporate world.

To address this problem at Edelman, we created the “Magical 2-in-1 Deck,” a solution which exploits PowerPointʼs option to customize Notes View through the Notes Master. The result is a single PowerPoint presentation that looks one way on screen (minimal text), and a very different way when printed or made into a PDF as a leave behind (much more detailed text.) Hereʼs how it works...

Design your slides first and foremost for on-screen display. This means large and limited text and a preference for strong imagery. Write your speaker notes and place them like you might normally do into the notes section.

At this point, if you wanted to print and hand out your Notes Pages, you would be stuck with PowerPointʼs ugly default layout, shown below. This just screams “lazy,” and it is. But weʼre not done yet.
Go into the view for your Notes Master, and youʼll find that just as with your Slide Master, you have the choice of customizing your Notes pages any way you like. A more standard use of a custom-designed Notes Master would be to keep the portrait layout and reduce the slide thumbnail, leaving a healthy portion of the page for detailed text and supporting materials for this slide. Taking this route would be a great gift for your audience, but hereʼs my problem with this solution: Itʼs dangerously close to creating that second, separately designed handout that we originally had no time for. And if a presenter is editing his or her content at the 11th hour, a handout like this is going to feel psychologically like double the work. The next thing you know, all that detailed content is getting slapped on screen and handed out. Weʼre right back to our initial problem.

So hereʼs where the 2-in-1 Deck comes in: The first thing to do is to change the page orientation of the Notes Master to landscape—just like your on-screen slide layout. Then, just make a few design adjustments, so that your notes field becomes a sidebar add-on—almost like a souped up footnote. You can apply basic text and background formatting to the notes field, but donʼt go overboard. This view is now a print document and should be treated as such. Use 11-point type.

Now, if you have written your more detailed content for each slide in the notes field, all you need to do when ready to create your handout is to Print: Notes Pages or Save As PDF: Options: Publish: Notes Pages. All of your notes are automagically formatted for you into a completely different looking document. Voila!

If you wish, you can go into each individual notes page and further stylize the text or the entire layout on a slide by slide basis like we did with the blue subheads above. The important part of this is that if you donʼt want to think about creating two different documents, you donʼt have to.

And thatʼs the Magical 2-in-1 Deck.

Special thanks to Edelman and my New York Presentation design team who helped develop this technique.


After careers in theatre and the circus, Nolan Haims moved into the world of presentation, designing presentations for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions and all the major television networks. Currently Nolan is Presentation Director for Edelman, the world's largest PR company. He writes about visual communication at

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