Presenting with PowerPoint 2013 on Surface Tablets

Presenting with PowerPoint 2013 on Surface Tablets

The portability and touchscreen on a Surface tablet really makes presenting with PowerPoint 2013 an easy and effective way to convey your points.

Even more, the inclusion of a pen or stylus makes it a great device for presentations. Since PowerPoint comes built-in Windows RT, it’s one of the things a Surface RT or Surface 2 excels at, despite the fact that Microsoft stopping the manufacture of Surface 2 (RT) devices.

The focus of this article is presenting (in general) with the Surface tablets using PowerPoint but not creating presentations – I assume you know how to do that. I will cover the different presentation modes, tools, views and settings in PowerPoint. So, if that’s clear, let’s proceed…

Presenting with PowerPoint 2013: What You’ll Need

OK, in order to present successfully to a group of people, you’ll need to be able to connect to an external display. The easiest way to do so is to use a display adapter to connect (via VGA, DVI, or HDMA cable) directly to the projector.

The Surface comes with video, audio and USB ports that you can use to expand the capabilities of your awesome little tablet. Here are a few recommendations on accessories you might find useful.

We’ll start with the adapters (our recommendations) you would need for a Surface Pro (1, 2 or 3) model. You can click on each picture for more details.


And, since they are – unfortunately – not interchangeable between Surface RT and Surface Pro models, below are the adapters we would recommend if you are using a Surface RT or Surface 2 to give your presentations…


Another option you have is to connect via a wireless display (Miracast). The Surface 2 and the Surface Pro models are are capable of connecting wirelessly but the original Surface RT is not. If your second screen has an HDMI port but does not support Miracast, you can use the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter (or similar dongle) to give it the capability.

Presenting with PowerPoint 2013: Connecting to the Screen or Projector

Now that you have your adapter, you can find information on how to connect the display by referencing this article: Connect Surface to External Display

Presenting with PowerPoint 2013: Using PowerPoint 2013

So now, we’re down to actually using PowerPoint 2013 to give a presentation on your Surface. The two easiest way to start your presentation are to either:

  • Tap and Hold (Right-click) the presentation file and select Show from the context menu
  • Tap (Double-click) the presentation to open it in Edit mode then tap the Slide Show button

Go with the first option ONLY if you do not want to have the presentation mode enabled (i.e. you just want to give a simple show); you may need to use a mouse to right-click on the external screen to get an option to show the presentation mode on the Surface’s built in screen.

The touch screen will still work but will be blanked out. So you can swipe down to advance slides and swipe up to reverse slides. However, because you won’t get a mouse pointer with the touch screen, you won’t really be able to use the main screen presentation tools (unless you have a mouse attached).

This is, however, a good option if you just have a couple of people looking over your shoulder while you flip through your slides.

If you go with the second option, you’ll notice that whether you chose to duplicate or extend your display, the program automatically shows the Presenter View on the Surface screen and the presentation on the external display.

For the rest of this demo, I’m going to assume you want to go with the second option.

Below is a screenshot of the Presenter View…

Many things like End Slide Show and Next Slide are clearly labeled but there are a few things of interest that aren’t (though they’re not tough to figure out) and I want to draw attention to some of them in the sub-sections below.

Pen Tools

With the pen tools button, you can get the following features:

  • Laser Pointer: Puts a red dot on the screen as if you were using a laser pointer (no, you can’ change the color)
  • Pen: Let’s you draw or write on the slide. You can change the color of the ink, if you wish, and you can save the annotations on the slide when you exit.
  • Highlighter: Let’s you highlight as if you were using a highlighting pen. Like the Pen tool, you can change the color of the ink and save your annotations when you exit the slide show.

Of course, all of these tools work with pen or touch and can really enhance your ability to connect with your audience since you don’t have to keep turning around to the screen do point things out.

If you are using a wireless display, it’s even better because  you don’t even have to return to the podium to do use them.

Grid View

This tool simply puts the slides up in a grid pattern. It’s really handy for quickly jumping to a different slide.

Blank Screen

The Blank Screen button simply blanks out the screen. You have the choice to make it black or white and is usually used to take attention away from the presentation without actually stopping it.

Display Settings

This isn’t one of the button options but it’s worth noting. You can use this option to either exchange which screen the Presenter View and slide show are shown on or have the slide show view on both screens.

It can be handy if, for some reason, the screens are revered when you start the slide show or you want to get a better look at your slide from your Surface’s screen.

I hope this post has been helpful to you folks out there who have to conduct meetings, lectures, or give sales pitches.


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