With PowerPoint presentations, it's usually you, or an audio or video clip, doing all the talking. But what if you want to give your voice a much-needed break without interrupting the presentation?
Microsoft PowerPoint has a built-in but hidden Speak feature that allows it to read out the text of your presentation slides, similar to the Read Aloud feature in its cousins—Word and Outlook.
In this article, you'll learn how to set up and use the Speak feature in Microsoft PowerPoint to read out your slides and power up your presentations, plus how to manage it.
How to Enable Speak in Microsoft PowerPoint
The Speak feature has been available in PowerPoint since PowerPoint 2010, but not many are aware of this because it's neither on the Ribbon area nor on the Quick Access Toolbar by default.
With a little tweaking, however, you can enable Speak on the Ribbon and QAT, and get PowerPoint talking just like your Google Assistant. Here's how:
- Open the PowerPoint desktop application.
- Click on File, scroll all the way down and click on Options.
- Click on Quick Access Toolbar under PowerPoint Options.
- Click on the “Choose commands from” dropdown and change the selection from “Popular Commands” to Commands Not in the Ribbon or All Commands.
- Drag the scroll bar, scroll all the way down and click on Speak. The commands are arranged alphabetically, so you can jump to “S.”
- Click on Add and Speak will be added to the “Customize Quick Access Toolbar” pane, then scroll down and click OK.
- Speak will be enabled for all documents in PowerPoint by default.
- Return to your Quick Access Toolbar, and you should see the Speak button, but it may be inactive.
How to Use Speak to Read Microsoft PowerPoint Documents Aloud
Once Speak is added to your Quick Access Toolbar or Ribbon, you can start listening to your PowerPoint presentations. Here's how:
- Launch the PowerPoint desktop application and open any existing document.
- Select the portion of the text that you want to be read out loud. This will activate the Speak button in the Quick Access Toolbar.
- Click on Speak and it will start speaking or reading out the selected text.
- To stop Speak, simply click on Stop Speaking.
You'll notice that unlike the Read Aloud feature, Speak functions basically as a play/stop button on the Quick Access Toolbar. It can also be playing in the background while you do other tasks.
How to Manage Speak in Microsoft PowerPoint
If you want to manage how Speak works, you'll have to go through the Windows menu. Here's how:
- Press the Windows key on your PC and click on Control Panel.
- Click on Speech Recognition then click on Text to Speech in the left pane. From here, you can control the voice properties, reading speed, and other text-to-speech settings.
- Click on the Voice selection dropdown to select a different voice. Your options will depend on your version of Windows.
- Click on the Preview Voice button to listen to your voice selection.
- Voice Speed is set to Normal by default. You can adjust this by dragging the slider left or right between “Slow” and “Fast.”
- Click OK when done.
Power Up Your PowerPoint Presentations With Speak
Whether you're feeling tired and exhausted or you have a speech impairment, you can power up your PowerPoint presentations with Speak and let it do the talking on your behalf. It's also available in Word, Outlook, and OneNote.
Speak is clearly not as robust or as accessible as Read Aloud, perhaps due to the fact that PowerPoint already has several other built-in audio/visual tools. However, it is good enough to do the basic tasks of helping you make an audio presentation or read another's presentation aloud.
Using Microsoft Word's read aloud feature, you can listen to your document in real-time, highlighting text as it is read. Here's how to use it.