PowerPoint Speaker Notes Text to Speech via the Excel Object Model

Back when Office XP was in beta, I was building "Information Worker" demos. One of them was to show how to make PowerPoint "speak" the speaker notes to you. This isn't quite Accessibility at it's finest, but it certainly doesn't hurt. You could figure out how to add closed captioning on top of each slide for better accessibility. However, I'm happy to say that the code I wrote for the demo with Office XP still works in Office 2003. Below are the steps to make PowerPoint speak the speaker notes to you. Keep in mind that I am not really a developer, so the code might not be the most efficient.
Have fun with it and please let me know what you think.

  1. Open PowerPoint
  2. On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Security.
  3. On the Security Level tab, click to select Medium, and then click OK.
  4. On the File menu, click Exit to quit PowerPoint.
  5. Restart PowerPoint for the security level change to take effect.
  6. Open a PowerPoint presentation, or create a new one.
  7. In PowerPoint, select your first slide and enter some text in the Notes field of your slide (if you don't see the Notes page, select View, Normal)
  8. Press ALT+F11 to start the Visual Basic Editor.
  9. On the Insert menu, click Module.
  10. In the Visual Basic Editor, point to References on the Tools menu.
  11. Under Available References, click to select the Excel 11.0 Object Library check box, and then click OK.
  12. Copy and paste the following code into the module:

Sub Present_And_Read_Notes()
'Declare and create an Excel object
Dim XLapp As Excel.Application
Dim SlideCount As Integer
Set XLapp = CreateObject("Excel.Application")

With SlideShowWindows(1).View

'Figure out how many slides there are in this presentation
SlideCount = ActivePresentation.Slides.Count

'Loop through each slide and read whatever is in the notes field.
For i = 1 To SlideCount
'Speak the text in the Notes field for each slide:
XLapp.Speech.Speak ActivePresentation.Slides(i).NotesPage.Shapes.Placeholders(2).TextFrame.TextRange.Text
'Another way to use speech is to just enter text here in the code:
'XL.Speech.Speak "You can also enter text here to be read during the presentation."

'Close the Excel object and set the object to nothing.
Set XLapp = Nothing

'Exit the slideshow
End With

End Sub

  13. Back in PowerPoint, from the Tools menu, select Macro, Macros Select your macro (Present_And_Read_Notes)
14. Click Run
The PowerPoint slide should run and you should hear the notes spoken to you via a computerized-sounding voice.

Here are some suggestions for you to improve this little sample:

  1. Make the macro automatically run when you start a presentation.
  2. Then make the presentation self-running so that each slide advances to the next after a bit of time. 
  3. Then make the presentation restart after it ends.