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From One Slide to Any Other in Two Clicks

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Powerpoint and Keynote presentations are usually built to play straight through from beginning to end, without backing up, skipping forward, or viewing slides out of sequence. This kind of presentation can act like a script for the meeting. The thing about meetings, however, is that they don’t typically adhere to a script. Any group of people are likely to have questions or observations that will lead the meeting in an unexpected direction.

What good is a linear presentation when that happens? Not much.

You can avoid the situation where the presenter either leaves a slide on the screen for several minutes while everyone in the room talks about something else, or has to waste time trying to skip forward to another slide one-by-one and then go back. The way to do it is to create an index slide.

An index slide displays a hyperlinked thumbnail of every slide in your deck. We usually make the first slide the index and hide or skip it so it doesn’t display during the presentation until the presenter navigates to it by clicking a hyperlinked icon. It becomes the “home” slide and a small semi-transparent “home” icon is linked to this slide and pasted onto the master so it appears on each slide in the deck.

Because you can navigate to the home slide from anywhere in the presentation, and from there to any other specific slide in the presentation, no two slides are ever separated by more than two clicks. Presenters and audiences tend to appreciate the flexibility this gives them to depart from the script.

Setting up an index slide is usually the last thing the developer will do before handing the presentation off to the presenter. The quickest way to generate the thumbnails is to follow this procedure:

  1. Display the “light table” or “slide sorter,” view (which shows all or at least many of the slides in the presentation), and do a screenshot
  2. Paste the screenshot
  3. Duplicate it once for each slide shown
  4. Align the screenshots along the top and left edges
  5. Put in “guide lines” that run along the edges of all the slides shown on the screenshot (top and bottom, right and left)
  6. Starting at the top, and going left-to-right, use the “crop” tool on each screenshot to isolate each slide in the sequence

When this is done, the thumbnails may be arranged any way you like on the index slide. It is usually helpful to label them with slide titles or section titles. Then hyperlink each thumbnail to its corresponding slide.

In earlier versions of Powerpoint, we had to save the index slide for last because any additional or deleted slides or any changes in slide order meant the hyperlinked thumbnails would link to the wrong slides. Luckily, the current versions of Powerpoint and Keynote are advanced enough that the hyperlinks will be automatically updated when the slide order is changed.

[Gary Reichardt]