By Ellen Finkelstein

When you do a long presentation with lots of topics, you can help your audience understand and remember more by explicitly displaying the presentation’s organization. A training session comes to mind as an example. People also like to know where they are in a presentation. A visual list of topics helps them relate each topic to the wholeness of the presentation.

One way to do this is with a tabbed presentation. It looks somewhat like links at the top of a website.

I prefer to keep the tabs simple so that they don’t distract from the main content, but you can format them any way you want.

Here’s how I created the tabs:

  1.  Go to View, Slide Master.
  2. In the left-hand pane, scroll up to the top, larger thumbnail. Whatever you place on this master will appear on every slide, no matter which layout it uses.
  3. Draw the tabs. You could put them at the bottom instead. I used the Round Same Side Corner shape in the Rectangles section. You can drag the yellow square or diamond to adjust the size of the rounded corner. You’ll have to fiddle with the size and placement to fit the desired number of tabs across the slide. You can see that I made the Home tab smaller than the others; I did this because I needed more space for the topic names — and wanted to emphasize them as well. You’ll probably also have to adjust the placement of some of the text placeholders to make room for the tabs.
  4. Click the Normal View icon at the bottom of the screen to return to Normal view and create all of your slides. You can create a “topic” slide at the beginning of each topic, but it isn’t necessary. The Section layout is good for this, but you can also use the Title Slide layout or any other layout that works for you.
  5. Return to the Slide Master. You can now add hyperlinks to each of the sections and they will work on every slide.powerpoint-tips-tabbed-presentation-with-topics-2
  6. Select the first tab, being sure to click the tab’s outline (border), not the text inside it. You want the hyperlink to work if you click anywhere on the tab and you probably don’t want the text to be underlined and change to the hyperlink theme color.
  7. Press Ctrl + K or go to the Insert tab and click Hyperlink in the Links group. (You’ll do this in the Slide Master.)
  8. In the Link To pane of the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, choose Place in This Document.
  9. In the larger pane, choose the desired slide. For the Home tab, you would choose the first slide of the presentation. For subsequent tabs, you would choose the first slide of the corresponding topic.
  10. Click OK to create the hyperlink and close the dialog box.
  11. Add hyperlinks to the rest of the tabs.
  12. Exit the Slide Master to return to Normal view.
  13. Test all of your hyperlinks!

It’s possible to create the tabs on your slides in Normal view. You can create one set, add the hyperlinks, and copy them to the rest of the slides. The hyperlinks will follow. This method has 2 problems that I can think of:

  1. It makes the presentation file larger (but probably not by too much)
  2. If you want to reformat the look of the tabs, you have to do so on every slide, instead of once on the Slide Master.

This method has one advantage. If you want, you can format the current tab differently. For example, during Topic 2, the Topic 2 tab can have a darker fill and white text. But you’ll need to individually change the formatting on every slide of the presentation.

It’s possible to create a separate master for each section and format your tabs differently in each master. Then you would apply a different master to each topic.

Delivering a tabbed presentation

You can go through the presentation as usual, if you want. You don’t even have to use the tabs! But if someone asks a question about an earlier topic, you can easily go back to it by clicking the topic’s tab. In some situations, you might also let your audience choose the topics they want to hear and in which order. I called this a menu-based presentation.

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