More Prezi-style PowerPoint

zoom girlOne of the things that Prezi brings to the table is a non-linear presentation style. Rather than being locked in to a start-to-finish sequence, the presenter can react to the audience and, in the case of a web-based presentation, the viewer can directly navigate to specific areas of interest.

Some of my earlier posts have addressed this:

  • Non-linear navigation – this post outlines the benefits of non- linear navigation (along with caveats) and demonstrates the use of hyperlinks in PowerPoint. In particular, it points out that a stand-up presenter must use a true pointing device to select and activate hyperlinked objects.
  • “Custom Slide Shows” – shows how to use a feature called “custom slide shows” to organize presentation material so that sales presentations can be tailored to specific prospects.
  • Prezi-style navigation and effects – demonstrates animation techniques that mimic Prezi zooming effects.

I am also inspired by a couple of other things:

  • A reader pointed me to pptPlex, an unsupported “Office Labs experiment” – a free PowerPoint plugin (released in 2011).
  • I ran across a July 2014 press release on ActivePlex, an add-in from GMARK.

Both of these appear to support non-linear presentations based on PowerPoint. I have not used either of these and have no opinion regarding them. If you have had experience with either of these, please let me know what you think (comment or use the form at the end of this post).

So, here’s the plan:

  • The presentation material is organized into a series of Custom Shows, each addressing a specific topic (intro/about us, portfolio, customer profiles, etc.).
  • The “canvas” or “map,” the starting point for navigation, is a slide containing images of the first slide of each of the Custom Shows. A hyperlink is associated with each image so that it provides a clickable link to the corresponding show.
  • The first slide of each show is designed so that it is legible as a smaller image on the map.
  • Each slide includes an escape button that returns to the map. This allows the presenter or viewer to cut short that show.
  • Prezi-style “zoom” transitions are provided for each show entry and exit.
  • Other navigation is restricted so that the presenter/viewer can’t go astray in the “deck.”

Here’s a diagram for the example I’ll build here (four shows):

prz2 1

The process:

  • Build each segment/show – create or collect the slides as a sequence in the file. Design the opening slide so that it will be legible as the smaller image on the map. For now, insert a blank slide for the transitions (the first and last slides). For the example, I created 4 shows, each with 3 slides.
  • Define each sequence as a Custom Show:  Under Custom Slide Show/Custom Shows select New. Using the Define Custom Show pane, name the show and select the slides in the file and add to the new show. Continue for each segment.
  • Hide each slide in each show. This will prevent the presenter/viewer from accidentally selecting slides in the show. Even though the slides are hidden, they will appear normally when the Custom Show is evoked.
  • Make a full-sized png image of the first slide in each show. You can do this by using the presentation Save As function. Position at the slide, select Save As/Other Formats/PNG and select the Save Current Slide option.
  • Make the map/canvas slide – create a new slide as the first slide, and insert each slide image. Reduce each image and arrange on the slide. Here’s the map slide for the example:

map image

  • For the prezi-style zoom transitions, it will be useful to know the size of each image relative to the slide. In my example each image is 4 inches wide and the slide is 10 inches (the default slide size).
  • Set up each image as a clickable link to the corresponding show. Right click an image and select Hyperlink… . In the Edit Hyperlink pane, select Place in This Document. Find the Custom Shows item in the list and select the appropriate show. Check the Show and Return box.
  • Add an exit button to each slide in each custom show. Design an unobtrusive object to act as the button (I used a “rewind”symbol) and create a reduced size PNG version of the object. Right click on the reduced object and select Hyperlink… . Select Place in This Document and, under Slide Titles, select the map slide. Paste the button on each slide in this show. Repeat the process for each show.
  • It’s a good idea to add a Screen Tip to each hyperlinked object (the slide images and the exit button). This is text that appears when the mouse is over (hovers over) the hyperlinked object. The text appearance will  signal to the presenter/viewer that the object is linked and provide information about the purpose of the link. This option is available in the Edit Hyperlink pane.
  • Test the result – exercise all the links and assure that clicking the last slide in each show returns to the map slide.

Here’s an annotated slide sorter view of the resulting file:

prz2 2

The hyperlinks from the map slide are shown in yellow. The escape button is linked to the map slide. All the transition placeholder slides are shown in gray. Note that a return link from each show is not needed since the entry links have the Show and Return option selected.

Each show has a prezi-style (entry) transition and a reverse (exit) transition. Here’s what the entry transition looks like:

The PowerPoint animation is smoother than the video indicates.

As usual, I approach this by setting up a “target” object for the animation. Here are the steps:

  • Create a full size png version of the map slide using Save As and Insert it on the transition slide.
  • Enlarge the map slide image by 250%.
  • Create a center point (“cross hair”) of the image by drawing a Line from the midpoint of one side of the image to the opposite side and repeat for the remaining two sides. The end points of the Lines will turn red when they are properly positioned.

I would normally use drawing guides for this but, since PowerPoint does not allow drawing guides outside the boundaries of a slide, I use the “cross hair” technique instead.

  • Carefully position the enlarged slide image with the Lines so that the first slide is positioned exactly in the visible slide space. It’s helpful to create a slide-sized rectangle in front of the image to identify the slide space boundaries. Here’s what the setup looks like:

prz2 7

  •  The yellow rectangle outlines the visible slide space.
  • Now that the “target” is set, add another image of the map slide, original size, positioned in the slide space.
  • Apply a Right motion path to the original image. Uncheck Smooth Start/End and set the duration to Fast (1 sec). Carefully position the end point of the motion path to the intersection of the red lines on the larger image.
  • Add a Grow/Shrink 250% With the motion path and Fast duration.
  • Set the Advance Slide option to Advance Automatically after 00:00 sec.
  • Test the result and modify the position of the target and the motion path end point until the transition is smooth. Here’s the final set up:

prz2 4

Once the animation is adjusted to your liking, you can remove the “target” (the enlarged image). Since the slide advance is automatic, the somewhat fuzzy result of the Grow animation is immediately replaced by the actual slide.

Repeat the process to provide an entry transition for each story. You can re-use the story 1 transition slide but reposition the large image and modify the motion paths.

The reverse or return animation looks like this:

The construction of this animation is complicated by a PowerPoint bug that causes motion paths for large objects (more than twice the size of the slide space) to work incorrectly.

NOTE: A reader informs me that there is no sign of this bug in the latest PowerPoint versions

Here are the steps:

  • Set drawing guides as shown below; these will serve as targets for the motion paths and an aid for the next step:

prz2 5

  • Insert the map slide image and, using the Crop tool and the 0.0 in. vertical guide, create two halves of the map slide image:

prz2 6

Temporarily, group the two halves together and enlarge the group by 250%. Position the group so that the image of slide 1 is centered in the visible slide space (the yellow rectangle identifies the slide space as before):

prz2 7

Ungroup the image into its two parts and apply the motion paths (and Grow/Shrink 40%) to each half as shown here:

prz2 8

  •  Repeat for each story, using this slide, repositioning the image and modifying the motion paths.

A  couple of additional notes about restricting the presenter/viewer navigation:

  • You can use the PowerPoint Advanced/Slide Show option to disable Show Menu on Right Mouse Click and Show Popup Toolbar.  Obviously, this will prevent the presenter/viewer from getting off track. Warning: this is a global option – it is not a setting for this particular file but for all PowerPoint presentations.
  • As it now stands, clicking on the map slide at locations other than the slide images will end the presentation; this might be disconcerting for the presenter/viewer. For a solution, create a slide-sized rectangle behind the slide images and add a hyperlink to this slide. Add an object as an end button and link it to a dummy last slide. Here’s a diagram:

prz2 9

  •  With this arrangement, the slide images work as before, the exit button ends the presentation, and any other clicks stay on this slide.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the example presentation developed in this post, use the link below and click on the PowerPoint icon to download a “source” PowerPoint file:

Powerpointy blog – More prezi-style

See this page for more on downloading files.

If you have questions, praise or complaints, please add a comment below. If you appreciate my efforts, liking or following this blog might be a good idea.


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