Copy Paste – Part 9 – Insert Object and PowerPoint Psychology

In the last post, we saw how to use PowerPoint Actions to open a linked or embedded file during the presentation.

Although this method works with inserted objects as well, there is a practical problem there. In fact there is a psychological problem.

The problem

Insert Object is used in two situations.

To package a collateral file with the presentation

This is usually done when you are going to send or upload the presentation for others to view it offline. You insert the related files as objects on relevant slides. In this case, others are supposed to see the icon so that they can double click on it to open the file (in edit mode) or add an Action for opening it during presentation mode. There is no problem in this scenario.

To be prepared to answer queries

Inserted Object is shown as an icon. You use it when you DON’T want to show any data from your Excel file upfront. You just want to describe the situation. And in case someone asks for details, you want to be prepared. That is why you have done Insert Object and add the Open Action.

image

In this case, you know that you have access to the detailed data. But the problem is that, the audience can also see the file icon. If they see it, they will naturally ask you what it is. This is not desirable. Why not? Because opening the file may lead the presentation on an unwanted tangent.

Therefore, you want to have the ability to open the file on demand (if you are in trouble) but you don’t want others to view the icon to arouse their unwanted curiosity.

These are paradoxical requirements. How do you manage this?

NO problem. Little bit of ingenuity will help you here.

When you add the object, don’t show it on the slide. Just take it beyond any of the corners of the slide.

image

What is the benefit?

Nobody can now see that you have a file inserted. But you know that it is there. Anytime you want to open the file, you just have to go to that corner blindly… make sure the cursor has changed to the hand icon and click…. voila …. the file opens!

That is best of both worlds!

The psychology part

Although Office is a technology, its usage is driven by psychology. When you are presenting, you want to be in control. You should think like the audience would and then take corrective action.

If people see something, they can ask you questions about it. If they cannot see it, you are better off.

In fact, the art of presenting effectively is all about understand how audience will react and then tweak your presentation to get the desired response and influence the audience.

I always say “PowerPoint is all about manipulating the minds of the audience rather than animations and transition!”

Of course, I am not suggesting that you use it in an unethical or illegal way. But all said and done for every presentation there is an objective. Selling, Teaching, Convincing and so on. It is your job to align the audience with your objective. That is psychology!

Next article – How about 24 clipboards?

We always had ONE clipboard. You copy something, it does into the clipboard. The original clipboard is overwritten every time you copy. But that is not the case.

You can get 24 clipboards to play with… sadly, this great feature has been there for 24 years I think Sad smile

We will explore it in the next article.

Copy Paste – Part 8 – Opening a collateral file during a presentation

The Location

Writing this blog sitting under this beautiful Auckland Sky Tower… Lovely weather.

image

The need

  • Let us say you are presenting  sales performance by month
  • In a particular month, the sales is very low
  • Someone asks you to show details of the transactions

image

  • You have to now open the original Excel file which contains the raw data.image
  • How do you do it?
  • You have to stop the presentation, open Explorer and figure out where the file is
  • Many things are against you right now:
  • You are under stress… You may not find the file or find an outdated version
    Worse still, you may open some unwanted folder

Common mistake: Stuffing raw data into PowerPoint

We want to avoid such trouble during a presentation. Therefore, we try to solve the problem by trying to copy pasting the raw data into PowerPoint. Unfortunately, large amount of data cannot fit into the limited space available on the slide.

This is not really a limitation of PowerPoint. It is just that you are using the wrong approach. Here is the correct way…

The solution: Be Prepared

When you suspect that someone may question you on your summary data, you need to be prepared. How do you do that? You already know.

First step is to get the context of the original file into the slide.
Use Paste Link, Embed or Insert Object

In either case, WHILE EDITING the presentation, you can write click on the pasted object and open the Excel file. What we really want is to have the same ability DURING THE PRESENTATION.

To understand how it is done, we need a small detour.

PowerPoint Presentation = Trigger + Action

I will cover this in detail in another article. But here is the shorter version.

A presentation contains slides. Each slide has various shapes and objects on it. When you run the presentation – PowerPoint shows the first slide and waits. When you click it goes to next slide … again waits … then you click – next slide … and so on till you end the presentation.

Is this a problem in word as well?

The CLICK is called the TRIGGER and MOVING TO NEXT SLIDE is the ACTION. In our case when we click on the slide containing the summary data, it simply goes to the next slide. If you right click, the menu now shows presentation related controls. The open worksheet command is missing.

This is the time we change the default behavior of PowerPoint and ask it perform a DIFFERENT ACTION when we click on the Summary object. How to do that?

  1. Click on the Excel object (it could be Paste Link or Embedded or Inserted Object icon)
  2. Open Insert tab on the ribbon and choose ACTION
  3. As you can see the default action is DO NOTHING (which means do nothing special – do the default action – which is going to the next slide)
  4. Choose Object action and select OPEN
  5. Click Ok

image

Now run the presentation and see what happens. On this slide, if you click anywhere outside the Excel data, it will just go the new slide as expected.

However when you move the mouse cursor over the Excel data, the cursor shape changes to indicate that it is a hyperlink. Click on it to open the Excel file.

image

Show the details and then press ALT TAB to come back to the presentation. It is still running undisturbed.

Next article: PowerPoint and Psychology

Although this method works with inserted objects, there is a practical problem there. In fact there is a psychological problem.

What is the problem?

Inserted Object is shown as an icon. Therefore, your audience knows that you have a collateral file. So even if they have no reason to trouble you, they may just ask you to show the file. You don’t want that to happen. Why ask for unnecessary trouble?

We will handle that interesting situation in the next article.

Copy Paste – Part 7 – Insert Object

Please read the Intro post and the Embedding post before reading this article.

Insert Object embeds an existing file or new file into your document. In that sense it is like Embedding – which we discussed in the previous post. So what is the difference?

The starting point is different. In case of Embedding we first open the source document, highlight some portion of it and then paste it into destination while choosing EMBED option.

In case of Insert Object, we first go to the destination and then choose the ENTIRE FILE to be embedded. Therefore, we do not get any control over which part of the inserted file will be shown after it is added to the destination.

image

If you choose an existing Excel file and Insert it into PowerPoint it tries to show the contents of the Excel file in PowerPoint. Excel file can contain many worksheets. Which worksheet to show? PowerPoint does not know that because we never mentioned that – we just selected the file to insert. Therefore, PowerPoint shows you the contents of the sheet which was active when the Excel file was closed the last time.

If this sheet happens to have large amount of data, the Insert Object command may take a very long time to complete and the results will be very deplorable.

image

The solution

The solution is simple. We just need to specify that there is no need to show anything from the inserted file. Just show it as an icon. That option is shown in the Insert Object dialog itself :

image

Now the Inserted file looks like this.

image

It is a good idea to change that default description to something more business context specific. Click on change icon and change the title. Also note that there are many icons available. Choose the one which suits the content type.

image

File size

File size does increase as much as the original size of the file. While embedding files, make sure you are choosing the new file formats. If you embed older formats (XLS, PPT, DOC), the file size will be much larger.

Note that you can use any file in the Insert Object dialog. It need not be Office document. It could be any type of document.

Resizing the embedded Icon

The default size of the icon is very small. If required, you must manually increase the size of the icon to make it visible during the presentation.

Remember, if you make the icon visible enough, you are also taking a risk. Anyone from audience may ask you to show the contents of the file and then you must do so.

In fact that is the topic of our next article:

Next Post: Problem and Solution

You are presenting some summarized data – say – sales performance by month

  • In a particular month, the sales is very low
  • Someone asks you to show details of the transactions
  • You have to now open the original Excel file
  • You have to stop the presentation, open Explorer and figure out where the file is
  • You are under stress
  • You may not find the file, find an outdated version, open some unwanted folder… all sorts of things can and will go wrong

Do you want an easier solution?

Now that we know Paste Link, Embed and Insert Object, there is an easy solution. If you think you may have to show details during the presentation, use one of these approaches to make sure that you have the file either linked or embedded.

Now the question is – how to tell PowerPoint to open the file – ON DEMAND?

That is what we will discuss in the next article.

Copy Paste – Part 5 – Linking and Embedding – Introduction

Linking and Embedding is extremely useful. But most of us have not fully understood it. I am going to split this post in to multiple parts because I want to keep individual post short.

The need

Let me list down common requirements.

  1. Eliminate repetitive manual copy paste from the same Excel file
  2. Show summary from Excel and attach an Excel file as a collateral and send it along with the presentation
  3. Just attach an Excel file to a presentation as a collateral – without showing any content from it.

These three requirements translate into three different methods of Copy Pasting from Excel to PowerPoint. Paste Link, Paste Embed and Insert Object.

All these Copy Paste methods work between all Office products. Excel to PowerPoint is just an example scenario.

Eliminate repetitive copy paste with Paste Link

We often have summarized version of data in a worksheet. For example, you are showing YTD results (cumulative) across the year. The data is updated every month. You need to copy paste the current month status into PowerPoint for monthly review presentation.

Every month you copy paste SAME range in the SAME worksheet in the SAME Excel file.

In this case you can save yourself the trouble by linking the Excel data to PowerPoint. Thereafter, PowerPoint will keep the data updated automatically.

Here are the steps:

  1. Copy from Excel as usual
  2. Choose Paste Special in PowerPoint (Alt E S or Ctrl Alt V)
  3. Choose Paste Link
  4. Choose the first option and click OKimage
  5. Save the Presentation
  6. Now make some changes to the data in Excel
  7. Come back to the presentation. Notice that the changes are automatically shown.
  8. Changes to data as well as formatting are automatically reflected.
  9. This is called Paste Link
  10. If you right click on the linked item, you can actually see this menuimage
  11. Using the Open option you can even open the related Excel file from right within PowerPoint

Real-life scenario

In the above example, both files were open at the same time. However, in real life, you will usually edit the Excel data across the month and at that point of time, you presentation is not going to be open.

Similarly, when you open the presentation to prepare for the end of the month review, the Excel file is unlikely to be open.

But you don’t have to worry. The PowerPoint presentation remembers that there is a link and it manages that link for you. Whenever you open the presentation, it will ask you if you want to update the link. If you choose Continue, it will find the Excel file and open it (behind the scenes) and update the data.

image

This dialog may look a little different depending upon your settings and version of Office.

Link information

In the File – Info page of PowerPoint, you can view and edit the links.

image

Links are not good for others – break them!

Who benefits from the linking? You – the creator.

If you send this file to some other person, they don’t really need this automated linkage. They are unlikely to have access to your original Excel file. When they open the file, the update dialog will still appear – confusing them unnecessarily.

Therefore, when you send the presentation to others, it is better to break the links.

But wait! Don’t remove links from the original file. Make a copy first.

Go to File – Info – Edit Links, Select the links and choose Break Link.

Now the linked items just become pictures.

Remember, linking a file does not increase the size of the presentation.

The disadvantage

The PowerPoint file has information about the linked Excel file. But the Excel file has no clue that there is a presentation linked to it.

Therefore, if you rename or move the Excel file, PowerPoint update may fail. If you know the new name or location of the file, you can choose it again and the link will be re-established.

In the next article, we will see how to Embed a file.