Create interactive presentation in few minutes

When do you need this?

If you have a presentation which covers multiple topics and you want to have the interactivity to move from a main menu page to any topic, this article is for you.

We will use this presentation as an example…

Use this presentation for practice. Download Presentation


White colored slides are the base presentation. Second slide is sort of an agenda and menu slide. You ask the audience which topic they want and then click on the desired option.

Blue slides are for Word, green for Excel and pink for PowerPoint.

If you clicked on, say, Excel icon in second slide, then PowerPoint should show slides 6,7,8 and then COME BACK to slide 2.

Hyperlink is NOT the answer

Usually you will put hyperlink on the Excel icon to jump to slide 6. But you know the problem – it will just go to all slides after 6 and spill over to the PowerPoint slides. To avoid that we put another link on the 8th slide which gets you back to second slide.


There is a better way – using Custom Shows. Please read the previous article to understand how to create custom shows.

The solution

Step 1 – Create custom shows for each topic

This is easy. Just create three custom shows called Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Step 2 – Insert hyperlink to the CUSTOM SHOW (not to a specific slide)

Now click on each icon – in this case Excel and choose Insert Hyperlink…


Choose the CUSTOM SHOW in the hyperlink. The Show and return option is your best friend Smile … but you never noticed it till now. Ha ha… why? Because most of the times this option used to be inactive – why? because this option requires you to select a custom show. And you did not ever create a custom show… why ? Winking smile never mind.


Now you can run the presentation in an interactive manner.

What if you want to return to the main menu slide while you were half way through the Excel custom show? Don’t worry… just press Escape. It will go to the base slide. Next escape will stop the slide show (as expected). So remember, if you are in custom show, escape takes you one level back.

Sections v/s Custom Show

Office 2010 onwards, you can add sections to presentation to segregate various topics. These are similar to Custom Shows but following things are different.

  1. Sections are linear. Custom shows can contain slides in any order
  2. Every slide must be in some section. Custom show can contain only a subset of slides
  3. Hyperlink can be used only with custom shows – not with sections

I will cover sections in another article later.

Create short version of a long presentation without copy paste

The need

You have 1 hour to present your proposal to your customer. You start the presentation and then she gets a phone call… urgent meeting with chairman. Now she says… “I am really sorry… can you show me the key things in five minutes?” You have no choice. Now every moment counts. And what do you do? You start skipping slides and groping in the dark to find the really important slides. In the process you are WASTING the precious time available and irritating the customer. You need to have the ability to show a shorter version of the presentation – on demand… without trial and error. Of course, Microsoft has thought about this need and provided a solution, 18 years back Sad smile

The solution: Custom Show

Concept is simple. Create a Custom show. Choose only the key slides. Save it. Run the custom show instead of the entire presentation. Very simple.

  1. Slide show – Custom show


  2. New …


  3. Choose the slides you want from left side and click Add


  4. You can add slides one at a time or multiple slides in one go
  5. This image is for PowerPoint 2013. Older versions do not have the checkboxes for selection, but you can press Ctrl Click for multi-select.
  6. Remember, you can add the same slide multiple times (Agenda slide, for example)
  7. Slides can be added in any order – not necessarily in the original order in ppt
  8. You can reorder the slides after adding them to the list on the right side
  9. Click Ok

Running the custom show

If you know that you need the shorter version BEFORE you started the presentation, then Open the custom show drop-down and run the show. If you started the regular presentation and want to start the custom show during the presentation, then right click and choose Custom Show.

Practical usage scenarios

  1. Always keep a shorter custom show ready for all long presentations.
  2. If you have different topics covered in a presentation, you should create a separate custom show for each topic. This allows you to jump between topics during the presentation
  3. If your main topic requires the audience to know some other pre-requisite topics, keep that topic as a custom show. In case your audience does NOT know the pre-requisite topic well, you can always jump to it quickly
  4. If your agenda is like a menu and you want to ask the audience about which topics to cover in what order… custom show comes in very handy. (See Next Article)