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Creating a series of click-activated instructions in PowerPoint

A PowerPoint slide presentation makes a great training tool. Here's a timesaving tip to help you present a step-by-step set of instructions.


Recently a colleague asked me for help in designing a PowerPoint presentation. He wanted to know if there was an easier way to accomplish his mission, which was to display a different question or instruction each time the user clicks the mouse.

His approach was to make five or six copies of the same slide, and then edit the slides individually. I showed him a much faster and easier way to create a series of click-activated instructions—by creating a single slide that contains all of the instructions in a text box, and then tweaking the timing and effects properties for that text box. Here’s the scoop.

Timing is everything
Suppose you’re designing a training slide show, and you want the student to read a question or an instruction, ponder it, and then click the mouse to display the answer to the question or the next instruction. And maybe, just for fun, you want to display a cool graphic image after the student clicks for the last time.

To illustrate how to create click-activated text, we’ll use the slide shown in Figure A. (We simply created a blank slide, added one text object for the title, another text object for the instructions, and an image object for the clip art.)

Figure A
We’ll tell PowerPoint to display the items in the instructions text box one line at a time—adding a line each time the user clicks the mouse.


Once you’ve typed the instructions in your text box, here’s how you make those instructions appear one click at a time.

Right-click on the text box that contains the instructions and select the Custom Animation option from the Context menu, as shown in Figure B.

When the Custom Animation dialog box appears, click the Timing tab.

The item labeled “Text 2” will be selected by default. (That’s the second text object in our sample slide, the one that contains our instructions.) In the Start Animation section, click the Animate radio button. When you do, PowerPoint will move Text 2 to the top of the Animation Order list, as shown in Figure C.

Next, click the Effects tab. At this point, select one of the options under the Entry Animation and Sound option. These options determine how the text will appear on the slide—you can select plain old “Appear” or any of the other animation options. Then click the check box labeled Grouped by and select the “1st" option, as shown in Figure D. That option says, “bring in the text one first-level paragraph at a time.”

In order to make the picture the last thing to appear on this slide, click the Timing tab again. Click on “Object 3” and then click the Animate radio button. When you do, PowerPoint will add Object 3 to the Animation Order list. Click the effect tab and choose an entry animation style for the graphic. (For our sample slide, we chose the option Fly From Left.)

Click OK to close the Custom Animation dialog box.

Figure B
Right-click on the text box that contains your series of instructions and choose the Custom Animation option from the Context menu.


Figure C
Click the Timing tab, and then activate the Animate radio button. When you do, the text object goes to the top of the Animation Order list.


Figure D
Once you’ve selected an object for animation, click the Effects tab and select one of the “entry” animation options. Click the check- box for Grouped by and select the “1st" option.


Running the slide show
When you run this slide show, the first thing you’ll see is the title text box—the only object with which we didn’t associate any animation. When you click the mouse, you’ll see the first line of your instructions. Each time you click, the next text entry appears in order.

After you’ve clicked four times to display all four entries in the text box, the fifth mouse click displays the clip art image. In this example, our slide show only contains one slide. However, if your presentation contains more than one slide, the next click will simply display the next slide.

Using this technique for your lessons
Trainers can put this technique to work by creating slide shows that contain click-activated instructions.

You just tell your students, “click, read, and then click again.” If you want to add some pizzazz to the slides, you can not only define which appearance effect you use—such as fading in, flying in from left, right, or top—but you can use the Custom Animation dialog box to tell PowerPoint to play a particular sound each time the mouse is clicked.

I like having a picture appear at the end of the mini-lesson because it provides a visual cue to the student that the lesson for that slide is over. And you don’t have to use clip art images—you can insert screen shots or any other image you’ve created.
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