Want to build some interactivity into your PowerPoint slides? Here are two easy entry-level ways that you can turn your PowerPoint slides into dynamic and interactive material for eLearning.

How to hyperlink in PowerPoint

Hyperlinks sound a lot more complicated than they actually are. They work like any button or box on a website. By clicking that box you’re sent to another page. So from the ‘Search’ button on Google to the ‘Buy it now!’ on Amazon – you’re already pretty familiar with them.

But did you know you can build them into PowerPoint presentations? In the same way that you can link round a web page, you can link round a presentation.

The advantages of this are that your presentation is no longer linear. You can skip out whole sections and focus on the bits that are relevant. During a test you can link back to the theory for a recap. You can create easily navigable menus just like website home pages.

So how do you create such wizardry?

It’s probably best to hyperlink objects within your presentation. Technically you can hyperlink almost anything in PowerPoint: text (down to a single letter), pictures, objects etc. but it’s best to stick with what looks familiar to your audience (so that’s going to be boxes, arrows, and buttons).

Once you’ve chosen your element, right click and choose the option Link.

A pop-up window will appear and on the left hand side you want to choose the option Place in This Document. A list of your slides will then appear.

Choose the one you want to link to, hit OK and you’re sorted.

Remember – you can use hyperlinks in PowerPoint in all sorts of ways to navigate around your presentation. It might help to think of it like a web page instead of a presentation. A potential starting point is creating a clickable menu for your slides – find out how by using our guide.

If you’ve got a complicated PowerPoint presentation, your hyperlinks might get overwhelming. It can be difficult to know which slides are hyperlinked and where those links go. Our incredible, free add-in BrightSlide has a super useful tool for getting your links in order. Under the BrightSlide tab select Review (under File & Master), then click Hyperlinks > Tag Hyperlinks With Comments.

It does what it says on the tin, every hyperlink in your deck will have a comment attached telling you where that link goes. Download BrightSlide here!

Using triggers in interactive PowerPoints

The wonderful thing about triggers, is triggers are wonderful things! They, much like a hyperlink, are applied to a specific element on your slide, and you can add an animation so that something happens when you click that object. Think of this like an internal hyperlink on your slide. You’re staying within the slide itself, but you can click things and have them change in any order – the person viewing the presentation has control.

This can be really useful for building quizzes where your participants have multiple choice questions to answer.

So first of all make your elements (the list of possible answers). Animate them so they appear as you want, then add a Font Color animation. Choose green for the right answer and red for the incorrect answer (if you’re going for the typical look).

Next go to the Animation tab at the top of the PowerPoint window and make sure you have your Animation Pane open. In the Animation Pane click on one of the Font Color animations – you’ll then see at the top of the Animation tab that you have the word Triggers.

Click on this and you’ll see that you get the option On Click Of. When you select that, you’ll see that all the elements on your slide are listed. Click on the one that matches your element and there you have it. When you play your slide in show mode you’ll be able to click it and the answer will change colour according to whether it’s right or wrong.

Interactive PowerPoint: Taking it further

You should be able to do a lot in PowerPoint with just hyperlinking and triggers. I’ve given you a few very simple ways to use both of these tools, but as you start to use them for yourselves, you’ll see how many different uses they have.

There will inevitably be things that you want to do that are just beyond the limits of PowerPoint. But there are some great pieces of software that plug into your PowerPoint and give you that option of building more sophisticated interaction. Learn more about PowerPoint triggers in this blog post. Google Slides user? Learn how to create an interactive presentation in Google Slides.

Have any SOS interactivity needs? Post a comment below and we’ll try and sort you out!

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Written by

Hannah Harper

Principal consultant

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  1. Image of Stephanie Gering Stephanie Gering says:

    Thanks Hannah for these tips and suggestions!

  2. Image of Jani Jani says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to create this tutorial. I was chuffed to be able to create interactive buttons by following your instructions. 🙂

  3. Image of Lori Lori says:

    Loved your instructions. Made it easy to accomplish what I needed. Excited about exploring more options.

  4. Image of Lee Spears Lee Spears says:

    Thanks, great tips.
    Do you have any tips on embedding video and if possible, overlaying the video with text, pics etc?

  5. Image of Hannah Brownlow Hannah Brownlow says:

    It’s great to see you all having a go at interactivity in PowerPoint! Keep experimenting – maybe try playing round with some triggers. We’ve got a great tutorial for that too: https://www.brightcarbon.com/blog/powerpoint-triggers-make-something-happen/

    And Lee, you can insert a video like you insert a picture in PowerPoint (just navigate to the’Insert’ tab) here’s a great tool for checking to see what formats work for you: https://www.brightcarbon.com/resources/powerpoint-help/video-embedding-tool-for-powerpoint/

  6. Image of Erin Erin says:

    I think this may be beyond powerpoint’s capabilities, but I didn’t know about triggers, either! So I’ll ask: is there any way that the program can keep track of the things a client clicks?

    I.e. I want to show a slide for three seconds with an image. The next slide will come up with a set of five choices. I want the client to click on a choice, for the choice to be recorded, and then the next slide shows, regardless of the answer chosen.

    I am pretty sure it doesn’t do this, but maybe? If powerpoint doesn’t, can you think of a program that does?

  7. Image of Hannah Brownlow Hannah Brownlow says:

    Hi Erin,

    Sounds like an interesting project!

    About 90% of that is possible in PowerPoint: you can do everything apart from record the answer. In the Transitions tab you can set your slide to come up for three seconds and advance automatically (uncheck ‘On Mouse Click’). This will them move to the next slide (with your five options). You can then make your five options hyperlinks (if you’re not sure how, just follow the instructions above), and these will navigate the user to a slide of your choosing (they can all be the same).

    But if reporting the answer is important, I can recommend a programme called Articulate Storyline: it’s what lots of people use to build out full eLearning decks. You can download a trial version for 30 days if you want to try it out. When you publish in Articulate you can get results reported, the only catch is that you’ll need to upload it to a Learning Management System (or LMS), for the results to be reported to a specific location.

    I hope this helps!

  8. Image of Lauren Cox Lauren Cox says:

    I don’t know if this is even possible…

    I want to create an interactive calendar using jpeg images. Imagine a preK class using a pocket chart every day, adding that day’s date picture.

    So using a trigger button the jpeg image would appear for that day, using a hyperlink you could go to another activity (song, months of the year review, etc.)

    But can you tell the program to save today’s jpeg image so tomorrow you only add that day’s and so on?

    (sorry, my email address was wrong in the first comment)

  9. Image of Juliez Juliez says:

    This article was excellent with detailed instructional pics. I’m interested in creating free response quiz and also a multiple choice to create a trigger for puzzle piece and melting candle timer.
    Qtns 1. How to know whether the free response is correct and hyperlink to that’s it slide? Is there a way to use visual basic for this kind of quiz?
    2.How to create melting candle timer like word for word worm APP?
    3. How to make trigger for multiple choice game where the correct answer will appear on the screen and player must assemble the puzzle pieces before the candle timer melts?
    4. Is it better to create free response quiz separate fro multi choice. It should also trigger the puzzle piece to appear after a response is written. HOW to ensure silly answers are not accepted?

  10. Image of Paul Bennett Paul Bennett says:

    I am an experienced producer of powerpoint presentations. I teach languages and use PP to display pages that show objects that play a sound when they are clicked on. They work great on my laptops and students benefit from them. However the study centre’s computers reject any unauthorised software file saving. I cant solve this problem without admin clearance. So I am hoping that there is a way to make my ppp files interact and perform online just like the stand alone version. Any suggestions anybody ?

  11. Image of Benjamin Benjamin says:

    Hello from France !

    First of all, thanks a lot for writing this complet tutorial. But here is my problem : after seeing Prezi, Powerpoint seems so platonic and past history now… But my boss doesn’t want to use Prezi, so here I am to found new options and new ways about using this tool.
    Can you help me on this ? I’m looking about more animated features.

    Thank you again for triggers and hyperlink, I’ll surely use it soon.

    Bye !

  12. Image of Peter Morffew Peter Morffew says:

    I like this webpage, it is informative and concise. I published a website some years ago explaining how to make PowerPoint interactive for the college where I work. The problem I have found is the fear of PowerPoint and even more fear of trying to make the presentation interactive. Those who are interested seem to get a mental block once they see the work involved.
    I have felt for a long time that PowerPoint can go a long way to help in training and education when interactive.

    • Image of Marchele Marchele says:

      I completely agree that interactive PowerPoints can go a long way to help in training and education when interactive. It is a lot of work. There is a website that helps to reduce the amount of work in making an interactive PowerPoint presentation called http://www.slidenavigator.com. I think it can really help college professors.

      • Image of Joby Blume Joby Blume says:

        Or PowerPoint’s new Zoom functionality, if you are using 365. Probably easier.

  13. Image of Peter Morffew Peter Morffew says:

    One word of advice about making things interactive. You have to disable the slide forward clicking in the advanced animation selection. If this is not disabled the slide will advance to the next one. The check box has to be clicked and then you will only be able to move to the next slide or open up other hidden on the slide using the hyperlink.
    Other presentation programmes from other software organisations such as Libre and Open Office don’t have this disabling function which makes PowerPoint that much more powerful.

  14. Image of Eric Taylor Eric Taylor says:

    Thank you for the great info. Once I build this awesome document how Can I save it so my audience will only see the first page and then navigate using my links?

    • Image of Hannah Brownlow Hannah Brownlow says:

      Hi Eric,

      You can indeed! You need to highlight all your slides and then go to the Transitions tab at the top of the PowerPoint ribbon. On the right-hand side you’ll notice two ‘Advance Slide’ options (On Mouse Click and After 00:00.00]. The ‘On Mouse Click’ option should be checked. If you uncheck it here, the slide won’t advance, and you’ll only be able to navigate using the hyperlinks you’ve added!

      You can then save it as a standard .pptx file, or you can save it as a PowerPoint Show file (.ppsx) if you just want your audience to launch the presentation (without seeing the edit view).

      I hope this does the trick for you!

      • Image of Mandy G Mandy G says:

        Hi Hannah,
        I’m a bit late to the party here, but am trying to save an interactive ppt. as an interactive PDF for upload to a training Sharepoint. However when the PDF launches it also has the option to scroll through all the pages, rather than only progressing via hyperlinks – how do I do set this up to only be able to move on via links?

  15. Image of Liang-Lee SL Liang-Lee SL says:

    I am designing quizes for pre-schoolers using powerpoint slides.
    I have created hyperlink of a text box to another slide.
    When I do a right click the textbox, it opens up to a list of options. I have to select open hyperlink.
    How to bypass this step? Is there anywhere to click on the text box and open up to another slide directly?

  16. Image of Abigail Lee Abigail Lee says:

    Thanks for these tutorials. It really enhances my skills in designing PowerPoint presentations.

  17. Image of Jo King Jo King says:

    Quite hapy with built in annimations but looking for different ready made
    Aware of companies like Envato but just want to buy animationsd (advance)

  18. Image of Aaron Aaron says:

    Thank you so much, this is great

  19. Image of Lynn Zwibak Lynn Zwibak says:

    When creating an interactive e-learning, how would you handle transitions to the next slide? Is there a way to set triggers for that as well (like clicking on an image that says “next”?)

  20. Image of Miki Miki says:

    How do I make shapes that my audience can click and drag around. I want them to virtually be able to complete a jigsaw puzzle.

  21. Image of Evans Mary Evans Mary says:

    Nice. I like this post very much.

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The video animation looks AWESOME! Thank you sooooo much. I am very happy and proud with the result; this video is really convincing. Really really well done.

Elodie Maurer SES