Create dynamic agenda slides with PowerPoint Zoom

There was a time when I saw PowerPoint as a necessary evil - a way of conveying ideas that I wasn’t crazy about, but which worked. These days, my perspective has changed quite a bit.

I’ve become a PowerPoint fan for a couple of reasons. First, I’m more proficient with PowerPoint, so I can put together presentations quickly and my slides carry greater impact.  Also, the PowerPoint team has added features that I believe help me deliver presentations more effectively.

This describes one of those features: the new ‘Zoom’ functionality.

‘Zoom’ is about dynamic presentations (rather than ‘zooming in’)

I think it’s incredibly important to give your audience context for where you are in a presentation – especially in a talk longer than 5 minutes. I like to give folks an outline of the narrative at the beginning of the talk in the agenda. While I’m going through the material, I like to return to that agenda and show where we are in the talk.

This has more than one benefit: first and foremost, it helps keep your audience from being too restless, because they understand more how much you’re going to cover. But additionally, I find that it helps solidify learning for your audience by repeatedly contextualizing details within the larger narrative structure. In other words, revisiting an agenda effectively can help prevent “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

For years, I’ve built slides manually that do this – but as you add and remove sections from your talk, it becomes a real pain to update. The ‘Zoom’ feature makes it much easier to build a dynamic agenda, and it’s more powerful than manually created slides can be, too.

It’s easier to show this than it is to describe it, so here’s a 1.5 minute video showing what it looks like

Sorry, this isn’t available in every installation of PowerPoint

As of the time of this writing, Zoom is available in PowerPoint for Office 365, PowerPoint for Office 365 for Mac, and PowerPoint 2019. The documentation from Microsoft is here.