Over my years providing professional development for teachers, I’ve had the opportunity to show participants the variety of ways we can use PowerPoint to engage students. One fun exercise is the ability to create an interactive story where the user can guide the story and ultimately end up with a different ending each time. I loved the “choose your own adventure” story book series when I was younger and it is possible to replicate this concept when working within PowerPoint.
One of the key parts about this type of interactive storybook is to map out your story options. By the end of development you could end up with anywhere from a dozen to a hundred slides all with different parts of your story. You want to ensure you don’t confuse yourself and that your story will make sense for your readers as they progress through.
- Open Microsoft PowerPoint
- Create a new blank presentation
- Click in the prompt to add a title for your story and you can also add your author details into the Subtitle area
- You may notice that the PowerPoint Design Ideas feature automatically provides you with some design ideas for your opening slide. You can apply these at any time you like.
- Now we need to insert a new slide to begin our story
- Click the New Slide button from the Home tab or press Ctrl + M on the keyboard
- Choose a Title and Content slide layout to allow us to add a chapter heading and then write the first few paragraphs of our story.
- To add a chapter heading, click in the prompt to Click to add title.
- Add your chapter heading.
- Now click into the main placeholder where you will see the prompt for Click to add text.
- I don’t want my story to be displayed using bullet points so lets turn this feature off. Click once on the Bullets button from the Home tab on the Ribbon.
- Now type in the first paragraph or two of your story.
- The first part of your story should finish where the first “choice” will be made by the reader.
Create the first story choice
Now that we have the opening for our story, we need to create slides for the two choices we will give readers from the start of our story.
- Click the New Slide button from the Home tab or press Ctrl + M on the keyboard
- On this slide add the chapter number and a title for this next section of the story. This will make it easier to keep track of which slide has which part of your story on it as we will use the same titles for the buttons.
- Now type in the next part of the story for choice 1
- Now repeat the previous steps to create the additional option for your story which will show the result for choice 2
- I now have 4 slides in total in my story book. On slide 2 readers will choose between two options which will take them either to slide 3 or slide 4
Create buttons to choose an option
As your reader gets to each slide where they need to make a choice, we will give them two buttons to choose between. Each button we will set up so that it takes the reader to a specific slide where the result of their choice will be displayed.
- Select slide 2 which has the first part of our story and will be where readers need to make a choice
- Click Insert then Shapes from the Ribbon
- From the Shapes gallery, scroll to the bottom of the gallery till you see the Action Buttons section
- Select the blank Action Button and draw the button onto the slide
- Immediately the Action Settings dialog box will appear:
- From the options, select Hyperlink to.
- From the drop-down menu choose Slide.
- A list of your slides will be displayed, select the correct slide which has the first choice option for your story.
- In my example, I’m going to select slide 3 then click OK
- Click OK again to close the Action Settings dialog box.
- Now we want to add a text prompt to the button so that readers know what this option is for.
- Right mouse click the action button and choose Edit Text
- Add the title you gave for the two story options so that you can easily match up your slides and buttons.
- Repeat this process and add the action button for your second story option
Continue creating additional storylines
We have the first part of our story completed along with the first point where our readers can choose where they want to go within the storyline. Now you need to repeat the process to continue adding a new storyline option into each slide. You can make this as simple or as complex as you want simply by using action buttons to give readers the choices you’d like.
I now have story lines with 6 possible options for readers to go through.
Make sure readers have to pick an option
With any PowerPoint presentation, one of the default options is that you can move through the presentation by clicking the mouse or pressing any key on the keyboard. We actually need to stop our readers from doing this or they are going to end up reading the story out of order which won’t make sense and certainly won’t be as fun.
To change the way people can navigate within the story
- Click the Transitions tab from the ribbon
- Locate the On Mouse Click option within the Advance Slide section and untick this option
- This will stop readers from being able to move through the presentation using the mouse, they will have to use our action buttons to move around.
- We want to ensure this is applied to all slides in the story, click the Apply To All button to the left
Now as an additional step, so that readers can’t use the keyboard to move through slides we will change our slide show settings to run this as a kiosk file. This means the keyboard will not work to move around the presentation.
- Click the Slide Show tab from the ribbon
- Select Set Up Slide Show
- From the Show type select Browsed as a kiosk (full screen)
- Click OK
Because we have now disabled the ability to use the keyboard to move around the story, we will need to add a button to the opening slide so our readers can “start reading”.
Use the steps in the previous section and create an action button on slide 1 which links through to the first slide of your story.
Test out your story
Now for the fun part. We need to test the story and make sure it makes sense and flows through the correct options.
- On the keyboard press the F5 key to start the slide show
- Now use your action buttons and move through the story and check to make sure the buttons take you to the correct part of the story.
Make it look nice
My slides are looking very boring. You can quickly and easily add some colour using the built-in design themes available in PowerPoint.
- Click the Design tab from the ribbon
- Have a look at the design options by hovering your mouse over a design to see what your current slide will look like
- To apply a design, simple click to apply it
- I have downloaded a free PowerPoint template from SlidesCarnival.com and applied that using the Browse for Themes option within the design gallery drop down menu.
Save your storybook
Ensure you save your storybook as a PowerPoint file (.pptx) as you go along so that you don’t loose any of the work you’ve done should something go wrong on your computer. This will mean you can go back into the file and make edits or changes whenever needed.
However a great tip for distributing your storybook to your readers is to save your presentation as a slide show file so that readers can only view it as a slide show and cannot edit any of the story content or action buttons.
- Press the F12 key on the keyboard to perform the Save As function
- The Save As window will appear.
- Choose the location you wish to save the file to
- Change the File name if needed
- Now select the Save as type drop-down menu and choose PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) from the options
- Click Save
Your file storybook is now ready and you can now distribute the file to your students.
Integration with Microsoft Teams
At this stage the PPSX file we have created will not yet work correctly in Microsoft Teams. It should, but it doesn’t. When you upload the file into a Teams channel, the file can be navigated using the mouse meaning students will be able to go straight through from slide 1 to the end without having to pick which storyline they want to explore. This will mean the story will make no sense.
This issue is something I’ve discovered during the course of writing this article. After contacting Microsoft Support I have been advised that it is in fact a “by design” function and I was recommended to add this to the Teams UserVoice website. If you’d like to vote to have this fixed so that a PPSX file cannot be browsed using the mouse in Teams, click on the link above to my UserVoice Idea and give it a vote.
In the meantime, feel free to comment below with any questions or share examples of how you’ve used this exercise.