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When PowerPoint and Adult Learning Collide

Want more effective slides? Align them with key principles of adult learning theory.

Recently I’ve facilitated several sessions on more effective ways to use PowerPoint in a training setting. The simple truth is that your PowerPoint slides, like any other element of your presentation design, should align with the fundamental principles of adult learning theory.

Adult learners like to have some sort of control over what they’re being asked to learn. So how can PowerPoint possibly support this principle?  

A More Dynamic Slide Deck

Believe it or not, slides don’t actually need to go in order from start to finish. If you have content that doesn’t need to build on previous points (or if you find your audience already possesses a deep understanding of the more fundamental parts of your content), you may wish to make your slide deck more dynamic and leave it to your participants to choose which parts of your content they feel would help them the most.

What does this look like?

First, a title (or menu) slide allows your participants to see the range of topics you plan to cover.


Once your participants have identified the topic(s) that would be most helpful to them, you can set your slide deck up to jump to any one of these topics without having to hit the forward arrow a gazillion times until you come to the right slide.

If, in this example, Powerful Imagery is the third item on the agenda yet participants feel that would be the most valuable piece for them to learn in the time allotted, then simply clicking on the words “Powerful Imagery” on the Menu slide could transport the entire class to that topic.

Powerful Imagery
By clicking “Powerful Imagery” on the menu slide, a facilitator can immediately jump to a later point in the slide deck.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a More Dynamic Deck

Putting together a dynamic deck like this involves just a few steps.

Step 1: Set up a menu slide.


Step 2: Create the remainder of your slide deck.


Step 3: Return to the menu slide and link the first topic in your menu to the corresponding slide in your deck.

01 Select First Item

02 Insert Tab

03 Linking

Step 4: Insert a “home” button on the final slide in that topic in order to allow the facilitator to return to the top menu.

04 Go Home Button

05 Go Home Button

06 Home to Menu

Step 5: Repeat Steps 3 and 4 for the remaining topics in your menu.

As the end of the year quickly approaches, it’s time to get all those deliverables on your annual work plan completed. If you need an extra set of hands to make sure everything is finished, drop us a line and we’ll see how we might be able to push those projects to completion!

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