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I'm looking for recommendations for software to use to run companion slides and visual effects on a projector screen at a public event.

Ideally, I'd like something that can:

  • Show titles/slides full-screen on an externally connected display
  • Show movies full-screen on demand
  • Show specific images on demand (i.e. 'go to John Doe's introductory slide', which I don't think a presentation tool like Keynote could achieve given its reliance on slide order)
  • Show simple visually interesting animated graphics - something to leave running while people are finding their seats.
  • Preferably be free or relatively cheap.

I considered Processing, but it seems a bit heavyweight for my needs. Keynote and PowerPoint are probably insufficient, given that I will need to jump around my different items quite a bit if the event order changes, and I can't really exit the presentation and click on a different slide while the event's running.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

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Have a look at There are different licences from Free to Pro. It takes a different angle on creating & giving presentations. – Simon Jun 18 '13 at 12:35

You can do this in either Keynote or Powerpoint by building a simple menu system in a master slide. Simplest is to build a menu slide that will hold all the content you want to target and jump to. Then make a link back to this main menu slide on the master of all your slides. You can make it visible or quite small. Your choice.

In Keynote the main menu slide is done via Insert > Text Hyperlink. In Powerpoint you have far greater capability with macros, but can easily jump to a slide in the same way.

I believe macros can be linked to text or graphics (button) where with Keynote, it's a text link.

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The previous answer is an excellent one. An alternate is to use Presenter View in PowerPoint, where one screen shows a view specific to the presenter (the previous link will show you a screenshot of it in PowerPoint for Windows; it's also available in PowerPoint:Mac), and shows the actual slides on the projector. In Presenter View, you can see the full list of slides, and you can elect any of them. This means that you can jump to any slide in the presentation without it being visible to the audience.

This is obviously also useful for regular presentations, where a future slide answers a question that has been raised in the audience. You can just jump to that slide, answer their question, and then go back to where you were with a minimum of fuss.

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