Copy Paste – Part 8 – How to open a collateral file with Insert Action

The Location

Writing this blog sitting under this beautiful Auckland Sky Tower… Lovely weather.


The need

  • Let us say you are presenting  sales performance by month
  • In a particular month, the sales is very low
  • Someone asks you to show details of the transactions


  • You have to now open the original Excel file which contains the raw data.image
  • How do you do it?
  • You have to stop the presentation, open Explorer and figure out where the file is
  • Many things are against you right now:
  • You are under stress… You may not find the file or find an outdated version
    Worse still, you may open some unwanted folder

Common mistake: Stuffing raw data into PowerPoint

We want to avoid such trouble during a presentation. Therefore, we try to solve the problem by trying to copy pasting the raw data into PowerPoint. Unfortunately, large amount of data cannot fit into the limited space available on the slide.

This is not really a limitation of PowerPoint. It is just that you are using the wrong approach. Here is the correct way…

The solution: Be Prepared

When you suspect that someone may question you on your summary data, you need to be prepared. How do you do that? You already know.

First step is to get the context of the original file into the slide.
Use Paste Link, Embed or Insert Object

In either case, WHILE EDITING the presentation, you can write click on the pasted object and open the Excel file. What we really want is to have the same ability DURING THE PRESENTATION.

To understand how it is done, we need a small detour.

PowerPoint Presentation = Trigger + Action

I will cover this in detail in another article. But here is the shorter version.

A presentation contains slides. Each slide has various shapes and objects on it. When you run the presentation – PowerPoint shows the first slide and waits. When you click it goes to next slide … again waits … then you click – next slide … and so on till you end the presentation.

Is this a problem in word as well?

The CLICK is called the TRIGGER and MOVING TO NEXT SLIDE is the ACTION. In our case when we click on the slide containing the summary data, it simply goes to the next slide. If you right click, the menu now shows presentation related controls. The open worksheet command is missing.

The Solution: Insert Action

This is the time we change the default behavior of PowerPoint and ask it perform a DIFFERENT ACTION when we click on the Summary object. How to do that?

  1. Click on the Excel object (it could be Paste Link or Embedded or Inserted Object icon)
  2. Open Insert tab on the ribbon and choose ACTION
  3. As you can see the default action is DO NOTHING (which means do nothing special – do the default action – which is going to the next slide)
  4. Choose Object action and select OPEN
  5. Click Ok

Powerpoint Insert Action

Now run the presentation and see what happens. On this slide, if you click anywhere outside the Excel data, it will just go the new slide as expected.

However when you move the mouse cursor over the Excel data, the cursor shape changes to indicate that it is a hyperlink. Click on it to open the Excel file.


Show the details and then press ALT TAB to come back to the presentation. It is still running undisturbed.

Next article: PowerPoint and Psychology

Although this method works with inserted objects, there is a practical problem there. In fact there is a psychological problem.

What is the problem?

Inserted Object is shown as an icon. Therefore, your audience knows that you have a collateral file. So even if they have no reason to trouble you, they may just ask you to show the file. You don’t want that to happen. Why ask for unnecessary trouble?

We will handle that interesting situation in the next article.

3 thoughts on “Copy Paste – Part 8 – How to open a collateral file with Insert Action”

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?