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Manage multiple PowerPoint presentations Add-in

During COVID, I conducted 300+ sessions sitting at home – each one requiring me to manage multiple PowerPoint presentations simultaneously. One monitor (screen) is shared with the audience. They can see whatever I present. I wanted the flexibility of showing any slide from any presentation – without disturbing the current slide which is visible to the audience. That is exactly why the macro does.

If you do not manage multiple PowerPoint presentations on multiple monitors, this article will not be relevant to you.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Diagram showing three presentations and the order of showing slides across presentations
Multiple Presentation Scenario (Fig 1)

Terminology Used

This article assumes that you have two monitors. In this article Secondary Monitor (SM) means the monitor which is shared with the meeting audience. Primary Monitor (PM) is the monitor which is only visible to you.

Download the Add-in

I created this macro for myself and refined it over time. Basically I hope that there are more people facing similar issues. That is why I am sharing it. If you know someone who you think can benefit from this, please share this blog article with them. This software to manage multiple PowerPoint presentations.

I have been using it for over a year now and I cannot live without it!

The macro is available as a PowerPoint Add-in – PPAM format.

  1. Download the PPAM file
  2. Open the file in File Explorer, right click and choose Properties.
  3. See if there is an option called Unblock. If you see it, Unblock the file.
  4. To install it inside PowerPoint go to File – Options – Add-ins
  5. Open the Manage dropdown and change it from COM Add-ins to PowerPoint Add-ins
  6. Click the Go button
  7. Click the Add New button and select the Add-in file (PPAM)
  8. Close the dialog
  9. Check the Add-in tab in PowerPoint
  10. Now the macro icon(s) will be visible.

Run current slide button icon
Run current slide button icon

It is easier if you add the Run current slide button to Quick Access Toolbar. Right click on the button and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

How to use the macro?

  1. Open one or more presentations
  2. Arrange these on left side of PM
  3. Run the first slide
  4. Keep he Presenter View open on the right side of PM
  5. Choose the next slide you want to run from any of the open presentations
  6. Click the Run current slide button
  7. The new slide is shown on the SM

Now you have two ways of to manage multiple PowerPoint presentations

  • One is from the Presenter View – this is possible if the current slide and the next slide are from the same presentation.
  • Other option is the Run current slide button. Here you can choose any slide from any presentation.

Try it out. Practice a few times and you are good to go.

Stop all running slide shows

Click the Stop All Shows button to stop all running presentations.

Stop all slide shows button

Why do we need this functionality?

Because this macro was designed to manage multiple presentations, I also created another macro to stop all presentations. Stopping them one-by-one is cumbersome. You can quit PowerPoint to stop and close all presentations.

But what if you want to just stop all presentations? Also notice that during the presentation, all edit mode presentations are occupying the left side of primary monitor.

After the presentation is over, you would typically want to maximize the presentation window. Why not just close the presentations? The reason is that usually after a session, I tend to refine some slides – based upon the session interaction and impact. Hence, maximizing the presentation window makes more sense than closing it.

Benefits of this approach

You have the flexibility of moving from any slide to any slide.

Audience can see only the slides you choose in the correct order. Win-Win!

It does not seem like much of a benefit. But believe me, the way you present becomes better, more focused, more adaptive and more compelling using this approach.

This is because of the flexibility and freedom you get. Try it out and let me know your experience.

Are you thinking – why do I need this macro? I could have done this using Presenter View itself – read further.

Why do I use multiple presentations?

For a single lecture, webinar or session, it is common to use ONE presentation.

Why do I need multiple? How many presentations? and Why?

The reason is that I conduct a sessions on a variety of topics for multiple industries and multiple countries.

On a given day, I may be talking about Teams in one session, Information Protection in another and Efficiency Transformation in the third one.

I do not prepare hard-coded presentations for each session. Multiple presentations open – each containing 400-900 slides. I keep all the relevant ones open.

As the session progresses, I judge the audience, get their inputs, learn from their reactions and queries. Based upon this, I decide what the next slide should be. Even if the topic is same, no two presentations are alike.

How do I remember where to go? Well, all those slides I have created myself. So, I know what is where.

So here is how my Primary Monitor – the one audience cannot see – looks like.

Primary monitor app arrangement

Shifting between multiple open presentations can be done using Ctrl Tab in PowerPoint or by hovering on the PowerPoint Taskbar icon as shown. Here I have seven presentations in Edit mode, six presentations in Slide Show mode and a Windows 11 Snap Group.

Top row: PowerPoint taskbar icon hover. Next two rows are enlarged to show details.

How do I use multiple presentations?

Here is how I conduct sessions, lectures, workshops and training programs.

  1. Two monitor setup. Both are 4K monitors.
  2. During the presentation, one monitor is used for sharing.
  3. Everything the audience sees happens on this monitor.
    We will refer to it as Secondary Monitor (SM).
  4. The main monitor has my presentations, meetings apps, chats, browsers, etc. open.
    We will call it the Primary Monitor (PM).
  5. I open multiple, related presentations.
  6. I arrange all of them to occupy left half of the screen (Windows – Left Arrow)
  7. In PowerPoint, I setup the SM as the presentation monitor.
    (Slide Show tab – Choose the monitor)
  8. I also enable the Presenter View.
  9. Presenter view opens on the PM.
  10. By default, presenter view occupies the whole screen.
    I restore the window and then make it occupy the top right half of the screen.
  11. The Windows 11 grouping feature is very useful here.
  12. Then I run the first slide from the main presentation.
  13. While delivering the session, I jump between relevant slides across different presentations.

This is where we run into issues…

What is the problem?

  • The audience can see whatever happens on the Secondary Monitor.
  • From the audience point of view, when the current slide changes, they expect to see the next relevant slide.
  • With a single presentation this is not a problem.
  • You can use the presenter view and use the go to the slide-sorter like view (See all slides button). Depending upon the context, you can choose any slide as the next slide. This works perfectly for a single presentation.
  • The problem is that I use MULTIPLE presentations.
  • In order to understand the problem, refer to Fig 1 above.
  • I am showing slide U.
  • Now I want to show slide Q. Presenter View cannot help here because it shows only ONE slide show at a time.
  • So I have to go to the edit mode of the second presentation.
  • Now if this presentation is not running, I can just click on slide Q and run it (Shift F5).
  • So far so good.
  • Next I want to show the slide W (from the first presentation).
  • At this point, Presenter View is showing the second presentation. So it is of no use.
  • I must go to the first presentation in Edit mode, choose slide W and Run from Current Slide (Shift F5).
  • Now, the first presentation does show itself but it shows the original slide U.
  • Therefore, I am forced to go to the Presenter View and find slide W again and click on it.
  • So instead of seeing slides UQW in that order, the audience has to see UQUW.
  • As you can see, this is confusing for the presenter as well as the audience.

Wow, I myself realized how complicated this is after I wrote it down… ha ha…

That is why I needed an ability to choose any slide and click one button to run it.

It should run under all circumstances – which include :

  • this presentation is not yet running or
  • some other slide of this presentation is running or
  • some other presentation is running

That is exactly what the macro does. Let us download it and use it.

Download PowerPoint add-ins collection

You can also download all the PowerPoint macros developed by us as a single add-in.

This add-in will contain all the macros / modules released by us at that point of time. Currently it consists of five features. These are available under the Add-ins tab.

  1. Animate pictures to create Click-through presentations (this article)
  2. Arrange pictures instantly – best suited for arranging logos for “Our Customers” type of slides
  3. Split and animate tables
  4. Run any slide in a multi-presentation, multi-monitor scenario (adjunct to Presenter View)
  5. Stop all shows – stops all currently running slide shows.
    Useful to close multiple presentations quickly after a session.

Check out the source code

You can download, modify and learn from the source code as well. It is hosted on GitHub. It contains all the currently published macro code and collaterals including the .BAS file and the form files along with the icon used.

More resources

  1. Use this GitHub repository to download and customize the source code.
    Check out other macros created by us.
  2. More macros available on my blog.
  3. Other PowerPoint blog articles
manage multiple powerpoint presentations icon - Decorative
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