There has been a lot of debate about whether using a hyperlink to a web page is really necessary when a simple screenshot of a page might work just well in PowerPoint 2007 presentations. However, as slide shows become more professional, audience expectation of what's interesting has also become more sophisticated. A hyperlink in a presentation is just one of the tools in PowerPoint 2007 that can really sort the wheat from the chaff.

As more and more of us are using live social networking sites, where information is constantly changing and brought to our desktops in real time, a static web page just isn't going to stimulate learning. Using hyperlinks to link to a web address is a useful tool when using PowerPoint to create materials, such as training aids, sales presentations or other materials which need to be interactive.

In a typical presentation, toggling to a live website is not something that is included very often - it's more likely that web content will be shown as screenshots if shown. Screenshots can be useful when there is no access to an internet connection or if the content of a web page might change before you have delivered your presentation and you need to grab and save the image for future use. But if you know and trust a specific site - a bespoke microsite which you have designed and created specifically for your client, for example - a static page just won't win the pitch.

As well as a link to a web page, a hyperlink can also be a connection you can create from one slide to another slide in the same presentation, or to a slide in another presentation, an e-mail address, or a file. You can also create a hyperlink from text or from an object, such as a picture, graph or other image. The hyperlink can be displayed as text, or associated with an object such as a picture. When the cursor is moved over any hyperlink during the slideshow, it becomes a hand ( ) symbol, indicating that you can click on it. To create a hyperlink, simply select the text or object which is to be associated with the hyperlink. Go to the Insert menu, select Hyperlink in the Links group.

PowerPoint 2007 gives you four different options for linking. You can link to a separate file or web page, to a different place in the document, to a new document, or to an email address. To test the link, simply run the presentation and the cursor icon will change into a hand icon - meaning that there is a hyperlink in action. If the link is to a web page, network location, or different type of file, the destination page or file is displayed in the appropriate application or in a web browser. In PowerPoint 2007, hyperlinks become active when you run your presentation, not when you are creating it.

Text that represents a hyperlink is displayed underlined and in a colour that coordinates with your colour scheme. Pictures, shapes and other object hyperlinks have no additional formatting. To give more depth to your presentation, you can add sounds to your hyperlinks. If you create a presentation with links to several files, it is good practice to put the files in a common location on a server. If the server URL changes, you only have to update the hyperlink base, not the paths to the hyperlink destinations.

Before you deliver your presentation, run through the slides to check for broken hyperlinks and test hyperlinks to external destinations. A broken hyperlink is one that has an invalid destination - when the hyperlink is clicked, PowerPoint or the web browser displays an error. The cause might be as simple as a URL that was mistyped, or a hyperlink to a destination that has been moved or deleted.

If you add a link to a presentation from your main presentation and then copy your main presentation to another computer such as a laptop, ensure that you copy the linked presentation to the same folder as your main presentation. If you don't copy the linked presentation - or if you rename, move or delete it - the linked presentation will not be available when you click the hyperlink to it from the main presentation. Add in the web address when prompted, and the hyperlinked button is complete.

If you prefer to change the appearance of any action button, just select it and apply colours, effects, etc that fit with your overall design. To change the shape, such as converting a square button into a hexagon, select the button, click on Drawing Tools, then Edit Shape. Now choose Change Shape from the drop-down and take your pick. You can even change the colour of hyperlink text.

To use hyperlinks to a professional standard, remember only use hyperlinks where they make sense and add value; integrate action objects into the design; and ensure that your audience can easily recognise hyperlinked material.

As audiences become more used to downloading animation and video, embedded video and similar elements of animation will also become more integral in future releases of PowerPoint programs.