How To Create a Self-Running PowerPoint Presentation
Have you ever sat at a trade show or business exhibition clicking the mouse button every ten seconds to advance your company's promotional PowerPoint presentation? No, of course you haven't! And neither has anybody else, because they know how to create a presentation that runs itself. Read on to find out how you can do the same.

Posted by Andrew Gould on 14 June 2011

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Auto-Running Presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint

Everyone is familiar with the type of PowerPoint presentation delivered by a speaker standing at the front who controls when each slide moves on.  But did you know that you can use PowerPoint to create presentations that run themselves?  They're perfect for trade shows, exhibitions, or even just for running on a large screen in your company's reception area.  Read on to find out how it works.

Applying Timings to Slides

The first step in creating a presentation that runs itself is to make sure that each slide only appears on screen for a certain period of time.  Getting to the option that controls this depends on which version of PowerPoint you're using.

  • In PowerPoint 2003, from the menu select: Slide Show -> Slide Transition...  Look to the lower right-hand corner of the screen to find the options you need.
  • In PowerPoint 2007, click on the Animations tab of the Ribbon and look at the top right-hand corner of the screen to find the relevant options.
  • In PowerPoint 2010, click on the Transitions tab of the Ribbon and look at the top right-hand corner of the screen.
PowerPoint 2003 PowerPoint 2007/2010
These options appear in the bottom right of the PowerPoint 2003 screen. These options appear at the top right of the screen in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

Once you've found the relevant options as shown above, you need to tick the box labelled Automatically After.  You can then enter the length of time you would like the current slide to remain on screen for in an amount of minutes and seconds.  In PowerPoint 2010 you can enter your timing in values down to hundredths of a second!  The example below shows what this would look like in PowerPoint 2007:

A ten-second timed slide

This setting would allow the slide to remain on screen for 10 seconds before it automatically moves to the next slide.


If you want all of the slides in the presentation to stay on screen for the same length of time you can click the button labelled Apply to All Slides in PowerPoint 2003, or the Apply To All option on the Ribbon in PowerPoint 2007 or 2010.  It's more likely that you'll want different slides to remain on screen for different lengths of time depending on the amount of information contained in them.  You'll have to go to each slide individually if you want to do this.

Applying More Interesting Transition Effects

You can make your slides appear on screen with interesting effects called Transitions.  You can apply a transition to the current slide from the same Ribbon tab or Task Pane that you used to set the slide timing.  In PowerPoint 2003 you select from a list of named options, while in 2007 and 2010 you also see a picture representing the effect.  In any version of PowerPoint you can click on a transition effect to see it previewed on the current slide.

PowerPoint 2003 PowerPoint 2007
In PowerPoint 2003 you only see a text description of the transition effect. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 you can see a small picture of the transition effect.

Making the Presentation Repeat

If you run your presentation now, you should see that it moves on automatically from one slide to the next.  Unfortunately, when it reaches the final slide the presentation will stop!  It's more likely that you want your presentation to loop back round to the first slide and run itself again.  You can do this in all versions of PowerPoint from either the top menu or the Ribbon by selecting: Slide Show -> Set Up Show...

Making the presentation repeat

Tick this box and then click OK to make sure the presentation loops continuously.


Once you've done all this, you can start your presentation running and it will carry on until you press Esc

What Happens to the Animations on My Slides?

If any of your slides contain animations other than a transition effect, PowerPoint will trigger them at regular intervals based on the length of time you have set the slide to appear on screen for.

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