Add a looping introduction to a PowerPoint presentation

You can set up your slide shows to include a little preview presentation that will help prime your audience for the main event. Susan Harkins shows this simple but highly effective technique.

Displaying an introductory or welcome slide while your audience arrives for a presentation is common. You might display general information or a friendly hello. Usually, you display just one slide and the presentation doesn't progress until you begin the presentation manually. This setup is okay, but to generate a bit more interest, you might want to display more than one introductory slide — call it a mini presentation if you like. That way, you'll have the attention and interest of your audience before you even begin.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download, along with a sample presentation that demonstrates the technique.

Two presentations in one

While the audience enters the room and finds a seat, they may chat with one another, help themselves to refreshments, or sit quietly and wait for the show. Regardless, most will be thinking about other things, and not your presentation. The one-slide introduction that says welcome and displays pretty flowers is quaint, but it won't grab anyone's attention as they enter the room, and it certainly won't keep anyone's interest while they wait.

You can get their attention from the moment they walk through the door with an introductory presentation that introduces you and/or your presentation's purpose. Now, you might think that you need two separate presentations, but you don't. You can save the introductory presentation as a part of the main presentation. The key is to hide the slides in the main presentation. That way, your audience sees only the introductory slides. Later, when you're ready to begin the presentation, you click a button that links to the first slide in the main presentation. Even though you hid the slide, PowerPoint will still display it, and then continue to display the remaining hidden slides in the main presentation.

Setting it up

It doesn't matter where you place the introductory slides within the main presentation. At the beginning makes sense, but it isn't necessary. Use as many introductory slides as needed, but keep it to a minimum. Two to five slides is usually adequate. The point is to present material that will interest the audience and enhance your program. (The example presentation is simple on purpose so as not to distract from the technique.)

Add the introductory slides to your presentation file and then save it. In Slide Sorter view, complete the following steps to distinguish between the two sets of slides:

  1. Select all the slides in the introductory presentation. To do so, click the first slide in the introduction, hold down the [Shift] key and then click the last.
  2. Choose Slide Transition from the Slide Show menu. PowerPoint 2007 users should click the Animations tab.
  3. In the Advance Slide section of the Slide Transition task pane, check the Automatically After option and then enter the number of seconds you want PowerPoint to pause between slides, as shown in Figure A. Three to five seconds is generally sufficient.

Figure A

slide transition

PowerPoint will automatically advance slides during the introduction.

  1. Deselect the On Mouse Click option.
  2. Choose Set Up Show from the Slide Show menu. In PowerPoint 2007, click the Slide Show tab and click Set Up Slide Show.
  3. Select the Loop Continuously Until Esc option (Figure B). Make sure the Using Timings, If Present option is also selected, then click OK.

Figure B


Tell PowerPoint to loop continuously.

Now you're ready to add the button that links the introductory presentation to the main presentation. You'll click this button to stop the introductory message and begin the main show. To add a linking button to the introductory presentation, do the following:

  1. With the last slide in the introductory presentation current in Normal view, choose AutoShapes from the Drawing toolbar. Then, choose Action Buttons. In PowerPoint 2007, you'll find the Shapes group on the Insert tab.
  2. Choose Action Button from the Shapes drop-down list.
  3. Add an AutoShape to the slide.
  4. With the button selected, choose Action Settings from the Slide Show menu. In PowerPoint 2007, choose Action on the Insert tab.
  5. In the Action Settings dialog box, display the Hyperlink To option's drop-down list and select Slide. (Thumb down to find the right option and do not accidentally choose Next Slide; doing so will take you to the next slide in the mini presentation.)
  6. In the Hyperlink To Slide dialog box, select the first slide in the main presentation, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Select the first slide in the main presentation.

  1. Click OK twice.

Most likely, you'll want to make the linking button invisible, although doing so isn't necessary. It's up to you. To make the button invisible, do the following:

  1. Double-click the button. In PowerPoint 2007, click the Format tab and then click the dialog box button in the Shape Styles group.
  2. In the Format AutoShape dialog box, drag the Transparency Slider on the Color and Lines tab to 100% (Figure D). In PowerPoint 2007, use the Color pane.

Figure D

invisible button

By changing the button's Transparency property, you render it invisible.

If you want the flexibility of starting the main presentation from any slide in the introductory presentation, copy the button to the Clipboard and then paste it onto each slide in the intro presentation. The button will retain the same hyperlink and formats. Just be sure to paste the button to the same general area of each slide so you can remember where it is (if it's invisible).

The presentation still isn't ready for the split slideshow. To get the desired effect, you must hide the slides in the main presentation. Just select all the slides in the main presentation in Slide Sorter view and choose Hide Slide from the Slide Show menu. In PowerPoint 2007, click Hide Slide on the Slide Show tab.

Running the presentation

Run the presentation as you would any other. Press [F5] and PowerPoint will display the first slide in the introductory presentation, and then the next. When PowerPoint reaches the last slide in the introductory presentation, it will encounter the first hidden slide in the main presentation. It will then display the first slide in the introductory presentation again.

When you're ready to begin the main presentation, click the Action button and PowerPoint will immediately display the first slide in the main presentation. At the end of the main presentation, PowerPoint will display the first slide in the introductory presentation. You'll probably want to add a final slide that let's you know you're at the end. That way, you won't inadvertently click that last slide and start the intro all over again.

Show's on!

You can keep your audience mildly entertained or grab their interest early on with a short introductory presentation. Just let the slides automatically loop until you're ready to begin the main presentation.


Susan Sales Harkins is an independent consultant and the author of several articles and books on database technologies. Her most recent book is Mastering Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express, with Mike Gunderloy, published by Sybex. Other collaborations with Gunderloy are Automating Microsoft Access 2003 with VBA, Upgrader's Guide to Microsoft Office System 2003, ICDL Exam Cram 2, and Absolute Beginner's Guide to Microsoft Access 2003, all published by Que. Currently, Susan volunteers as the Publications Director for Database Advisors. You can reach her at


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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