To get your audience to settle down before you start or for breaks, you can create a timer slide that counts down the seconds or minutes before you begin. You can use this timer to time 60 seconds or 60 minutes (for lunch, perhaps). In fact, you can set it up for less or more; it’s very flexible. For breaks, you can create a timer that runs for 15 minutes. This timer requires no code and is quick and easy to create. Here you see a timer that counts down 60 seconds. Each number grows larger and changes to red, in sequence, until you get down to one. I didn’t add anything else to the slide, but of course, you can add a background or anything else you want.
- In cell A1, enter 1.
- In cell B1, enter 2.
- Select both cells and point at the lower-right corner of cell B1 until you see a cross. Click and drag to the right until you have 10 total columns. (There’s a little tooltip to tell you.)
- In cell A2, enter =A1+10 and press Enter. You should see 11 in the cell.
- Copy that cell to the Clipboard.
- Select cells B2 through J2 and paste. You should now see 11-20.
- Select the entire 2nd row and copy to the Clipboard.
- Select A3 and paste. You should see 31-40.
- Repeat Step 8 for A4 (41-50) and A5 (51-60).
- Select all the numbers and change their font size to 28. (Use the Font Size drop-down list on the Formatting toolbar/Home tab.)
- With all the numbers still selected, copy to the Clipboard.
Now open PowerPoint and follow these steps:
- Create a slide using the Title Only layout.
- Paste from the Clipboard. All your numbers appear on the slide.
- From the Drawing toolbar, choose Draw > Ungroup. At the message asking if you want to convert them to PowerPoint shapes, click Yes. (In PowerPoint 2007, press Ctrl-X. Then go to Home tab> Clipboard group, and click the Paste button’s drop-down arrow. Choose Paste Special. Select Picture (Windows Metafile)—you’ll have to scroll down to find it—and click OK. Then choose Home tab> Drawing group> Arrange drop-down arrow> Ungroup. Click Yes. Ungroup a second time. Skip to Step 8.
- In PowerPoint 2003 only, drag a selection window around all the numbers, but not the title. If necessary move the title up.
- Here comes a tricky part. The ungrouped table includes not only text boxes but lines for the table, and you need to delete those lines (to add an effect that works only on text). With everything selected, right-click and choose Format AutoShape. On the Colors and Lines tab, from the Line drop-down list, choose Automatic (or any visible color). Click OK.
- Delete the lines around the edge of the table. In my experience, there were no lines between the rows and columns.
- Again select all the text boxes. Now right-click and choose Format AutoShape again. Use the same technique to change the lines to None (if you don’t want lines around each number’s text box).
- With all the text boxes selected, choose Slide Show > Custom Animation to display the Custom Animation task pane. (In PowerPoint 2007, Animations tab> Custom Animation.)
- Click Add Effect.
- Choose the effect you want–one that shows up clearly. I chose Emphasis> Grow with Color. This adds the effect to every text box!
- From the Color drop-down list of the task pane, choose the color that you want. I chose Red for greatest visibility.
- From the Start drop-down list, choose After Previous. This makes each text box animate one after another.
- All your boxes are still selected. Right-click in the task pane and choose Timing. (Right-clicking lets you access the animation effect’s dialog box for every selected text box.)
- Set the Speed to 1 Seconds (Fast). (Don’t mind Microsoft’s bad grammar.) For a timer that counts down every second, leave the Delay at 0. However, for a minute timer, set the Delay to 59 seconds.
- Click OK. You should now see the effect preview on your slide.
Try it out in slide show view! By the way, don’t expect perfect accuracy. I timed my slides and after a minute it was about 2 seconds off. I thought that was acceptable. I didn’t time the 1 hour timer. In PowerPoint 2003, if you want the timer to count up from 1 to 60, instead of down, start your table with 60 at the top left and end with 1 at the bottom right. I couldn’t find any way to get the animation to start at the top instead of at the bottom. (In PowerPoint 2007, the animation starts at 1.) You may or may not want the slide to automatically go to the next slide when the timer is finished. This is up to you. If you want the slidie to advance automatically, follow these steps to add a slide transition:
- Choose Slide Show> Slide Transition to open the Slide Transition task pane. dir=”ltr”>(In PowerPoint 2007, click the Animations tab.)
- Choose a transition effect, if you want one.
- In the Advance Slide section, check Automatically After and enter 1:01. This automatically advances the slide after 1 minute and 1 second, or 1 second after the timer finishes. You could set it for 60:01 for an hour timer.
Enjoy your timer! You can use it again and again, in many situations. This tip was inspired by several other timers: Geetesh Bajaj’s timer Andrew May’s timer Shyam Pillai’s timer Here are links to other timers: PTT Inc.’s Break Timer Microsoft’s timers