Music makes everything better, and PowerPoint presentations – depending on the occasion and their purpose, of course – are often no exception. If you’ve used PowerPoint before, you probably already know that you can insert songs, sound effects, and other audio files in your presentations. But did you know that you can program that audio to play automatically instead of having to start it manually?
Depending on your preference, you can choose to start the audio immediately with the first slide or have it delayed until a specific slide appears. In this article, we will explain how to do both these things.
Playing Audio from the Beginning
If you want to play an audio file from the very beginning of your presentation, the process is very simple.
Here is what you need to do:
- Go to the first slide of your presentation and click on the Sound icon in the Normal view.
- Click on the Playback tab in the Audio Tools section.
- Under Audio Options, open the dropdown menu next to “Start” and select “Automatically”. If you’re using a more recent version of PowerPoint (2016 and newer), you can also choose the option labeled “In Click Sequence” from the dropdown menu to achieve the same effect.
Once you’ve set this up, make sure to double-check that everything is as it should be. To preview your presentation (and test your audio), click on the Slide Show tab, and then choose “From Beginning”.
Playing Audio from a Specific Slide
If you want to have your audio play from a specific slide and/or with a predefined time delay, the process is a bit more complicated. Here is how to do it:
- As in the previous section, go to the slide during which you want the audio to start playing and click on the Sound icon in the Normal view.
- Click on the Animation tab and then on Add Animation.
- From the media section, choose Play, the first option to the left.
- Click on the Animation Pane next to the Add Animation button.
- In the Animation Pane, reorganize the items so that the audio file is first on the list.
- Click on the down arrow next to the audio file and select “Effect Options…” from the dropdown menu.
- In the Effect tab, select “From Beginning” under the Start Playing option. While in that same tab, under the Stop Playing option, choose “After Current Slide”.
- Now click on the Timing tab. Next to the word Start, you’ll see a dropdown menu. Click on it and select the option labeled “With Previous”.
- If you don’t want the audio to start as soon as the slide loads, you can set a custom delay in the designated field. Simply add the number of seconds that you want to pass before the audio starts. If you don’t want to delay the audio, leave the box empty and move on the next step.
- Finally, click OK to confirm your changes.
Once again, click on the Slide Show tab and then choose “From Beginning” to preview your presentation and see if the audio will start playing from the slide you chose.
Playing Audio Across Multiple Slides
If you’re giving a long lecture and just want random, non-distracting music to play in the background, you can also make it part of your presentation and set it to play across multiple slides.
To do this, follow the next steps:
- Go to the Insert tab, click on Audio, and then choose “Audio on My PC”. If you’re using Office 2010 or an older version, the option will be labeled “Audio from File”.
- Browse your computer for the file you want to play. Once you’ve found it, either double-click on it or select it and then click on “Insert”.
- Under Audio Tools, click on the Playback tab and select the option “Play in Background”. In older versions of PowerPoint, you should click on the dropdown box next to the “Start” option and select “Play across slides” from the list. In both versions, the file will start playing automatically as soon as you start the slide show.
If the audio you chose is too short to cover the duration of your whole presentation, you can do a test run of the presentation, time it, and insert more audio files on other slides so that there are no silent intervals. You can also use some free audio-editing tool like Audacity or Free Audio Editor to combine two or more audio files into one, thus ensuring that the audio keeps playing for as long as necessary.
An Extra Tip About Saving Your Audio Files
If you’re saving your presentation to a flash drive, make sure to keep the audio files and the presentation in the same folder. Otherwise, PowerPoint won’t be able to locate the files you inserted and your presentation will be silent as a result. The only thing to do in such situations would be to edit the path of each audio file in your presentation, which is very time-consuming and therefore best avoided.