How to Insert a Countdown Timer in PowerPoint (3 Ways)

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Have you ever wanted to insert a timer into your PowerPoint presentation?

People I meet in Microsoft PowerPoint training tell me they’d love to add a timer to a slide in order to set a time limit for answering a question… or to let participants know how long a break will be but there just doesn’t seem to be a way to add a PowerPoint countdown timer.

Even on a short break, there’s ALWAYS time to brew up some java in your Keurig K-Express Coffee Maker… am I right?

This article describes three ways to insert a PowerPoint countdown timer to your slide deck.

Feel free to forward a link for this article to your colleagues – because once they see your countdown timers, they’re going to want to know how you did it!

Excited about adding a countdown timer to PowerPoint
Excited about adding a countdown timer to PowerPoint

1) Use the Timer That Comes With ClassPoint’s Teaching Tools

ClassPoint is an interactive teaching teaching tool that integrates with PowerPoint. ClassPoint helps teachers and trainers add interactive quizzes, leaderboards, and gamification features to PowerPoint slides… and it comes with a countdown timer!

Simply sign up for a free ClassPoint account then download the software. If you decide to upgrade to a Pro account, you can click here for a 10% discount. (You’re welcome!)

Timer Button

Click the timer button on the toolbar that appears at the bottom of your slide, enter a duration, and click Start!

You can configure any duration up to 99 minutes but I usually set a 15 minute timer to let people know when they should return from breaks… it’s more high tech than setting a kitchen timer (like this Antonki Digital Timer)!

Countdown Timer
ClassPoint’s countdown timer

The countdown timer can be displayed in a window or full screen with a progress bar.

2) Insert a PowerPoint Countdown Timer with an Add In

If you want a countdown clock for tracking longer durations, like a 15 minute coffee break (I like the Lavazza Super Crema coffee blend!), your best bet might be to insert one of the PowerPoint timers available as add ins.

Here is how you add a countdown clock to your next PowerPoint presentation using one of the available add ins from the Office Store.

  1. Select a slide in your presentation where you’d like your countdown timer to appear (or add a new one).
  2. Click Get Add-ins on the Insert tab in the Add-ins group.
    The Office Add-ins dialog box appears.
  3. Type timer in the search box and press Enter.
  4. Click on a timer for more information about the add-in or click Add.
  5. Read the license terms and privacy policy then click Continue.
    The add-in is inserted into your current PowerPoint slide.

The add-in displayed below is called Coffee Break by Flow Simulation. It comes with a number of background images and you can set any duration you’d like in the floating toolbar at the bottom of the image.

Coffee Time Add-in
Coffee Time add-in by Flow Simulation

A Quick Word About Add Ins

Add ins are supplemental programs that add features or capabilities to your PowerPoint presentations. They’re not made by Microsoft and Microsoft doesn’t guarantee their performance or capabilities.

Always test add-ins thoroughly before using them in your presentations.

Method #3: Make a PowerPoint Countdown Timer with SmartArt

You can make a PowerPoint countdown timer.

This method is useful if you need a bar timer for short durations – like setting a time limit on a question you’ve posed during your presentation.

There are a few steps involved in this process, but I’ve outlined the entire process below!

How to Make a Countdown Timer Using SmartArt and the Animations Tab

I like to use PowerPoint’s SmartArt graphics and custom animation effects to do this. Don’t worry – there are a lot of steps in this process but it’s not difficult. Just complete one step at a time and you’ll get there!

Here is what you do.

  1. Select the slide in your presentation where you’d like your PowerPoint countdown timer to appear (or add a new one).
  2. Click the SmartArt button on the Insert tab in the Illustrations group.
  3. Select Basic Chevron Process from the Process category in the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box then click OK.
Choose a SmartArt Graphic
Choose Basic Chevron Process
  1. Enter numbers next to each bullet in the Text Pane for the graphic in descending order, as shown below then close it.
Enter numbers in the Text Pane
Enter numbers in the Text Pane
  1. Click Convert in the SmartArt Design > Reset group then select Convert to Shapes and reposition the graphic, if required.
    The SmartArt graphic is converted to individual shapes.
  2. Click the Group button in the Shape Format > Arrange group then select Ungroup from the available options.
  3. While all of the shapes are all still selected, click Disappear from the Animation gallery on the Animations tab then select With Previous from the Start: drop-down menu in the Timing group.
    All of the shapes will initially be hidden.
Disappear in the Animation gallery
  1. Click the slide background to deselect the graphic. Click Animation Pane, if you’d like to see additional information as you layer animation effects in your presentation.
  2. Select the number 5 chevron, click Add Animation on the Animations tab in the Advanced Animation group, then select Fade in the Entrance section of the Animation pane.
  3. Select the number 4 chevron and hold Shift as you click chevron 3, 2, and 1.
    Chevrons 1 through 4 are selected.
  4. Click Add Animation on the Animation tab, in the Advanced Animations group, then select Fade in the Entrance section of the Animation pane.
  5. Select After Previous from the Start: drop-down menu and configure a delay of 1 second in the Timing group.
Timing Group
Timing Group

View the Countdown Timer in PowerPoint

Click the Slide Show button in PowerPoint’s status bar to begin the presentation from the current slide (or press F5). Tap the Spacebar to start the bar timer in your PowerPoint presentation.

Will You Add One of These PowerPoint Countdown Timers to Your Presentation?

A countdown timer can greatly enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Depending on your needs, you may decide to add a countdown timer you’ve made or you can use one of the add ins available in the Office store.

If you’ve found this topic useful, you might be interested in learning how to create a timeline in PowerPoint with SmartArt.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.