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PSA: Avoiding Auto-Advance Nightmare in Powerpoint

A dreadful feeling: you are in the middle of an important presentation and suddenly your slide auto-advances to the next one, without you doing anything, ruining your carefully-choreographed narrative and spoiling any storyline you were trying to relay. Worse yet: this happens on the next slide, and then the next one, and next one… leaving you feeling stupid and helpless in front of your audience. Clicking on the “Pause” button in the presenter view or any other quick attempts to salvage the situation are completely useless.

This has happened to me couple times. The first time, I secretely blamed it on the event's Audio/Video person (duh!) and raised an angry eyebrow. When it happened the second time, however, I knew I should stop blaming other people and dig into the source of the problem.

After some digging-around I found what was causing the headache, so I am sharing it here with you, with the hope that it will save somebody else from frustration and embarassment.

The Cause

The culprit of the problem is apparently a little-known and little-used feature of Microsoft Powerpoint called: Rehearse Timings. It can be found under Slideshow menu item:

The feature itself sounds pretty innocuous, maybe even useful - one more tool to help you prepare better, right? The thing nobody tells you, however, is that: as soon as you use the feature, Powerpoint sets a switch on the presentation that makes it auto-advance slides based on the timings recorded in your last “rehearsal”. Ouch! There may be people who want this, but for the rest 99.999% of us, this is a complete surprise and a curse.


You can turn off the evil mode by going to Slide Show tab in the Ribbon, and turning off the corresponding checkbox:

Alternatively, you can also disable this from the main menu: Slide Show > Set Up Show > Advance Slides > Manually

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