How to Start a PowerPoint Slideshow

Microsoft PowerPoint slideshows are an effective way to present information to an audience. Whether you are giving a business presentation or teaching a class, starting the slideshow smoothly is key to keeping your audience engaged.

Follow this simple, step-by-step guide to successfully start a PowerPoint slideshow on both desktop and web versions.

Before Starting the Slideshow

Before jumping into the slideshow, take a few minutes to prepare your presentation file and environment. This will ensure no technical issues disrupt your presentation flow.

Check Compatibility

Make sure the version of PowerPoint you are presenting in is compatible with the one you used to create the slides. Version mismatches can alter slide formatting and animations.

Also confirm that the projector or display you are presenting on has the correct cables and adapters to connect properly to your laptop. Test this connection ahead of time.

Organize Supporting Files

If your presentation draws content from external files like videos, Excel charts, or other documents, make sure all files are in the same folder as the PowerPoint file. This allows them to embed correctly when presenting.

You may also want to save a backup of your presentation on a USB drive as a contingency.

Set Up the Presentation Space

Arrive early to set up the projector, screen, laptop connection, slide advancer/clicker, microphone, and other equipment you will use. Make sure remotes have fresh batteries.

Also check for potential distractions in the room like loud HVAC systems, windows, or hallway noise. Adjust as needed to optimize the environment.

Starting the Slideshow (Desktop)

Once setup is complete, starting the slideshow from a desktop version of PowerPoint only takes a few clicks.

1. Open PowerPoint and Your Presentation File

Double click the PowerPoint icon on your desktop or select it from the Start menu to launch the app. Then go to File > Open and select your presentation file.

2. Navigate to the Slide Show Tab

At the top of the PowerPoint window, you will see a series of tabs. Click on the one labeled “Slide Show.” This displays options for starting and configuring your show.

3. Click From Beginning

In the Start Slide Show section of the Slide Show tab, click on the “From Beginning” button. This will instantly launch your slideshow from the first slide.

Alternatively, you can hit F5 on your keyboard to start from the beginning.

4. Click Through Your Slides

You are now in slideshow mode. Use mouse clicks, arrow keys, or spacebar presses to advance through your slides.

To exit the show, hit the Escape key and you will return to edit mode.

Starting the Slideshow (Web)

The process is very similar when presenting a PowerPoint slideshow using the Microsoft 365 web version.

1. Navigate to PowerPoint Web App

Open your preferred web browser and access PowerPoint online by going to and logging into your Microsoft 365 account.

2. Open Your Presentation File

In the PowerPoint web app, select “Open” from the landing page and choose your presentation file from OneDrive or another connected cloud storage account.

3. Click the Slide Show Tab

Just like the desktop version, PowerPoint web features a ribbon of tabs at the top. Click on “Slide Show” to access show options.

4. Select From Beginning

In the Start Slide Show section, click the “From Beginning” button to instantly start presenting from slide one. You can now click through slides.

Hit Escape when finished to exit back to edit mode.

Slideshow Tips and Tricks

Use the following tips to amplify the impact of your next PowerPoint slideshow:

  • Rehearse your slideshow with the presentation timer turned on to ensure your pace and transitions are smooth.
  • Use slide notes and presenter view on a secondary monitor to view upcoming slides and notes.
  • Make slides visually consistent by limiting text, standardizing fonts/colors, and using consistent slide transitions.
  • Embed multimedia like images, video, audio, and Excel charts to boost engagement.
  • Use slide animation builds to reveal bullet points and graphics line-by-line to focus the audience.
  • Avoid reading slides verbatim and use a conversational tone to personally connect with the audience.

Troubleshooting Issues

Despite best efforts, technical problems can still pop up and disrupt your PowerPoint slideshow. Here is how to troubleshoot common issues:

Slideshow not starting – Confirm you are in the correct Slide Show tab and try the keyboard shortcut F5 instead of clicks. Also check cable connections to displays.

Blank screens – If clicking results in blank slides, close and re-open the file to reset. Check for missing media files.

Losing mouse control – If mouse clicks get locked into the slideshow and can’t exit, try pressing the Escape key. If that fails, use Alt + F4 to force close PowerPoint.

Media not appearing – Check file paths pointing to external media to ensure the presentation can access them from the current machine.

Slides out of order – If slides are loading in an incorrect sequence, save your presentation and close PowerPoint fully. Re-open the file and reset slide order in edit mode.

By following this guide and troubleshooting advice, you can confidently start and deliver smooth PowerPoint presentations every time! Let your slides enhance your talking points rather than distract from them with these best practices.