Microsoft PowerPoint triggers give you a lot of power because you can choose when animations are implemented during the show.
It is common to click once on a Microsoft PowerPoint slide to start animations that appear in a certain order. But what happens if you want to check the order during the show? In that case, use PowerPoint triggers. In this article, I’ll show you how to connect three famous quotes with three arrow shapes. During the show, you control the order in which PowerPoint displays the quotes by clicking the arrows.
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I use Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use an earlier version through PowerPoint 2007. For your convenience, you can: download the demonstration .pptx file† This file contains two slides. The first is complete. The second contains the shapes and text boxes so you can follow the second slide.
What is a PowerPoint trigger?
a PowerPoint tractor is a small instruction that makes something happen. You might think of clicking a slide to move to the next as a built-in trigger. By using a trigger you determine when a certain action or animation takes place. The trigger doesn’t contain the action or animation, it just sets it in motion. It’s the race umpire who says “Go!” calls.
Perhaps the best thing about triggers is that they give you control when something happens. If you decide to reveal information in a different order than the original plan, you can! Now that you know what a trigger is, let’s move on.
How to Prepare the PowerPoint Shapes and Text
Image A shows some shapes and text. We keep it simple so as not to distract from the trigger focus. We don’t spend time inserting shapes and text, so if you’re working with your own slide, I’ll use the arrows to trigger an animation that reveals the accompanying text.
Since we need to assign each trigger to an element, we will name the arrows. Later, when you link each arrow to its text, meaningful names will make this process much easier.
Now let’s name the first arrow—the one to the left of the Benjamin Franklin quote:
- Select the arrow and then click the Shape Format contextual tab.
- In the Arrange group, click the selection window to open it.
- In the resulting pane, the arrow you selected is highlighted (grayed out).
- Click it once and PowerPoint will give you access to the shape’s name.
- Enter Franklin †Figure B) and press Enter.
Repeat the above steps to name the remaining arrows, Seuss and Confucius, accordingly. You don’t have to guess which arrow in the selection box corresponds to the quote – just select the arrow and the selection box will identify it for you.
Now you are ready to add the animations that show the quotes when they are activated.
How to add the animations in PowerPoint
The triggers start the animations that display each quote, so we need to apply the animations next. We’re going to keep it simple:
- Click on the Franklin quote.
- Click the Animations tab.
- In the gallery, in the Animations group, click Clear. If it’s not available, click the More button of the gallery and look for it in the Entry section. You can choose a different animation if you want. When you apply an animation, a small indicator appears next to the text box with the number 1.
- After you set up the display animation, click the effects options and choose From left from the drop-down list, or choose a direction you want. When the animation is activated, PowerPoint reveals the text from the left.
- With the Franklin quote still selected, double-click Animation Painter in the Advanced Animations group, then click the other two text boxes to apply the same animation to the other two text boxes. Click Animation Painter to disable it.
Figure C shows the small animation indicators and the selection window. At this point, the indicators are numbered 1, 2, and 3. That means if you click on the slide, the animations will display the quotes in that order. We don’t want that, we want a trigger to display each quote, in any order. That’s where the arrows come in.
How to add the animation triggers in PowerPoint
Instead of clicking in the animation order, let’s add triggers to the arrows so that we can click the arrow to display each quote, in the order we choose. To add a trigger to the Franklin quote, follow these steps:
- Select the Franklin text box.
- In the Advanced Animation group, click Trigger.
- From the drop-down list, choose On Click From.
- The resulting list shows the objects that we can use to trigger the Franklin quote input animation. Remember when we gave the arrows a name? This is why. You can easily recognize the right arrow. Choose the Franklin shape (Figure D†
- Note that the other two indicators have new numbers because we replaced animation 1 with a trigger. The two remaining text boxes are now 1 and 2.
- Repeat the above steps and match the quotes accordingly: Seuss to the arrow named Seuss and Confucius to the arrow named Confucius. At this point, the animations are no longer numbered.
Believe it or not, you’re done!
How to run the PowerPoint show
Now run the show and PowerPoint will display the slide and the three arrows, but no quotes. Click the arrows in any order to display the quotes. Figure E shows the result of clicking the Seuss arrow.
The value of the trigger is that you determine the order of things. You can even let your audience choose the order. When running the demonstration file, remember that there is a second slide that contains the shapes and text boxes.