How do you create a pre game lobby?

Every time I make a lobby and create a spawner set to pre-game, the game timer starts when I spawn.

use a spawn pad that only activates pre game

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This might be because you are testing it in the editor. Make sure that the spawn pad is set to pre game, and make a publish link (settings → save and publish → publish) and see if it works there.
I Hope that helps!

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The pre-game lobby is the place where players enter the game (after entering the game’s code and selecting a username). Setting a spawner to ‘pre-game’ means that players in that stage of the game will start at the location determined by that spawn point, and setting a spawner to ‘game’ means that players will spawn at that location once the game has started.

To create a pre-game lobby, you need to create the lobby area and then place a spawner in that area that is set to ‘pre-game’ only. Once the game starts, you can have players automatically spawn at a different area (designated with another spawning device with ‘game’ assigned to it), but players will be sent to the first spawner’s location upon first entering a code and joining that game.