There are several possibilities for adding narration and other forms of multimedia to PowerPoint presentations.
To begin, the right hardware is needed: A microphone for capturing voice and a webcam for video. Most laptop computers have these features built-in, but some desktops may be lacking this hardware. Webcams that include microphones are inexpensive (about $30) if your computer does not have microphone or video capture capabilities.
The most basic software option would be to use the presentation recording options in PowerPoint. These can be accessed using the “record slide show” option of the “slide show” tab. When a recording is started, PowerPoint will capture narration plus slide transitions, pen annotations (control-p), and laser pointer effects (control-left mouse button). The resulting multimedia presentation can be saved as a PowerPoint file. Another option is to export the narrated PowerPoint file to video (file > export > video) for sharing.
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The recording and editing features of PowerPoint are limited. Techsmith’s Camtasia offers more powerful options for combining presentations with webcam video and audio. Similarly, OBS Studio is a free, open-source application for capturing and editing multimedia.
Adding audio and video to a presentation has a “wow!” factor, but there are some important downsides to consider. Multimedia requires a lot of data, resulting in large files. People with slow or unreliable internet connections could have difficulty accessing these files. If the presentation is shared as a PowerPoint file, the viewer will also need to have PowerPoint software to open the file. This can be problematic because not everyone has this software due to the expense. Finally, the creation of files with audio and video can be technically demanding and labor intensive for the presenter.
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Created: March 20, 2020
Gary Fisk, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Georgia Southwestern State University
Author of Slides for Students, a book about teaching with PowerPoint