A truly great presentation keeps viewers engaged by showing them your ideas. A fantastic way to do this is to embed video in your Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. Using video can serve a wealth of purposes — if it’s done right.
Action speaks louder than pictures
How does your organization use PowerPoint? Many organizations design presentations for multiple situations:
- To propose a partnership or make a sale in client meetings.
- To introduce work concepts in internal meetings.
- To demonstrate products in the company kiosk at trade shows.
- To educate staff about a new product.
In each instance, a well-placed video clip is worth considering. Imagine how much more potent viewers’ experience — and your calls to action — could be if you use the full potential of PowerPoint.
- Add a demo or screencast that shows users interacting with the product.
- Present a clip that demonstrates what to do (or not to do) when implementing a new work policy or meeting with a client.
- Provide testimonials from satisfied customers.
Fortunately, the current version of PowerPoint provides support for incorporating video.
Easier embedding — and linking
PowerPoint 2010 supports embedded video as QuickTime, Windows Media or AVI files (.mov, .mp4, .wmv or .avi file formats). On Windows, you’ll need to have the appropriate QuickTime and AVI players installed (64-bit versions if you run PowerPoint 2010 64-bit). On Macs, you need Flip4Mac or an AVI player. Embedding the video allows you to keep the media file with the presentation.
However, if you’re concerned about the size of your presentation files or have video content that might be changed or updated, PowerPoint 2010 also allows you to link to an external video file or a website. (Of course, you’ll need to be sure that viewers will have access to an Internet connection in the latter case.)
The process of embedding or linking a video from within a PowerPoint presentation is fairly straightforward:
- Embed a file — Go to the Insert tab in the Media Group, click Video, click Video from file, choose a file, and then click Insert.
- Link to a file — Follow the same steps as to embed a video, but instead of clicking Insert as a final step, click the down arrow on the Insert button and choose Link to file.
- Link to a video on a website — On the Insert tab, click Video, click Video from website, and paste the embed code (which you must retrieve from the website) into the Video from website dialog box. Click Insert.
Embedding or linking a video is simple but doesn’t, of course, guarantee the quality of the clip, its appropriateness for the task at hand, or the quality of the playback.
Start the show
When you’re ready to distribute your presentation, PowerPoint 2010 gives you numerous options. Before deciding which one to use, you need to ask two questions:
- Which systems will the finished product run on and what are their technological specifications?
- Will the presentation be given manually (with a live person running the show) or automatically (self-running).
Depending on your answers, you can decide which delivery approach to take:
- Broadcast the presentation over the Internet to a remote audience.
- Burn the presentation to CD or DVD.
- Set up a self-running package.
- Publish the presentation online.
- Convert the entire presentation to Windows Media Video or Quicktime.
Each type of distribution requires its own preparations — anything from compressing files to burning disks to configuring automatic slide forwarding and locking down user controls. As with every aspect of successful PowerPoint design, it’s best to have at the helm someone who understands the ins and outs of the application.
A polished presentation, every time
Creating presentations that include video elements can be an amazingly effective way to generate excitement and persuade viewers to take action. (For more information about using the power of video to create energy and spur action, read the Communications and Connections article in this issue of News and Views.) Talented presentation specialists know how to create crisp, vivid and smooth-running packages that can deliver the promised punch.
Just be aware that — aside from the thought that should go into effective content — expertise is often a prerequisite for creating a high-quality, easily distributable presentation.
According to Microsoft, Adobe Flash has some limitations in PowerPoint 2010 and cannot be played in PowerPoint 2011 on a Mac at all. You can’t use certain special effects (such as shadows or 3-D rotation) with Flash content, and you’ll lose the ability to compress these files for distribution. Thus, we don’t recommend using Flash for video playback in PowerPoint.
Video can punch up a PowerPoint presentation, but beware of going overboard. Use only quality clips that serve a purpose. And if you’re sending the presentation as a packaged file, be sure that the recipient has the necessary devices or software to support multimedia elements.
Worried about video increasing the size of your presentations? Optimizing your media files for best compression without loss of quality can help. Plus, newer versions of PowerPoint offer the option to link to a video, rather than embedding it.
To see what video formats you are able to play on your computer, download our PowerPoint Test Page.