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Add Voice Over to PowerPoint Presentations in 5 Easy Steps

This simple technique is an easy way to turn those PowerPoint Slides into flipped course content.

The presentation tool in Microsoft Office is one of the most widely used slide presentation applications available today. While PowerPoint has plenty of detractors and is often the butt of jokes (“PowerPoint has no power and no point …”, you've probably heard a few like this), there is no denying that slides produced with this application are central to countless educational lectures across the world every school day.

BTW, this article and video is specific to PowerPoint 2007, if you are using PowerPoint 2010, check out this article and video [1].

PowerPoint is a piece of software that is pretty easy to use, but at the same time has many features that can elevate your presentations. One such function is the easy ability to supplement a presentation with voice-over (or other audio). Adding your voice to PowerPoint slides is a simple process to accomplish, and doing so can turn a presentation from a plain set of slides into a self-contained instructional asset that stands alone and can be used by students to self-teach. This can be a great way to test the waters with flipped content delivery.

Here is a step-by-step guide to adding voice over to PowerPoint slides (these steps and the video are based on PowerPoint 2007):

1. Equipment – When setting up for your voice-over in PowerPoint, make sure you have the right equipment and it's set up. You'll need a microphone to record your voice and a working sound-card or integrated audio (which you should always have anyway).

2. New Folder and Presentation File – Create a new folder on your computer and name it something you'll recognize. Create your PowerPoint presentation (or open an existing one) and save it to this folder. As you record narration, sound files will get created as part of the presentation, and having them all in one folder will help you manage them. If you are spending considerable time on the presentation, you would be well advised to make an occasional copy of this folder for back up in case you run into any problems.

3. ‘Record Narration' tool – Open PowerPoint and find the “Slideshow” command in the top bar. Once you click on “Slideshow”, a menu will appear – select “Record Narration”.

4. Set Sound Levels and Properties – In the “Record Narration” dialog box that appeared after clicking the previous command, click the “Select Microphone Level” button and use the slider to adjust the microphone's level to ensure your microphone is recording at optimal sound levels. You want the level to stay in the green range most of the time, and hitting the yellow range in the indicator at louder points is fine, you just don't want it to peak in the red range on the indicator, as that's too loud. Once the recording levels are good, click the “OK” button to go back to the “Record Narration” box.

You may want to click on the “Change Quality” button (the default settings are pretty low resolution/quality). Select the drop-down window next to the “Attributes” and choose “44.100kHz, 16 bit, Mono”. This is one of the most used and efficient audio levels for microphone recording. In Clicking “OK” from this window will close it and you should be looking at the “Record Narration” box again.

5. Recording – To record, simply click “Record Narration” on the Slide Show menu. In the bottom left corner of the “Record Narration” window is a check box for “Link Narrations In” – click this box to check it on (you will need to do this each time you start recording a section of voice-over). You can build out your voice-over gradually from the beginning (in other words, you don't need to do it all in one take). As you record new sections, you will be prompted each time as to whether you wish start on the first slide or on the current slide. Note that if want to record over a section you are not happy with, just record over it and your new content will replace your old content (as long as you save it). Once you are done recording a part, hit the “Escape” key and PowerPoint will ask you if you want to save the timings on the slides. Always choose yes. As you complete each section of narration, save your PowerPoint presentation. Once you have completed part or all of your narration, play your presentation to watch and hear it. Pretty cool, right?!

Voice-over audio can be a very effective part in your presentation process. Voice-over also allows you to turn your existing presentations into self-contained flipped content. There are endless possibilities to using voice-over in PowerPoint and you're only limited by your own imagination!