Adding Audio to Powerpoint

There are four main ways to add narration to a PowerPoint slide show:

  1. Use the "Record Narration" facility of PowerPoint, producing a PowerPoint Show (.pps)
  2. Put the PowerPoint and an audio MP3 online, and combine them using the free SlideShare service to produce an online presentation
  3. Use SMIRK
  4. Use a video editing program, producing a video file

PowerPoint narration

This is the simplest option, though it can lead to quite bloated files. The following slide show gives a quick explanation.

SlideShare

You can record your narration into another program such as the freeware Audacity. If you can put audio online as an .mp3 file, then the free service Slideshare lets you upload a PowerPoint file and synchronise the two, so that slide transitions occur at definite points in the audio. The following 2'15" slide show (with narration!) by Jonathan Boutelle explains.

SMIRK

This is a dedicated application, created by economists, for making accessible, narrated slide shows, prompting the author to use meaningful slide titles and comments. It outputs multimedia files that can be read by RealPlayer or Quicktime, as well as HTML versions. It is explained further in David Kraithman's case study.

Video editing program

This can be a finicky procedure and difficult to get right first time, but allows you precise control over the finished product. MovieMaker (free with Windows XP) and Camtasia are both suitable for this, and straightforward to use.

  1. From PowerPoint, save your Presentation as PNG Portable Network Graphics Format (.png)
  2. Import the images into the video editing program's timeline.
  3. Record narration over the images, or record it separately and import the audio.
  4. Export and distribute the finished movie.