Creating Narrated PowerPoint Presentations

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Audio narration can be recorded to accompany Microsoft PowerPoint slides to create a self-contained multimedia presentation. All of the tools for recording and editing your narration are contained within PowerPoint. You will require a microphone. 

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Important Tips Before You Start 

  • Some features in the Windows version of PowerPoint are unavailable in the macOS version.
  • The browser version of Office 365 does not include the Record Slide Show option. You will need to download and run Office 365 locally to record narrated presentations.
  • Instructional Technologies and Media Services (ITMS) provides best practices for video and audio recording.
  • Finalize your slides before you start recording.
  • Add a script by using slide notes to improve accessibility and provide a copy of your narration in text form.
  • The Centre for Teaching Excellence provides an Accessibility Checklist for PowerPoint.
  • Presentations with audio and other embedded media can result in larger file sizes. Follow the instructions provided to reduce file size (Windows only).

PowerPoint for Windows

In this section:

Recording Narration for PowerPoint Presentations

Once you have created your slides and set up any animations, go to the Slide Show tab, click Record Slide Show, and select either:

The browser version of Office 365 does not include the Record Slide Show option. You will need to download and run Office 365 locally to record narrated presentations.

  1. Record from Beginning to begin recording from the beginning of the presentation or,
  2. Record from Current Slide to begin recording from the slide you are currently on.

If you’ve previously recorded narrations/timings that you’d like to clear, you can select Clear and choose one of the options there.

Image of the Slide Show ribbon from PowerPoint highlighting the Record Slide Show button and Record from beginning option.

The Record Slide Show view will open.

  1. To begin recording, click the red record button in the top left corner of the screen.
  2. Record your narration, click to proceed to the next animation/slide or use the arrows on the side to go to the next animation/slide.
Screenshot of the record slide show view in PowerPoint. Showing the record/pause, stop, and replay buttons, pen tool, and navigation buttons to go to next slide.

To view your notes while recording a slide show, click on the Notes button in the top-middle of the screen. Your notes will appear there along with the option to adjust the font size of your notes.

Toolbar in Record Slide Show view showing the notes button.

You can also use the pen and highlighter tools to indicate things on your slides. These will appear in time with your narration when they were recorded.

Eraser, pen, and highlighter tools and the colour palatte.

You can also change your cursor to a laser pointer by right-clicking on either the pen or highlight tool, selecting Pointer Options, and then Laser Pointer. 

Context menu showing that laser pointer can be selected under pointer options.

To temporarily change your cursor to the laser pointer press and hold the Ctrl key and then click and drag the left mouse button.

Below is a short video of potential uses for the inking (pen/highlighter) tools.

If you are using the pen/highlighter/eraser tools you will need to use the arrow button Next button in slide show view. to advance the presentation to the next animation/slide. 

Audio won't record when slide transitions happen so let this play first before you start speaking.

While your narration is being recorded the record button will change into a pause button. You can use this to temporarily pause your recording, then click the record button again when you want to continue with your narration.

While recording, the recording controls are Pause, Stop, and Replay.
Before recording has started or when it is paused, the recording controls are Record, Stop, and Replay.
  1. Use the Stop button to end your narration.
  2. Use the Replay button to review you recording.

Once you reach the end of the slideshow you will see a blank, black slide and a note at the bottom to saying “End of slide show. Click to exit.” Click to end your recording.

Message showing you have reached end of slide show which says "End of slide show, click to exit."

Learn how to Turn your mouse into a laser pointer for presentations

Removing Recordings from PowerPoint Presentations

A sound icon Icon of speaker that shows up on the slide when you have a recording. appears on a slide to show when a recording is available.

The best way to remove your narration and timings is to go to the slide show tab, click on Record Slide Show, select Clear and choose one of the available options:

  1. Clear Timing on Current Slide - to delete timings on the current slide.
  2. Clear Timings on All Slides - to delete timings from all slides at once.
  3. Clear Narration on Current Slide - to delete narration on the current slide.
  4. Clear Narration on All Slides - to delete narration on all slides at once.
Clear recording options from the slide show ribbon.

Markings made with the pen/highlighter tool are considered narrations and will be deleted with the Clear Narrations option. Animations are considered timings and will be deleted using the Clear Timing option.

You can also remove the narration by

  1. deleting the sound icon on each slide, or
  2. from within the Record Slide Show view, using the Clear option.
Clear recording options as seen in slide show view.

Clearing recordings from current/all slides deletes narrations, animation timings, and markings made with the pen/highlighter tool.

Saving Narrated PowerPoint Presentations

Select File > Save As.

Select where you'd like to save your presentation to.

Under Save as type, select the dropdown arrow and then select PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx). (Do NOT save as older .ppt format otherwise you will lose the audio recording)

Select Save

You can export presentations to Video Format (*.mp4), and select Internet Delivery or Low Quality settings for optimal performance. If you choose to provide the video format of your presentation we recommend that you also provide native PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx) for accessiblility purposes.

Adding Live Captioning (Subtitles) to PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint allow you to present with real-time, automatic subtitles. Unfortunately, there is currently no saved record of the subtitles. However, a video recording of the presentations (with live subtitles) can be made.

Setting up Subtitles

On the Slide Show ribbon tab, check Always Use Subtitles and select Subtitle Settings. Select your Spoken Language, Subtitle Language (PowerPoint will auto translate if you choose a different subtitle language), and placement of the subtitles (default is Bottom (Overlaid).


Screenshot of the Subtitle Settings menu showing that you can select spoken and subtitle languages, as well as subtitle placement.

You can also turn subtitles on/off and access the settings from the Presenter and Slide Show views by right-clicking anywhere in the Presenter or Slide Show views and using the option in the context menu or these buttons Buttons for toggling and selecting options for subtitles from within the Presenter and Slide Show View to toggle subtitles on and off and select options.

More information on how to use subtitles:

Recording Subtitled Presentations

Once you have completed the steps above to turn on subtitles, you will need to create a screen recording to record your subtitled presentation.

On the Insert tab, select Screen Recording.

Insert ribbon showing the Screen Recording button.

When you click Screen Recording, your PowerPoint window may minimise itself, click on it on the Windows taskbar to reopen.

Click Select Area and select the area you want to record.

Screen recording settings including record button, select area button, record audio, and record pointer. Option to record audio and pointer is turned on by default.
  1. PowerPoint automatically records the audio and the mouse pointer, so by default those options are selected on the control dock. To turn them off, deselect Audio (Windows logo key+Shift+U) and Record Pointer (Windows logo key+Shift+O).

Go to the Slide Show tab of the ribbon and select From Beginning (or From Current Slide if you only want to record from your current slide).

Screenshot of the Slide Show ribbon showing options to begin slide show From Beginning or From Current Slide.

Ensure the correct Slide Show view is within the area you’ve selected.

Click Record (Windows logo key+Shift+R).

Recording controls when the recording is in progress. The record button becomes a pause button.

Unless you pin the Control Dock to the screen, it will slide up into the margin while you record. To make the unpinned Control Dock reappear, point the mouse cursor at the top of the screen.

To control your recording:

  1. Click Pause to temporarily stop the recording (Windows logo key+Shift+R).
  2. Click Record to resume recording (Windows logo key+Shift+R).
  3. Click Stop to end your recording (Windows logo key+Shift+Q) (shown below).

Narrate your slideshow as you click through the slides, your subtitles will be automatically generated and appear on the screen as you narrate.

When you are finished recording, you can save your presentation: File > Save. The recording will be embedded on the slide where you started the recording.

To save the recording itself as a separate file on your computer, right-click the picture on the slide that represents the recording and select Save Media as. In the Save Media As dialog box, specify a file name and folder location, then click Save. This will save your presentation as a video file (mp4).

Right clicking on the recording will also give you additional options to trim and style your video. These options appear either above or below the context menu.

Controls for trimming and styling videos in PowerPoint.

For additional information, see Record your screen in PowerPoint.

Using PowerPoint to Screen Record Third-Party Applications

PowerPoint can be used to create screen recordings of other third-party applications on your computer. For more information, see Using Microsoft PowerPoint for Screen Recording.

Reducing the File Size of Presentations

This feature is available in PowerPoint for Windows, but not on PowerPoint for Mac or PowerPoint for the web.

To reduce file size and improve playback performance you can compress your media files.

In a presentation with media (audio/video) files, go to the File tab, select Info and then Compress Media in the Multimedia Size and Performance section.

Specify the quality of the video by clicking on the Compress Media button and selecting one of the options.

Screenshot of the location of the Compress Media option as well as the compression options.
  • Full HD (1080p) Save space while maintaining overall audio and video quality.
  • HD (720p) Quality will be comparable to media which is streamed over the Internet.
  • Standard (480p) Use when space is limited, such as when you are sending presentations via e-mail.

Once you select one of the options above, a new Compress Media dialogue will pop-up to show you the compressions progress. Once it's complete, click Close to close the dialogue.

For additional information, see Compress your media files.

PowerPoint for macOS

While PowerPoint for macOS is a great option for basic slide narration, it should be noted that several features available in the Windows version are not included in the macOS version. If you desire these rich features, it is possible to install PowerPoint for Windows using Parallels, which University of Waterloo staff may purchase at a discounted rate through IST OnTheHub .

In this section:

Setting Up To Record

When accessing all Slide Show views, recording starts automatically. Press the Pause button to stop recording, or the Restart button to begin again. Some settings must be modified as indicated with a (*) before you Prepare Your Narrated PowerPoint For Playback.

Your presentation’s slides should be complete (you should avoid making further edits beyond this point). Before you begin recording, for each slide set up the following:

  1. Select the Transitions tab, then:
    1. Uncheck On Mouse Click
    2. Check After, and insert 2 seconds
    3. Click Apply To All
  2. Select the Slide Show tab, then:
    1. Uncheck Play Narrations*
    2. Uncheck Use Timings*
    3. Select Presenter View from the options, then for each slide, add your recording script to each slide in the Slide Notes box.
    4. If you haven't already, add your slide notes (script) to each slide in the Click to add notes area.

Recording Slide Audio

The browser version of Office 365 does not include the Record Slide Show option. You will need to download and run Office 365 locally to record narrated presentations.

Select the Slide Show tab, then:

  1. In the upper right corner, hit the Pause button to stop recording, then the Reset button to begin recording at the beginning.
  2. Record each slide individually to minimize mistakes and avoid having to re-record your entire presentation.
  3. When you have completed recording each slide, select End Show, then select Yes to open the dialog box prompting you to save your narration.

If you select No when prompted to save your narration after selecting End Show, all of your work will be lost.


Preparing Your Narrated PowerPoint For Playback

 Some settings must be modified from when you were Setting Up to Record as indicated with a (*) in order for your audio to play back during presentation view.

Each slide now contains a Speaker Icon in the lower left corner of each slide. Review each slide of your presentation and

  1. Select the Slide Show tab, then:
    1. Check Play Narrations*
    2. Check Use Timings*
  2. Select the Speaker Icon, then from the Playback tab (appears only after you have selected the Speaker Icon).
  3. In the dialog box that appears:
    1. Select Start > Automatically
    2. Check Play Across Slides
    3. Check Hide During Show
  4. Repeat these steps for each slide.

This process enables your audio narration to play back automatically as your presentation advances.


Test and Save Your Presentation for Distribution

  1. Before uploading your presentation, you should test your slide show.
    • From the Slide Show tab, select Play from Start.
  • Once you are satisfied with your presentation, Save your file as a PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx). (Do NOT save as older .ppt format otherwise you will lose the audio recording)

You can export presentations to Video Format (*.mp4), and select Internet Delivery or Low Quality settings for optimal performance. Our instructions on converting and compressing videos for web delivery detail how you might also use a media compression tool like Miro or Handbrake to reduce the size of your MP4. If you choose to provide the video format of your presentation we recommend that you also provide native PowerPoint Presentation (*.pptx) for accessiblility purposes.



NB. All screenshots of PowerPoint used with permission from Microsoft.