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Adding Sound

The previous tutorial introduced transitions and effects in PowerPoint presentations.  This tutorial will continue on, and take you through the steps in adding sound.

Click here to see the previous tutorial.

PowerPoint can accommodate background sound tracks, voice-overs, and sound effects.

Click on the Insert tab to open the Insert ribbon.  From Media Clips you can insert movie or sound clips.

The Sound Tools tab will appear after you insert a sound, when you highlight the sound clip Speaker icon.

Click on the Sound icon in Media Clips for the drop-down window.

"Sound from File..." allows you to import most common Windows or MAC sound files, including aif, au, snd, midi, mp3, wav, m3u, wma, and others.

An Insert Sound window appears allowing you to browse for a sound file.

Once you insert a sound the Speaker icon will appear near the middle of the slide, but you can move it anywhere you want.

If you set the sound clip to play "When Clicked" the Speaker icon becomes a button. (See next frame)

*If you set your sound clip to play automatically you can move the icon off-screen and out of sight.


Highlight the Speaker icon (the one on the slide) to bring up the Sound Tools tab, then select the tab to bring up the sound clip options.

Slide Show Volume allows you to set the volume of each clip independently. Select the speaker iconon the screen, (of the sound clip you want to adjust) then click on Slide Show Volume.

Loop Until Stopped will play a clip over and over again, and will allow a song to start over and play again if the presentation runs longer that the sound clip.

Play Sound allows you to select from three options:

  1. Automatically: clip will start to play when slide is launched

  2. When clicked: clip won't start until mouse is clicked

  3. Play across slides: clip will continue to play as slides are advanced, until the duration of the clip has been reached, otherwise a clip will stop when you advance to the next slide.

Speaker icon:

The speaker icon on the left will be invisible to the viewer.  Do this only if you have the sound clip set to play automatically.

The speaker icon at the bottom can be used as a button to start the sound clip, so in this case it should located in a convenient, but un-obtrusive location.

Adding Narration

Select the Slide Show tab and click on the Record Narration button.

Clicking the Record Narration button brings up the microphone settings. 

The Set Microphone Level button allows you to test the record level. As you are reading the test script pay attention to the green yellow red record levels. If the level bounces into the red, lower the volume slider.  An ideal setting may bounce slightly into the yellow, but will stay mainly in the green range.

The Change Quality button will allow you to change the sampling rate. (Click here to learn more about digital sound.)  The higher the frequency and bit rate the larger the file size. 22 050kHz, 16 Bit is suitable for most presentations. For microphone recording you might as well use Mono instead of Stereo, since a single microphone does not record stereo.

When you click OK you will get this prompt window allowing you to decide where you want to begin your narration.

As you proceed through the slide show, record your narration into the microphone.  PowerPoint automatically saves an individual sound file for each slide.  When you are finished hit the Esc key.  You will get a prompt asking if you want to save the slide timings as well.

If you need to re-do a file just repeat the last step and start with the current slide.  Hit Esc again to quit.

That's it! You're done!

Customizing Effects (Review)

Although a default setting might add life to the presentation, it may not be the most suitable for your specific needs.

Have a look at the bulleted list in the example to the right. If a speaker wanted to have an opportunity to elaborate on any of these three points, it might be better to pause on each of them to allow time for the message to 'sink in' before advancing to the next point.

If you were presenting in person you could rely on manually advancing each frame or bullet using the mouse button, but it might be more convenient to set the timing to advance automatically.

A good 'rule of thumb' in setting text transition speed and pause time is to time yourself as you read each caption, then multiply by 3. The reasoning here is that very few people will remain riveted to your presentation, no matter how fascinating it is.  People tend to glance around, blink, or otherwise get distracted.  You don't want your most important point to whiz by when a viewer is looking away.  The 3X rule is a good formula.  A faster pace, and you risk your audience missing key information, while a slower pace might become boring.

There are an infinite number of transition and effect possibilities available.  I have presented only a few of them.  The important thing to remember is that the purpose of the effects and transitions is to make your presentation more interesting and effective, not to dazzle the audience with technology.

As with most forms of communication, you will be trying to do one or more of the following:

To Inform, Convince, Persuade, or Entertain