Issue #107 April 18 2006

PowerPoint Tip - Adding Audio Clips to Your Presentation

Last issue we talked about video in your presentation, this issue we will cover audio clips. First, when would you want to use an audio clip over a video clip? Well, sometimes you can't get a video clip because of the circumstances or because you don't have the equipment at hand. Also, sometimes it is the sound and not the visual that is important, like when using a clip from a radio show or noise from nature. And sometimes you want to use music which doesn't require any visual with it. So, what do you need to be concerned with when wanting to use audio. First, the quality of the clip is critical because when amplified, any distortion in the sound will be magnified. Get the best quality clip you can find. Second, save the audio in either the WMA (Windows Media Audio) format or the popular MP3 format. Both are high quality compressed formats that work well in PowerPoint. Don't use WAV files unless it is a very short clip since WAV files tend to be quite large. Next, make any edits to the audio clip before you insert it in the slide. The program I use is Audacity, which can be downloaded for no charge and handles WAV and MP3 files. One edit that I often make to audio files is to fade the sound out at the end of the clip over one to two seconds instead of the sound stopping abruptly at the end of the clip. This makes it sound more professional and Audacity can do this easily. If you want to use music, make sure you have a license to do so (from organizations such as SOCAN, ASCAP or BMI) or you are using royalty free music that allows you to perform the song in public as part of your presentation. Finally, after you insert an audio clip on your slide, set the various options that allow you to control when the clip plays, whether it repeats or not and whether it continues when you move to the next slide. The next time you are using an audio clip or music in your presentation, remember these tips that will make it smoother to incorporate and use.