Issue #155 March 18, 2008

PowerPoint Tip: Video Best Practices

This past week I posted a new article on the web site about best practices when using video clips in sales presentations. It doesn't matter whether you are selling an idea to your boss or selling a multi-million dollar package of products and services to a client, video can be a great addition to your presentation. In the article, posted on the site at http://www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/articles/videoinsales.htm I talk about four best practices that you should follow when adding video to your PowerPoint presentation. In the newsletter today I want to expand on a few of the ideas I shared. In the article I talk about how one of the easiest ways to capture your own video is to use the video mode of your digital camera. It used to be that there was only one video mode, but most cameras today have multiple settings. The question is, What resolution should you use? The best compromise between quality and file size is usually 640 x 480, known as VGA resolution. It looks good when projected and keeps the file size to a reasonable size. The other video file parameter you may need to know about is the frames per second, known as fps. The highest quality that is normally used is 30 frames per second. Some computers will have trouble reliably playing this rate in a PowerPoint presentation. So I suggest you use 10 frames per second because it still provides great quality (only trained video professionals can tell the difference) and plays better in PowerPoint. When looking at video quality, you can't judge the quality by playing the video file in a media player. PowerPoint has more going on when it plays a video and what runs smoothly in a media player may not run as smooth when played on a slide. Test it on the slide to get a true idea of how it will look. The single biggest problem with most videos not shot by professional videographers is the low lighting levels. Low light will make a video clip look dim and hard to see, especially when shown through a projector. If you are shooting a video, add lighting to make the people in the video look better. One easy way to add a lot of light is to use work lights from a home improvement store. These provide a lot of light and cost under $100 usually. If you'll be regularly creating video clips, this is a good investment to get better quality video clips.