PowerPoint Tip: Tools for working with audio or video to include in your PowerPoint presentation

The latest version of PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2010) includes built-in audio and video editing tools that make it almost like a media editing software program.  But what about the vast majority of us who don’t have the latest version?  Today I want to share some of the tools I have used that will help you edit, convert and show audios or videos during your presentation, no matter what version of PowerPoint you have.

The first tool is used to convert videos into the preferred PowerPoint format of WMV (Windows Media Video format).  It is called Any Video Converter and is available at www.any-video-converter.com.  When you go to download it at their web site, make sure you go to the free downloads page in order to get the free version.  I like this software because it is no cost, and does a great job of converting many different formats.  It even allows you to convert online videos from YouTube as well.  This is important if you are showing a YouTube video when you won’t have Internet access.

If you can’t install software on your corporate computer, I’ve just discovered a new online conversion tool that looks very promising.  The web site is www.online-convert.com and audio and video conversions are two of the many conversions it will do.  I’ve tested this site with a couple of videos and was impressed with the results.  It allows you to convert a file from your system or it will go grab a YouTube or other online video.  You can instantly download the converted file or e-mail it to someone (if the file isn’t too large).  It also allows you to change the video parameters, including capturing only a certain portion of a video.

Once you have the video converted, you may need to edit it.  You can use Windows Live Movie Maker, which is a free download from Microsoft’s web site.  It works with and outputs WMV files, so it is ideal for videos you want to use in PowerPoint.  You can also use the online video editing tool I mentioned last issue at www.jaycut.com.

If the video you want to use is not in a format that PowerPoint accepts and you don’t want to convert it, you can use the VLC Media Player that plays video clips in almost every format I’ve ever heard of.  You can download it for free at www.videolan.org/vlc/.  One way I’ve used VLC is to play QuickTime MOV videos.  I associate the MOV file type with VLC in Windows so that it knows to open MOV files using VLC.  Then, on my slide, I’ll create a hyperlink from an image to the video file on my computer.  When I activate the hyperlink, it automatically starts playing the video in VLC.  I like VLC because it plays so many different formats and its player window is nice and clean.

To record or edit audio, the utility I mentioned last time, Audacity, is the best.  You can download it at audacity.sourceforge.net.  If you are recording an audio track, use a microphone, like a USB headset mic you might use for video chatting with friends.  It gives much better quality than a built-in computer mic.  Any distortions in quality are more noticeable when amplified in the meeting room, so get the best audio quality you can.  If you need to get an audio track from a video clip, you can use the Any Video Converter utility mentioned above to convert the video to an MP3 track and then edit it in Audacity.

I know this tip is a long one, but I hope you now have a number of new tools to use when creating audio and video to use in your PowerPoint presentations.