Issue #124 December 12, 2006

PowerPoint Tip – The most likely cause of video failure

Last week when I was speaking at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers Convention in Vancouver, one of the trends I talked about was the increasingly common expectation of audiences to see multimedia incorporated into presentations. On the Oprah Winfrey show last week viewers saw Al Gore go through some of his slides on global warming and one of the reasons his presentation is so effective is that he integrates visual media so well into his story. While incorporating video seems straightforward, there is one problem that comes up more often than any other. You create the presentation on your computer and then send it or move it to another computer that you will present from. You go to show the video or play an audio track and it doesn’t work. In most cases it is because the link is an absolute link instead of a relative link. Let me explain. When you insert an audio or video clip it actually doesn’t insert the media file, it links to where the media file is located on your computer. If the file is located in the same folder as your PowerPoint file, it creates a relative link, remembering only the file name and not the entire path to the file since both files are located together in the same folder. When the file is in a different directory, PowerPoint creates an absolute link, which includes the whole path of directories to the media file. The problem is that when you move the PowerPoint and media files to another computer, the absolute links are looking for the media file in the same directory structure as your own computer. And it is very unlikely that someone else’s computer will have that same set of directories. So when PowerPoint goes to play the media file, it can’t find the file since the directory structure is different. The solution is to always place media files in the same folder as your PowerPoint file and insert them from there. That way, the links are always relative links and they will work when moved to another machine as long as you move the PowerPoint and media files to a single folder on the other computer. Locating all the files in the same folder also helps solve a related problem – forgetting the media files. This happened to someone I know recently. Because the audio files were in a different folder, they forgot to copy them to the travelling computer and couldn’t play the songs that they had worked so hard to integrate. I saw it happen to another presenter where their technical people had loaded all the files correctly onto a memory stick, but the presenter figured they didn’t need the movie file since it was already inserted and deleted it from the memory stick – oops! So, the best practice when inserting movie clips or any media file is to first copy the media file to the same folder as the PowerPoint file. Then, insert the media file so it creates a relative link instead of an absolute link. Locating all media files together with your PowerPoint file is one of the secrets I share in my video tutorial “Incorporating Video into Your PowerPoint Presentations”. I also share a technique that ensures all the files go together no matter where you e-mail them or copy them, along with many other techniques for creating your own video clips and editing them like a pro with software you already own. You can get your copy of the video tutorial at .