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Monday, February 07, 2011

Putting Audio in PowerPoint (part 1)

Before tackling the how, I want to first address the why. Just like anything else that you might drop into your presentation, audio needs to have a purpose. Back up and look at your purpose for standing up in front of people. You want to communicate with them. Your purpose for this particular time is that you want to communicate something specific to them. Keep narrowing your focus until you have a clear, specific understanding of what you want to communicate and what effect you want it to have on the audience. Then you can cut out good content for the sake of the overall purpose of your communication.

If you want to add in sound effects for your slides, don't. OK, that may be too broad a statement, but 99% of the time you should avoid superfluous sound effects. They may be fun, but they will rarely add anything to your communication. Sound effects have to be perfectly aligned with your message and add something significant to the point that you are making. If they don't (and they usually don't) then avoid them.

Other audio clips might be more of a grey area. You might want to include a bit of a song or a clip of a speech or sermon that pertains to your topic. Apply the same filter to see if it aligns perfectly with your message and it supports the point you're wanting to make. Then cut off the first and last 30 seconds of the clip. Again, I'm being a bit extreme, but not as much as you might think. If the audio clip is so important to what you're trying to communicate that you have to have it, that's fine, but you are still the one communicating. Don't let the audience move away from your point to the clip. Keep them with you. As a general rule, keep your clips under 30 seconds.

How do you use audio in your presentations?

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