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Voice-Over PowerPoint – The Ultimate Guide

March 10, 2021

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Voice-Over PowerPoint – The Ultimate Guide

Wondering how to add voice-over to PowerPoint projects?

Well, you came to the right place. We are going to be looking at the when, why, and how of voice-over for PowerPoint presentations.

I can answer the “when” for you right now!

Opting not to record voice-over for PowerPoint will rob your slideshows of an added sensory dimension. Using audio in a slideshow is the perfect application of digital media.

Presentations are usually designed to be presenter-led, obviously. The presenter traditionally utilizes their visual presentation to complement what they are trying to say to their audience. But what about when you can’t give the presentation in person? What happens when you need a digital asset that can be watched at any time? Adding a professional voice-over to the PowerPoint will immediately elevate audience engagement and give you an audio-visual asset you can share anywhere.

The opportunities to spice up and engage audiences when you record voice-over for PowerPoint are huge. It is very similar to the massive opportunities the audiobook brought to the literature market.

There are all kinds of applications for recorded voice-over for PowerPoint: webinars, social media content, explainer videos, or to simply give the presentation life. PowerPoints that contain voice-over will inspire the audience to take action.

For these reasons we have put together the ultimate guide for how to add voice-over to PowerPoint.

Feel free to zip around to wherever you want to start from, using the jump-to links below:

 

Voice-over to PowerPoint Guide

When it comes to voice-over PowerPoint projects, there is a right way and a less right way. First let’s cover the latter, most basic form of this process, which is to record audio and insert it immediately. Most people do this within the confines of the PowerPoint application itself.

Why add voice-over?

There are all kinds of uses for recorded voice-over in PowerPoint.

Social media videos – an animated social media post could be made with PowerPoint. You may think that social media posts require some intense photoshop skills but the truth is: they don’t! You can easily put together social posts via PowerPoint, add a voice-over, and export in a video format.

Animated Explainer Videos – there are countless functions in PowerPoint. While most people will think of PowerPoint as the software used for lectures and business presentations, it is so much more than that.

You can even make awesome looking explainer videos with PowerPoint. Look at the example below:

Adding a professional voice-over will immediately elevate an explainer video made with PowerPoint.

Voice-over PowerPoint Presentation – add some voice-over to your PowerPoint projects. This will provide an audio layer to your presentation so that you don’t have to be present to present your slideshow. This is great for training staff for managing work remotely or pitching ideas internationally.

Do It Yourself – Basic

Now, PowerPoint carries some of its own voice-over recording functionality. The ability to record voice-over for PowerPoint, at its most basic, is fairly simple.

All you need to do is open the “insert” tab, select “audio” and then “record audio”.

Recording audio in PowerPoint

The next menu will be a simple recording tool. There are three buttons here, Play, Stop, and Record.

Pressing the Record icon will start the timer. Pressing Stop after this will end the recording. From here you can playback the audio, cancel the recording, or insert it into the slide.

Adding voice-over to PowerPoint

After completing the recording a small speaker icon will appear on-screen. Placing this speaker on the slide will allow for the recorded audio to be played, with a small graphical interface that controls basic Play/Stop functionality. See the picture:

Voice-over in PowerPoint Slide

This is the most basic way to add voice-over to your PowerPoint. While it may be simple and straight-forward, this does not necessarily make it ideal. The audio lacks any editable qualities, you cannot monitor the waveform, and PowerPoint does not offer any real tools for altering the audio in any capacity. It may also sound very bad because you may have a poor quality microphone, such as the one built in to your laptop.

We thought it best to cover this, regardless of whether we recommend it or not. It is indeed an answer to the question of how to add voice-over to PowerPoint. But the last thing that any business wants is to release a top-quality slideshow presentation and let a poor-quality voice-over ruin its impact.

We want to enhance and elevate your voice-over in PowerPoint. So, let’s look at the better way.

Do It Yourself – Advanced

Now the first step is of course to create an awesome PowerPoint slideshow that you want to improve with voice-over. Having content that people want to actually learn about is central to this entire endeavor. Content is King, after all.

With your PowerPoint polished and ready, we can focus on the meat and potatoes of this article.

Hardware made easy

First off, we need to talk hardware. By hardware, I am referring to the physical tools to get the job done. Presumably, you have a computer or laptop (how else would the presentation have been made?) but you will also need a microphone and some headphones.

You may think this equipment is overkill for a presentation. You may be thinking that a headset combines the best of both worlds; microphone and headphones in one discreet package. There is some legitimacy to this argument: it wouldn’t make sense to purchase top-of-the-line audio equipment if you are only ever going to add voice-over to a single presentation.

Audio Equipment - Condensor mic, headphones, XLR cable and audio interface

However, it is undeniable that a condenser mic and some closed-back headphones will markedly improve the quality of your voice-over audio. This instantly adds credibility to the message. In addition, grabbing a Pop-shield will help to reduce pops, clicks, and mouth noises in the audio. You can even make them yourself if you’re feeling crafty, and they have the same effect!

Now that you are set up with hardware, you need to think about your recording space.

The proper voice over recording space

Sound moves in waves, and the recorded audio is called a waveform. These waves reflect much like light, bouncing from surfaces and around the room. Each time they bounce they lose energy. A room with surfaces that reflect sound would create echoes and dry reverberation where they may not be wanted. This might sound great for drums, but is not ideal for a voice-over!

Surfaces that absorb the energy from the waveform will reduce these reflections. That is why a recording studio often looks like this:

Home-made voice-over studio

Voice-over in PowerPoint should be as crisp sounding as a radio show, so treating these reflections is critical. However, you don’t need to go as far as setting up a studio. There are simple steps you can take to minimize the impact of reflections.

Learn more about acoustic treatments and home studios here.

Treating your room by adding sound-dampening materials, such as carpet, curtains, and well-placed duvets or pillows can help massively. A smaller room with a pillow fort typically works fine.

Voice-over PowerPoint Script

You will need to write out the messages that you want to be conveyed to the audience throughout the presentation. Don’t try to wing it or bullet point it. An off-the-cuff style will only lead to disappointing outcomes and an unprofessional demeanor, and won’t work for a recording.

First, read your script aloud to yourself and to colleagues to make sure that tonally it fits with your message.

Clearly labelling the script by slide name to make it obvious to the voice artist and editor how to label the files is also a big help.

Learn more about scripting for voice-over here

Recording software – Audacity

Device Configuration

Okay, so now we have all the pesky hardware elements sorted, we can actually prepare for the recording.

First of all, you are going to need a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) downloaded to your computer. While this sounds technical and scary, it really isn’t. It is just software, such as Audacity or Adobe Audition. For the purposes of this guide, we will download Audacity. It is free and simple to use.

Downloading Audacity

The next step is to make sure that all your hardware is wired up to your program correctly.

Installing Audacity

In the Audacity program, click EDIT then select PREFERENCES.

From there you can see the DEVICES tab, go ahead and click that. From here there are various drop-down menus that you can choose from.

PLAYBACK refers to your speakers or headphones, we call this “Output”. The choices underneath RECORDING refer to your microphone, which is your “Input” devices.

Go ahead and choose the corresponding options that apply to your input and output devices. My options are *INSERT PLAYBACK AND RECORDING DEVICES*.

Setting Device preferences

When you are done with that click the OK button to save your options.

Functions

Audacity is a fairly straightforward recording device. However, this is the ultimate guide in how to add voice-over to PowerPoint, so we are going to explore everything so that you minimize your odds of getting lost.

It may turn out that this technical side may be too much hassle for you. We get it, it is a lot to take in. We offer a great suite of services at Voquent, we can help script, voice and edit your audio for easy insertion into your PowerPoint. If this is more up your alley, contact us here and feel free to skip ahead.

The first thing to address is: “what am I looking at”.

The screen you are met with is the basic Audacity User Interface (UI). Don’t worry about the big grey void that is taking most of the screen. We will quickly fill that up with the waveforms of your voice-over on the audio tracks, but let’s first become acclimatized with all the main elements to the UI.

Audio tool bar in audacity

Pause

These two black bars mean PAUSE. Pausing will allow you to stop recording or playing audio, without ending the clip. This can be really useful when you need to take a moment during a clip without needing to start a new audio clip. Once paused, pressing the button again will resume the play/recording function.

Play

This little green triangle means PLAY. Playing is a simple function, if pressed after a recording is complete, it will allow you to listen back and review the content recorded in the clip. This is a great way to pick up on any problems in the recording.

Stop

The STOP button will stop any recordings or playbacks. This will end a clip or playback in session, fully. Attempting to resume any of these functions will start a new clip or playback the audio from the beginning.

Skip

These two buttons control SKIP abilities in Audacity. The left and right buttons will jump to the beginning or the end of a recording, respectively.

Record

This big red button is the crown jewel – it controls the ability to RECORD content. Once pressed, any audio that passes through the input, the Microphone, will be picked up and translated into a digital waveform. This waveform is displayed in the audio track on-screen, where the big grey void previously occupied.

Voice-over Recording

To record an audio clip, press the RECORD button, which will begin recording the audio and translating it into a visual waveform on-screen.

Recording in Audacity

This is where you will speak your scripted content into the microphone, on a slide-by-slide basis. When speaking into your microphone, remember to abide by proper microphone techniques to maximise the audio quality.

Once you have completed a recording of your first slide’s script, press STOP to end the recording. The resulting waveform on-screen will be your first clip, ready for editing.

If you want to record another take, be careful not to overwrite your original recording! You can press Mute to silence your original track, left of the waveform, and then click on Tracks in the bar at the top of Audacity to create a new one. Then just hit record again!

Editing – Cutting

This is the most complicated stage involved in producing a voice-over for PowerPoint, but it is certainly essential. Properly completing this stage will polish off your audio clips and then we can proceed in adding voice-over to the presentation.

We aren’t going to get too crazy with the editing, this is a simple voice-over so overdoing it would probably end up doing more harm than good. Editing is also a skill practiced and refined over many years by professional audio engineers, so this is very much a crash course!

Editing Tools

The main tools we are looking to use are SELECTION, CUT, and ZOOM tools.

Select a portion of the waveform by choosing the SELECT tool (F1 on Keyboard) and then highlighting a specific region of the audio. Highlighting this area will make it so that this portion of the audio can be altered via our tools.

Selecting in Audacity

If you then choose to CUT by pressing the icon (CTRL + X on the keyboard), then that segment of the audio will be cut and removed from the audio clip. This removal will then move the audio segments that preceded it and followed it together, which will then play as though the removed content has never existed.

Cutting Voice-over in Audacity

It is important to note that if you cut audio from your clip incorrectly, you could end up cutting out vital pieces of script or cut mid-sentence. To avoid this, use precision to ensure that you only edit where you can to make the audio flow naturally. If you make a mistake, click EDIT and UNDO to reverse your recent errors (CTRL + Z on the Keyboard).

Cut undo

If you want to cut at a very precise cue, you will want to ZOOM (F4 on the Keyboard) in on the waveform. This will enhance your view of the waveform, with more detail being provided across the waveform. Naturally, this will result in the waveform having to be spread across more space on your UI. So, you will have to scroll horizontally to see different portions of the audio file.

Zooming on waveform

Always listen to the area you’ve edited straight away after you have edited it – before you do anything else! 

Editing – Effects

There is an assortment of EFFECTS available through Audacity. These effects manipulate the frequency, amplitude, and waveform to make adjustments to the way that the clips sound.

While Equalization (EQ), Compression and Gain controls can be incredibly useful for an experienced editor, for the purposes of this tutorial it would be too much to include an in-depth analysis of these instruments.

For our guide on how to add voice-over to PowerPoint, the best rule of thumb to abide by is to keep the audio as good as possible when recording it. The better the recording procedure, the less manipulation needed of the audio in editing.

Editing – Exporting

When you are satisfied with your clip and are ready to add this voice-over to your PowerPoint then we can export it.

Click FILE in the top left of the window, then hover over the EXPORT option. From this position you will be faced with a variety of export choices – these are file types.

Audacity Export options

Now, these file types can be a little complicated, as they all mean different things. MP3 is our go-to for the purposes of a voice-over in PowerPoint. MP3 is a lossy file type that will compress our audio, to make the file size smaller. This is done by removing some elements of the waveform to reduce the amount of information recorded. Usually this sounds fine, but is not as high quality and ‘crisp’ sounding as a WAV.

A professional audio engineer or editor may not want an MP3, as they intend to open and further edit the file. But for this, MP3 is fine. So go ahead and select EXPORT IN MP3.

We are then met with a window wanting us to choose an export location. I am going to just save mine to the desktop, but you can feel free to add yours to any location that is accessible to you. It’s as easy as finding any file. Remember to name it something memorable, so you know which slide it voices the content for.

And that is that! Pretty easy, huh?

Now we can actually add the voice-over to PowerPoint.

Professional Quality

Sometimes you are working on a project that is just too important to voice yourself. Perhaps you are in the midst of a pivotal pitch to a potential client, and you are looking to wow them with the perfect presentation.

If you want the very best presentation it makes the most sense to hire a professional production company and voice-actors.

Decide what you are looking for

There are all kinds of voices that you can select from. Start choosing a professional narrator by identifying the purpose of the material. Who are the audience and how do you want them to feel?

A consumer-oriented project may require a more inspirational tone, whereas a company pitch may need more authority. Setting the tone is crucial as you want the audience to be engaged and take the right action.

More attributes to consider include gender, language, or accent of the voice-over.

There are enough variables here to make your head spin. Feel free to contact us for help with casting voice-over artists for your PowerPoint.

Contact us

Reach out to the voice-over professionals

There are lots of ways to hire a voice artist but let’s face it, it can get very confusing, not to mention time-consuming. This is why many of our customers circumvent the headache by going to an agency like Voquent.

Some voice-over companies will not specialize in production, or they may only offer limited voice-over services. Finding an agency that will take care of every stage of adding voice-over to PowerPoint is vital.

For example, if you contact us at Voquent, you will have one point of contact. We will have a chat with you about your needs and then work alongside you to make sure that you find your perfect voice-over artist within your budget. We will take care of every stage of the production process. Just hand us your project and vision, we will get it sorted and back to you quickly, and you will have the final say at every stage.

voice-over booth with microphone, stand and pop shield

If you prefer to hire directly and don’t need the time-saving help of a managed service, you may want to try a freelance voice-over website. We’ve got a list of 101 such websites here: 101 Voice-Over Websites.

Receive your professional voice-over PowerPoint

Using a service like Voquent will result in the project being returned to you, completed in the way you instructed, with a professional voice-over. This is the superior way to get your voice-over added to PowerPoint if you have the budget for it. It gets the professional quality audio from professional sound studios without the steep learning curve these technologies present if you try to do it yourself. It also avoids the need to learn how to edit and record audio. If you do want to learn how to do it yourself, look at the ‘Recording software – Audacity’ section of this guide,

Some companies, like Voquent, also offer extensive localisation, closed captioning, and subtitling services. These services will help with making your content accessible to people of all nationalities and those with disabilities.

Adding Voice-over to PowerPoint

Adding voice-over

Open your PowerPoint document, this will allow us to get started.

On your toolbar at the top of the document, choose the INSERT tab. On the far right of that tab should be MEDIA, select that option, which will open a dropdown menu, from which we can choose the AUDIO option, followed by the AUDIO ON MY PC.

How to add voice-over to PowerPoint

This will then take us to the Windows file explorer, now just select the audio from the saved location and insert it.

This will result in a little speaker logo popping into your slide. If you hover over this logo, a small media bar will show up. This is a basic media player that comes with play, pause, skip and volume functionality.

This logo can be dragged and dropped around the screen to wherever you would prefer it. Your voice-over is now added to PowerPoint. This process can be repeated across all the slides by just starting from the beginning.

This audio is able to be played during the presentation of the document in the same way as when the document is editable. Just hover over it to reveal the media player to be played, paused, and adjusted.

voice-over in PowerPoint

Next, we will look at how this PowerPoint document can be exported so that the audio remains playable.

PowerPoint Exporting

There are many choices for your exporting of a PowerPoint, however only a select few will retain your recorded voice-over for PowerPoint in the document. We are only interested in those export options.

The most straight-forward option for exporting is to simply save the presentation as a .pptx file, aka. a standard PowerPoint presentation file. To do this select FILE and then SAVE AS, as standard as it comes.

The .pptx file will contain the project in its entirety to be transferred, opened, edited, and manipulated as the receiver sees fit. While this can be great for collaborative purposes, it is not a particularly professional way of distributing content.

An option that involves full export is in a video format. This will export your file as an MP4 file, which will compress the presentation, ready to be distributed. Each slide will be played in sequence, with the audio files playing as the video progresses.

To do this, select FILE, then EXPORT, followed by CREATE A VIDEO. This will introduce you to a variety of choices for your video. These are important, as they will dictate how the video plays, as well as the quality it will be exported as.

PowerPoint export options - video

The higher the quality; the larger the file. Generally speaking, you are likely going to want to export in FULL HD (1080p) which is pretty much the standard resolution nowadays. You can drop this to 720p or increase it to 4K but 1080p is usually a safe bet.

Below this option is another drop-down menu that will determine the time that the PowerPoint spends on each slide before it moves on. The options available are to use, or not use, recorded timings and narration.

Using this function basically means that each slide will have a preset timer before it moves onto the next. These can be set manually by choosing RECORD TIMINGS AND NARRATION which will then allow you to set specific timers for each slide.

Alternatively, you can decide not to utilize unique timers for each slide. Instead, you can set a default time to stay on each slide. I do not advise this, as it means that each slide will have to last as long as the longest piece of audio, or else some voice-over would be cut off. This could leave some slides on screen for much longer than necessary!

Once you have managed your timers, click CREATE VIDEO at the bottom of the options to open up the export window. Now just choose your location where you want the video saved, and create!

PowerPoint Create a Video

Make sure to play your exported video to make sure that it plays just the way you want it to. And that is it, you have completed your video!

Export as CD

PowerPoint also offers you the option to PACKAGE PRESENTATION FOR CD. This will save all the audio files and presentation, ready to be played via CD storage. This can be a useful format, but most things happen over the internet these days, so while it worth mentioning this, it probably won’t be your chosen export format.  

That is our comprehensive guide on how to get your voice-over into your PowerPoint presentation. We hope that some of you find some use from this.

There are so many different things that you can do with a voice-over in PowerPoint. Each project idea you may have can be made a reality. There are all kinds of voice-over that you can employ, at varying degrees of professionalism.

However, if you decide that you would prefer to get it sorted for you, we get it. It is techy, and audio recording is more complicated than it seems at first. We would love to add voice-over to your PowerPoint for you!

Get in touch about your project

 


Article Contributors:

  • Writer: Michael Sum
  • Editor: Al Black, Stewart Storrar