From a “5 slides in 30 minutes” presentation

YouTubing PowerPoint

This “5 in 30" was presented to a small group of community college faculty. It is my attempt to boil down a fairly complicated workflow into 5 slides in 30 minutes.

Start with PowerPoint 2013, which is available only for Windows. The next step is to record your narration, and that requires a microphone of some sort. Even though many laptops have a built-in microphone, it’s best to use a stand-alone microphone or headset. My favorite is a Logitech USB headset that provides acceptable sound quality at a good price.

In each slide, choose to show presenter notes, and you can simply write in the narrative for each slide. That becomes the script to read when you’re recording, and eventually becomes the transcript that can be uploaded to YouTube for captioning purposes.

With the PowerPoint 2013 presentation open, and the microphone activated, click on “insert audio” and follow the prompts to record audio on each slide. Note that with this process each slide contains its own audio file, so that if you have to change what you say on one slide, the file can easily be deleted and the audio re-recorded for that slide alone. The other slides are not affected.

When you look at your completed presentation with narrations, you should be able to see the little speaker icons on each slide. If you need to re-record, you can simply delete the icon on a given slide and record again.

When you’ve completed your recording, you can click on File and choose to export the presentation as a video; the “create a video” defaults will do nicely.

Notice that you can change “seconds spent on each slide.” That means if you have a slide without audio, the video will linger for the specified time. If you do have audio, it will play before the next slide is shown.

The export will create an .mp4 (video) file. Be aware, though, that the creation of the video is not instantaneous; in effect the entire slide show plays in real time as the new file is created. So if you have a lecture that times out at 45 minutes, prepare a nice big cup of tea and sit back and sip.

Once the .mp4 file has been created, open up YouTube, log in (if you haven’t already), click the Upload button at the top right, and either drag the file from the desktop or import it from another folder.

Note that if the presentation is over 15 minutes, YouTube will present you with an option to increase the 15-minute limit.

YouTube has to process the file, and that will take time, and so finish off your tea. I dashed off a quick (32-second) example of the result using the first five slides of a recent presentation to give you the idea.


Though this presentation does not cover closed captioning, you can easily copy the script from each slide’s notes into a single word processing file and save it as .txt, then upload the file into the captions area of the video. YouTube will try to match the words with the sound and in just a few minutes you’ll have a captioned video.

Mac Users?

You can record audio for your presentations in PowerPoint 2011 for the Mac, but if you try to create a video the audio will not be included. Here’s the workaround: Create the narrated PowerPoint in the Mac version, then find a friend, open up the presentation in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows, and follow the instructions above.


The benefits are that all you need provide students is the YouTube link or embed the video on one of your content pages. Students don’t have to open up PowerPoint or download any files and can scrub the video back and forth to review any portion of the presentation.

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