Got a set of slides you want to record some narration for? The PowerPoint narration tool is useful if you want to create an all-singing, all-dancing video version of your presentation. My colleague John has a great how-to for earlier versions of PowerPoint, but if you’re using the latest version, here’s how to record narration in PowerPoint, and do it like a pro.

The way this used to work in older versions of PowerPoint was that you’d navigate to Slide Show and click “record”. You’d get a pop-up window asking what you’d like to record (narration, timings, ink, etc), you’d make your selection, hit “OK”, and then the floor was yours straight away. Now, not so much. Let’s take a look at what’s changed.

How to record narration in PowerPoint

First, we’re going to open up the Slide Show tab, and hit “Record Slide Show”. You can choose whether to start on the current slide, or go right to the beginning and start recording from there.

recording narration in powerpoint

Pressing the “Record” button opens up Presenter Mode, which looks like this:

recording narration in powerpoint

One might see the interface and assume that the slide show is already recording. Alas, no. You must remember to hit the “Record” icon in the top left hand side of the screen. That’ll bring up a (slightly intimidating) countdown from 3, and then you’ll be ready to rumble.

recording narration in powerpoint

From there, it’s pretty much as it used to be: click through, do some talking – you know the drill.

If you’re unsure whether your narration is being recorded, you can look out for two things. Firstly, the icons in the top left will change to “Pause” and “Stop” buttons; and second, you’ll notice the timer ticking along nicely in the bottom left.

recording narration in powerpoint

The same rules apply about how the narration for each slide is embedded, but now you can easily hit “Pause” and re-record narration for specific sections of your presentation, without messing up the continuity of the whole thing. Nifty, eh?

Take a breath

One last thing, we’ve got a last-minute, yet handy PowerPoint narration tip: it’s tempting to jump straight in talking as soon as you’ve hit “Record”, but it will actually serve you better to wait for a breath before you launch into your script. PowerPoint can sometimes take a second to begin recording, which can lead to the start of your recording getting clipped off. Not good. An easy way to avoid having to re-record clipped narrations is to pause for a heartbeat before you carry on speaking.

That’s all from us. Now you can do it all in the record interface: click “Pause” to gather your thoughts, “Stop” to halt proceedings on your current slide, and then “Record” to have another go. This saves exiting the interface every few slides, reduces the strain on your computer’s CPU, and generally makes the process move along a little quicker. Nice one Microsoft.

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Hannah Harper

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  1. Image of Stephan Stephan says:

    Excellent articles about narration, I was wondering though about what to do about the awkward transition of sound from one slide to the next when playing. When the mic is “activated” then there is a slight sound that can be heard in the background (like a low hum or hiss) but then it mutes between slides which makes it sound choppy I think. Any suggestions on fixing this in newer versions of Office? I have 365…

    Thanks for any help you can provide!

    • Image of Hannah Brownlow Hannah Brownlow says:

      Hi Stephan,
      Glad you liked the article!
      I think there are a couple of things you could do. It sounds like your microphone is making the hum/hiss, so you could try a different one – maybe something with a different connection (USB/jack) to see if that cuts out the background noise. I once had a microphone that made more sound if my laptop was running off battery power, so it’s worth experimenting a little.
      Alternatively, you can record the presentation narration as a separate audio track. A free program like Audacity is great and has all the tools you need. Record the narration, export it as an .mp3 file, and then insert that as an audio track to ‘play across slides’ and the audio will run even over the transitions (just make sure you leave enough of a pause). All you need to do now is record the clicks (same as recording the narration for your presentation, just without the audio).
      I hope this helps!

    • Image of Bonner Bonner says:

      We’ve ariervd at the end of the line and I have what I need!

  2. Image of Rick Behring Rick Behring says:

    Thanks for getting me started. I’m using PPT 2013 to record narration on a presentation. I can’t seem to hear the audio when I try to use the Preview feature in the Playback menu under Audio Tools. The audio icon is shown on the slide, and the correct timing is shown. But, no audio. I only narrated 5 or 6 slides before try check what I actually recorded. I’m using a USB external mic that has it’s own headphone jack. I could hear myself quite well during recording, but I don’t know if anything was actually recorded in PPT. I also halted the recording and told the slide show to play. Once again, the timing of the slides was correct, but still no audio. Any help would really be appreciated!

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