There’s a new feature in PowerPoint 2016 called ‘Screen Recording’ that allows you to record video (exported as an MP4) of hand-drawn sketches, which can serve as a great tool for many different applications, including presentations, eLearning and training.

The tool works especially well if you use a graphics tablet to do the sketching with the ‘Pens’ tool from PowerPoint. It also has the option to record narration from your microphone, or you can turn this feature off and record audio using another application (for more help on recording narration in PowerPoint, read this blog post). For anyone who is new to the Screen Recording tool, this blog will serve as an easy introduction on how to best use its functionality and get the best results.

Step 1

The first step is to open up a PowerPoint deck that you’d like to record from. It can be a blank PowerPoint template, a white or black slide if you’d like a plain background color for your sketching, or it can have whatever elements you’d like, including imagery and text. (Mine has some imagery of dinosaurs wearing business attire, as well as some blank template slides and other slides with text.)

Before you open up the Screen Recording menu, make sure that the ‘Notes’ section below your slide is hidden, and that your ‘Zoom’ is set to around 40%. To do this, go to View > Zoom and adjust the percentage. I’ve found that for most resolutions nowadays, somewhere around this amount will ensure that your PowerPoint slide is positioned far enough down from the toolbar so that if you are selecting pen colors while you are recording, the toolbar will not overlap your screen. This might require a bit of trial and error, but once you know what percent zoom works for your display, you can run with that.

Step One
Step 2

Next, select the screen recording function from the menu. You can do this by going to Insert > Screen Recording.

Step Two

Step 3

After that, you’ll see the menu pop up with some different options. Click on ‘Select area’ and select as closely as you can around your PowerPoint slide so that there is no empty space. The Screen Recording will only record from within the space you select and so you don’t want a strange border around your finished video.

Step Three


Step 4

Once you’re ready with your selected area, you can press the ‘record’ button. You’ll get a count down on your screen as well as instructions on how to start and stop recording.

Step Four

Step 5

Once you’re recording, you can begin sketching and narrating your story. If you click on the ‘Pens’ function in the toolbar, you can choose between different types and colors of pens to do your sketching. With this simple function, you can sketch graphs, formulas, definitions or anything else helpful to tell a story.

*If you’re looking for inspiration of how to sketch, there are many Youtube videos that use this type of visualization to tell stories, one example being the Draw My Life tag.

Step Five

Step 6

Once you’re all done sketching your story, just simply hit Windows Logo Key + Shift + Q to stop recording. This pastes your Screen Recording as an MP4 onto your PowerPoint slide. You can then right click and ‘Save Media As’ to save the video onto your PC.

Step Six

As a final helpful tip, if there are any hiccups along the way with either your narration or sketching, and you’d like to make things easier for yourself, you can use free video editing software like Windows Movie Maker to edit out any unwanted pieces of video. In addition, if you’d like to add in audio separately (to avoid having to re-record the sketching when there is an error in the audio), free audio recording software like Audacity works great in creating clear, editable recordings.

Other than that, you’re all set to get sketching!

For reference on how the finished product can look, check out the example video below:


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Amy Post

Senior consultant

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