PowerPoint Videos – The Do’s and Don’ts

presentation to audiencePowerPoint videos are growing in popularity. They’re a great tool for online presentations and teaching. But, should a PowerPoint video “look” the same as your presentation slides?

The simple answer is – “No”.

Live presentations vs. video presentations

Consider these scenarios:

  1. You’re at a live presentation. The Speaker is standing in front of a screen showing the usual PowerPoint bulleted slides and even sometimes reading them to you. All is good, things are going well. Why is that?
    • You’re not forced to stare at the screen, the Speaker is the animated visual that’s holding your attention.
    • ‘Reading’ those bullets to you is sometimes helpful, because you may not have a clear vantage point of the screen. You may be having difficulty hearing because of a bad audio system or chatter around you.
    • What if you get bored? Your mind wanders, you doodle or jot down some things you need to pick up at the grocery store, or you can look around the room and find something interesting to look at while you’re listening and divert your attention back to the speaker.
  2. Now imagine you’re sitting at your computer watching a video presentation. You’re listening to the speaker’s voice. The usual bulleted slides are scrolling on the screen and you’re being ‘read to’.  You’re getting a little bored, checking to see how many minutes are left in the video. You start to go through the papers on your desk and wonder if you should bother continuing. Why is that?
    • When watching a video you have no choice but to stare at the screen. The animated Speaker no longer exists, so the primary focus switches from ‘the Speaker’ to ‘the screen’.
    • Being ‘read to’ gives you the opportunity of no longer having to watch. You can just listen, while you go through your emails or all that work sitting on your desk.
    • Next thing you know you’re completely distracted, not listening anymore. You eventually turn off the video and give your new task all your undivided attention.

How can you create compelling PowerPoint videos?

Video engages more of the senses. It’s important to keep in mind that with a PowerPoint video, you need to CREATE the animated visuals to hold your viewer’s attention!

Some things to keep in mind:

  • There’s no need to “read” what’s in the presentation. Unlike a live presentation, your viewer has a very clear vantage point of the screen and there are no issues with being able to hear.
  • You need to make the slides visually appealing – go Big and Bold. The standard bulleted text list is boring – add photos, interesting fonts and colours that are visually stimulating. The standard rule is “less is more”.  A large photo or graphic with minimal text to emphasize parts of the narration is what will keep their interest.
  • When it comes to video, attention span drops significantly.  There should be movement on the screen every 15 seconds. That can be achieved with the use of animations, transitions, zooms, pans and callouts. But be aware, that using too many of these can make your video look like it’s been created by an amateur who just discovered a really neat feature that’s fun to use. A constant barrage of whirling and twirling loses its appeal pretty quickly. It becomes distracting and visually
    over-stimulating.

The visuals in your video should be simple and appealing. Animations and special effects should be used sparingly and with purpose. You want your video to look clean and professional.

Do you use PowerPoint videos? Have you watched videos created with PowerPoint? Please share your experiences – good and bad – on what you liked and didn’t like in those videos.

  1. Janet BarclayJanet Barclay02-01-2013

    These are good points. I was watching an online video the other day, which was basically just a PowerPoint presentation with voiceover, and and I lost interest very quickly.

    • DebbieDebbie02-01-2013

      Thanks for sharing Janet. Yes, many forget that with anything creative (i.e. websites, graphics, video), design concepts are used for specific reasons. Not using them can distract from the main message.

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