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Tips for Recording Narration in PowerPoint

In order to get the best sound and learning experience for your students, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your narration.

Which microphone to use. Of course, the better quality of microphone you use, the better your recording. But the sound quality also depends on the method of getting the sound into your computer. The standard mic input on most computers uses a pretty cheap sound card built into the motherboard. If you plug your mic into this input, be sure you select "CD Quality" in PowerPoint when setting the microphone level (see this tutorial more more on this).

There are a number of inexpensive USB microphones that get around this sound card issue by feeding a signal directly into your computer digitally. If you do not have a USB mic, you may be able to borrow one from another faculty member.

Microphone placement. In general you want to be between 6 and 12 inches from your microphone and usually directly in front of it. Experiment with your particular mic and voice to determine the best distance and angle before recording your narration.

Scripting or ad lib? Whether you use a script or ad lib your narration really depends on your personality and your knowledge of the subject. Some instructors get a much better product if they simply ad lib through the presentation. This extemporaneous style can provide a more casual and "real" experience for the listener than scripted commentary. But this is only true if you are a good extemporaneous speaker, and of course, are familiar enough with your presentation to be able to do this. Alternatively, you can write out your entire presentation as a script and read it. This eliminates a lot of stress and confusion as you go through the presentation. But if you choose this method, you have to work especially hard at delivering your script with energy and enthusiasm (see the next point).

Delivery Style. Record a minute or two of your presentation, and then play it back. Do you sound interested in the subject? Authoritative about it? Even excited? If not, work on your delivery by paying attention to your energy level. You might try recording your narration while standing up and/or using hand gestures like you were speaking to a live class. These two approaches can add interest to your delivery.

Test your recording. It is pretty frustrating to record a half-hour presentation and then discover that your audio is garbled or you are too far from the mic or some other problem. Be sure to record a few minutes of your presentation and then check before recording a longer session.

Room noise. You are not recording an album here, so a little room noise is acceptable. But a loud whiny computer, constant phone ringing and other noises can not only make your presentation hard to listen to but can contribute to distracting you as you record. Do your best to turn your office into a recording studio: