To improve the delivery of your PowerPoint presentation you can add a sound file to the slide show. A slight variation on that is to add a narration. This can be useful if you will not be attending the presentation, but you want it to go ahead exactly as you plan it.

When we look at the application of narrative compared to a soundtrack, we immediately come across a difference; a microphone is required to record a narration. Most laptops have them built in these days, but external ones are inexpensive and widely available to buy.

Setting up your narration is a simple process. Click on Slide Show and then select Record Narration from the drop down menu (make sure your microphone is plugged in if you are using an external one). In the dialog box that opens up, click on the Set Microphone Level button and test your levels.

Go into Slide Show view and, on the first slide, start your narration. When you have finished narrating the first slide, move onto the next and continue in this way until you have completed the narration. When you are finished you will be prompted to save slide timings. Click Yes and each slide will be timed to remain on screen for as long as the narration continues.

Now that you know how to set up the technical side of things, here are a few tips on how to deliver your narration.

Be Prudent
It is best not to narrate over a slide change. Stick to one piece of narration per slide instead. When you have finished narrating for one slide, stop and move on to the next slide. Count a single beat and then resume your narration.

Be Clear
Make sure that what you say comes across loud and clear. Experiment and play back your narrations and listen to them from a distance to see if your voice carries well enough. If your presentation will be shown on a different computer to the one you record your narration on, try to play the slide show on that as well.

Be Brief
Don't waffle. You should stick to the message that relates to each individual slide
With a pre-recorded narration the chances are you will not be present for the slide show. This means that you cannot adapt your style to suit the feedback you pick up from the audience.

Be Natural
If you are reading from a script, try to sound as though you are just casually speaking into the microphone. Obvious script reading will be picked up by the audience and ridiculed as wooden acting. Take deep breaths and rehearse the dialogue at page turns so that each transition is smooth.

Be Patient
If you trip over your words during the narration, don't worry. You will not have to start again, as PowerPoint allows you to re-record the narration on any individual slide. If you need to re-record the narration for a single slide, click on Slide Show and select Record Narration. Move to the slide that needs amending and record the narration. When you have finished press Esc.

Don't Be Long
PowerPoint files with added audio are a lot bigger than those containing slides only. You can make them easier to upload by breaking one long presentation up into more manageable segments of ten slides or fewer.

These are some general hints on how to create a narrative to accompany a slide show. There are other factors to consider, such as the tone of the narration matching the subject of the presentation; should your narrative be light-hearted and witty, or neutral and functional? These are decisions that should be made in the planning stage, but whichever you choose, a PowerPoint presentation with added narration is a highly effective medium that is quite easily produced.