So you want to spruce up your presentation with a little video. Cool.
Now you have to figure out how.
In this post I’ll walk you through how to insert the clip and the nuances of creating a seamless transition from slide to video and back to slide.
I’ll also show you how to avoid the embarrassment of your clip not running because of elusive hotel basement WIFI.
The old days
When I started speaking I used a dual Kodak carousel projector system handed down by my dear, late brother Dan. It was a monster of black boxes and wires that fired both projectors (on a good day.)
Yup! that my children was hi-tech (I remember spending a good 30 minutes before every speech stuffing folded business cards under projectors trying to get both images to line up on the screen.)
Lots has changed and showing a video clip in a speech has become de rigueur. The trick is for video to make your speech better—not be a distraction.
Don’t rely on WIFI
I recently watched a fellow speaker employing the help of 3 A/V crew (who, I’m sure, had better things to do) frantically trying to get a WIFI connection. In the end the WIFI failed and the part of the video we were able to see was, frankly, not worth the wait.
Relying on WIFI is amateurville and bound to fail-at the worse time. My instructions are based on working from a video file you have safely downloaded to your computer and have permission to use.
Not only is relying on hotel WIFI a bad plan, so is downloading clips off YouTube.
If you find a YouTube clip you want to use be aware that downloading it will breach Google’s terms of service. Within Section 5.1 it states: “…you agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Player, or other means as YouTube may explicitly designate for this purpose.”
Obviously if it’s your video, fill your boots. Otherwise, proceed with caution. There’s plenty of advice (ironically on YouTube) on how to download videos from YouTube.
Inserting video into Keynote on a MAC
Inserting videos into Keynote, on a MAC, is, thankfully, pretty simple.
- Open a new slide, select Insert > Choose.
- Highlight the file you want and click Insert. Keynote supports .mov, .mpg4, .mp3.
- You can set up Keynote to automatically convert movies in your presentation to H.264 (720 p) so they play on iOS devices. To do this, in Preferences (click on Keynote in top-left corner) click the checkbox for “Optimize movies for iOS.”
- Click and drag the corners to resize your videos. Resize and then run the video to test the resolution. Remember when your video is projected across a conference room onto a screen you are better to have the image small with high-clarity, rather than try to fill the screen. I will sometimes make the slide background black to make the small size of the video less obvious.
- Once inserted, Keynote offers some slick control features:
- Click on the movie and you’ll see the “Movie” tab in the right panel.
- To trim the start and end points, slide the “Trim” tab.
- To change the image that shows before the movie starts, slide the “Poster Frame”
- To make the video start automatically, un-click “Start movie on click”
Note you cannot edit out sections in the middle of the video – to do that you need to drop your video into Screenflow or iMovie (or hire a 10 year old.)
Inserting videos into PowerPoint
The drill on your PC for adding videos is now about as slick as a MAC: open a new slide, click on the movie icon (or click Insert > Movie), choose your file and click Choose. PowerPoint will ask if you want the video to play “When Clicked” or “Automatically”. I prefer to play the video automatically with a black slide before (see “Tricks with movies”, below.)
You don’t get the start/stop and Poster Frame options of a MAC, but as long as your video is one of the following, you should be good to go:
- for PowerPoint 2010: .avi, .mpg, and .mpeg
- for PowerPoint 2013: .mov and .mp4 videos (with H.264 video and AAC audio encoding)
Tricks with movies
I have a habit of inserting a slide with black background before every video. These are the only slides that are completely black in my deck, so I know a video is coming next. I do this because I know I will want to set up a dramatic segue to showing the video, and I don’t want to accidentally start the video before I’m ready. Once I click past the black slide the video starts automatically.
When you present at a large venue you’ll need to help your A/V crew present your slides without a glitch. A simple trick is to have your Powerpoint or Keynote file loaded on a memory stick. So far so good. If you’re using Powerpoint you should load both the files with the slides (.ppt file) and video files into one folder. And instead of inserting the video file, click Insert > Video from File, but use the drop-down arrow on the Insert button and select “Link to File.”
Keynote seems to travel well and I’ve never had a problem with videos, once inserted, playing on other machines. Having said that, I always have separate video files on my memory stick.
Mistakes to avoid
After having made all of the following mistakes (on your behalf) I want you to avoid them – here they are:
- too long – the clips I use are all between 30 seconds and 1.5 minutes long. More than that and I’m pushing it and risking my audience will tune out.
- not relevant – nothing wrong with a good chuckle, but it still has to be relevant. I show a hilarious clip from a Bud Lite commercial (I think it was actually banned from showing at the Super Bowl). It’s only 30 seconds, always getting a laugh and it’s a perfect segue to my lesson on Windows.
- poor quality – bad quality is a bad idea – enough said.
- offensive – if you’re worried about showing it…don’t.
At the end of the day, a short, entertaining video that adds to the point you are making is a good thing. Video that attempts to replace your speech is not a good thing – it’s a crutch.
I never use more than 2 short clips in a keynote and when in doubt I always resort to my favourite maxim about public speaking: nobody will miss what isn’t there – when in doubt, skip the video and deliver what they came for: great content, delivered well.