Media and SmartArt in Microsoft PowerPoint

We’ve all made it through high school.  If your teachers were anything like mine, most of them relied heavily on Microsoft PowerPoint to accompany their lectures.  If you’re anything like me, you have also relied heavily on them for in-class presentations from middle school to now.  Have you ever wanted to get away form the standard format of image and text you’ve always used in PowerPoint?  In this post I’ll share with you some of the neat new tricks I learned about enhancing my presentations by making my images more interesting, adding video and audio, and some of the many options PowerPoint offers through SmartArt. Though we have been told time and time again to favor hands-on learning with our elementary school students, with these snazzy tools, PowerPoints can be a great way to introduce concepts or as a tool for them to use for their own presentations.

To find out more, I watched the videos in Chapter six of the lynda.com course PowerPoint for Mac 2011 Essential Training, which discusses Working with Pictures and Multimedia.  If you use a PC, check out the Up and Running with PowerPoint 2010 Chapter Three, Using graphics in presentations for more specific tips.

The first video, titled Inserting pictures and clip art, covers just that.  Using the the picture button on the Home toolbar in Powerpoint, or by going to Insert then Picture, you can add pictures from your personal files, or from the ClipArt collection.

Color Adjustment Options

A few color adjustment effects

The next video discusses Replacing and adjusting pictures.  If you ever insert the wrong picture, or decide to change a picture, you can easily replace it with another image downloaded to your computer or a ClipArt image.  All you have to do is right click over the image, choose change picture, and then select your new picture.  The new image will be in the same place and the same size as the picture you replaced, so you do not have to reformat your slide to accommodate the replacement.  The video also details how to format and edit images in PowerPoint using the Format Picture in the ribbon at the top of the page.  You can add cool effects to your picture by editing the brightness, contrast, and warmth of the image.  If your image has a solid background that you do not want, you can remove that as well by editing the transparency of the image or using the remove background button in the Format Picture toolbar.

Reflection effect in PowerPoint

In addition to these effects, PowerPoint also offers several borders, shadows, and styles under the Format Picture toolbar and the Paintbrush tool.  To the right I’ve illustrated the reflection effect.

Cycle chart and text editorThe third video shows some of the ways you can use SmartArt and drawing tools to create flowcharts in PowerPoint.  Check out Robin’s post Working with Google Drawings to learn about similar tools in Google Drive. If you want to control every aspect of your drawing, you can use the drawing tool to create shapes and connect them with lines.  One neat thing about the lines is that they will continue to connect the shapes you select, even if you change the position of the shapes. Several flowcharts offered by SmartArt SmartArt can make your life much easier though. There are several flowcharts, tables, and graphic organizers offered by SmartArt in PowerPoint. To the right are the many options in just one category of SmartArt charts.

SmartArt Chart options

You can add images and text to these templates and they can be customized with features and effects from the SmartArt toolbar so that your presentation can remain unique.  Anything you create with SmartArt can be saved as a separate file to your computer.  You can then embed this image anywhere you want. This is a great tool for us to use on our websites when we become teachers, and for our blog now!  The SmartArt I embedded shows the categories of chart templates offered along with most of the templates.

One other thing that always adds some pizzaz to your presentation is a video. The fourth video describes how to insert one of your own. If you have created a video on your computer, you can embed it in your presentation using the Insert Video/Audio button on the Home toolbar. You can adjust the volume of the video, how it begins, and whether or not it takes up the whole slide when playing.

Adding audio to a slide

Adding audio to a slide

The final video in the chapter is on Adding audio. I never realized that PowerPoint allowed music to play throughout the presentation. Using the same Insert Video/Audio button mentioned above, you can insert a song or recording of your voice into your presentation.  Though an image of a speaker shows up where you insert the file, you can remove this from the visuals of your presentation if you want.  As with all the other features, you can customize this by determining when the audio begins, the volume, and which slides contain the sounds.

Feel free to explore the Lynda videos on these topics, and play around with SmartArt in PowerPoint, as well as Word and Excel.  Thanks for reading! Please share your thoughts on these tools and your experiences with them. What are some ways you would use PowerPoint, and especially SmartArt in your classroom?

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13 Responses to Media and SmartArt in Microsoft PowerPoint

  1. B. Taylor says:

    Thanks Angie. I love SmartArt and feel like it’s one of those things that showed up in Microsoft Office (as you said, you can create SmartArt diagrams in Word also, not just PowerPoint) and people didn’t realize it – one of those “new features” many of us ignored and have not explored. It is a great way to create snazzy diagrams to convey information quickly and clearly.

    • Maria H. says:

      I agree, Professor Taylor. Because SmartArt is not publicized and advertised like other programs and “cool tools,” I think it is forgotten and underused. Thanks to this post, Angie, I will definitely start using SmartArt more and adding more media to enhance my PowerPoint Presentations and Microsoft Words documents! Thanks!

  2. Sara R. says:

    Angie, as I have said in comments to other posts, I have scarcely used Microsoft PowerPoint since the advent of Google Drive. Therefore, I have not been up-to-date on the changes to the program. For example, I had no idea that you could go as far as to adjust the warmth and brightness of an image, just as you can when you upload an image to Facebook from your mobile phone, as well as add SmartArt. The types of flowcharts you have displayed in your post are quite aesthetically pleasing–a lot more so than the ones I remember being available in the program (which, I would estimate, was around 2009/2010). Thank you for all of the great information!

    • B. Taylor says:

      Sarah, SmartArt can create some really cool graphics, so even if you aren’t using PowerPoint, you can still use PowerPoint or Word to create diagrams and then save them to use in your Google presentation or any other program!

  3. Steph G. says:

    Angie, I had no idea that PowerPoint had these capabilities. This post was awesome! Your screenshots do a great job of explaining what you are talking about. I totally see myself using these tools in the future. Since learning about these tools, do you think you will use them? Great job!

  4. Laura H. says:

    This was a very comprehensive post, and your screenshots were definitely on point! I always struggle adding audio to a powerpoint I am doing, and your quick description of the process will certainly be helping me in the near future when I want to add audio to a presentation. Great job!

  5. Winna P. says:

    Thanks so much for sharing information about SmartArt. What an awesome resource! Your post really informed me of all the different ways SmartArt can enhance my PowerPoint presentations. As a teacher it will be very important to find ways to make PowerPoint presentations easy to understand through images. It will also make them much more engaging. Thanks again!

  6. Alexia M. says:

    Angie, this was a very informative post! I always knew that you could add sounds to slides, but I never really realized that you could put music or your own voice recordings into a PowerPoint! I also have wanted to embed videos in PowerPoints in the past but have never really know if it was possible or not. I have never used SmartArt in PowerPoint but your post made me realize how helpful it could be and how it could convey ideas across to the audience in a beneficial way. Thanks for all the great information!

  7. Victoria B. says:

    Angie, I really enjoyed reading your post. I use PowerPoint all the time but I wasn’t aware of all the extra things that you can do with it! I never knew that you could put your slideshow to music or add your own voice. I did a project last year in Spanish class and had I known that I could add my voice to a powerpoint presentation, I definitely would have!!! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Katie H. says:

    Great post Angie! Similar to what Sara has said above, I rarely use Microsoft PowerPoint since I have learned all about Google PowerPoints and the convenience of those. I tend to stick to that method of creating presentations because it is easy to share with professors and work on with others. I was interested to learn about all of the other tools that can be used in PowerPoint, such as adding music or a voice recording. This will definitely help me create interesting PowerPoints for my classroom. Thanks for the info!!

  9. Chelsea S. says:

    Great post Angie! I love when teachers assign PowerPoints as projects instead of papers! I usually spend a lot of time on making things look nice as it is, so you have just given me a number of new ways to make my PowerPoints more interesting. Like Victoria, I never knew you could add your own voice to PowerPoint presentations before! I’m finally realizing that people can add just about anything to presentations nowadays!

  10. Anna B. says:

    Thanks for this information Angie!! I knew how to insert a picture and knew that you could do things to it, but I had never explored what these things were. I had always wondered how to insert a video or audio. I know that PowerPoints are never the most fun tool to use for students, especially young students, but with the knowledge of these tips on how to use powerpoint to its fullest, I know that as a teacher I can make PowerPoints fun and interesting for my students. Also I had no idea that you could make graphic organizers with SmartArt! That is really great news because I love to use graphic organizers and there are so many awesome looking options so readily available to customize and use! I will definitely use those both now and in the future as a teacher!

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