How to create a PowerPoint presentation for a kiosk or trade show booth

Set up a slideshow automatically, without human intervention

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Rob Schultz/IDG

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Can I format or compile my PowerPoint presentations to run automatically in a show booth or kiosk and, if so, how? Yes, you can and the how is much easier than you’d imagine.

First, create your slideshow as you would any other presentation. Add your graphics, text, animations, and transitions (between slides). If you have animations that play over multiple slides, then the timing must also be set before you compile the presentation for a kiosk.

Also consider the audio. Do you want music, verbal narration, or both? Most professional presentations use both (but necessarily simultaneously); however, some do play music softly in the background while the narrator speaks over the music. Either way, this is another area where timing is essential. Obviously, you want the narrator’s voice to follow the text on the slide. It is OK if the narrator’s speech is more detailed than the slide headers and bullet points, but it’s not OK if the narrator is talking about the Team while the Financials slide is viewed.

Add background music to the entire presentation

This is the easiest step of all.

1. Select Insert > Audio> Audio on My PC

y01 set the timing to match the narration JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Set the timing to match the narration.

2. The Insert Audio dialog window opens and displays a list of audio files in your Music Library.

3. Click the music file you want to play in the background of your slideshow, then click the Insert button.

4. PowerPoint places the Audio icon (looks like a speaker) in the middle of the slide. Click and drag it anywhere on the slide that’s unobtrusive.

5. While the Audio icon is selected, a new menu option called Audio Tools appears, with two new tabs called Format and Playback.

6. The Format tab is all about aesthetics, so click through the various features and choose a style that fits your project.

7. The Playback tab provides several options for customizing how your audio file functions with your presentation. For example, under the Audio Styles group, choose Play in Background.

y02 add background music to the entire presentation JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Add background music to the entire presentation

8. Under the Audio Options group, choose Start: Automatically and Volume: Low, then check the following boxes: Play Across Slides, Loop Until Stopped, and Hide During Show. This ensures that your background music continues to play as long as the slideshow is running.

9. Under the Editing group, you can choose the Fade Duration that fades the music in and out, or Trim the Audio file (which means you can truncate/crop the music file down to fit the overall time of the presentation).

NOTE: Even if the music loops, you still want the music to start at the beginning of the presentation. Otherwise, if the music loops (or starts over) on slide 20, then when the slideshow repeats, and the music on the first slide will be in the middle of a track.

Plug in a microphone & configure your sound devices

1. First, you must plug in a microphone and configure your sound devices.

2. Look for the red Stereo-In jack on your computer (usually on the back) and plug in your microphone.

y03 plugin a microphone and configure your sound devices JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Plug in a microphone and configure your sound devices

3. Locate the Control Panel and open that dialog window.

4. On the Control Panel screen, select Hardware and Sound.

5. On the next screen (Control Panel/Hardware and Sound), locate the Sound submenu and select Manage Audio Devices.

6. In the Sound dialog, click the Recording tab.

7. Highlight Microphone and click to select, then click OK.

8. Turn on your speakers and talk into the microphone to ensure that it’s working properly.

Add voiceover narration to the presentation

Now you can add voiceover narration to the entire presentation or to each slide individually. Both methods work; however, the length, format, and style of your slideshow may determine which method is more efficient. To saves time and reduce errors, write a script for each slide before you begin.

Timing tip: If your narration follows the text on each slide, or just comments on each slide; for example, a presentation about how to build a treehouse or the best vacation destinations in the world, it’s much easier for timing and accuracy to add the narration to each individual slide. If, however, your narration is in a story format and the slides are just graphical representations of the entire story, then it’s just as easy to record the whole conversation in one file and place the Audio icon on the first page, where it will start automatically when the slideshow begins and play through to the end.

For narration on individual slides

1. Select the first slide that uses narration.

2. Enter a filename for your narration; something simple such as Narration1 or N1 (for page 1), then N2 (for page 2) and so on.

3. When you’re ready, click the red-dot Record button.

4. Read your script or read the text on the screen.

5. When you’re finished, click the Stop button (white square with red border).

6. Press the arrow tip to listen now, or click OK.  PowerPoint places the Record Audio speaker icon on the current slide, which you can move to whatever location you prefer.

y04 record narrations for individual slides JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Record narrations for individual slides

7. Notice the Audio icon is selected, so a new menu option called Audio Tools appears with two new tabs called Format and Playback.

8. The Format tab is all about aesthetics, so click through the various features and choose a style that fits your project.

9. The Playback tab provides several options for customizing how your audio file functions with your presentation. For this single-slide narration, leave all the boxes unchecked and select nothing except change the Start field to Automatically, so the narration begins when this slide displays.

For narration throughout the entire slideshow

1. For narration across the entire slideshow, select View > Normal button in the Presentation Views group.

2. Choose the first slide in the show where you want the narration to begin and select Slide Show > Record Slide Show > Record from Current Slide.

3. The next screen fills your monitor and shows the current slide with recording buttons along the top-left side.

4. Click the Record button, then read your script, and click the arrows on the right side to advance to the next screen.

5. When finished, click the Stop button (gray), and PowerPoint places the Audio speaker in the bottom-right corner.

y05 record narrations for entire presentation JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Record narrations for entire presentation

6. Click the Replay button (blue arrow tip) to listen to your narration, then save your work or delete the Audio speaker and re-record the narration.

Now, test the finished product.

7. Click Slide Show > Rehearse Timings.

8. Ensure that there’s enough time on each slide for the narration, then click the arrow to advance to the next slide.

9. After the last slide displays, PowerPoint shows the time of the complete presentation, then asks if you want to save it. Click the Yes button to save it.

10. Finally, save the entire presentation again.

Two notes:

  • If you go back to the first slide where you began the narration, notice that the Audio speaker icon displays on every screen that contains the narrated file. This icon will not show on the finished, published presentation.
  • PowerPoint tracks the timing of previous slide changes and your animations throughout the slideshow, so there is no conflict with the “narrated” slide changes. If you find errors in timing, go back to the beginning and re-rehearse the timings. Also ensure that the Slide Show > Set Up group check boxes are all checked; that is: Play Narrations, Use Timings, and Show Media Controls.

TIP: Media controls are not necessary on an automatic running slideshow for a kiosk; however, if something happens and the slide show jams, the Media Controls are nice to have available.

Set up the slideshow for a kiosk presentation

y06 set up the slideshow for a kiosk presentation JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Set up the slideshow for a kiosk presentation

1. Click Slide Show > Setup Slide Show.

2. The Set Up Show dialog menu opens.

3. Click the Browsed at a kiosk (full screen) radio button, then click OK.

4. Press function key F5 (or click Slide Show > From the Beginning button) to view the completed kiosk presentation.

5. Edit or make corrections as needed, then save the file again.

6. And that’s all, it’s done! Your slideshow is ready for others to view (automatically, without human intervention) at a kiosk or a trade show booth. Be sure to set the correct timing for the slides in your presentation, or else the slideshow will get stuck on the first slide and fail to advance.

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