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Using PowerPoint for good (not evil)!

I’m a massive fan of PowerPoint (and Keynote) for e-learning – but not in the ‘death by PowerPoint’ way. I think we should chuck out the dot points and add images and videos. So in this post, I’m going to do a quick run through of some ways you can start to use PowerPoint to build engaging learning experiences.

Doesn’t matter if you work with learners in the VET sector or employees in an organisation – these will work for any area.

1) Construct a scenario with visuals

Most training and development professionals are storytellers. They tell stories about what makes people competent, what people need to know to do their job, what they have done or seen and what to/not to do. They are often very good with words and use those words to tell their stories.

Use images to tell those stories.

When you look at the number of memes around you see how common the use of images and minimal text to tell stories is. So use those skills in your e-learning.

Don’t just use the words to tell someone to identify tripping hazards – show the consequences.

Here are some resources that you might be interested in to help you:

2) Add audio

When you are making a presentation, you talk to the slides. When you are using images rather than all those bullet points – you will still need to provide context.

So, why not add a voice-over?

To add audio to your PowerPoint

insert – audio – select your file


Work out whether you want to store it off the slide. By having it on the slide it will allow users to control the media (which is a WCAG requirement).


There are so many audio tools, the main one is probably sitting on the desk next to you – your mobile phone. Pick up your phone and record yourself. Use a free tool to edit the audio, then upload it into the presentation.


Here are some tools you might want to explore:

  • Isaidwhat? ReportIT and WavePad: iPhone apps that allow you to record, edit and distribute audio
  • Audio Boo
  • EverNote
  • Audacity: an easy to use cross-platform sound editor and recorder.
  • SoundCloud: a cloud storage solution for hosting audio files (similar to YouTube and Vimeo).

3) Build branches and encourage exploration

You walk into a room and see a mess on the floor and the emergency exit light is flickering. Your presentation starts in 5 minutes, what do you do?

  1. clean the floor and be late for your presentation
  2. report the emergency exit light being broken and be late for your presentation
  3. do both and be late for your presentation.

In a quiz, we all know what the answer is supposed to be.


What I would actually do is… I’d shift the mess to the side and ask people to be careful and then in my introduction explain that the emergency exit light was flickering and ask if this would cause any hassles. Then I’d do my presentation.

In reality, we make choices and there are consequences.

What I have done is mitigated the risk by identifying the hazards (an administrative control). Then I would monitor the consequences.

Rather than building a multi choice quiz, turn it into a scenario and build branching into your presentation.

The process looks something like this:

  • work out what could happen (write your scenario)
  • develop a storyboard (like my simple example)
  • build it in PowerPoint
  • add hyperlinks to the new slides.

To add hyperlinks:
Insert – hyperlink
Ctrl + K (on your keyboard)

You are given a choice of what type of hyperlink to add. You want to add a link in this document.

The big thing here is to have a good storyboard to work from.

A couple of good resources are:

4) Pull it all together

So now you have built a simple scenario, removed text and added images and inserted a voice-over. Now what?

Convert your presentation into e-learning by using a rapid e-learning tool. There are a number of rapid e-learning tools out there. My preference is Articulate Storyline.

Articulate Storyline allows you to build e-learning courses quickly and easily. You can import your presentations and export them as both flash and HTML5. You can add interactivity in layers, triggers, variables and states.

You can export your interactions as SCORM or TIN CAN (xAPI) and are used across PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices. They also work with Moodle beautifully!

Have a look at some examples of Storyline.

We run workshops to help with your e-learning development and sell Articulate Licenses. If you don’t have the time, we can take your PowerPoints and convert them into amazing e-learning! Just send us an email at


Thanks to the amazing people at good funny and smart for letting us use their memes.

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