I recently had an inquiry from a reader regarding the embedding of my avoiding death by PowerPoint video. This got me thinking. I quite often use video clips within a presentation for a number of reasons.

  • They are great for demonstrating a particular technique. Ever tried to explain how do do something using only words? It’s very difficult and a short demo video does the job much more effectively.
  • They can be used to compare different things. I use video clips of Steve Balmer and Steve Jobs to illustrate how different presentation styles can and are equally effective. It’s a case of finding your own authentic style rather than trying to be something or someone you are not,
  • As a presentation skills trainer and coach I sometimes use a short video of an unknown speaker as a primer for analysing and feeding back. Rather than ask participants to comment on each other initially I show them a video of an average speaker and ask them to comment on what the speaker did well, what the speaker didn’t do well and finally what they could do to improve.

You are probably getting the picture by now that there are lots of uses for video in a presentation. I would however counsel against over use of video. I have listed three of the most common pitfalls below:

  • Too many video clips. Less is more is always my mantra. Ask yourself, do I really need a video clip here? Remember you are your own best visual aid and anything else should add value.
  • Clips are too long. I find that about three minutes is the upper limit if used within a presentation.
  • Use of irrelevant clips. Sometimes I have seen people use funny video clips as energisers or mood changers during a workshop. These can work well but if they are seen as being irrelevant to the main content of the presentation you risk alienating your audience pretty quickly.

In conclusion, video can be extremely powerful and is very easy to embed within a PowerPoint, Keynote or Sliderocket slide deck. Just use them sparingly and think first.

Have a great weekend

Gavin Meikle
The Presentation Doctor


  1. Fred E. Miller on 13/08/2010 at 13:43

    Good post, Gavin.

    I like the specific recommendations you made about time of a clip and limiting them.


  2. TJ Walker on 09/08/2010 at 19:12

    Agreed that video can be great but too many people use clips too long or not relevant enough. Plus most don’t do due diligence and the videos just don’t work.

    • Gavin Meikle on 10/08/2010 at 17:40

      Absolutely, you need to start with a clear outcome for your presentation and then be ruthless about what material you include leave out. You need to ask “does this material add really value?” if it doesn’t or you are not sure then leave it out!

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