Creating narrated software demonstrations in PowerPoint

I often prefer using PowerPoint to create narrated software demonstrations, instead of some of the real time screen capture utilities, like +Captivate.   Here is my general process:

1. Determine the objectives and focus of the demonstration. This is the scripting phase, where you should be able to refine your message and create an outline or script that will guide your overall development process.

2. Open the Software, as well as PowerPoint.

3. Go through each step of the process that you want to demonstrate.  At each step, press ALT/PrtScrn to capture an image of the current window.

4. Switch to the PowerPoint document, and paste the image within the document to a separate page, in the sequence that you intend for your presentation.  Also enter some text describing the action, or other notes to yourself, that you will later use as a basis for scripting narration and any on-screen text messages that support the instruction.  Use this approach to go through the entire software process that you plan to present.

Note that you can simulate specific software functions by ensuring that you grab all steps of a software function display.  For example, grab the initial screen, then grab the screen with the highlighted menu button, grab the screen with the drop down menu visible, and grab the screen with the appropriate drop down menu option highlighted on the drop down menu.   This will allow you to later prompt the user to select all of the options in the procedure (as in “select File, then copy) by creating hyper-linked areas within the PowerPoint display that correspond to the appropriate software option screen location.

5. If you plan to do a presentation that shows the software screens as full screen, then resize as necessary to full the presentation screen.  If you want to use a less than full screen size (for example, when you are presenting the content within a standard elearning interface with banner and navigation buttons), then you may need to place a box in the background of the master screen to serve as a guide for sizing and placement (to ensure consistent sizing and location across all of the screens).   You can always delete this box from your master slide after placement of the software screens, if necessary.  Note that if you also want to trim some elements of the software screen, such as browser menus, do that for each screen prior to sizing and placement.

6. Go through each screen, and finalize any additional on-screen text, highlights, or other elements, and finalize your narration script.   Also, if you are simulating the software options, create a transparent hyperlink box that routes users to the next screen, and place this box over the position that you want the users to click on.   As users interact with the end product, it will appear like they are using a live version of the software, since the screen display will progress as they click on the appropriate on-screen options.

7. Record and incorporate your narration, finalize animations, etc.  Then package using a flash conversion utility such as Articulate.

The look of the end product can be as basic as you want, or can be made to look like standard elearning (by including a banner and navigation), and can take advantage of the animation and graphic features of PowerPoint.

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