Monday, February 1, 2016

Deliver a Successful Author PowerPoint Presentation via Skype by Donna Galanti

I was excited to conduct my first Skype visit in January. I had planned to do just a Q&A but thought it would be a good test to try a shortened version of my in-person PowerPoint presentation. It worked wonderfully and the students really enjoyed it. I’m sharing what I’ve learned from this fun process! 

How to Run a PowerPoint via Skype:
  • My presentation has several animated GIFs (a huge hit!) and video so I wanted to ensure they worked. Testing it with the school beforehand confirmed that it did.
  • Have your PowerPoint presentation open in edit mode and ready to go in slide show mode. Make sure all other programs are closed on your computer.
  • Video call your contact in Skype (make sure the video icon at the bottom is on so you can see each other).
  • Click the + sign at the bottom of your screen and choose Share Screens.
  • Click Start and your presentation will come up on their screen with a thumbnail window of you.
  • Start your slideshow and walk through it.
  • When done click Stop Sharing and the presentation will close and you will be full screen again.

My Skype Presentation Tips:
  • Friend the teacher on Skype and conduct a test sharing your PowerPoint presentation. The school will want to project it on a screen or SmartBoard.
  • Be prepared for the presentation to crash. I’ve heard from some authors this can happen especially if the school’s internet is not strong. I decided that if this continually happened I would end the presentation and switch to Q&A. I also let the teacher know this as well.  Alternate choice: go through your slides without being in slideshow format. This may reduce issues. However, the audience will see the edit mode of your presentation and your video/animation won’t play unless you click to play.
  • Practice your presentation beforehand and time it. My 4th grade period was 45 minutes long but it took the teacher a few minutes to settle them down before she called me. I took my full 50 minute in-person presentation and cut it to 20-25 minutes allowing for 10 minutes of Q&A at the end. I think even a 15 minute presentation plus Q&A would be fine as well.
  • Beforehand, ask the teacher to have the students push their desks back and sit in rows of chairs to make it easier for them to get to the microphone and ask questions.
  • Limit the Skype visit to 50 students or two classrooms combined.
  • Set up a spot for your computer screen and clear the space behind you to create a presentable backdrop when on camera. Especially if you mean to scan your office to show the students!
  • Make sure your speaker volume is turned up! This will ensure you can hear the reaction of the students and their answers to any questions as you go along in your presentation.
  • Ask the teacher to turn the computer to face the students so you see them and their reactions and not you on the big screen. Otherwise, it’s very hard to gauge the student’s interest and reactions!
  • Take a screen shot of your Skype presentation in the middle of it to save as an image to use for social media later.
  • Plan ahead for the class to purchase your books. I have an arrangement with the representative of my local bookshop and we’ve created a new process for Skype and in-person visits. For both visits she sends the teacher an order form weeks ahead of time (so be sure to schedule your visits 4-6 weeks in advance). The teacher collects orders with checks made out to the school and the school sends the bookshop one check. For in-person visits I sign and take the books with me and they receive a 20% discount. For Skype, the bookshop offers a 15% discount to cover the costs to ship the books. This new process seems to be working out!

Keep in mind students will be excited during your visit and want to order your book, if they didn’t do so ahead of time. I let them know they can still order the book via my local bookshop and the bookshop coordinates that with the teacher.

Giving a Skype visit was very similar to presenting in person as I engaged with the audience throughout my presentation and ended with Q&A – but of course, did not have to leave the comfort of my home!

Additional resources:
Want to add fun animated GIFs to your presentation?
I use where you can search by topic or add your own clips to create an animated GIF.

Want to grab video to use from any source? I recommend Bandicam (okay, really my 12-year-old son did and showed me how to use it). You can download the program for free and use it to record any video snippets to use in your presentation. 

How to use Bandicam screen recording software:
  • Download Bandicam to your computer.
  • Open it from the icon on desktop.
  • A window will pop up to record.
  • Open the video you want to capture. If it’s a portion of the video make sure it’s paused right where you want to start recording.
  • Once you open your video, a blank window in Bandicam will pop up with a REC button in the upper right corner.
  • Move the blank window over your video. You can click the borders on the top and bottom to frame the video exactly where you want.
  • Click the REC button.
  • When the video ends where you want it to then click the square STOP button next to record.
  • It will record all within that window so make sure you don’t move your mouse through it as it will record that as well.  
  • You can also use this program to just capture an image and not video. Click the camera icon next to the REC button for capturing an image only.
  • Click on your Bandicam icon on your computer screen at the bottom and the window will pop up again with selections.
  • Choose the file folder icon at the top and this will show you where your video file is. Copy it to whatever folder you want.
  • The selection window is where you can also choose Settings before you record your video to make the file smaller. I discovered this when I did video for my website as it wouldn’t let me load over 50mg file so I had to reduce the video. Just click Settings to see choices.
Note, the video you create will have titled at the top unless you pay for their service but I don’t think it takes away from the presentation. Check out a website with an educator's guide on copyright, fair use, and creative commons using video for education purposes.

Insert Video into your PowerPoint Presentation: 
  • Open your presentation and the slide you want video in.Click Insert and then Video (all the way to the right in the top menu).
  • Then click Video from File.
  • Select your video from the folder you have it in.
  • When inserted then click the video image still for Video Tools options menu at the top.
  • Click Playback.
  • Make sure the box Start Automatically is checked if you want it to start once the slide opens in the show – or if you want to click the video to start during your presentation then don’t check this box.
  • In Video Tools you can also choose for the video to loop or fade in or out.
A great website resource for creating school visits is School Visit Experts.

Have you ever done a Skype PowerPoint presentation or other kind of Skype visit? Did you use video as well? Share your advice and tips here!


  1. Very informative post. Great suggestions on how to make a Skype visit fun for everyone. I'll keep this info in mind for if and when I'm ever in a position to do a Skype classroom visit!!

  2. Dionna, good luck! Practicing with a friend ahead of time is fun :) Asking questions throughout the presentation helped engage the students as well.

  3. Great tips. Filing this away for the future!

  4. Just reach out when the time comes, Jim, - I may have more as I continue to do Skype talks. If you don't this site, here's another great spot with school visit resources:

  5. Hi Donna, Thanks for sharing such great tips for Skype visits!

    1. Thanks Clara! I was nervous but had some help. I figured it out with another author, Larry Dane Brimner, and we tested it together. Even with my first-event Skype glitches that I learned, everything still went fine. And this is important too - to learn to ad lib when necessary. Kids are a forgiving audience! For example, at an in-person visit last week the school's audio would not work with the projector in the auditorium. Thankfully, I only had one video with audio so I showed the video and narrated it myself pretending to be the person in the video (which was my son - so the kids thought that was funny).

  6. That is really good advice all-around. Thank you!

    I'm wondering about the copyright infringements on using other video clips to make yours. Let me know if you have any info on that. :)

  7. Thanks Annette! Here is a site on using video/images in education (and in general) via Creative Commons and the Public Domain.
    Note this too as an aside: You are free to embed any video from YouTube, Vimeo, WatchKnowLearn, etc. on your blog or website as long as it gives you the embed option.
    Also, check out the licensing as well if you use animated GIFs.
    Good luck!

    1. Annette, I updated the post with this link above!

  8. This is so cool. I've Skyped often but have never tried this. So helpful!

    1. It was super easy and fun, Caroline. And I enjoyed not having to travel and setup tech equipment to do in person. It's a great way to reach schools far away. I went to a librarian conf. last fall and gave away an in-person school visit. To the ones who didn't win I offered a free Skype visit and that worked out great as the schools got something in return and I got to engage with students and it was only 45 min. of my time!

  9. This is great and so helpful, Donna. Thank you! I'm trying to wrap my mind around the whole process.

    1. Thanks Karen! I held off for awhile doing this with involving my presentation but once I had it down smooth it worked great. I can also edit it to the audience as well base on time available/age group. Good luck!

  10. Love all this information! I have bookmarked this post so Jess and I can come back and go through it. We haven't done our first Skype visit yet and have been working on what we will do when we do one. Thanks so much for all this information, Donna! Looks like you and the kiddos are having fun. :)

  11. Hi Stephanie, awesome!! So glad to share. I bet you two will have so much fun with it!


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