Brainshark Fall 2014 User Group and Workshop Recap: Part 2 – Slides

Brainshark Fall 2014 User Group and Workshop Recap: Part 2 – Slides
December 1, 2014

This is the second in a 3-part deep dive for Brainshark authors into best practices covered during our fall User Groups and Build a Better BrainsharkWorkshops. Part 1 covered the use of audio in Brainshark presentations. Today’s post will focus on slides.

We also suggest you look at 10 Keys to Creating Engaging Brainshark Presentations, which focuses on planning your presentation.


About 78% of all Brainshark presentations include PowerPoint slides. In addition to PowerPoint, other slide types include video, live web pages, documents (i.e. PDF, Word, Excel), and photos. Polls, tests and evaluation questions can be added within the Brainshark application.

Do not worry about having too many slides in your presentation; be more concerned with overly long slides. More slides with shorter lengths per slide make it easier for the narrator to record and the audience to find what they are looking for. If chapter titles are used, any concern that a presentation has too many slides will be minimized.

Slide Lengths

Based on the type of slide, we recommend the following lengths of narration:

  • Opening slide and Action Item slide: 20 seconds or less

  • This length enables the viewer to quickly understand the purpose of the presentation or the desired action item towards the end of the presentation.

  • PowerPoint slides: 30 seconds or less

  • This length makes it easier for the narrator to record without making mistakes. It also keeps the presentation moving. For highly visual slides with many animations, lengths can be longer.

  • Question, URL and Document slides: Keep your audio very brief

  • The purpose of these slides is to have the viewer interact. Excessive audio (such as reading the question and possible answers) will distract your viewers and impact how they interact with these slides.

  • Video slides (excluding VideoSync for side-by-side video and slides): 90 seconds or less

  • If the video is longer, consider editing it into multiple video slides and sprinkle this key asset throughout the presentation. This testimonial is a good example.  

    More on URL Slides

    By default, the web page will appear within the player. Alternatively, the web page can open up in a new window outside of the player. To do this, also add the URL as an attachment. Then, go to the Attachments tab and choose “Edit” for that attachment and:

  1. Check “Show link with slide”

  2. Highlight the slide you want the web page to be associated with

  3. Check “Auto-launch” 

  4. You have the option of having the web page open when the audio for that slide begins or ends.

  5. In general you will want to “Pause after slide audio completes”

More on Question Slides

Do not end with a question slide. Add a Thank You slide so that the viewer knows their response was accepted and the presentation has ended.

By default, Brainshark will choose the PowerPoint template of the uploaded slides as the background for that presentation’s question slides, and it will be added to your Media Library. The default font is black 16-point Verdana. In order to make your questions more visually appealing, you can choose from three additional fonts with sizes ranging from 8 to 48-point and many color options. Depending on the number of possible answers and the device your viewers are using, you may want to experiment with the font size, but don’t make the font so large that scroll bars are needed to see all the answers.

The positioning of the questions, submit button, and feedback can be adjusted by going to My Media Library, choosing the Question Background tab and selecting “Text offsets”. Click here to learn more.

In addition, there are two ways to visually accentuate the question by changing the question background. To do this, upload a single PowerPoint slide by going to:

  1. My Media Library, then choosing the Question Background tab and selecting “Add Question Background”.

  2. Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

  3. Choose "Add a Question" and go to the "Background Image" tab. Then choose “Add Image” for the actual question you are working on. In this case, the new background will also go into My Media Library and be available for future questions. 

  4. Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

More on Video Slides

Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship of an image’s width to its height, where 4x3 and 16x9 are the most common ratios used in presentations. Please note: if you create a presentation with PowerPoint 2013, the slides will be in the 16x9 ratio and the Brainshark player will default to 16x9. In all other situations, including a 16x9 video, the player will default to 4x3. The aspect ratio can be changed at the Options tab. 

Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2 

If you are using 16x9 video with PowerPoint 2010, the slides will appear as 4x3 and not fill the screen, which may look odd. So before you create slides in PowerPoint, change the aspect ratio to 16x9 (choose Design and change “Slides sized for” to 16x9).

Videos can also be shown full-screen or in their original smaller dimensions. In general, if you are not using 16x9 video, making the image smaller will result in higher video quality. The two options can also be an aesthetic decision and it may be worth trying both. Full-screen is the default and it can be changed by going to Manage Slides under “Things you can do” to edit your slide.

 Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

Below are examples of uploaded video using each ratio. Each presentation has examples of full-screen and preserves original dimensions.

Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2     Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2


The vast majority of Brainshark presentations with PowerPoint slides incorporate animations. Here are some things you should know:

  • On-click animations are by far the most common animation type and are used when your goal is timing animations to the narration.

  • On-click animations can be spaced in no less than one-second intervals.

  • With/After Previous animations can be used in conjunction with on-click when you want animations to fire quicker than 1 per second.

  • Do not try to time With/After Previous animations in PowerPoint to the script, thinking they’ll line up properly with the narration.

  • If a PowerPoint slide has animations and you do NOT set them, they will be automatically begin at 1 second and usually fire every 1-2 seconds. Most likely this will result in animations being out of sync with the narration.

On-click animation timing can be set three ways in Brainshark:

    1. When you are recording audio with the telephone or microphone.

    Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

    2. After recording or adding audio, by manually entering the timings from the Edit Slide screen.

    Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

    Note: If you only have With/After Previous animations on a slide, the animations timings box will indicate there are no animations on this slide and the animations will start at the first second.

    3. After recording audio by moving the orange tabs at the bottom of the Manage VideoSync interface. Scroll up a bit to see the presentation and use the Play button to hear the narration.

    Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 2

To take a live online class on Animations, click here or view a 4-minute tutorial.

In summary, the key with audio is to mix it up. A predictable presentation can cause an audience to tune out. When possible, use various slide types, videos, animations, background audio, a second presenter, and pause slides to keep your audience engaged. According to frequent Brainshark webinar presenter Carmen Simon of RexiMedia, no matter how you are presenting slides (online, on-site, or on-demand) something different should be happening every 4-6 slides. (Read this blog post from Carmen for details on what audiences remember from PowerPoint presentations.)

For a complete list of the 60+ Brainshark features go this page in Help and Training.

To see presentations that incorporate many of these best practices, check out the Customer Presentation Gallery.

Read Part 1: Fall 2014 User Group and Workshop Recap – Audio