How do you make a Google Slides presentation more interesting? Add audio! It's actually really simple.
Just follow these 3 easy steps to add audio to Google Slides and make your presentation come to life.
How do You Add Audio to Your Google Slides?
Step 1: Add Your Audio Tracks to Google Drive
Google Slides makes use of Google Drive to store your audio files in the cloud (you can’t upload audio directly into Google Slides).
To do so, open Google Drive by clicking the 9-dot app icon on the top left corner of any Google tool (like Gmail), scroll down and select “Drive:”
Once it’s open, click on “New” and select “File Upload:
When your file-browsing window comes up, select your audio file from your computer and click Open:
The audio file will then appear on Google Drive:
Before we can upload your audio file from Google Drive to Google Slides, you need to follow one more step to make sure that anyone can access the audio.
Make audio link shareable
Right click on your audio file icon and select “Share:”
When the sharing popup appears, make sure that sharing is set to “Anyone with the link” so all people with access to your slides can listen to the audio and click “Done:
Step 2: Add audio to slide
Great, we’re almost there! Now it’s time to select the individual slides where you want add audio, for example, for narrations, sound effects, music or any other type of use.
Alternatively, you can add an audio track to the first slide and have it play throughout the presentation.
Choose a slide
First, select the slide you want to add audio to:
Insert audio track
Second, click the “Insert” menu from the top navigation and click on “Audio:”
Then, select the audio track you want to insert into your slide from Google Drive and click “Select:”
Step 3: Configure audio playback settings
A speaker icon will now appear on your slide and the “Format options” side-panel will open up:
Now, it’s time to configure your audio playback settings. You can set up your audio to play back when you click on the audio button:
or automatically when you land on the slide:
Next, you can set the volume for your audio track with the volume slider:
Lastly, you can set up the playback so that the audio stops when you move on to the next slide:
you can also loop the audio:
and, if you set the playback on automatic, you can even hide the audio button:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it a good idea to add audio to Google Slides?
It depends. Adding an audio track to Google Slides can be helpful when trying to teach or present, especially if the audio adds meaning to your content.
For example, if your presentation talks about different species of birds, then adding the pre-recorded sounds from those species will certainly make it much more interesting for your audience.
But remember that audio is one more element in a presentation, and not all slides will need sound. Although it’s very easy to add sound to Google Slides, you don't want to be like those movies that have so many special effects that it becomes a distraction.
This rule of thumb will seem very simplistic but it really works: if the audio doesn’t bring a new dimension to the presentation other than the sound itself, then don’t add it. But if the audio track adds complements the words on the slide, then go for it.
Should I add narration to my slides?
Again, it depends on your goals. If you're making a presentation and you want to emphasize specific points, then adding narration can work well. This is particularly effective if your slides are part of a video sales letter.
In fact, most marketing people will agree that when viewing slides alone on a computer screen, a narrated presentation is much more engaging than a silent one. There’s something about the human voice that makes it much more captivating than just reading the text.
But if you're presenting in person then narration can become a discretion, unless you have short audio or video clips that are contextual to your presentation.
Should I use sound effects in my slides?
It's only a good idea to add sound effects to your presentation if the effects are relevant and will not become a distraction.
When should I use sound effects? When there is something happening on your slides that's hard to describe in words, like nature sounds. When well chosen, sound effects will also make the people watching your presentation feel immersed and engaged.
They'll become part of your story as they listen in anticipation. What you don’t want to do is to use them to add theatrics to your presentation or simply because you can.
Like any piece of communications, a slide presentation should be carefully targeted to educate and to inform. Anything added to the words and visuals should play a supporting role and not take over your main message.
Should I use background music in my slide presentations?
A music track is a great way to add energy and excitement to a presentation. It can help set the tone for your slideshow — whether it's playful, dramatic or romantic. But, make sure that the mood of the songs match the nature of your content.
For example, upbeat music can really enhance a slide presentation about a school trip or a camp with lots of candid photos from the participants. If you need to convey more somber emotions, then you’ll need to use a mood and a tempo to match the atmosphere.
Now here’s the catch: if you do decide to use background music be careful of copyright restrictions as most private-label songs (especially popular music) will not allow it to be played to an audience without receiving compensation.
So, always be on the lookout for public domain recordings that are available online, or play your own compositions if you’re a musician.
How do I record the audio?
The least expensive way to record your audio for your slide presentation is to use a voice recorder on your phone or tablet, and then to upload your audio file into Google Drive.
The only downside is that the microphones in those devices won’t capture as much of the bass in your voice as stand alone microphones will.
The better approach for sound quality is to use audio recording software installed on your computer with a podcast-style condenser microphone — you can find many of them online for under $100.
Good free options for audio software are Audacity, which is an open-source program you can download on your PC, or if you own a Mac computer, you could use its native GarageBand software, which comes with a lot of great digital effects.
Where can I get free sound effects online?
The best online free source of sound effects is found at Freesound.org, which is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. This website offers a huge variety of royalty-free sounds, from ambient noise to wild animals to human sound effects.
Although you won’t have to pay royalties, in some cases you may be required to give attribution to the author. The site is easy to navigate with plenty of categories for you to choose from.
While not all sounds will have great quality, some will be excellent for most slide presentations; you just have to take the time to browse and play multiple sound effects until you find the perfect ones for you.
Where can I get public-domain music online?
Public domain music is a bit more tricky, because music labels are very aggressive when it comes to enforcing copyright laws for publicly circulated content, even if it’s part of a slide show.
Although the options are more limited here, you can try the Open Music Archive. This is a collaborative project that seeks to source, digitize and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings.
The Open Music Archive is hosted in the UK and therefore all recordings in the archive are in the public domain in the UK, but not necessarily elsewhere as laws are different for each country. So proceed with caution.
Another site to look into is the International Music Score Library Project. IMSLP is an open-source online library of thousands of public domain songs and sheet music.
It was founded in 2006 as a collaborative effort to assemble and make available for free, via the web, all kinds and genres of classical music scores from different countries around the world. It currently hosts over 60,000 recordings from over 22,000 composers.
Once again, although they claim to only have public domain works, they don’t guarantee that they're always free of copyright claims in every country.
Wrapping Things Up
Adding audio to your Google slides is a great idea because it can help your audience feel more engaged during your presentation.
Now that you know how to add audio to Google Slides, you can add sound effects or a voice-over narration to help you enhance the content of individual slides or you can add a background music track for the entire presentation.
Sound also adds emotion to your delivery making your slide show more memorable for your viewers.