Prepare your PowerPoint and Script

Learn how to create and edit your presentation so you can deliver clear content in a conversational tone using a short video with a PowerPoint presentation at its backbone.

Learn Now videos are different than in-person presentations.  Atlas's Learn Now Consultant can assist you throughout the process.

Learn Now videos start with an idea, then follow a process from conception to production.  While the Atlas team has a designated team member to help you along the way, the Learn Now consultant can’t write your content or create your slides because you are the subject matter expert.  However, we can help guide you through the process, consult about ideas, provide training and technical assistance and answer questions as you create your own Learn Now video.

Learn Now videos are short, narrated videos of 10 minutes or less that teach your audience about a specific task or idea. A Learn Now video might be published on an Extension website, or it could be bundled with other videos in an online training course.

Additional training resources are available specific to producing and editing videos with the Camtasia software.



LearnNow videos should be produced in a 16:9 format ratio in PowerPoint, which is widescreen. This size is optimal for online viewing, as well as for viewing on mobile devices. In order to create your PowerPoint presentation in this size, we have provided a template that you can download and use. Before adding any content, choose “Save As” in PowerPoint and choose the PowerPoint Template file type. This will save the template in a place that is always easily accessible under My Templates.

Download the 16:9 Learn Now PPT template

You should reinsert any images into the new template, rather than just applying the template to an existing 4:3 ratio PowerPoint presentation so that your images do not get stretched and distorted.


Learn Now videos should illustrate a focused topic. It's a slice of content, not the whole dessert cart.   What you say should be clear, focused and informative but also delivered in an engaging, conversational manner – as if you are speaking directly to the viewer.   

Thinking about this tone can help you prepare your information. That means you need to plan what you’ll say and remember that you’re engaging with learners, not just reading text.  If you have enthusiasm for your material, find appropriate ways to let that come through.  Your audience will find that easier to listen to and digest and it will keep them looking for more of your work.

You’ll create your slides with appropriate images in PowerPoint, and be sure you have a plan for what you’ll say at each slide.  The template has nearly 40 master slides to choose from to help you with information layout and design.

For some, a script can help connect the dots between the content, narration and images. If a script helps you organize, feel free to use one, but keep in mind you want to engage with your audience, not just read to them. 


Whether you work from a script, an outline or just speak from experience to explain your content and images, you’ll use PowerPoint to create your presentation in the context of your planned narration. You want to use your information, images, and interest to help your viewers learn in an approachable way. 

In terms of your actual slides, it's best to break your content down into small chunks of 20 seconds or under per slide.  This will keep you from overloading your audience by putting too much in one place.  

A good tool for understanding how long it takes to relate a piece of content is Readtime (  It’s an online speaking time calculator.  You type or copy and paste your proposed slide commentary in and Readtime will show you the estimated time it takes to say out loud.


If you are creating multiple videos in a series, do not use phrases like “in the next video” or “in the previous video.” That will make it more difficult if your video can be used in more than one way.  


Image Permissions: Because Penn State will be publishing LearnNow videos to the public, and perhaps even selling them, we need to respect intellectual property and copyright laws. It is important to only use images that we own or have permissions to use. The Digital Images Policy explains this in more detail, but appropriate images include:

  • an image taken or owned by you,
  • an image you have permission to use (such as from the department or colleague),
  • an image owned by Penn State,
  • an image that has been purchased, or
  • an image that is in the public domain or licensed to copy and publish.

Image Quality:In addition to image permissions, you’ll need to think about image quality. Your images should occupy a large portion of the PowerPoint slide (full-screen when possible) so that they can be viewed easily online and on mobile devices. To check your image quality, view your PowerPoint presentation as full screen, at the maximum window size. If the image looks clear and crisp, you’re good to go. Otherwise you’ll need to use a better quality image. 

Assistance with Images: A Technical Communications Specialist can assist you with any questions you have regarding image usage or quality, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you have questions. In addition, a TCS can help you research, create, or purchase images and graphics for your presentation.

Visual Design for PowerPoint Slides

To create an appealing Learn Now video for an online audience, you can use a variety of visual techniques in your PowerPoint slides. Focused graphics will illustrate your points more clearly than just bullet points on a slide. Consider using:

  • still images to illustrate a concept,
  • animation to keep the viewer’s attention,
  • graphical elements, such as arrows or highlighting, for instruction or emphasis; and
  • simple, clear, informative captions to focus on the main point.

Any of these can be added in PowerPoint or after you have done your recording in Camtasia.

Sometimes text is still the best option, such as when introducing a new term and definition. In these instances, use a font size that is no smaller than 28-32 points, and try to limit the number of lines displayed to no more than 5 or 6. Remember, these videos will work on mobile devices so we want everyone to be able to read them, no matter what size screen they are using.


Do not include any Penn State, Extension, or AgSci branding in your LearnNow video. This includes logos, banners, intro or concluding slides and similar content. Branding of the content will occur where the video is viewed, such as on the website or within the learning management software. 


Once you've finalized your PowerPoint content, you are ready to produce a Learn Now video. If you haven’t already, request that Camtasia software be installed on your computer, obtain your headset, and start recording! When you finish, you'll save your project as a zip file in a folder Atlas will help create for you in Box. 

You are the expert in your field and content area; we will help to ensure your message is clear, well-produced, and falls within the guidelines of the Atlas products.  We can also help with questions on images, content ideas, or any technical questions you might have.

Connect with Atlas

If you haven't already contacted the Atlas Learn Now consultant, this is the time.  Once you've recorded your narrated PowerPoint presentation using Camtasia and saved it to a zip file, you'll connect with Atlas to hand off your project.  At that point we'll take care of final production steps and get your work out there on line.  

Here's the contact information for the Learn Now consultant:

Ashley Hughes
Multimedia Production Specialist

Additional training resources are available specific to producing and editing videos with the Camtasia software.