How to Record Narration for Open Office


OpenOffice's Impress software creates PowerPoint presentations just like its Microsoft Office counterpart with one glaring omission -- a lack of integrated narration recording. Despite this shortcoming, you can still add narration to your Impress presentations by recording narration in clips outside of OpenOffice. These clips can then be added to each slide as sound clips, effectively adding narration to the presentation.


  • You'll need a hand-held, desktop or headset microphone to record the clips. Most laptop computers also have a built-in microphone. Ideally, this microphone will have sound-canceling features to reduce ambient noise. Regardless of sound-canceling capability, record in a quiet room with minimal echo for maximum recording quality. You'll also need some audio editing and/or recording software to capture and fine-tune the clips. Windows comes with a free recorder, Sound Recorder, but this program produces only WMA audio that's incompatible with Impress. There are several free audio editing and recording programs online including Audacity, Acoustica Basic Edition and WavePad.

Audio Clip Settings

  • OpenOffice Impress doesn't support a wide variety of audio formats. Your best bet is to record and export the clip as a WAV sound file. While WAV is the best choice for compatibility, WAV sound files take up considerable space as they're uncompressed formats, unlike MP3. This will therefore make your presentation's data footprint larger, particularly if it's a long presentation with large amounts of narration.

Recording the Narration

  • When you've finished setting up your computer and recording area for the narration, take a few minutes to rehearse. A poorly rehearsed narration clip will not only sound less professional and engaging, but momentary errors can add time to your recording, which can drastically increase file size. Speak clearly into the microphone at a volume that's loud and clear, but don't shout into the microphone. Before and after each clip, you'll want to allow a second or two of silence for editing purposes, so you can carefully trim out what you don't need without sacrificing any necessary silence. Remember, you have to record a clip for each slide. Since the clips will not auto-integrate, you'll also need to save them in a separate folder.

Adding the Clips

  • Once the clips are ready, you'll need to add them to your presentation. Launch OpenOffice Impress and open the presentation project file. On each slide, select "Insert" followed by "Movie and Sound." From here, you can select the audio clip you wish to add. A small image of a speaker will be added to the presentation slide, which can be resized to fit wherever necessary or dragged off of the slide to completely obscure it. When the presentation reaches that slide, the clip will play automatically. You'll need to configure the slide's on-screen time to match the narration, with possibly a few seconds of additional time for viewers to make any notes or otherwise review the slide before the presentation moves on.


  • When moving the presentation to another computer, move the folder containing the audio files as well. The presentation reads the files from the computer, meaning that trying to open the presentation without the necessary files in the same location will cause the program to search for the files and fail to find them. If you need to take your presentation to several places, a good idea is to create both the presentation and its required narration files on a USB drive or rewriteable disc from the outset, so all the necessary data is in one place and your presentation doesn't have to constantly search for the audio files.

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