Embedding streaming video content (e.g. YouTube and BBC iPlayer) in a PowerPoint presentation

One of the reasons for the huge gap in posts here is that I’ve lost most of the last week to creating a presentation for an event where I’m speaking next week. The event is for The Society for Computers and Law, and I’m taking a look inside the black box of technology.  I was briefed not to expect much technical knowledge as the audience are junior lawyers but I figure they probably know quite a lot already as they do work in IT law, so it’s been pretty difficult to work out what level to pitch things at.  In the end, all I can do is take the event organisers’ advice and hope it works out on the night… we’ll see…

Anyway, I wanted to mix things up a bit and avoid death by PowerPoint.  My slides are pretty pictorial (at least they are if the brand police don’t make me change them to something bland and corporate…) but I wanted to mix in some video too. PowerPoint is quite happy to embed video from a file but it’s a bit harder if you want to embed video that’s streamed from the web, for example from YouTube.

There is a way though (without resorting to installing an add-in)…

I found a post from iSpring Software that goes through the process of manually inserting Flash into PowerPoint 2007 (the version I’m using). There’s more detail in the original post, so I recommend that you read it, but these are the basic steps:

  1. Make sure the Developer tab is visible in the ribbon – if not then turn it on in the Popular tab inside the PowerPoint Options.
  2. On the Developer tab in the ribbon, click the More Controls button (looks like a hammer and screwdriver, crossed over).
  3. Select a Shockwave Flash object and drag a rectangle on the current slide. Don’t worry about the size.
  4. Right click on the control and select Properties.
  5. Go down to the Movie attribute and add the path to the Flash movie. This could be a local file… but it also works with  YouYube URLs (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/v/PPnoKb9fTkA?version=3).

A couple of points to note:

  • You’ll need to save the Presentation as a PowerPoint Macro-Enabled Presentation (which is a .pptm file).
  • The video content may not actually show in the PowerPoint editor, but it’s there if you start the slide show.

So that’s YouTube… but what about other Flash content? Well, you may find that you can extract an appropriate URL from the embed code – and that’s what I did for BBC iPlayer content.  Note that this works for videos embedded on the BBC website, it’s not for videos downloaded to the iPlayer Desktop client.

I don’t normally rate Yahoo Answers but it did turn up a 2 year-old post from someone called wm1995 that gave me the answer.  Get the embed code for the video that you want to embed and look for the FlashVars parameter:

Add that FlashVars code to the end of http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/emp/2.10.7938_7967/9player.swf?embedPageUrl= and you can view the video in a browser (without the rest of the webpage). Similarly, you can take the same URL and use it inside PowerPoint so, the Movie attribute in the Shockwave Flash object will look something like:


5 thoughts on “Embedding streaming video content (e.g. YouTube and BBC iPlayer) in a PowerPoint presentation

  1. Thankfully, this is a lot easier in PowerPoint 2010, you can just paste in the embed code (as shown in this video tutorial). The downside is, if you lose your internet connection then you will end up with empty slides come show time.

    Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to add any kind of video in the PowerPoint Web App

  2. Yep – good point re: empty slides at show time; it’s a trade off between that and content that’s not available locally.

    Sadly I no longer have Office 2010 on my main PC :-(

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