Synchronizing Sound, Video, Animation, Etc

Many people complain that their presentation doesn't play as designed when played on another system. The problems can include animations and transitions are no longer synchronized with a sound file, or the sound is jerky, or the video doesn't play, for example.  The bad news is that PowerPoint doesn't synchronize events in your presentation.  It does the best it can with the resources available to do all of the work you have handed it.  If it runs out of time or runs out of resources, it might skip things or play them poorly.

[Note:  A presentation may even run differently on the same system if you run it from beginning to end and then, keeping PowerPoint open, run it again.  This is because PowerPoint does some caching of things and the second time through they will be available in memory and won't have to be read from disk.]

What works smoothly on your Pentium 4 machine with 2 GB of RAM, running from a clean and well maintained hard drive will often be a total disappointment when you play the same presentation on a laptop from a CD.  A partial list of the factors that have a role in the performance of a presentation includes:

  • Hard drives run faster than CD drives.
  • Less memory available
  • Slower processor
  • Programs running in the background, particularly anti-virus software (shut them down)
  • Different video cards
  • Out of date video driver (update the driver)
  • Fragmented hard disk (do a defrag)
  • Temp folder is full (clean it out)
  • Version of DirectX is not current (go to the Microsoft site and download the current version.)
  • Needed codec is not installed

If you must synchronize events in your presentation when it plays on all systems, consider capturing it as a video file and distributing the video.  There are many drawbacks to this, but in some cases it might be the solution that meets your needs.  See the tutorial at for one approach.  You can also record the show on VHS - see Recording your PowerPoint Presentation to VHS.

Another approach would be to design your presentation with the above in mind:

  • Consider using a single audio track that plays throughout the presentation so that you aren't dependent on audio synchronization. 
  • Simplify the animations. 
  • Allow more time for the animations and transitions to display. 
  • Don't place complex slides one after the other.
  • Optimize all still images so that less work is required to render them.  See
  • Many other techniques can be used.  Most importantly, experimentation and testing require time and patience but are necessary to ensure the best results in your judgment.

A note from Microsoft:

If this kind of cross-slide, system independent synchronization is important to you, don't forget to send your feedback to Microsoft at:

As with all product suggestions, it's important that you not just state your wish but also why it is important to you that your product suggestion be implemented by Microsoft.  Microsoft receives thousands of product suggestions every day and we read each one but, in any given product
development cycle, there are only sufficient resources to address the ones that are most important to our customers so take the extra time to state your case.



All contents Copyrighted by Sonia Coleman 1998 - 2003