Microsoft Powerpoint presentations are ubiquitous in business. They are also a handy way to provide information on a Web site, a poor man’s multimedia. But you don’t want to just provide a link to a Powerpoint file. Instead, the slide deck should be visible within your Web site so that the visitor can immediately view it, without having to have Microsoft software.
If you use WordPress, you know that embedding any sort of content in your site may require additional software, often called a plug-in. If you use WordPress.com’s free Web sites, they restrict embedded content to Youtube videos and a small selection of images unless you get the premium services. If you run your own Web site, you have some more options. Which one you use depends on how much latitude you have for installing plugins and adding software to Powerpoint, but all are free.
Microsoft Office Web Apps
The free Microsoft Office Powerpoint Web app is probably the easiest to use. Create a free account on Microsoft Live.com and go into Skydrive. Create a new Powerpoint file or upload a current one to your 25 GB account. Then click on the checkbox next to the file name, and select embed from the bottom of the menu that pops up on the right hand side of the screen. It will prompt you to copy some HTML that you will paste into your WordPress page or post.
It uses a bit of coding called iframes, which are blocked in WordPress by default. To work around this block, install an iframe plugin. I’ve tried both iFrame Embedder and iFrame, but the former is a bit old and I’ve upgraded to the latter. The plugin allows you to create an iframe and display the Powerpoint slides within a Microsoft viewer using Flash. The embed code from Skydrive:
becomes a shortcode with a height, width, and src element:
[i fram e height="400" width="600" src="https://....." ]
A shortcode is a small piece of text that looks a bit like HTML but it starts and ends with brackets ([ ... ]) rather than greater than/less than (< … >) signs. Wordpress has two tabs in its content editor: visual and HTML. You can type a shortcode on the Visual tab – it will convert to display the information in the shortcode.
The benefit to the Microsoft method is that you can update your Powerpoint deck through Skydrive (or locally and then sync using Windows Mesh) and your slide deck on your Web site is also updated. It can also help you get around file size limitations and file type restrictions on your WordPress site.
Powerpoint to Flash Converter
Another method I have used is to create a Shockwave (.swf) file from the Powerpoint file using the iSpring free Powerpoint to Flash converter. It is easy to use – you can pay a bit more to eliminate the iSpring branding on your presentation – and you can upload the output .swf file to your WordPress media area. The free plugin for Powerpoint creates a tab on your Office ribbon and you can quickly publish both a Flash file as well as a courseware file that is SCORM compliant. When you upload the .swf file to your site, you will need a plugin for WordPress to display it. The Easy Flash Embed plugin enables you to use the shortcode:
[s wf src="http://yoursite.com/your_swf_file.swf" width="500" height="400"]
within your site to display the iSpring version of your Powerpoint file. One benefit to using iSpring over the embedded Microsoft Powerpoint viewer mentioned above is that hyperlinks within your presentation will work with iSpring, but do not appear to work with a file linked from Skydrive.
You can always upload the Powerpoint slide deck to a site like Slideshare.net. I mention Slideshare purposefully, since you can click the embed option on Slideshare and get a WordPress-ready shortcode:
[sl ideshare ..... ]
The upside is that you just have to drop your shortcode or embed code into your site. The downside is that you are uploading your file in an area beyond your control. I use Slideshare myself but my preference is to keep all of my content locally – even if I upload to Slideshare or Youtube – so that I don’t lose access to my own content if a site goes out of business or changes its business direction.
If you are on WordPress.com, this embed won’t work. One additional option which is far from ideal but that will work is to use a site like Screencast-o-matic.com to record a screencast of your presentation. Screencast-o-matic is a free service that uploads the resulting content to Youtube. Once there, you can grab the embed link HTML and WordPress.com will convert it and display your recorded Powerpoint slides.