Now more than ever, business presentations have the potential to be something truly special. And yet, so many people just stick with the same old boring slideshows. Text and clip art on a preset theme are the standard, and it’s just not engaging!

What is engaging is video. Integrating video into your presentations doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t need to film yourself talking. There is plenty of high-quality stock footage online that can spice up any presentation and keep people interested!

Here are our tips for using stock footage for this purpose.

Why Using Stock Footage is Beneficial

Using video in a presentation, especially one that involves a lot of speaking on your part, can have many benefits. For one thing, it allows you to take a short break and take a drink of water. In terms of the audience, it’s great for giving energy to an otherwise dry part of your presentation and engaging the people listening to you.

In terms of using stock footage in particular, you avoid a lot of legal repercussions. Technically, downloading a video from YouTube is against their terms, and showing someone else’s content to a large audience can also land you in hot water. In general, you’ll be fine, but you avoid any potential trouble by using stock video.

Talking at Desk

How to Insert Video into Your Presentation

Technology loses its magic when it makes things less seamless and more clunky. Don’t click a video link or pull up another window when using video in your presentations. Every major presentation platform allows for videos to be embedded in a slide itself, meaning there is no excuse for a sloppy transition. There are plenty of great tutorials out there, too.

Similarly, don’t rely on an internet connection. Even if the location you’re presenting at has wi-fi or hardwired internet, assume that it won’t work. It is best to download the video, save it to a flash drive or your computer’s hard drive, and embed that downloaded copy into the presentation. That way, you don’t have to worry about interrupting your talk with loading screens and technical issues.

Adding a Video to PowerPoint

To add a video to a PowerPoint slide, simply open a new slide, then select the movie icon on the slide. If it isn’t there, you can go to Insert > Movie. Then, navigate to your file and insert it. Next, you will select whether the video plays automatically, or on click.

Adding a Video to Keynote

If you’re on Mac, the process is similarly straightforward. Open a new slide and click Insert > Choose. Then navigate to the file you want to play. You can then adjust start and end points, and whether the video plays on click or automatically.

Meeting in Office

Use Video at the Right Moment

You need to be careful with using stock footage. Using the wrong footage at the wrong time can make a presentation feel awkward and the video inclusion look forced. A lot of stock footage looks great, but is fairly specific.

Campfire Embers

For example, this stock video of campfire embers is great for a presentation about fire safety, or camping, or something similar. But it shouldn’t be in a presentation about this quarter’s sales results if you’re not talking about any of those things.

Don’t Stretch it Too Long

Presentations that use video have to strike a balance with length. Most presentations will predominantly involve the speaker talking. Video should add to that, not take away from it.

After a minute, or even 30 seconds, a video can become awkward. Even if it’s extra engaging, too much video tends to detract from the presentation. More short clips interspersed in a business presentation is better than one really long video.

One way to counteract this, and utilize more generic stock footage, is to play footage in the background while talking. Most slideshows have your major points up on the screen, but if you’re telling a story, then a simple video can help illustrate that. If you’re giving a presentation about using alternative energy in your office, then you might punctuate a success story with a background video of a wind turbine spinning.

Wind Turbine at Sunrise

Edit Together a New Video


Take a look at this stock video of a man exercising. Sure, it looks fine, but it doesn’t do much on its own. Inserting this 8-second clip into your presentation will be low-impact because it doesn’t show enough to illustrate a point. It also is too short to talk over, in most cases.

The best use for a short and repetitive clip like this is to use it in a totally new video. It’s worth downloading a few related videos that you like, and using video editing software to stitch them together. Including royalty-free music and relevant text can add even more to your presentation.

Create an Emotional Response

While it’s certainly possible to conjure up emotions in a spoken presentation, there is something about video that can really bring out a smile or tears in people. Inserting music that fits the mood can help with that, and works much better in videos than as background sound to your speech.

Stories resonate with people more than just facts, and telling a story through video doesn’t even require text. Putting together a short video with a compelling message will communicate a lot in a small amount of time. And a well-done video will do so, as well as add some atmosphere to an otherwise boring presentation.

Go Abstract

Bokeh Animation

If the stock footage you’re finding is too specific or just doesn’t work for your presentation, try making video a secondary aspect. Rather than making video the focus, you can have video in the background while you talk.

For example, this bokeh animation is a simple backdrop to any talk. The thing to watch out for when using stock footage this way is too much movement. As we said, this kind of video should be secondary, and you don’t want to detract from your presentation.

When You Might Not Want to Use Stock Video

That’s okay, we get it. Not every situation calls for stock footage. Sometimes you really do need to show a YouTube video or something you recorded yourself. Just because there are a ton of high-quality stock video options out there doesn’t mean you will always find one that fits your business presentation needs.

But if you do find useful stock footage, you avoid any legal ramifications. You can ensure that you’re not using anyone else’s content. The last thing you want is to upload your presentation to YouTube and have it get flagged for using a popular song or video that doesn’t belong to you. Save those things for private meetings, and use stock footage for public presentations!

Watching TV

Add Some Action to Your Next Presentation

We hope this article helped you identify the best ways to utilize video in your presentations, and stock video in particular. There are a lot of psychological benefits to be gained by using video in this way.

And, using stock video means you can rest easy knowing you have all the rights and permissions needed. Start hunting for your perfect stock footage today!