A helpful tool for recording online presentations

Presentations are a critical way to communicate with your team, but it can be challenging to assemble everyone in one place. One answer is a surprisingly useful PowerPoint add-on from Microsoft (MSFT) that lets users record their presentation, synchronized to a slide deck, and share it online for people to watch at their convenience.

Office Mix is free to download and works with either PowerPoint 2013 or Office 365. It's not a standalone program; instead, you'll find a new tab (called "Mix") in PowerPoint after installing it. To take advantage of Office Mix, you'll need a webcam or some other camera connected to your PC. After that using it is a snap -- just open the PowerPoint deck that you want to narrate, click the Record button in the Mix tab and start talking. The software overlays a video of you in a small window in the corner of the PowerPoint slide and adds your narration as a soundtrack to your presentation.

The controls are refreshingly straightforward. As you voice your narration, you have the option of drawing on the screen with a selection of colored markers and advancing slides, which you can use to emphasize aspects of the deck. You can pause and resume the recording at any time, so you don't have to memorize the presentation and do it perfectly in a single run.

When you're ready, you can play back the recording and make changes. The audio and video is associated with each individual slide, so if you don't like what you said on a given slide, you can delete the narration and re-record it without affecting the rest of the narration elsewhere in the deck.

When finished, you can upload the presentation to the cloud for public viewing, or keep the video private so only people with whom you share a link can watch it. The web player is pretty slick; you can watch a presentation the way it was recorded, or skip around to specific slides with a click. On smartphones, though, the presentation is delivered as pure video, so there's no smart markers separating slides. You can also optionally enable a discussion thread on the page where the video is published.

One especially welcome flourish: Your presentations aren't stored in your personal OneDrive, but rather are located elsewhere in Microsoft's cloud, so the space they consume doesn't count against your OneDrive storage limits.

Office Mix is targeted to teachers, and it's easy to why. The ability to host lectures online is a powerful distance learning tool. But it's plenty useful in the office as well, and is one of the best ways we've seen for sharing information asynchronously.