Music is often an afterthought when it comes to designing and delivering a PowerPoint presentation, and it's frequently used for nothing more than background noise. However, by giving some thought about how music is going to be used in your PowerPoint presentation, you can help create a number of benefits for you and your audience.

Some of us use sounds in our presentations to grab attention - that well-known gun fire, or exploding bomb noise, or the round of applause. But adding in music from a CD can deliver more impact and help create the perfect ambiance. Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 has a range of functions that enable you to add in sounds to your presentation.

There may be times when you will have the undivided attention of your audience - and there will be times when people's attention starts to drift away. We are capable of concentrating completely on a delivery for not more than 10 minutes without any thought interruption. During your presentation you may be sharing new information; so try to deliver this after the settling in and before the switching off period.

The first step in planning music for your presentation is to identify different learning stages during your slide show. This helps you to plan out any music you are going to include in your presentation. For example, focus music is a good way to get your audience's attention while selling them your initial pitch. A good example of focus music would be a piece in the Classical-style, but not too slow a tempo. And music can also create a sense of energy and help stimulate some of your audience.

It's good to identify the mood you want to evoke at each stage of your PowerPoint presentation. Then you can select the music to create this mood. Sounds that work on your presentation can be as simple as a sound effect or more content-specific such as recorded speech. Three types of sound files that can be added to your PowerPoint presentation include audio files stored on your computer, sound files included with PowerPoint, and audio tracks from an audio CD.

You might decide to only add music to certain sections of your presentation, or to just a few slides. Think about using music only when it will have a positive impact on how your audience will view, listen, learn and remember your presentation. Remember that slower tempo music is good for when new information is being given. Faster tempo music is suited to activities that require more input from your audience. And instrumental music distracts less than music with vocals.

To play an audio CD track during a presentation, click the slide (in either Slide or Outline view) to which you want to add an audio file. Then insert an audio CD in your computer's drive. Click the Insert tab, and then click the down-pointing arrow underneath the Sound icon in the Media Clips group. A pull-down menu will appear and you can choose Play the CD Audio Track. The Insert CD Audio dialog box appears to enable you to choose which CD track to play. Click in the Start at Track and End at Track text boxes to choose one or more tracks to play. Click in the Seconds text boxes to define the time to start playing the audio track and the time to end it, then click OK.

PowerPoint adds your audio track to the currently displayed slide (represented as a horn icon) and displays a dialog box, asking whether you want the sound to play automatically or when you click the mouse. Just click automatically or When Clicked. PowerPoint displays your audio file as a sound icon on your slide. You may want to move the sound icon on your slide so it doesn't obscure part of your slide.

You won't hear your sound file play until you view your slide show by pressing F5. And remember, if you copy your presentation to play on another computer, you must have access to the audio CD, too. Be careful of copyright infringement when using audio CDs. Make sure that you have the necessary permission to use copyrighted material. As well as your own collections, you can access free music downloads from different websites. If your presentation is intended for commercial use, you must get permission from the copyright owner for both the words and music.