Muchen He

Embedding Self-Video Into Zoom Presentations using Slides as Virtual Background

Published 2022-02-16 3 min read

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how to make yourself part of the video during zoom presentations like:

This is nice because:

There are ways to do this with OBS Studio + Virtual Camera, where presentation is rendered like a virtual camera, and Zoom picks that up as a webcam instead. But this approach requires one to manage multiple cameras in Zoom interface, and output video for the audience is not clear – since heavy compression is applied on webcam feeds.

Luckily, recent versions of Zoom has a beta feature that allows you to load a slide set file to the app to be shared with other participants as a virtual background. This post shows you how to do it (and honestly it’s so straight forward it could’ve been an email).

1. Preparing Your Presentation Files

So far the only files that are supported by this feature is .ppt, pptx for Microsoft PowerPoint and .key for Apple Keynote. .pdf and Google Sheets are not supported so make sure to download and convert to one of the supported file types first.

2. Share

On Zoom, start sharing screen img, but before you select which part of the screens you want to share, notice the Advanced tab on the top of the window. Then click on the option: img Slides as Virtual Background.

This will prompt with a file selector where you select your .key or .pptx files. The Zoom app will then load the files and present it on the screen. If your camera is turned on, Zoom will also put you in the lower right corner with background replacement turned on.

Limitations and Notes

There are some downsides to using this feature. Mainly due to you being forced to use Zoom’s own interface to control the presentation. This means:

Overall, I think it’s a clever and useful tool for presentations that are mostly casual or for storytelling — where slides don’t have a lot of detail or deep in technical concepts, but audience immersion is more important.

One shouldn’t use this feature if anytime one need to use animation, video, drawing/annotation, need to go to specific slides back and forth, or rely on lots of presenter notes.