BU Zoom

Zoom Update: Sharing Slides as Virtual Background

Zoom’s August 4 update brought along a few feature upgrades that can help you get the most out of Zoom for remote and hybrid teaching—including video filters and background noise suppression options. But the feature we are most excited about at DL&I is the ability to use PowerPoint or Keynote presentations as your virtual background. Users can overlay their video directly on top of their powerpoint presentation and control their presentation through Zoom, creating an immersive learning experience for both synchronous and asynchronous classes. 

BU Zoom Tips
Example of Speaker view on PowerPoint as virtual background.

How do I add slides as a virtual background?

To add slides as a virtual background in Zoom, all you need to do is start your meeting, turn on your video, and click share screen. 

From the share screen menu, click the “Advanced” tab, then click the “Slides as Virtual Background” option. 

BU Zoom Tips
From the “Advanced” tab of the Share Screen options, Select “Slides as Virtual Background.”

You will then be prompted to select your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation from a file browser. Select your presentation file, click “Open”, and your presentation should be shared with your participants. If your video is on, by default it will be imposed over your slides.  

In-Meeting Controls and Customization

Once the screen share has started, you will be able to control the presentation directly through the Zoom application. These controls will show up as a pop-up menu above the Share Screen button. 

You can go back and forth between your presentation slides using the left and right arrows. You can resize or reposition your video. If desired, you can split your video from the slides at any time. This will change the screen share back to the typical screen share with speaker video arrangement. You will still be able to advance between your slides in Zoom. And if you split the video by accident, you can always merge it right back! For more detailed instructions please reference Zoom’s support article on Sharing slides as a Virtual Background

Requirements and Limitations

Please note that this feature is currently in Beta. It only supports the use of PowerPoint or Keynote files. It does not support Google Slides or PDFs in its current version. 

Users must have updated their Zoom application to version 5.2.0 and have either PowerPoint or Keynote installed locally on their computer. 

If the presenter records the meeting locally, the recording will also have the presenter’s video embedded on top of the slides. If a participant or co-host records a meeting locally, they must also have their Zoom updated to version 5.2.0 or higher. 

If anyone is on a version older than 5.2.0, local recordings will record the slides and video as a normal screen share recording. Cloud recordings currently do not support the slides as virtual background view and instead will record the slides and video as a normal screen share recording. 

Interested in learning more about Zoom? Attend one of our EdTech trainings or schedule a consultation via AskEdTech@bu.edu.


David DeCamp

About the expert: Dave is an Educational Technologist. In this role, he advises and assists faculty on a variety of platforms for classroom use, with a focus on NVivo, BU Learning Blocks (BULB), Open Educational Resources, Google Suite for Education, MediaKron, and more.