Create engaging educational videos with no hassle or specific training? Never been easier – if you use the right approach and technology. Check out 7 tips for creating video lectures on how to put together text, visuals and audio for the ultimate video lecturing experience.
Creating video lectures these days is a piece of cake. There are a bunch of software tools that will accommodate most of your needs, and more. Since purely web-based and blended education formats are on the rise, it’s a great time to jump on the bandwagon and engage learners with a new interactive format. The benefits of video classes are many: a comfortable learning environment, catering to personal pace, no pressure, and no strict time constraints, just to name a few.
Whereas there is no doubt video lectures are available to pretty much everyone, it’s worth taking on board a few basic tricks that will help you deliver a nice-looking course and receive great feedback. Let’s delve into it and see how to make your recording stand out from the crowd.
1. Engaging text is half the battle
Someone might argue that text is just a necessary evil in a video lecture, and you should be paying more attention to visuals and the tone of your voice. There is some truth in this, yet your message should always be reinforced with readable text. The rule of thumb here is somewhat hackneyed, but no less relevant – Keep It Short and Simple (K.I.S.S.). After all, it’s just a brief lesson, not a doctoral thesis. As with voice recording and animations, presentational writing has its dos and don’ts.
Starting with the don’ts – never use all caps or mixed fonts unless proving a point or drawing on a highly specific context. Inconsistent fonts look unprofessional and imply the author’s negligence – an effect you definitely want to avoid. Also, sheer away from the Times New Roman font – almost any option is better: Sans Serif, Arial, Calibri, or preferably a custom font if you have the resources.
Make sure you highlight the headings properly and use standard positioning on all slides. Bold headings are fine, italicized might be questionable. Don’t be scared to use large text, this improves user experience and logically diminishes the volume of available text, so you can K.I.S.S. redundancy goodbye.
2. Creatives and colors: A picture is worth a thousand words
Seeing the teacher live is a blessing, but you always need to substantiate your point and make it more accessible to the viewers. In this regard, visuals are hard to overestimate. Screencasting software like Camtasia enables the instructor to share the screen with the audience and display all types of content right from the computer.
In any case, don’t let the text eclipse the look and feel of your course. Use pertinent images to illustrate your key points. Avoid standard PowerPoint imagery and go the extra mile to add tailored visuals. Once you have an image on a slide, try to review its contents and decide whether text is indispensable here or if you can do without it. If you can, let the picture speak for itself.
Coloring is also of vital importance. It can go nicely with your branding and help navigation through the content, or ruin the whole impression should it appear inconsistent with your ideas. Color has its semantics (remember Rimbaud’s polychrome vowels?), so you shouldn’t get carried away.
3. Do research, pick your video tool wisely
With the vast array of free and paid software solutions for creating recording tutorials, screencasts and video lectures, it’s easy to get out of your depth and start making the wrong choices. Before you click the record button, make sure you have your goals crystal clear. Do you need extra effects? Will you need to edit the video after you’re done talking?
For some reasonable cutting, joining and tweaking, feel free to try Microsoft Movie Maker, Apple iMovie, Avidemux or any other tools with similar functionality. They should suffice unless you are up to professional post-production.
As for recording a video lecture, the first thing that comes to mind is Microsoft Office Mix. If you are a user of PowerPoint 2013 (or higher) or Office 365, just download this free plug-in and start screencasting with voice over. Office Mix also allows polls and basic reporting so you’ll know how your course performs with your audience. Pay attention to Whiteboard and Marker, and other great features for recording video lectures in the Mix software. That said, there are plenty more fish in the sea, so keep looking until you find the right balance between easy and feature-packed.
4. Audio tips. What you hear is what you get
Now, back to general tech tips. When recording narrations, make sure you create a solid working environment and try to minimize possible distractions. Keep your location quiet. If you are recording a live class at the whiteboard, repeat students’ questions to keep up the integrity of your discourse, and avoid off-record comments or private chats.
In a classic setup where it’s just you and your webcam, consider standalone equipment instead of an embedded microphone. Don’t forget to do a short test run before you’ve made too much progress to start afresh. Once you are finished, eliminate bloopers, redundancies, and pauses. Make sure your course dynamics are unimpaired.
5. Video pointers. Multiple views for better exposure
If you are using a classic whiteboard to unveil your ideas, make sure there is no glare, and students can always see what you are pointing at. Otherwise, don’t neglect to elaborate on your whiteboard visuals should they appear too small to be captured correctly. If you want to completely disengage yourself from a brick-and-mortar infrastructure, try digital inking or an interactive pen tool that comes in a package with some authoring software.
It’s also nice to get your live image in the top or bottom right corner along with the main lesson-flow. With a greater technical opportunity, try adding several feeds, i.e. an instructor camera and a wide shot camera that would record your whiteboard, instruments or sophisticated equipment.
6. Get feedback right away, or allow summary questions
You might want to take your lecture to the next level and turn it into a dialogue. Don’t hesitate to put your discourse on hold and check if the audience catches your drift. Use special software like Zaption to embed interactive questionnaires that your students have to fill in before they go on watching. That’s how you can understand whether you are on the right track, and adjust your course on the fly to cover difficult issues.
Built-in quizzes boost engagement and self-assessment. Let them remain ungraded, the key point is to get quick feedback and see what you can improve. Bridge the gleaned information with a learning management system (LMS) for better analysis and follow up.
7. Publication. Make it viral!
Many authoring tools give you an opportunity to publish video on YouTube in just a coupe clicks, right from their interface. Mind your mobile audience, and make sure your content converts well and remains available on smartphones and tablets, as well as laptops and desktop computers. If you are hesitant about the format, opt for the universally supported MP4, AVI or MOV. Be careful with Flash – you may get in real trouble on Apple gadgets. HTML5 is always a smarter choice for conversion. To play your video lecture in an LMS, save the content as a SCORM or TinCan package.
I hope you’ll find the tips useful. At the end of the day, what really matters is your content. The tone of your voice, body language, and adequate gestures are important as well, and sadly, there is no software that could help us with that. It’s never too late to master delivery style, there is no limit to perfection. Last but not least, borrow responsibly: every image, audio, and video has an author, so make sure you respect copyright policies. Let us know in the comments which video creation and editing tips have served you best.
Happy video lecturing!
Scott Winstead has been actively engaged in the universe of eLearning technology for over 15 years. Scott is a passionate blogger, an LMS expert and experienced web surfer who knows how to blend siloed online services into a comprehensive training ecosystem. You can contact him via LinkedIn.