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Video Recording Tips and Best Practices

Whether you’ve never presented to a virtual audience before or you’ve done this for years, here are some quick tips that can help you showcase your work in the best way.

First and foremost

  • Don’t panic if you make a mistake. Just keep going. Getting tripped up will not ruin your recorded presentation.
  • Remember that people are not looking for perfection. They are drawn to authentic and engaging interactions. Be yourself.
  • Video is an interpersonal medium. Unlike talking to a large audience, you’re talking to an individual. Try to think of it as a one-on-one conversation. 

Get yourself ready

  • If you are using a script, practice your presentation a few times. Consider having someone watch you practice and provide feedback.
  • If you are presenting with a PowerPoint, get comfortable with talking and advancing your slides.
  • Have a glass of water available. You never know if you will need it.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows you are recording to ensure there are no interruptions.
  • Dress as if you are presenting at a live, professional event.

Focus on the learner

  • Keep eye contact with the camera, not the screen. Looking at the camera comes across as if you are engaging with the audience and having a conversation, which keeps people watching. Even though it is tempting, do not watch yourself talking, read your notes, or look at your slides the whole time.
  • Make sure the light source is in front of you. Having a light source (e.g., window, lamp) behind you darkens your face and body. Turn your computer so that you are facing a window or lamp. 
  • Don’t lean in. Put your laptop on boxes or books so that you are sitting up straight and looking directly at the camera. 
  • Do not use a background image. While the technology can be fun and it can be appealing to hide unwanted items behind you, the background feature is very buggy. Viewers find speakers popping in and out of the background distracting and it will take away from your presentation and the important information you are trying to share.
  • Double check what is behind you. Are there personal items everywhere? Is the bathroom or bedroom door open? Make sure your environment is clean and organized.

If you are recording with another presenter

  • Determine who will be adding sources (e.g., PowerPoint slides) into the scene before you hit record.
  • Rehearse your introductions to avoid talking over one another
  • Create clear talking points and designate who is saying what
  • Discuss how transitions will be handled
  • Remember that even when you are not speaking, you may still be visible on camera. Stay engaged as much as possible.

Before you hit record

  • Quit all software not related to your presentation.
  • Software running in the background may interrupt your recording with pop-up or sound notifications, such as email, instant messaging, or antivirus monitoring. Automatic backup software may cause the recording to stutter if it starts backing up your computer during your presentation.
  • Always do a short test recording of your presentation to ensure that everything is working correctly. After viewing the result, make any adjustments to the microphone or video settings as needed. Then, start a new recording session and record your full presentation.

Recommended Gear

Most laptops and desktops come with a mic and camera, but you may be interested in upgrading your equipment to provide a more professional video. Following is a list of external mics, cameras and lights that will greatly improve your video quality for around $200.

  • External Camera – Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 or C922
  • Ring Light – Emart 10 inch Selfie Ring Light with Adjustable Tripod
  • Mic – Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Mic

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