I’m always interested in learning more about new tools that are available for e-learning developers, so last weekend I decided to try my hand using the free screencasting tool Screenr!
Before I made my first recording, I did a bit of homework into what goes into a great screen recording and I’ve compiled some of the top tips and techniques. Follow these Do’s and Don’ts of screen recording to help you create your own screencast!
Select a topic
- Do have a clear purpose for the screencast
- Do keep it short and simple
If the process is too long, chunk it down and make several short videos. This is something I learned myself as I was trying to cram a somewhat complicated 10 step process into a 5 minute video. I realized I was trying to show too much at once, and broke it down into two five-step processes instead.
Write a script or storyboard
- Do script out your process step-by-step. (This is a critical step. Without the script you might forget a step, ramble about useless information, do something backwards, etc.).
- Do create a storyboard of the different shots, or screens, you need to capture and in which order.
- Do include any “set-up” instructions that are required to do your screencast in your storyboard. For example, you might need the application to be logged in and displaying a specific window, or you might need certain data or information to already be input in the system. Think along the lines of cooking shows – some things take too long to demonstrate in the time available, so different versions of the dish are made ahead of time and are ready in varying degrees, so they can just pull it out of the oven and Voila!
Select your recording software
If you’re unsure about which software you’d like to purchase, you can download a free trial of any of the paid software options to get a feel for the features and interface
Set up your screen/applications
- Do close all other applications and windows.
- Do hide your start menu and any visible taskbars, menus.
- Do turn off all pop-ups, alerts, and notifications.
- Do have all the data you need in front of you (if you need to input data as part of your process).
- Do hide your favorites, quick links, and any other personal information that might show up on the screen if using an Internet browser (no one wants to see your personal links).
- Do use an “administrator” or “general user” account (if possible) so your recording doesn’t reveal any names or personal information.
- Do ensure applications are open, running, and ready to go before you start recording. Set it up to the exact screen you’d like to start from – don’t waste time navigating to a screen unless it’s an important part of the process that learners need to see.
Select an appropriate screen size/resolution
- Do take screen size into consideration. The recording size will depend on things like: your audiences’ monitor display resolution, the size of the slides in your e-learning course, etc. At this point in time, it’s probably still safe to optimize for 1024 x 768.
- Do keep the recording area as small as possible – without making it so small that you can’t see features or easily navigate in the application (this will help minimize file size).
Practice, practice, practice.
- I don’t think I need to elaborate!
Use the right equipment
- Do have a good microphone.
This is another thing I learned myself when I did my first few recordings using my laptop’s mouse trackpad and the built-in microphone. Result: really crappy audio quality. Since then I went to Best Buy and bought microphone for under 30$ and the audio quality is now far superior. Apparently learners will tolerate bad visuals over bad audio, so this is key!
Control your voice
- Do speak clearly and enunciate words.
- Do stick to the script.
- Do add some personality.
- Do use emphasis at key moments.
- Don’t use jargon or overcomplicated words.
- Don’t breathe too loudly, smack your lips, etc.
- Don’t talk too close to the microphone.
- Don’t say “so, like, eh, um,”. Personally – I am really bad at this, but working on it. Very helpful to have a clear script to follow.
- Don’t be monotone and boring.
Control ambient sounds
- Do choose a nice, quiet location to do your recording.
- Do make sure your heater or air conditioner won’t come on.
- Do put your cell phone on silent and unplug the landline (or turn off the ringer).
- Do put your cat or dog outside.
This is yet one more thing I discovered firsthand (experience is the best teacher, they say!) as I was recording last weekend. I had the PERFECT screencast going — everything was going exactly according to script, I wasn’t saying “so” too much… so of course, my dog chose that moment to break out into a horrible, hacking cough in the background. Thanks, Charlie. Now I go into another room when I need to record.
Edit your recording
- Free: Windows Movie Maker, Apple iMovie (for Mac users)
- Purchase: Camtasia, Adobe Captivate, Articulate Storyline
Share your recording
- Do share it on video sharing sites (YouTube, Screenr, Vimeo, etc.)
- Do share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
So far following these tips have really helped me improve my recordings – however, it’s like everything else in life, practice makes perfect! The more screencasts you record, the more comfortable you will be with it, and your recordings will improve over time. If you have any other tips or best practices that I did not include, please leave a comment…. and since you made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!