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Behavioral

Topics in this section will cover:

  • Storyboard your presentation
  • Minimize noise (room and personal)
  • Be conscious of time (Feel free to pause recording)
  • Slow down—telegraph your actions, don't be spastic with mouse
  • Clearly denote mistakes—don't worry about ums coughs, etc.
  • Modulate your voice (drink water, blow nose, deep breathing)

Storyboard Your Presentation

You are familiar with the old carpenter’s adage “Measure twice, cut once.” Along those lines, it is best practice to map out your screencast prior to recording. Why? You are much more likely to ramble and take a circuitous route in your screencast training if you don’t have a detailed plan.

You can use a variety of storyboarding software products to help you define your flow, or you can use good old fashioned pencil and paper. Regardless, the notion is that we want to be crystal clear as to what information we need to convey, and how we intend to convey it.

Minimize Noise

Because I record my screencasts at home, the physical environment poses special challenges for me. Between our toddler, the HVAC unit, my wife (etc. etc. etc.), finding a quiet time to record is sometimes amazingly difficult.

If you are fortunate enough to have a very quiet workspace in which to record, then you are a fortunate screencaster, indeed.

Sometimes audio “bleed” can occur with your recordings from lesser thought-about sources. Consider your computer: Should you move it further away from your microphone to minimize fan noise? Do you have a ceiling fan in the room? Perhaps you should turn it off during recording so as not to perturb the air so much.

Make sure the physical environment just around the microphone is free of clutter. You don’t want the sounds of wrappers crinkling, paper rustling, and so forth during your presentation.

Be Conscious of Time

In education, we have lots of nutshell wisdom. One time-tested truism is that the best teachers “tell ‘em what they will learn, teach ‘em the material, and then remind ‘em of what they learned.”

This should be your guiding mantra as you plan out the content of your screencast. Strive to reduce or eliminate “fluff.” Stick to the core, “need to know” concepts, and reject any speech or actions that do not directly contribute to your goal (your audience will thank you for your brevity, believe me).

Recall, also, that many video sharing websites have time limits on videos, so again, the shorter the better pays large dividends.

Slow Down and Modulate Your Voice

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that you want to apply a Zen-like calm to your mouse movements during screencast recordings so as not to annoy or distract your audience. Likewise, work to make your speech during narrations dynamic and not monotonic, slow but not noticeably slow, and clear as a proverbial bell.

Yes, this is a tall order, and is likely to require lots and lots of practice—perhaps even formal voice training.

Some individuals and companies hire professional voice talent to do the audio tracks in their screencasts if they feel they cannot reach the predescribed ideal.

Clearly Denote Mistakes

If you happen to burp, cough, or otherwise stumble during recording (this will occur frequently, I promise you), don’t scratch the entire recording. Instead, pause the recording, collect yourself, and upon resuming recording say “mistake” with a couple of seconds padded before and after the word.

This discipline will pay off handsomely during post-production when you want to snip out the mistakes. The “mistake” keyword surrounded by silence shows up in the audio waveform in a characteristic way that becomes super-easy to identify over time. We’ll talk more about this in the final installment of this series.

Conclusion

I hope that you found these tips helpful. In the third and final installment of this series, you will receive best-practice advice on editing and producing your screencasts. Thanks for reading, and take care!

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