The Ultimate Guide to Easily Make Instructional Videos

how to make instructional videos illustrated hero

What do you do when you need to learn something new? What if you need to know how to fix something? Or what if you need to learn how to use a new software or service?

You probably look for a video. And you’re not alone.

According to a recent TechSmith study, 53% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week (up 152% compared to 2013).

Regardless of your industry, instructional videos are the best delivery method if you’re serious about teaching others, growing your business, or building an online course.

If you’re looking to level-up your video skills and knowledge, you’ll love this guide.

Research shows that when people look for answers to their questions, they prefer to consult a video. In fact:

You may be wondering, how do I create online training videos?

Unfortunately, it can be a challenge for many small businesses, educators, and entrepreneurs to find the time to create video content.

That’s why we’re here to help! And it’s much easier than you might think.

In this guide, we share the secrets to easily creating professional-quality training and tutorial videos. We know what works (and what doesn’t) and we’ll show you exactly what to do to make how-to and instructional videos.

Make your own instructional videos today!

Download Camtasia and FREE templates to quickly and easily make your own tutorial and training videos.


Here’s what you’ll find in this free guide to create great instructional videos:

Part 1: What is an instructional video?

An instructional video is any video that demonstrates a process, transfers knowledge, explains a concept, or shows someone how to do something.

Creating instructional videos isn’t limited to instructional design professionals. At least, not anymore. Anyone, in any industry, can (and probably should) create instructional videos.

Here are a few examples of types of instructional videos you can create:

Micro videos

Micro videos are short instructional videos that focus on teaching a single, narrow topic. They’re usually less than a minute long and appeal to today’s media consumers, who have notoriously short attention spans.

Tutorial videos

Tutorial videos are the go-to instructional method for teaching a process or providing step-by-step instructions. Usually between 2-10 minutes long, tutorial videos may leverage multiple instructional methods.

Sometimes referred to as “how-to” videos, the best ones are carefully planned and have a professional touch.

Training videos

Training videos (or employee training videos) are designed to improve an employee’s workplace skills. Companies often create online training videos to cover interpersonal topics, such as compliance and harassment training, or job-related topics, such as hardware and software training.

Training videos often use footage of real people to connect the trainer and trainee. These can be interactive videos and often fit in among a larger training course.

Explainer videos

Explainer videos are short types of videos (usually less than two minutes) that explain a business concept or product in an entertaining, visual way. They typically use basic animations to explain a larger topic, product, or service. Explainer videos simplify complex ideas into easily digestible content.

Presentation videos

Recording a presentation makes it available for an audience to watch after the fact — perfect for people who want to rewatch and reabsorb the content or for those who may not have been able to attend the in-person event. This might be as simple as recording just the audio for a presentation, or as advanced as recording PowerPoint point slides, a webcam, and a separate microphone all at once.

Lecture and presentation capture tend to be longer than a tutorial video and span the length of the entire class or presentation. This makes them more time intensive to consume and requires a higher level of investment from the audience.

Screencast videos

Screencasts tend to be quick and informal, and are usually intended for a smaller audience than tutorial videos. These videos are digital video recordings of your computer screen and usually include audio narration.

The format lends itself to just-in-time teaching, where an instructor, colleague, or manager can quickly create a screencast to answer a question or clear up a problematic concept. Often considered “disposable” videos, screencasts can be made quickly, with lower production value, and for a specific purpose — often with a short lifespan.

As you can see, instructional videos go by a variety of different names. But whether you need to make a how-to video or a tutorial, the goal is the same. Unlike other forms of video, an instructional video instructs. Of course, while you don’t want boring videos, your main goal is for your viewers to comprehend and learn what you are teaching them.

Part 2: Common mistakes people make when creating videos

When it comes to making instructional videos there are a few common mistakes people make. Here are a few you can easily avoid:

1. Not knowing your audience

Knowing your audience is critical. If you don’t know your audience, it’s all but impossible to make a helpful video. Understanding your audience will guide key decisions about your videos.

General information is helpful, but thinking about a specific individual that is representative of your audience – what their problems are, why they will be watching your video, what they like and don’t like – will help you make a more focused and detailed video.

Later in this guide, I’ll show you the right questions to ask to get a clear picture of your audience.

how to make instructional videos nick


Nick Nimmin

Find Nick on YouTube: NickNimmin

“[Y]our audience for your videos is the same people that you’re targeting for your product in the first place. … [I]f people are buying your product, then people are looking for how to use that product, how to get better at that product. Things about that product that they might not know initially when they take it out of the box. They’re looking for that kind of information.” – Nick Nimmin

2. Trying to make it perfect

Too often people worry about getting things perfect. It’s good to remember that perfect is an illusion. If you start with perfection in mind, it will paralyze your creative process and you will struggle to begin.

Remember, the goal of creating video content isn’t to create the perfect video, it’s to create a video that teaches something.

how to make instructional videos sean


Sean Cannell

Find Sean on YouTube: THiNKmediaTV

“Punch perfectionism in the face. Punch fear in the face, and just hit publish, because you just got to put out your first videos, and the reality…is your first videos are going to be your worst videos. We all start horrible, and I think that’s the fear. We’re afraid of putting out some bad videos…just accept the fact they’re going to be bad, and get those ones out there.” – Sean Cannell

3. Worrying too much about equipment

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you don’t have the right tools to create quality videos. It’s fun to have the latest and greatest gear, but it’s far from a necessity. Learn the basics, then start to upgrade your tools. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to make great videos, and I’ll prove it later in this guide when I show you the equipment we use to make great videos.

how to make instructional videos andrew

Andrew Kan

“So many people focus on ‘I don’t have the right gear’ and ‘I don’t have the right camera,’ but they don’t really think about, well, what is my message? What am I trying to get across with my brand? They don’t want to just be told, buy my product. If you can make someone feel something, if you can make them relate to what you’re doing, that’s more important than any piece of gear.” – Andrew Kan

Part 3: How to make an instructional video with screen recording

Most people who end up making videos didn’t expect that someday they’d be making videos. They stumbled upon the job. The result of this is a lot of people don’t approach their first video with a well thought out plan.

But, the greatest secret of all is that great videos start with great planning.

The essentials for a complete tutorial video plan include:

  • Step 1: Determine and get know your audience
  • Step 2: Write a storyboard and script
  • Step 3: Record your narration
  • Step 4: Record your screen
  • Step 5: Make a few edits
  • Step 6: Add a video intro
  • Step 7: Produce and share

How to Make Tutorial Videos | Camtasia | TechSmith

Step 1. Determine and get to know your audience

Before you even think about hitting the record button, get to know your audience and understand why they need help.

If you have a product or service, talk to your customers about how they use your product and where they struggle. If you’re teaching a class, find out what learning outcomes your students hope to gain. Are you training a new hire? Ask yourself what questions they need to be answered to be most successful.

Then use that information to choose tutorial topics that will help the most people.

WARNING: As tempting as it may be, DO NOT skip this first step. Even if you know your audience like the back of your hand, it’s still vital to get that information out of your head and into an outline.

Before you move on to step two, make sure to answer these questions about your audience and video:

1. What is your topic? Pick ONE topic per video. By narrowing your scope, your video will be more focused, and easier to create. You’ll also ensure your video is the appropriate length to keep your viewers’ attention.

2. Who is the audience? Start with basic demographic information like education, age, professional organizations, association with other groups and then advance to their interests, concerns, and goals.

  • Why do they care about this topic? Make sure you know why your audience will care. This will ensure you address their concerns and reasons for watching the video.
  • What is the learning objective? Having a clear learning objective helps you provide clearer instruction with a more achievable outcome.
  • How does it benefit them? If someone is going to invest time watching your video, what value are they going to take away?

Do you want more tips on creating videos? Watch the entire Video Workflow series.

In this short video you’ll get even more questions to consider when planning your video, like:

  • Where is your video going to be hosted or end up?
  • What is the best size for that location?
  • Do you want to add interactivity, like quizzes or interactive hot spots?
  • Do you need accessibility features, like captions?

Step 2. Write a storyboard and script


Once you have your topic and know your audience, I recommend you create a storyboard to outline and visualize what you plan to show.

Answering these questions will help you create a video that’s clear, concise, and interesting to your audience. By spending a little time researching your audience, you’ll know exactly what they are looking for online. You’ll avoid losing viewers, reduce confusion, and help viewers retain your information.

Some people get really creative and draw elaborate pictures.

Honestly, though, they can be as simple as this:

Quick sketches and stick figures are perfectly fine for live video. For a screencast or screen recording, you can use a series of simple screenshots to roughly show what you plan to display with the narration.

When you finish storyboarding and you have your plan in hand you’re ready to record, right?

Not quite. Before you go any further, write a script.

Do you want more tips on creating videos? Watch the entire Video Workflow series.


A script (even a simple one) will help you be efficient with what you say, saving you and your viewers time. You’re also far less likely to forget something.

Here are a few scriptwriting tips to get you started.

  • Write your script like your explaining the process to a friend. Use simple language and avoid jargon.
  • Show and tell. Instead of simply giving a play-by-play of your on-screen actions, “first I click this, then I click that,” let the actions speak for themselves. Take time to both say what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  • Practice, practice … and then practice some more. Be sure to read your script aloud before you record. Many times you’ll find that something that sounded great in your head can be hard to say out loud. If you find yourself getting tripped up, go back and make sure you’re using natural language.
  • Get feedback. Find someone who’s not afraid to tell you what they really think and send them your script. This might seem scary at first, but once you get used to receiving feedback, it becomes an essential part of the scripting process.

Step 3. Record your voice over

With your script in hand, it’s time to record the narration. Camtasia comes with a built-in, easy-to-use voice recording feature and can be an excellent option.

But I also want to take this opportunity to introduce you to TechSmith Audiate.

Audiate takes voiceover recording and editing to an entirely different level by transcribing your voice in real time — as you record. Then, you can literally edit your audio just like you would edit text in a document.

So, rather than staring at a wave form and trying to figure out exactly what you said and where, you can see it right on your screen. 

Audiate even automatically flags all your “ums,” “uhs,” and other hesitations so you can easily find and delete them. You can even delete them all at once. 

Already have a voice over recorded? Import it into Audiate and it will transcribe it for you.

When you’re done, save audio file and import it into Camtasia. You can even export the edited text as a transcript or as an SRT file for captions.

I’ve been doing video and audio recording work for years and I’m quite comfortable using professional audio recording software like Adobe Audition, but if I’m doing voice over work, you can bet I’m using Audiate because it’s the best and easiest way to record voice overs.

Next, if you can, get your hands on the best microphone you can find. Even a middle-of-the-road mic (like the one connected to your headphones) will provide much better sound quality than the one built into your computer.

Do you want more tips on creating videos? Watch the entire Video Workflow series.

Then, find a quiet place to record. At TechSmith, have a recording studio with sound dampening foam, which is great, however, we realize this isn’t feasible for everyone. If you want a low-cost solution, a broom closet or small office can sometimes get you a pretty similar sound.

When you’re ready, record your script and make sure to speak slowly and clearly. If you make mistakes, don’t start over, simply pause, then start again right before you made the mistake. You can always remove the mistakes when you’re finished.

I recommend using Audacity or Adobe Audition to remove mistakes and any extra noise from your audio.

With your audio narration done, you can record your video.

Check out this blog for more information on how to record the perfect voice over for your instructional videos.

Step 4. Record your screen

Start by cleaning up your computer screen and closing unnecessary applications. Turn off notifications that might pop up. Follow these directions to get crisp, clear, screen video. The last thing you want after you record all your footage is to realize you have a blurry video.

TIP: When you choose a screen capture or screencasting software, pick a tool with built-in recording, editing, and sharing features. It will save you time and let you do all of your work in one tool.

Open the application you want to record and conduct a few practice walkthroughs of exactly what you want to show your viewers. This will help you get smooth cursor motions and, in the end, you’ll have less editing to do.

Then, open the Camtasia recorder and record your screen just as you practiced. Remember, if you make a mistake, simply pause and then start right before the mistake. You can always smooth things out when editing later on.

If you want a simple way to increase engagement and help viewers connect with your content, try adding a webcam recording to your screencast.

When you finish recording your desktop, you can edit your video.

Step 5. Edit the video

Most people feel like they need to be a professional video editor to make a nice looking video. But you don’t need expensive editing tools or a lot of knowledge to get started.

It takes just a few steps and some simple video editing tips.

📺 Recommended Viewing: How to Edit Video

To start, cut out mistakes by selecting them with the playhead, then clicking cut. To trim extra footage from the ends or your recording, drag the end of the clip in.


Editing In-Depth | Camtasia | TechSmith

When you finish editing the video, add your audio narration. With your narration on the timeline, you can use clip speed and extend frame to sync the audio and video in your project.

Ripple Move & Extend Frame | Camtasia | TechSmith

Here are a few examples of simple edits:

  • If you need more time to explain a concept split the clip and use extend frame to essentially freeze the video.
  • To speed up a boring part of your recording, add clip speed, then drag the handles to speed it up.
  • Or to focus your viewer’s attention, use animations to zoom in on the important parts.

Step 6. Add a video intro

A video intro leads your viewers into your content, but don’t get too crazy. Keep your intro simple and to the point. Viewers want to get to the meat of your content. They don’t care about anything other than what you promised to teach them.

A good intro clearly lays out the topic and quickly explains what the viewers can expect to learn.

To create your own video intro, add some space at the beginning of your video. Hold the shift key on your keyboard and drag the playhead to the right.

Then, open your media bin and select the Library tab. From the “Motion Graphics – Intro Clips” folder, drag the intro you like onto the timeline.

Camtasia comes stocked with a few built-in video intro templates, but you can get an entire catalog of pre-made video assets, including intro templates from TechSmith Assets.

To customize your intro clip, select it on the timeline and then edit the text and shapes in the properties panel. Enter text, choose a font, and change any colors or other settings for the shapes and text.

After you have your video all put together, now is a great time to add some music to your video. While it’s not required, music can make a good video that much better. For a how-to or video lesson, try to choose something upbeat and positive. You want your viewers to feel good as they’re learning.

Step 7. Produce and share

Finally, think about where your video will live. There are many video hosting options to choose from these days. You can share your video to an online video platform like YouTube, Vimeo, or Screencast, or you can choose to save the video as a local file. You can also share directly to your favorite social media site.

We’ve found that the majority of our users prefer to store finished videos on YouTube, especially for external videos. There are many great reasons to put your education and learning videos on YouTube.

We also have a free guide, if you want to learn our exact tips and tricks on how to make a YouTube video.

screencast hosting pie chart

Before sending your video out into the world, I recommend sharing your video with a few people to get some video feedback.

This helps ensure your message is clear and your video accomplishes your goals.

Does your institution need a hosting platform for instructional video content? Request a free trial of Panopto here.

Part 4: How to create a training video with a camera

This is where we start to level up. There are a lot of similarities between a screencast and creating training video with a camera. You still need a video plan, a script, and the right tools, but stepping in front of the camera also brings some new challenges.

Here are a few unique things to consider when creating a training video that includes camera video.

How to Create Training Videos | Camtasia | TechSmith

Start by gathering any equipment you need for your video. Remember, don’t get overwhelmed by equipment. For example, in the video above, we only used five tools:

  • Tripod
  • Smartphone
  • Phone clip (to keep the camera steady and attach it to the tripod)
  • A clean backdrop
  • Lights

Set up your recording space and make sure the area is well lit. You’ll either want to record in a spot that has a lot of natural light or add some video lighting to your equipment list.

Place your camera on a tripod and position it as close to your subject as possible, while still getting everything you need in the shot. Being close to the subject will help you get the best possible audio when recording with a smartphone camera.

When the scene is set, use your storyboard and script to guide you through each step.

Remember, just because you have a camera video, it doesn’t mean you can’t also use screen video. Some of the best tutorial and training videos include both! Camtasia makes it easy to combine camera and screen video in one project.

Part 5: The true cost of making tutorial, training, and explainer videos

Before you roll up your sleeves DIY style or hand off your project to a professional video company, let’s take a step back and make sure the right people are making your video.

Budget often plays a large role in this decision, you may want to start by considering the impact you want the video to have.

Here are a few questions to ask when weighing the options.

  • How many videos do I need?
  • How much money am I willing to spend?
  • Is this video going to lead the marketing efforts for a campaign?
  • Will it live in a prominent place, such as on a website landing page?

Below, I’ve laid out the pros and cons of common options for creating an instructional video.

Hire an outside company

If there’s a lot depending on this video (and you only need one), you might want to consider hiring an external company to produce a “knock their socks off” level video. But buyer beware. This will cost you a lot of time and money. Furthermore, if you want to edit the video further for use in other places, you’ll have to pay extra for that.


Video production companies have the talent, skills, and experience to create the best explainer videos. Good companies work with you to make your video exactly how you want it.


It’ll cost you. The average cost for a custom 60-second explainer video is roughly $8,000. And just one professionally-made tutorial video can cost $10,000 or more.

Make your own videos

This is my favorite option because if you create your videos in-house you’ll have more control over the budget and complete creative freedom. A screencast tool like Camtasia is a perfect option for those looking for a DIY option.


You have complete creative freedom and more control over the budget.


You’re limited by your own skills, time, software, and hardware.

And, while you might never reach the level of a full-time video producer, you’ll be amazed at the quality of the videos you can create with just a little bit of practice.

What’s next?

Whether you’re just getting started, or you’re a video ninja, you’ve learned some of the key tools and strategies to create successful instructional videos.

Take this guide, download a free trial of Camtasia, and hop in.

Camtasia is built for anyone who needs to make any kind of instructional video. We offer a ton of helpful tutorials to get you started. And, for the record, we make 100% of our tutorials and other screencasts using Camtasia.

If you want to learn even more about creating videos, try out the new TechSmith Academy. It’s a totally free resource designed to level-up new video creators!

No time to read the whole guide?

Don’t worry. Get a free PDF version so you can read it whenever you want.

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Frequently asked questions

How long should instructional videos be?

According to TechSmith research, the majority of viewers prefer videos of 1-6 minutes in length. However, there is also an appetite for longer videos of up to 20 minutes. It all depends on your topic and audience. In some cases, a longer video may be more successful.

How do you make a training video?

You can make a training video with a camera, screen recorder, and video editor. Just make sure you plan out your content first and know exactly who the audience is for your video.

What is the best software for making video tutorials?

Camtasia is the best software for making tutorial videos. You want to have a tool that is simple use, but flexible enough to take on larger projects down the road. Camtasia is a screen recorder with a built-in video editor.

What are video tutorials?

Tutorial videos are the go-to instructional method for teaching a process or providing step-by-step instructions. Usually between 2-10 minutes long, tutorial videos may leverage multiple instructional methods.

Can streaming video be recorded?

Absolutely! You can easily capture or record live streaming video and share it with your friends, your coworkers, or save it for later viewing. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it will bring order to a chaotic media landscape.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated in July 2020 for accuracy and to include new information.

How Online Leadership is Changing in Higher Education

online leadership hero

The following session was presented at Educause 2019 by Eric Fredericksen, Associate Vice President, University of Rochester; Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer, Eduventures, National Research Center for College & University Admissions; and Ron Legon, Executive Director Emeritus, Quality Matters.

Who manages online programs at most universities? What does a chief online officer (COO) do, and how does that overlap with the head of IT?  

The most recent survey from Quality Matters and Eduventures Research of online officers across all sectors of US higher education answers these questions. In its fourth year, CHLOE – an acronym for changing landscapes in online education – gathered feedback from 367 respondents, up from 104 in 2016 ﹘ the largest response yet. 

“We’re quite happy with how the survey has taken hold, ” said Ron Legon, Executive Director Emeritus at Quality Matters.

COO on the rise

More institutions now have a COO than ever before. While only 15% of higher education institutions surveyed had a COO pre-2001, now almost all have one, even if the title varies. 

“In most cases, this position is situated on the academic side of the house,” Ron explained, although some report to the president of the institution.  

Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer, Eduventures, National Research Center for College and University Admissions, at the podium giving a session at Educause 2019 about the latest CHLOE 3 survey results.
Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer, Eduventures, National Research Center for College and University Admissions, explains how the relationship between the CIO and COO may be linked with enrollment.

What COOs actually do

How exactly do COOs help oversee online teaching and learning?

At least half of all COOs in the study oversees an array of responsibilities including instructional design and course development, quality assurance, LMS support/administration, online budgeting, online policy-making, and student/faculty training. In addition to technical knowledge, COOs need excellent collaboration skills as well. 

“One of the top duties of the COO is coordination between the academic units,” Ron said.

Relationships evolve

Considering the growing presence of COOs and the potential overlap in duties with IT, what is the relationship between those two senior officer positions? 

“This year, for the first time, we asked them how they relate to other senior officers at the institution,” Ron said. “Specifically, we wanted to find out the relationship between two top officers ﹘ the COO and Chief Information Officer (CIO).” 

Eric Fredericksen, Associate Vice President at the University of Rochester, echoed the mindset of many administrators. 

“The common question that comes up is: ‘What are our peer institutions doing?’” Eric asked. “We need the anecdotal experience of working faculty and administrators to find out what the working relationship is between the CIO and COO.  Is it collaborative? Are they separate parallel tracks that seldom intersect? Or is one person wearing both hats?”

In the majority of institutions surveyed, the COO and CIO collaborate as peers, from 56% of the time at community colleges to 77% in larger universities. The two roles tend to collaborate more in institutions that have restructured to maximize the benefits of online and distance learning. Looking at Carnegie classifications, Research and Masters institutions have a high incidence of collaborating roles as well.  

“It sends a message that as online learning grows, it benefits from a closer collaboration between these two officers and their organizations,” Ron said.

While the teamwork mindset is highly beneficial at that level of leadership, sometimes it can also be tough for faculty and staff. When duties overlap between CIO and COO, students and faculty don’t know who to ask questions, or where to get help. 

Richard Garrett, Chief Research Officer at Eduventures, sees the emergence of this strong relationship as reason to ask more questions about how it will mature in the future. 

“What is the optimal relationship here?” Richard asked. “Should it be a collaboration of these roles, where the COO focuses on remote students and the CIO on campus students? Or do the two roles need to merge?”

Two senior online officers collaborate and discuss strategies while pointing to two large computer screens.

Centralize or not? 

Given the amount of emerging technology for online and blended programs, it’s no wonder colleges grapple with the best way to introduce new solutions. New e-learning technology can come from the CIO, the COO, or from both offices. Sometimes departments choose their own internal systems. In past decades, universities have trended from decentralized to centralized and back again. 

“Does everybody get a sense that this is the wild west, or are we going towards a more centralized structure?,” asked Ron. 

Vendors frequently offer tools directly to faculty and departments, with cloud options that make a department-only pilot feasible. With the best of intentions, sometimes faculty groups roll out new tools without letting IT or even their department heads know ahead of time. With so many shiny new systems in the cloud, it can be difficult to stem rogue rollouts when vendors have turn-key systems. There can also be a fuzzy line about IT approval when programs are used first at home, off premise, and then slowly brought into the institution. 

This increased multi-level array of options may not always be a bad thing. 

“Today’s student, traditional or not, increasingly values the convenience of online learning, whether it makes up an entire program or just a portion. COOs and CIOs need to work together to ensure the student experience is as flexible and integrated as possible,” Richard said. “The CHLOE project will continue to explore this and many other online learning issues.”  

Next steps

The next iteration of the survey ﹘ CHLOE 5 ﹘ will launch next year with a focus on the online learning market. Moving forward, the survey will continue to look at changing landscapes in online education, after its namesake acronym.  

See the Quality Matters website for more information including full CHLOE survey results.  

Do your video tools give faculty an easy way to record, share, edit, and caption videos for online and blended learning? 

TechSmith Knowmia Pro provides industry-leading quizzing and analytics, mobile teaching and learning, and flexible accessibility options.

Learning Online 101: How to Teach Online Course Skills that Improve Student Success

teach online course skills

Can you teach students how to learn online?

A mid-size college without an official online program, CSU Channel Islands was going through a transition.

They knew their large segment of transfer students wanted online courses, so administrators introduced one or two sections of select e-courses — around 12% of total offerings — to provide a few online options.

But instructors initially had reservations. They wanted to make sure students still had a great learning experience, and that faculty wouldn’t be inundated with technical issues.

Jill Leafstedt, Ph.D Associate Vice Provost, Innovation and Faculty Development, explained the sentiment around campus. “Faculty wanted to teach online. But they didn’t want all the student questions that come along with it.”

Imagine what’s possible for e-course skills

Jill Leafstedt, Ph.D Associate Vice Provost, Innovation and Faculty Development, CSU Channel Islands

The learning design team started to brainstorm solutions, searching for a preemptive one that would prevent issues before they even started. What if they could teach students how to learn online, to make the entire process smoother for both faculty and students?

They liked the idea, but still had questions. Can a “how to learn online” student orientation reduces the technical support concerns of faculty? If so, what is the best way to prep students across all departments for online learning? According to research by Britto & Rush (2013), students who participate in an orientation have higher retention rates. That was inspiring in and of itself. 

It was definitely worth a try. The learning design team began to create an interactive course that orients students to the online environment.

Building a human-centered course

Working together to establish overall goals, administrators knew that the orientation should cover much more than just technical know-how. “We want students to feel more confident, more connected to the institution and each other,” explained Jamie Hoffman, design consultant.

The course also needed to prepare students for academic success, and of course, introduce and immerse students in the technology they’ll use in online courses.

Administrators started the program slowly. They recruited a student test group for feedback, which gave them a critical recommendation — include videos of students. After this first phase, a small group of faculty ran a pilot with their own students. After that, a larger pilot with 10 faculty gave feedback, and designers made changes from there. 

A self-paced one-to-three hour online course, “Learning Online 101” consists of five modules, including sections on how to have a positive mindset as well as how to navigate the online classroom, with details such as where to find assignments and how to use the LMS and find their instructor’s office hours. There is also an emphasis on time management and how to use the broader campus support system, including e-resources at the library. 

Going beyond tech

Initially unsure of the ideal course length, they instead made sure to cover the most important topics. “This was a little bit of a test because we figured students were going to orientation to learn technical skills,” said Jamie, “but they really appreciated the other sections, too.” Students liked the hands-on nature of navigating the course itself. “They were given the opportunity throughout the course to use the technology,” said Jamie, and they even got an overview of soft technical skills such as netiquette.

“I really wanted to get the technical stuff out of the way,” said Jill. “Going beyond the technical support and thinking about the larger issues — how do I manage my time, how do I connect, are essential.” Since self-guidance is an important skill for independent online learners, administrators knew it was important to include that as well. “We actually contemplated an entirely separate section about time management,” said Jamie. 

Relatable and personable

A key part of making the online course relatable was to include the voices and faces of people from the university. “Anywhere and everywhere we put human faces,” said Jamie. “We included a video with faculty talking about their experiences with students, to make it feel as human as possible.” Specifically, the course involved: 

  • A welcome video from the university president 
  • Faculty and student advice videos
  • Images from the Channel Islands community, including photos and images of campus

The humanization of the course was very important. “Students recognize some of their faculty or peers in these videos,” said Jill.  “It makes students feel like it’s their place.” The course also pointed to a real person students can contact for support. “They’re not on campus to create that connection,” explained Jill. “Any way we can help them create that connection online is wonderful.”

Students like the module on ‘Navigating the Online Classroom’ the best, followed by ‘Having a Positive Mindset’. “We thought that was an important start, but we weren’t sure how students would like that,” said Jamie. It was good to see that it resonated. After each course module, students were prompted to earn learning badges, which was a convenient way to track completion. “It also provides us with great data,” said Jill. “It’s useful on the faculty end, and also on our administrative end to know what’s going on in the class.”

By design, the course included interactive elements, which many students completed voluntarily. “It was really reassuring to see that,” said Jamie. Since there’s no way their single learning designer could grade interactive responses from everyone on campus, the course pilot tried several tools, such as AnswerGarden. “Students really enjoyed seeing their peers’ responses,” said Jill.

Rollout, results, and student response

The course, which launched in the fall of 2018, saw 961 out of 8,000 students (about 12% of campus) complete all modules, of which 87% earned a badge. The majority took the course (56%) to prepare for taking a fully online course. Interestingly, quite a few students decided to take the course to enhance existing skills — 68% completed the course even though they had already taken an online course before.

Students had a lot to say about how the course helped them, echoed in this self-reported feedback: “The Online 101 course I believe was very helpful. This is my Senior year at CSUCI and I wish I would have had this course earlier on to help me with past online courses. Although I have taken an online course before, I learned a lot about how to be successful and stay on top of online classwork. It also gave great tips on study skills and how to stay on track! I think it should be mandatory because of how useful it was for me!”

After completion, 63% of students said they felt very prepared to take an online course. 92% of students earned 80% or better on the knowledge checks throughout the modules. Only five students reached out for help on how to complete the course.

Collaboration during the pilot phases led to faculty buy-in, while word of mouth helped spread excitement about the course. “We rolled it out to faculty in a very individual way,” said Jill. Faculty were encouraged to add it to their own courses within the first week of class. “Canvas Commons makes it very easy to share resources across classes,” said Jill. Administrators used screenshots to show faculty how to add it within the LMS. “We really took all the challenges out of it for faculty,” said Jill. Since knowledge checks are automated in the Canvas quizzing feature, it’s easy for faculty to see when students submit their ‘complete’ badge. 

Next steps

Faculty and students like it explained Jill, “but we now have new questions. Is it actually helping student performance in classes?”  Is the impact the same across disciplines? Do students need something extra in different disciplines? “Are faculty receiving fewer technical questions? Does it increase retention in online classes, especially prior to that three-week mark?”  

Now, another CSU campus location wants to adopt this, and place it into their own LMS, BlackBoard. At Channel Islands, Teaching and Learning Innovations offers a voluntary online course meant for professors about humanizing online instruction. They also offer a working group to encourage pedagogical technical skills. While these are both voluntary, the goal is that these offerings will increase digital course skills across campus. 

The above session was presented by the following at Educause: Jamie Hoffman, Independent Learning Consultant, Noodle Partners; Jill Leafstedt, Ph.D Associate Vice Provost, Innovation and Faculty Development, CSU Channel Islands

Ready to create visuals that teach students to learn online?

With Snagit and Camtasia you can easily capture what’s on your screen as compelling screenshots and video lessons. Record, organize, and share videos and images with TechSmith Knowmia Pro along with interactive quizzing and analytics. 

The Top 9 Screen Recording Tips That Will Make You a Better Creator (With Video)

tips for screen recording

Screen recording is a powerful way to share any information that you have on your screen with your viewers.

Before you make your first screencast, these nine essential tips will help you create a quality screen recording that you’ll want to share.

Watch the video, read the post, or do both! Either way, you’ll be well on your way to creating better screen recording videos.

1. You can record anything on your screen

One of the benefits of screen recording is that if you can see it, you can capture it. Anything is fair game – PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, webpages, and everything else that shows up.

The downside of capturing your screen is that you can accidentally record unwanted notifications and popups – sometimes even your cluttered desktop.

Before you start recording, clean up the icons on your desktop. Turn off notifications and disable popups, too.

Example of a messy desktop with cluttered icons, next to a clean desktop with no icons
Too many icons on your screen distract viewers. Instead, a clean desktop makes a better background for your recording.

2. Have a plan about what you’re going to say

It’s easy to ramble when you record. Instead, have a plan.

An outline or script will help guide you through your recording, for a better final video. Write down as much as you need to stay focused. This could be as detailed as exact words, a general list of steps, or any other details that help you stay on point and ensure you don’t forget anything important.

Matt Pierce of TechSmith talks into his webcam, with the word "Ramble"
Without a script or some general direction, it’s easy to be too wordy in your recording.
Example of a screen-recording script including columns describing action and narration
Write down general talking points, or even a full script, to keep your narration focused and concise.

3. Length can impact effectiveness

How long is the ideal screencasting video? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer – it depends. Short videos are great, but if you skip important information, viewers will be annoyed and unhappy.

On the other hand, if you make a long video that has way more information than viewers need, they’ll be bored and stop watching. To get the best video length, focus on the content itself. Include just enough relevant information and your video will be as short as it can be.

4. Audio quality matters

Sound can make a big difference in the overall quality of your screencast recording. Let’s face it folks – one thing that turns off viewers faster than almost anything else is bad audio.

The best way to record good audio is to plan for it before you even start recording.

Don’t use the microphone built into your computer

It’s convenient and works in a pinch, but it won’t give you the best results. Use an external microphone to increase the quality of your audio dramatically. Even an inexpensive USB mic will work.

Get rid of background noise

Your microphone can pick up any noise around you, including relatively quiet ones such as fluorescent lighting and HVAC units, as well as louder ones like your neighbor’s barking dog down the street.

Some screencast programs let you ‘clean’ this type of noise out of the recording afterward, but it’s much better to eliminate them in the first place.

Strategically place your microphone

Make sure it’s located where it can pick up your voice easily and your audience can understand you clearly.

5. Record an appropriate size

It’s easy to record everything on your screen, but you can end up with a not-so-great viewing experience. Instead, record only what’s important. Most screen recording programs let you record just a section of your screen so you can focus on details.

📚Recommended Reading: Getting Crisp, Clear Screen Video

Avoid showing areas that distract, get in the way, or that just don’t help your video’s goal.

If you want to only show one window on your screen, then record only that portion. Your viewers would see the rest of your screen as a distraction.

When you record a section of your screen, make sure the dimensions work wherever you’re going to host your video. Stick with standard ranges. Odd sizes – too tall or too wide – can leave your video with dark filler-bars on the sides or top when viewed on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

If you’re not sure which size to record, it’s okay to include everything on your screen. It’s better to capture it all than to miss something important.

6. If you’re using webcam, make sure it looks good

Don’t underestimate the value of eye contact. Webcam footage builds credibility. Your audience can look into your eyes, see who you are, and more easily relate with your message.

Get yourself in a position to look good on camera. Pay attention to what’s behind you. If there’s something in the background you don’t want to be seen, move it or clean it up.

When recording webcam, take time to position it correctly. Make sure it captures your face – not pointed up your nose, at the top of your forehead, inside your ear, or any other distracting angle.

All that said, you don’t have to use a record your webcam. If you aren’t getting a good result, don’t use it. Your screencast recording can work without it.

7. Watch your mouse cursor

One element you’ll use in almost every screencast is the humble mouse cursor. It shows people where to look on the screen. It helps them follow along and see every movement to make sure they know where you are and what you’re talking about. The mouse cursor is important, so make sure you’re it’s as effective as possible.

Don’t circle things

Moving your mouse cursor around and around as if you’re talking with your hands is going to leave your viewers confused and unsure of where they should look. Instead, move your mouse cursor deliberately, and with purpose.

Don’t move at the speed of light

If you’re moving your mouse across the too fast, your audience won’t know where to look, struggle to follow along, and, ultimately, will stop watching your video.

A frantic cursor is distracting. Instead, keep your mouse humble –  slow it down.

Smooth out cursor motion in screen recordings

The Cursor Smoothing Effect in Camtasia is a great way to add polish to your screen recordings.

The effect takes the movement of the cursor in a screen recording, and turns it into a smooth line, from one point to the next.

8. If you can, cut out mistakes and unneeded content

Mistakes happen to the best of us. You’ll be recording, and your mouse will move to the wrong place, you’ll click on the wrong thing, or another unexpected thing will happen. It’s okay – it’s fixable.

Use a video editor to cut out any problems after the fact. Even if you don’t make any mistakes, there are other reasons to cut out content.

Not only does it help your video be more concise and to the point, it also makes your end result seem more polished and professional.


9. Know where you’re going to share your video

Where to host your video is a burning question you should answer at the start of your video creation process. Decide where to put your video early-on, so you’ll know:

  • Which file type do you need?
  • What dimensions should your video be?
  • What information makes sense to include along with the video file?
  • How will I upload my video (manually or direct)?

The more you know up-front the better, as it helps you create a better video for your viewers.

Well, now you’ve got the basics! If you need a screen recorder, TechSmith offers solutions to capture any area of your screen, edit, add effects, music, and more.

Why You Need Audio Descriptions to Make Online Course Videos Accessible

caption online video courses

Not only does the ADA Section 504-refresh highlight the need for audio descriptions in higher education videos, but it’s also an accessibility best practice that has the potential to benefit all students.

Learn the different types of audio descriptions, how they work, and how to create them so your institution stays compliant.

Are audio descriptions like captions?

Sort of.  Here’s the difference: captions use text to describe what’s being heard on-screen. Audio descriptions (AD) talk through what’s being seen. Put another way, captions help people who are hard of hearing, while audio descriptions help people who have difficulty seeing.

Audio descriptions are also sometimes called ‘video descriptions’ or ‘descriptive narration tracks.’ They all refer to the same thing – an option that gives you all the information from a video without ever opening your eyes.

You’ve probably watched movies that have embedded audio descriptions, even though you didn’t use them yourself (or even know they were there!). Ever see the AD symbol on a DVD? That means the movie has an audio description track that can be turned on as needed. Many movie theaters offer audio description support, too.

Audio descriptions icon

An example – what they sound like
Although visuals are a core strength of video’s ability to convey information, it can be difficult for people with sight loss to understand what’s going on based on standard audio alone. Audio descriptions bridge the gap by narrating what occurs on screen so everyone can understand the meaning.

Here’s an example that demonstrates how audio descriptions can describe important on-screen action that makes the video easier to understand for sight-challenged viewers.

Audio descriptions icon on a still-frame of a popular movie clip, The Lion King

In higher education, audio descriptions are important and providing them is legally required. This is good news because it makes crucial on-screen visuals in online and blended courses available to every student.

Audio descriptions help many types of learners

Audio descriptions help people with a visual disability (more than seven and a half million adults in the United States alone) as well as students with lesser degrees of vision loss.

They can help other students, too. Some people learn better with both audio and visual inputs or are primarily auditory learners. Non-native speakers may like hearing audio descriptions to better understand the language. Students on the autism spectrum can benefit from hearing social/facial cues read aloud.

Student on a jostling bus, using headphones to listen to a video lesson with audio descriptions

Some students turn on audio descriptions simply because they prefer to hear the video lesson. Whether they’re jogging, reviewing a video lesson at night with headphones while their roommate sleeps, or watching videos on a jostling bus, there are many reasons why having the option to treat the lecture like a podcast makes sense.

How to add audio descriptions

There are two main ways to add audio descriptions:

  • Embedded voice descriptions – In this method, audio descriptions are their own separate digital “track,” behind the scenes. They can be turned on as needed. This is the most advanced and versatile method because all students have the same version of the video, and only listen to audio descriptions if they need them.

The best of today’s accessible video platforms now offer features that make it easy to add audio description tracks to videos. In TechSmith Knowmia, formerly TechSmith Relay, you simply log in, go to your video, click on the ‘Accessibility’ tab, and then ‘Manage Audio Description.’

Screenshot of how to add audio descriptions in TechSmith Relay. Click on Accessibility and then Manage Audio Descriptions

Then, upload your audio description track, which can be an Mp3 or M4A file type. Once your video has an audio description track, students can easily turn it on by clicking the AD Track button on the video player.

Screenshot of what video looks like once an audio description track is included, with the AD icon
  • Separate video – Usually only used when embedded tracks are not available, this involves creating a duplicate video with audio descriptions permanently part of the audio, or “burned in.” There’s no option to turn on or off the audio description narration with this method. While this is great for students who always use the narration, having two copies of every video can be confusing and double bandwidth and storage costs.

Create audio descriptions yourself, or outsource

The easiest way to create audio descriptions is to outsource it to a company who does this as a service. Many of the same vendors who create captions can also create audio descriptions and usually charge about $15-$30 per minute.

Another option is to create audio descriptions in-house. It’s more affordable, and you retain complete control of the wording and phrasing.

An instructor creating audio descriptions

Before you begin, learn from those who have done this before and can share best practices. There are a number of preferred ways to explain what’s happening on-screen. It’s helpful and will save you time when you understand common practices. One great resource is the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), which has a handy description key and other resources with tips and techniques that will make your audio descriptions easier to create and understand.

When you record your audio descriptions, keep in mind that they don’t need to synch perfectly with the visuals. As long as they are approximately nearby the on-screen action, they will be effective.

Another tip is to time your narration so that it doesn’t interfere with on-screen dialogue or other audio in the original video. Record audio descriptions in the empty spaces in between the existing audio. You don’t need to verbally explain every single thing that happens on the screen, as long as you describe the gist of what’s happening.   

Alternatives to audio descriptions

An annotated transcript is an alternative to audio descriptions. Instead of narrating what’s happening visually, you write it out and provide it separate from the video.

For example, if a complicated chart is shown in a health sciences video, an annotated transcript would include an extra section that describes what the chart looks like, in detail.

One benefit of this method is that deaf and blind students can use assistive devices to ‘read’ these transcripts, whereas audio descriptions are only helpful to those who can hear. Extended transcripts may also help other types of students who want to review material through written words, or struggle to process visual information for other reasons. Cons include extra time creating the transcript and maintaining another resource.

Health sciences instructor explaining a medical skeletal model in a video lesson

A final alternative to audio descriptions is simply to verbally describe all visuals within your original video. This takes the concept of providing an AD track and makes it part of the video itself. This method works particularly well for educational videos and demonstrations where descriptions of on-screen action are a natural addition.

For example, if you’re making a video lesson with a chart, verbally explain the main points. If you’re hand-writing a calculus proof, talk through it as you go. Demonstrating a chemistry experiment? Describe what you’re doing along the way, so students have the audio and visuals.

There’s a lot to understand about audio descriptions. This topic will continue to grow as more video platforms offer this functionality, and more colleges and universities begin including audio descriptions alongside video captions as standard accessibility accommodations.

Learn more about TechSmith Knowmia and its accessibility solutions including Audio Description track support.

Simplified User Interface: The Beginner’s Guide

Mocked-up website with a simplified user interface

It can be difficult to onboard users to new and complex interfaces and workflows. Too much information can easily overwhelm the user and make it difficult to keep the focus on the essential feature or functionality.

Additionally, software updates tend to be frequent. These regular updates, coupled with localization processes, can make documentation work in the software industry quite demanding for technical content creators. How can we face these challenges without having to constantly update supporting content?

What if we designed our visual content in a way that is easy to follow, and is able to withstand future UI tweaks?

Let us introduce a design technique used by TechSmith’s User Assistance team and others – it’s called simplified user interface.

Simplified User Interface: What is it?

A simplified user interface (SUI) is a visual representation of a software interface that removes  unimportant elements and reduces them to simpler shapes.

Simplified User Interface graphic showing PowerPoint UI
An example of SUI (pronounced “sue-ee” by the TechSmith User Assistance team).

The elements that are fundamental to the instructions or for the user to understand are purposefully kept visible and the SUI graphics serves as a visual aid to support the instructional content given, via the sub- or figure text.

SUI graphics allow for easy-to-follow instructions which enable the reader to get to the point quickly and avoid distractions.

Keep it simple, Stupid!

SUI graphics leverage the famous K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid!) principle: systems perform better if they are kept simple and when unnecessary complexities are avoided. By reducing the graphics to a simpler state and by removing distractions, we can allow the user to focus on only the essential information, which creates a better experience.

Josh Cavalier,an eLearning expert, describes cognitive load as the “amount of information being processed by the brain”. When you reduce the amount of distractions for your audience, they are better able to focus their attention on what is important.

Simplified User Interface graphic with one menu item exposed
In this example, only a single menu item is shown so as direct user attention to something specific.

In a recent blog post from The Interaction Design Foundation, it’s explained that a user is focused solely on how useful something will be for them. This is true for both the product design itself but also for the how-to documentation and instructions.  If it’s hard to understand how to use a product, the value that it has to offer, or how a product can solve a particular problem, then users will struggle.

SUI graphics build upon these principles: using a simplified user interface in help documentation can aid in user success by giving them only the information they must have in order to be successful, increasing their success and satisfaction with a product.

Keeping content up to date

Keep your content current, longer. A quick survey with attendees at STC Technical Communication Summit revealed that keeping content up to date is one of the biggest challenges faced by technical communicators today. And that makes sense, if we look to software as an example: release cycles are shortening and new features and functionality are being added frequently. And with each feature addition and related tweaks to the user interface, the instructions that the technical documentation team laboriously put together are at risk of becoming quickly out of date, even if only slightly. So what is a technical communicator to do?

Again, simplified user interface graphics can play a strategic role in one’s content strategy. The removal of a button or addition of a feature will easily confuse the user if this change is not reflected in a precise screenshot. However, a simplified user interface graphic can often sustain multiple software versions and updates before needing further updates. The simplified design is more forgiving to minor interface changes and additions as it is already an abstract representation of the interface. Technical content creators can use this technique to extend the shelf-life of their visual content or even for repurposing content in similar scenarios.

Faster content localization

Any content creator who has been through the localization process knows that it can be time-consuming and expensive to create screenshots and graphics for each locale. Yet, the localization of onboarding materials and other graphics can be trivial for any organization that wants to be successful internationally. As Day Translations points out, we should all “scrap the idea that English is the language of business”. It’s important to cater to different customer bases by providing them with content that speaks to them…in their native language.

Most technical communicators know the effort it takes to create and manage unique screenshots for each language. In order to simplify this task, one can design the content to use SUI images instead of language-specific screenshots. The same graphic can often be repurposed across multiple languages with little to no adjustment. Additional information or instructions can be conveyed through the sub- or figure text.

Simplified User Interface used in both German and English dialog boxes.
In this example, the same SUI graphic is used in the software preference dialog for all languages.

Again, this is another area that helps to reduce creation and maintenance efforts while still providing the user with clear instructions.

How to create a Simplified User Interface Graphic

Creating a simplified user interface (SUI) graphic is easier than you think. The best way to get started is to begin with a screenshot and then transform it. To do this, you need screen capture and image editing software. At TechSmith, our tool of choice for creating SUI images is Snagit because it provides both of these functions, though there are other capable image editors.

Step 1: Capture the screenshot

Using Snagit, capture a screenshot of the user interface you want to turn into a SUI graphic and open it in the Snagit Editor. Crop the screenshot to the dimensions of your desired output.

Screenshot of a web page for Bridge Street Insurance featured a Request a Quote call to action button

Step 2: Simplify the screenshot

Simplifying an image is a process that involves covering up and removing visual noise like unrelated text, menus, buttons, or tool tips to reduce an image’s complexity and focus attention on the important parts. Snagit provides two ways to help make this an easy process with the new Simplify tool available in Snagit 2019.

The first option is to simplify a screenshot manually by selecting the Simplify tool, and using the graphic elements to hide unimportant details in your image and direct attention to the ones that matter. After choosing the Simplify tool, Snagit automatically detects the colors in your screenshot, creates a color palette, and provides a set of tools that match and are ideal for simplifying images.

Video Thumbnail
Video Thumbnail

The second way option is to automate the process. Snagit’s Auto Simplify feature recognizes shapes and text and then automatically covers them with the themed elements. Remove, add, and change the color of any of the elements Snagit adds to achieve the look you want.

Video Thumbnail
Video Thumbnail

Watch the tutorial below to see the Simplify tool in action!

Video Thumbnail
Video Thumbnail

Step 3: Save it

When you are done, save your file as a .png or .jpg file to be used in your documentation. We highly recommend also saving your final image as a .snag file. This is the Snagit project file type and it allows you to reopen the project to edit and adjust the image later on. This makes updating your image easy so you won’t need to recreate your SUI graphic every time.

Bonus Tip: Use a tag to easily access this file any time in the Snagit library.

Key takeaways

The benefits of using Simplified User Interface graphics in your technical documentation are twofold: First, these graphics visually enhance your instructions and improve the onboarding experience for your users. Second, the graphics make technical communicators’ jobs easier, as they reduce the need for screenshot updates and help with localization.

Integrating SUI graphics into part of one’s content strategy is therefore a smart business decision that all content creators should consider, regardless if your favorite aspect is the improved user experience, having evergreen content, or faster localization. Even just a few simplified user interface graphics can make a big difference!

If you aren’t using Snagit yet, download the free trial today, and get started creating your own SUI graphics!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

How I Make Videos | Oz du Soleil

How I Make Videos | Oz du Soleil

What’s the best process or framework for creating videos that leave an impact?

The truth is that every video creator does things differently. And you’ve got to find whatever works for you. Oz du Soleil is someone who’s found a process that works for him. He’s the host behind Excel on Fire, a YouTube channel that makes Excel tutorials both fun and interesting.

As well his YouTube channel, Oz is also a Microsoft Excel MVP, lead author of Guerilla Data Analysis 2nd Ed., and has several courses on LinkedIn Learning. 

We sat down with Oz to hear his thoughts on video creation and get a look at his process. He takes us behind the scenes to where it all began, what he’s learned about his own preferences for making videos, and some tips you can use in your own content.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Making Excel fun

Of all the topics you can create videos about, Excel is not one that usually comes to mind when we think about fun videos. And yet Oz manages to make his tutorials both fun and interesting. There’s never a dull moment in his content, but how does he make it work?

One rule that he’s set himself is to not go overboard with the jokes. He likes to keep the jokey stuff to a minimum in his videos rather than bombard the audience. One thing he doesn’t like about other content creators is when they go overboard with the jokes and actually create a distraction from the rest of the content.

“My jokey stuff is at the start, at the end, and a little bit in the middle. I’ll play with some graphics and stuff. And so, when we get into the lesson, we’re in a lesson.”

Finding your video style

If you take a look at any of Oz’s videos, you’ll get a clear idea of his style and personality straight away.

The kind of content he creates is not for those who need an answer right away. He likes to give detail and context to help people apply his lessons to the real world.

“I will talk about what happens when something breaks or what about this kind of a scenario that’s common that you need to be able to do, but you can’t do it straight out of the box with a function or something. So I feel I’m more comprehensive than just the straightforward stuff.”

This approach to creating video comes directly from his own frustrations with other videos out there. He’s often felt that instructors have let him down by only covering the basics that don’t really prepare you for real situations.

Beyond being comprehensive in his videos, he also likes “to appeal to the people who want to have fun.” He likes to create videos for those who (like him) have been fed up with boring Excel teaching.

While the boring stuff might have a place, Oz likes to give a little bit more in his content.

How long does it take to create videos?

Anyone who’s ever created or edited a video will likely follow this question with “how long is a piece of string?” It’s hard to say because every video is different. For Oz, it’s easily around ten hours. On a rare occasion, it can be about six, or it can be as many as 20 hours.

“I might start with, say, 20 minutes of raw footage and then put in, say, 15 hours. And then I’ve got a five-minute video.”

One of the things that takes a huge chunk of time is finding the right music. You might find something that’s perfect for the first ten seconds that later turns into something completely wrong for your video. So, you may end up having to edit the music as well as the video to find what works.

He doesn’t seem to mind that, though, because the length of time he spends on a video is his choice alone.

One reason he doesn’t like writing blogs instead is that he gets side-tracked. There’s always a plugin to deal with or some tricky HTML to work around. With video editing, he can decide what goes where and focus solely on that.

Jump cuts and making mistakes

For a while jump cuts were a big no-no in the corporate video world. But nowadays, they seem perfectly acceptable. Oz has accepted jump cuts for his own videos, but he likes to use them sparingly.

He focuses most of his attention on screen captures which he can afford to get a bit “clumsy” with. He says it would be much harder to do a video showing his face all the way through, like a presentation, because he’d have to be wary of moving around and keeping cuts smooth.

“How do you edit and keep things still coherent? Sometimes what I’ve done is make my voice fade out. And then there will be a transition to add a dynamic effect that really was to hide some kind of mistake or goof.”

Why Oz loves YouTube as his platform

Oz’s main channel is over on YouTube, but he also has some courses on LinkedIn Learning. The two are very different platforms, but the reason Oz prefers YouTube is that he can express himself freely there.

The editors on LinkedIn have a pipeline of videos to edit, so they’re not going to be adding in little explosions or fancy music that Oz might do in his own videos. YouTube lets him have more fun with his content.

Why you need to know when to walk away

Perfectionism is pretty common in the video creation world. With modern editing software, there are all sorts of bells and whistles you can add to your video. But when is it enough? When do you just have to walk away?

Oz shared a lesson that his musician friend told him. “Not every song needs every idea. Save some for another time.” That’s something that’s stayed with Oz over the years, and it can just as easily be applied to video creation.

“I could pile all kinds of bells and whistles on, but then it’s never going to be done. And then it can be overworked and too clogged up with stuff.”

How I Make Videos | Oz du Soleil

The time Oz walks away is when he looks over the video and says yes, everything is clear and coherent. He might have a moment of weakness where he wonders whether to change every arrow from gold to blue. But all that is just procrastination on the next part of video creation which he dislikes – creating the thumbnail, writing the YouTube description, and so on.

He says that by this point, it’s always better to just move on and “declare it done.”

Video creation can be full of challenges, but, ultimately, you need to have fun with it and focus on the value you’re providing. The way you make videos might be totally different from Oz’s method, but whatever works for you is best. Don’t be afraid to try out different editing elements, frameworks, platforms, and more to find your unique style too.

Whatever your video creation process, we have some fantastic tutorials with video creators and instructional designers like Oz in the TechSmith Academy. Be sure to check out Oz’s course on there to hear more from him: How I Edit Video with Oz du Soleil

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

How to Make a Tutorial Video (FREE TEMPLATES!)

How to Make a Tutorial Video

What if I told you that you’re a trainer and may not even know it?

Let me explain. Even though most of us don’t have the word “trainer” in our job title, chances are that at some point in our careers, we will have to show someone how to do something. Whether it’s a complex training series that might take hours to complete or a quick tutorial on how to use a software feature, most of us will have to train someone sometime.

And, there’s no better way to train than with video.

We know there’s a lot that goes into making a tutorial video, but even if you’re never made a video before, it’s easier than you might think!

The Easiest Way to Create Tutorial Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

In fact, I’m going to walk you through how you can easily create effective training and tutorial videos — no pro skills required.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

Here’s the full video for how you can use Camtasia and our free templates to create incredible tutorial videos.

The three questions you need to answer before you start recording your tutorial video

Making videos might be easier than you think, but that doesn’t mean you should jump right in. Just like any type of content, it works better with a little planning.

To start, you want to ask yourself three questions, which you’ll find at the top of the script template: 

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What specific problem will this tutorial solve?
  3. What will the audience be able to do after watching?

1. Who is my audience?

You want to develop an understanding of your audience’s general skills and get a sense for their comfort level with the content you’re teaching. You don’t want to make a tutorial full of advanced instructions and long-winded explanations if your viewers are just getting started. 

Keep it simple.

2. What problem will this video tutorial video solve?

After you have a clear sense of your audience, focus on the specific problem the tutorial will help them solve. Each video should solve one problem. For example, if I want to show someone how to add a follower in our project management software, I don’t want to give an entire software overview. Keep it focused and to the point. This ensures the audience gets exactly what they came for.

If you have more subjects to cover, you can always make more videos!

3. What will my audience be able to do after watching?

Lastly, define the goals for the video. Write down what you want your audience to be able to do after watching. An example might sound something like this: “After watching this video, a user will be able to add a new team member to a project management board.” It’s clear, and the goal is simple. This goal statement will provide the foundation for the rest of your content.

When you’re finished with your goal, it’s time to move on to the next key step in making a tutorial: scripting.

Start with a script

Scripting lets you plan what you want to say, so that you can revise and improve the narration before you record. This might sound like a lot of work upfront — and it can be if you start with a blank screen. But you don’t have to start from a blank page! Download this script template and you’ll have a fill-in-the-blank script that you can use to quickly get it written.

But remember, this is just a place to start. After you fill in the blanks, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d say, feel free to go back and make it your own. 

We’ve queued up this video right to where you need to learn more about our free video script template and how to use it!

In our template, there are two columns. The left side is so you can note what will be on the screen during that part of the voice over. In the template, we’ve made it so that you can see the narrator at the beginning and end of the video. But the rest is mostly screen-recorded content. Adjust that as you like. Maybe you prefer being very specific about what you’re showing. This would be a great place to include those notes.

The right side of the script is for your voiceover. Starting with the obvious, your introduction, we cut past a lot of fluff to just immediately let your viewer know they’re watching the right video. No long backstory or autobiography needed. 

After that, state the specific problem your video covers and explain how you will help.

That’s why you answered those questions at the top. You can show them very quickly how you’re going to help.

And then, help them! Go through each step of the process one at a time, writing down any pertinent details you want to include.  

When you’re done, wrap it up quickly with a call to action — a link to get the product or additional resources that will help them achieve their goals. 

What is their next step? Don’t make them guess. 

Viewers want direct guidance on next steps, so if there’s more for them to do or learn, they’ll appreciate it when you spell it out clearly.

Record and edit your voiceover

With your script ready, it’s time to record. While you can record your screen and microphone at the same time, we find it’s best to record your voiceover first — especially for more formal or customer-facing tutorial videos.

If your video includes screen recordings, we recommend you record the voiceover for those bits first. You can leave the camera off so you can focus on recording a great audio track.

For recording voiceovers, we recommend TechSmith Audiate

Audiate transcribes your narration as you speak, so you can edit your voice over like a text document! No more hunting through audio wave forms. Just find the words you want to edit and you’re good to go.

Plus, Audiate can find and remove all of your “ums,” “uhs,” and other hesitations for you! I use Audiate for all my voiceovers.

You’ll also want a decent microphone, especially if this will be a customer-facing video. Our recent study of video viewing habits found that clear audio was even more important to most viewers than clear video. Luckily, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end microphone. Even a pair of earbuds with a built-in mic will give you better audio than your computer’s microphone.

That said, if all you’ve got available is your built-in microphone, don’t let that stop you from making a tutorial. 

When the time is right to upgrade your mic, a few options to consider might include the Blue Yeti (which is what I use in my home office), the Shure MV7, or the Rode NT-USB.  There are plenty of other great mics as well, if you have one you love, leave it in the comments.

Once you’ve cleaned up your audio, export it into Camtasia. Then you can record your intro and outro with your webcam for that personal touch. Make sure to look into your camera as much as possible. It’s helpful to position your script on your screen as close to the camera as possible.

The Easiest Way to Create Tutorial Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

Record your screen

Once you’ve recorded all of your audio, the next step is recording your screen.

Start by minimizing distractions. Clean up your desktop screen by hiding your icons. Choose a neutral-colored background or branded wallpaper. Close any applications you don’t need and turn off any notifications that might pop up — including on your phone.

Then, open the software application for your tutorial and practice walking through the steps listed in your script. Practice until you can comfortably make it through the entire workflow with minimal mistakes or hesitations. This will make for less editing in the end and better recordings. 

Then, open the Camtasia recorder and select the region or window you want to record. If your demo includes sounds from the software, select the System Audio toggle to on. If not, leave it off and hit Start Recording.

Keep in mind that you can edit the recording after you finish, so if you make a mistake, simply pause and then start at the place in your script right before the mistake happened. Removing mistakes is simple and quick with Camtasia, which leads us to the next key step in making a tutorial: editing the video.

Edit your video (don’t worry, there’s a template for that!)

WHOA. Editing a video? You might be thinking, “But I’ve never even made a video before! I’m not a video professional! All is lost!”

I’m here to tell you that all is not lost. In fact, Camtasia is so easy to use you can create professional-quality videos even if you’ve never made a video before! AND, it gets even better! We have this free template that makes it even easier! All you need to do is fill in the blanks. Check out the video for more!

We’ve queued up this video right to where you need to learn more about our free video tutorial template and how to use it!

We’ve built in placeholders for your footage, title cards, lower thirds, and more.

Everything in this template is customizable. From the duration of each section to the colors and fonts used. Don’t like the music? Right-click and convert it to a placeholder, and you can bring in your own royalty-free song that will retain all of the properties for fading in and out that we’ve included (which again, are still totally customizable).

You can add your video clips to a placeholder and select Ripple Replace to let your clip fit naturally into the space provided. If some of the other placeholders and graphics move, no problem! Just click and drag to adjust them as needed.

To change the colors, click the group that contains the graphics. Open the Properties panel to change colors, or you can apply your own pre-saved theme to replace all of the colors at once.

Camtasia interface showing chapter markers on the timeline.

See those blue tick marks at the top of your timeline? We’ve included those to indicate when you move on to the next step or topic in your video. These are great for videos that will live on YouTube. When you export your video, check the box that says “Create Chapter Index from Markers” and your viewers will be able to navigate to the section of your video they want just by clicking the chapter markers.

If the template itself is a little overwhelming to look at, don’t worry! Here’s check out the tutorial below to learn more about editing in a template. But for now, let’s move on to editing your video.

But what does it mean to edit video? Video editing encompasses several things, mainly:

  1. Removing mistakes and extra footage from the screen recording. 
  2. Syncing the voiceover with the video so that what you say lines up with what’s on screen. 
  3. Adding animations and other call-outs to focus viewers’ attention to on screen elements that are important.
  4. Customizing graphics, as well as the intro and outro, lower thirds, and any other finishing touches you want to make your own. 

Remove any mistakes

Let’s start with removing mistakes. Once you’ve added your screen recording to the template, hover over the front of that mistake with the playhead and click cut. Move to the end of the mistake, and select cut again. You can do this as many times as you need, and if you make a mistake while editing, simply click undo. To remove mistakes or trim off extra footage from the beginning or end of your recording, click and drag the end of the clip in.

Cutting and trimming this clip probably won’t adjust the other assets in your template, leaving gaps, but that’s ok, just make sure to tighten everything back up when you’re finished cutting.

Sync audio and video

Now, let’s focus on syncing your audio and video. Start by clicking and dragging your audio narration to the timeline lower placeholder (cleverly labeled “Audio Narration”) and drop. Since you recorded the voiceover and screen recording separately, it’s likely they won’t line up perfectly. But don’t panic!

You can use Clip Speed and Extend Frame to sync the video to your audio. To extend the frame (essentially pause the video to allow the audio to play out), split the video clip and click Option click on Mac or Alt click on Windows and drag it out to where you want it to end. Or, if you want to speed up a part of your recording – maybe you’re showing a longer process that you want to sum up quickly – from the Visual Effects bin, add Clip Speed to a piece of media, then drag the handles of the effect in to speed it up. 

Once you have your audio and video synced up, let’s work on focusing your viewers’ attention.

Add callouts and other enhancements to help focus your viewers’ attention

Callouts can help you show your viewers where to focus so they don’t miss something important. You can zoom in on smaller elements or use arrows and text to highlight vital information. 

For example, let’s say you want to show some information that’s a little hard to read. Just add an animation, make sure the playhead is after the animation arrow, then scale up in the properties (essentially zooming in) to show more detail.

You can also add a highlight annotation and adjust it to point directly at the setting you want to highlight. Do this throughout your video when you need your viewer to focus on something important.

As I said before, all of the graphics in this template are totally customizable. If you start with the Intro Transition, just click on the group, and the Properties panel show you that all of the colors can be changed. In fact, if you are a regular Camtasia user and have your brand colors saved as a Theme, just click the dropdown to choose yours and bam! Custom branded intro transition.

It even has a place for your logo! Simply click the x in the Properties panel to remove our placeholder, then click the “Import File” button that is there now, and find your image.

Click the group next to it, “Intro Title Card,” and you’ll see similar properties appear. If you used a theme to replace your colors, you can do that again, or hover over the last graphics you chose, and use the eyedropper tool to match them up.

Change the text to actually have your video topic and subtopic. Don’t have a subtopic? Leave it blank.

Do this for the lower third steps and your name and company card, again changing the colors as needed (you’ll quickly see why having a theme makes this so much easier). By the way, here’s a link to a tutorial for how to easily create your own themes in Camtasia.

At this point, your tutorial video should look pretty good. That said, editing gets easier the more you do it, and to help you along, we have tons of free tutorials like the ones I’ve already linked to. Make sure to check out those playlists if you really want to level up your editing.

Save and share your video

Once you’ve finished editing, you’re ready to share! Think about where you want this video to live, and either choose a share destination like YouTube, Vimeo, or Google Drive, or choose to save the video as a local file on your computer.

Tutorial videos made easy

Making tutorial videos doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right software and some good templates, you can create incredibly engaging and effective videos without a lot of hassle.

Like with anything, you won’t be an expert after the first video you make. But with a little time, practice, and patience, you’ll continue to improve your skills and your videos.

The Easiest Way to Create Tutorial Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist. Geek. Science Enthusiast. Retired roller derby coach. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me ... 1. Mildly obsessed with the movie Alien, 2. Two pibbles: Biggie and Reo, 3. Friend of ducks everywhere.

How to Do Voice Over Like a Pro: The Complete Guide

If you make videos — especially how-to and explainer videos — you will almost certainly need to record voice overs. In fact, depending on how many videos you create, you may have to do a lot of voice over work.

For many people, the thought of recording their voice and sharing it with the world is horrifying. Or at least genuinely uncomfortable.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful!

So how do you record voice overs that grab and keep your audience’s attention?

You’re about to find out!

Here’s what you”ll learn:

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

Audiate makes recording and editing your voice as simple as editing text in a document.

Try Audiate for Free

What is a voice over?

A voice over recording (often just “voice over”) is a person speaking (but not seen) during a video — often describing, highlighting, explaining, or providing additional context to what a viewer sees.

It’s often confused (or equated) with narration. And, while they are similar, they are not quite the same thing.

Narration is a specific type of voice over that describes all of the on-screen action, often telling a story based on what’s happening.

Non-narration voice overs are more common with instructional, informational, and educational videos, while narration is more commonly used for entertainment.

An easy way to think about it: All narration is a voice over, but not all voice overs are narration.

Why is a good voice over important for your video?

Some might think that the audio portion of a video is less important than the visual portions, but that’s not true.

Most video watchers say they are more likely to stop watching a video with bad audio vs. lower-quality video.

In fact, a recent TechSmith study of video viewing habits showed that more than 25% of video viewers watched a video all the way through because the audio was good — more than those who said professional video style was most important.

It’s really not that surprising. While the on-screen elements of your video are what makes it a video, in many cases, it’s the voice over that helps people truly understand what’s being shown.

Muddy, muffled, or otherwise garbled or difficult-to-understand audio tracks are frustrating to viewers. And, for people who are blind, but still need the information your video provides, good audio is absolutely essential for their consumption.

So great audio isn’t just important. It’s necessary to keep an audience interested and engaged — and to ensure they learned what they needed to.

Do I need a professional voice talent for great voice over?

The short answer: No.

Just because quality voice over is important for the success of your video, that doesn’t mean you need to go to great lengths to get it.

A lot of people think you need to have one of those super-snazzy radio voices to do good voice overs for your videos.

That just isn’t true. Sure, if you have the budget and you’re making professional videos, you can hire professional voice over talent But it’s really not necessary.

Using the tips in this guide, you’ll discover that most videos don’t need professional voice over. You can do it yourself!

So, how can you record your voice over a video?

It helps to know what good voice over is.

The essential elements of a good voice over

When most of us think of great video voice overs, we probably think of great actors like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones. We tend to associate voice over with having a really great voice. And, while that can help, it’s not necessary.

In fact, with practice, nearly anyone can do professional-quality voice over work.

Great video voice audio over comprises several elements:

  • Audio clarity and volume
  • Pacing
  • Vocal tone and inflection
  • Pronunciation

1. Audio clarity and volume

The clarity of your voice and a comfortable volume may be the most essential parts of great audio. If your voice over recording is fuzzy or muddy sounding, it will be difficult for people to understand. Audiences will be distracted and unable to absorb the information or may simply move on. Either way, they miss your message and you miss an opportunity to share what your knowledge.

Similarly, if your audio’s volume is too low, it may be difficult for people to hear. Too loud and you risk annoying distortion.

Luckily, there’s a pretty solid sweet spot for volume. See the section on recording your voice over for more information on audio levels.

2. Pacing

Ever talk with someone who has a really exciting story to tell, but they’re so excited about it that they rush through it and when they’re done you can’t even remember what they were talking about? Or, someone who drones on and on with no end in sight, threatening to put you to sleep?

This is pacing. Too fast and your audience won’t know what hit them. To slow and they’re likely to get bored. The best voice overs have a natural and deliberate pace. Start with a script and practice it before you record to help you speak at a more natural pace.

And remember, pacing also includes things like pausing occasionally to take a breath, for effect, or just to give them listener a break to process important information.

3. Vocal tone and inflection

Like pacing, vocal tone and inflection refer to ensuring you speak in a natural and pleasant manner. You want to be friendly and engaging, but not so much that you sound fake.

No one wants to sound like a game show host. But, you also want to avoid monotone robot voice which, like pacing that’s too slow, can be boring and off-putting for listeners.

4. Pronunciation and enunciation

The final element of great voice over work is ensuring that you pronounce each word correctly and that you speak clearly enough to be understood. Avoid mumbling — but don’t shout or over-enunciate, either.

Be mindful of your regional accent (yes, we all have them) and pronunciations as they relate to your audience. While it’s perfectly acceptable to “warsh” your hands in Missouri or have a great “idear” in New England, those pronunciations may confuse people from other locations.

Don’t worry, though. No one expects you to sound like a professional voice actor. The best thing you can do is speak naturally and clearly and the rest will follow with practice.

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

Audiate makes recording and editing your voice as simple as editing text in a document.

Try Audiate for Free

How can I make my voice sound better on voice overs?

This is the number-one issue most people bring up when they have to do voice over work for their video.

Let’s face it. Most of us rarely have to hear our own voices in audio recordings. We’re used to the rich, warm sound of our own voices in our own ears. There’s no way around the fact that you sound different on recording that you do to yourself.

So how do you stop hating the sound of your own voice?

The answer, unfortunately, is that you just have to get used to it.

Think of it this way: Your voice on recordings is how you actually sound to everyone around you. When you speak to others, that’s what they hear. the only one who hears a difference is you.

So, there’s really nothing to be embarrassed about, is there?

In all seriousness, though, everyone who does voice work has to overcome this hurdle. Luckily, like most things, it gets easier the more you do it. Do enough voice over work and soon your voice on recordings will sound almost as natural to you as the one you hear in your ears.

If you simply can’t get over it, though. You can always enlist the help of another person. You can grab a friend or colleague, or you can even hire a professional to do the work for you.

How to record a voice over

1. Preparing to record

Not all videos need a ton of preparation. Quick one-off screencasts or a fast demonstration of a new user interface for a colleague probably can be done mostly on the fly.

But, for videos where you want a more polish or that need to cover more information, a bit of preparation goes a long way.

Find a quiet place to work

I’m sure you’ve seen what a typical recording studio looks like. Professional voice over artists typically have a room somewhere with walls covered in sound-absorbing foam, a fancy microphone setup with a pop screen and a computer workstation that looks like it could be straight out of NASA’s Mission Control.

Luckily, you don’t have to go that far to achieve great results. You can create a great voice recording space with minimal effort and very little expenditure.

Most importantly, you want a space free of distracting noises and where you aren’t likely to be interrupted. Most decent microphones pick up even faint ambient sounds, and those sounds will ultimately make it into your recording.

If your space is at work, avoid areas where you can hear your coworkers conversing, etc. Or, plan to record when no one else is in the office.

Wherever you are, be mindful of the sounds of your heating and cooling system. If you can’t find a spot where you can’t hear air rushing through your ducts, you may want to shut down your furnace or AC for the duration of your recording.

If your recording space is near a window, listen for sounds from outside, such as wind, birds chirping, dogs barking, etc. Be especially mindful of traffic sounds — especially loud delivery trucks. They will definitely show up in your recording.

No place is totally silent, so find the best place you can — even if that means thinking outside the box.

I have a friend who regularly records his podcast in his car. He lives in a small house with dogs and kids, so there really isn’t anywhere else quiet enough. He takes his laptop and mic out to his driveway, shuts himself in the car and records. The results are surprisingly good!

Choose a microphone

Next, you need a decent microphone. I won’t go too in-depth with this, but my colleague Matt Pierce did an amazing post on choosing a good mic.

That said, if at all possible, try not to record your voice over using your laptop microphone. While built-in mics are fine for Skype meetings and the like, you will get much better results with even a low-cost external microphone.

Even your smart phone’s earbuds will give you a better sound than just your computer’s built-in mic.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars, either. You can get a very nice USB microphone for between $50-$100. If you will be doing a lot of voice over work, it’s well worth the investment.

If you intend to use an external mic, I also recommend investing in a pop filter. They’re cheap and they help minimize the distracting sounds caused by hard consonants such as “p” and “b.”

Choose your audio software

There’s no shortage of audio recording software on the market and most of them do relatively the same things.

But, for most of us, these will be far too complicated and will have too high a learning curve to to be of practical use.

That’s why I highly recommend TechSmith Audiate.

TechSmith Audiate

TechSmith Audiate takes voice over recording and editing to an entirely different level by transcribing your voice in real time — as you record. 

There are no unnecessary settings to figure out, no confusing and complicated interface.

Just click the record button and start talking. It’s really that simple.

Then, you can literally edit your audio just like you would edit text in a document.

So, rather than staring at a wave form and trying to figure out exactly what you said and where, you can see it right on your screen. 

And check out this game-changer: Audiate even automatically flags all your “ums,” “uhs,” and other hesitations so you can easily find and delete them.

You can even delete them all at once. 

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

Audiate makes recording and editing your voice as simple as editing text in a document.

Try Audiate for Free

But Audiate’s simplicity doesn’t mean you lose out on power or control. You can do finer edits and adjustments, too.

Already have a voice over recorded? That’s no problem. Import your recording into Audiate and it will transcribe it for you.

When you’re done, save your audio file and import it into Camtasia. You can even export the edited text as a transcript or as an SRT file for captions.

I’ve been doing video and audio recording work for years and I’m quite comfortable using professional audio recording software. But if I’m doing voice over work, you can bet I’m using Audiate because it’s the best and easiest way to record voice overs.

TechSmith Camtasia

Camtasia has an audio recorder built in that will allow you to record your voice as you record your screen when appropriate. You can also record your voice over by itself. You can even edit your audio right in the Camtasia editor.

2. Write a script

Having a script is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure your voice over sounds professional. Nothing ruins a good voice over faster than a lot of hemming and hawing or 23 umms in a row as you try to remember what you wanted to say next.

Having a script is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure your voice over sounds professional.

The best scripts will include word-for-word everything you intend to say. Taking the time to write this out before recording helps ensure that you will cover everything you want to without the danger of meandering off into unrelated topics.

Outline the points you want to make and then write the full script based on that outline.

A script also gives you a chance to practice.

Read your script aloud several times before you record. Be mindful of words or phrases that may feel awkward or difficult to say. A script often sounds and feels different when read aloud vs. in your head.

Then adjust your script as necessary and you’re ready to record.

This great blog post will give you more information on writing your script.

3. Do a test recording

Now that all the essential tools are in place, it’s time to record your voice over!

Before you get down to the real thing, though, do a test recording to ensure your equipment works properly and your audio levels are good.

Even if nothing has changed from the last time you did a voice over, it’s still a best practice to test first. I’ve skipped this step myself and then discovered after my recording was finished that something wasn’t set up properly and I had to go back and do it again.

You don’t need to record the entire script for your test recording, but a few paragraphs will give you enough to ensure that the audio is clear, at an appropriate level, and doesn’t include any stray or ambient noises.

Important: When you listen back to your test recording, use headphones to check the audio quality. Your computer speakers will not be good enough for this. Headphones allow you to listen closely to ensure clear audio — especially for things like weird room noises and such.

Obviously, you want the audio to sound good on even the cheapest speaker, but you (and your audience) will be much happier if you use headphones to check for quality.

Remember, a good portion of your video viewers will listen via headphones, so you want to be sure they’ll have an optimal experience.

Microphone placement

You also want to consider where to place your microphone. Too close to the person speaking and it will be subject to all kinds of weird mouth noises and air puffs. Too far away and it may sound lost in a large room.

Ideally, place the microphone about six to eight inches from the person’s mouth, and slightly below their chin.

If you’re using a LAV (clip-on mic), make sure it’s about six to eight inches below the speaker’s mouth.

Be mindful, too, of the surface where you place your mic. Some microphone stands will be quite susceptible to picking up noises from the desk or table they’re sitting on. Listen for those types of sounds on your test recording.

Check your volume levels

Proper volume level for your audio ensures that it’s easily heard and not distorted. Too low and people will have trouble hearing what you say. Too high and you risk garbled audio or blowing out your viewers’ ear drums.

While you can adjust levels as necessary when you edit your audio, starting with the best possible audio level as you record is always your best bet.

The folks over at Premium Beat have a great post on recommended audio levels settings, but here are a few basics.

  1. Audio levels are measured in decibels (db).
  2. In audio editing, 0db is actually the maximum you want to achieve. Weird, eh?
  3. For the most part, your ideal audio level is between -10db to -20db. Your audio should peak around -6db.
  4. Never go above 0db, as your audio will distort or “clip.”

Most audio recording software will have indicators that let you know when your audio is in danger of being too loud and clipping.

The image above shows the TechSmith Camtasia interface with the waveform (a graphical representation of your audio recording) on the left and the level indicator on the right.

The indicator shows that the audio peaked at just under -6db and is well within the acceptable levels.

4. Record your voice over

Once you’re satisfied with your microphone placement and audio test, you’re ready to record your voice over!

Seriously! Do it!

With Audiate, it’s as simple as clicking the record button and speaking.

As you record your script, remember these key tips for ensuring a great voice over:

  • Speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate each word, but don’t concentrate on it so much you sound like a robot.
  • Consider your tone. You want to sound pleasant, but not overjoyed or overly excited. Pro tip: Smiling while you read your script can help you sound happier and more natural.
  • Don’t stop if you make a mistake or misspeak. You don’t have to start over! You can always fix it when you edit. Just go back a sentence or two in your script and start again. Pro tip: Remember, with TechSmith Audiate, you’ll be able to see and edit your voice over s text, so you can easily go back and fix any mistakes when you’re done.
  • If you struggle with the script or it just gets too hard to keep going, pause your recording and take a break. Rewrite any parts of the script that may be giving you too much trouble and try it again.
  • As with anything, voice overs get easier the more you do them. Don’t give up if it’s not perfect the first time!

5. Edit your audio

When you finish recording, it’s time to edit. Even if you made no mistakes, there are likely a few things to fix. At the very least, you’ll want to trim the beginning and end to remove any dead space.

Again, Audiate makes it so easy to edit. The video below gives a great overview of how to work in Audiate.

With traditional audio software, you have to hunt through your recording to find your mistakes and edit them out individually. Even a short video could take an hour or more to edit depending on how complicated your edits were.

Traditional audio software only displays your recording as an audio wave, making it much more difficult to edit your audio.

But with Audiate, you can just read the text and highlight and delete any mistakes you find.

With Audiate, you can still edit with the wave form if you like but you can see that the text is displayed, allowing you to more easily see where to make your edits.

Also notice that the Audiate interface is so much less complicated and than in the first example.

When I edit my voice over audio, I like to listen to the entire recording from start to finish before I start making any changes.

I may make notes here and there to remind myself of something I want to go back and edit, but this time through I really just want to concentrate on the overall pacing and tone of the recording.

Does it sound like I hoped? Did I rush or speak too slowly? Did I flub any words, or did I mumble or misspeak? Are there weird silences or unknown or errant sounds?

Next, go back to the beginning and start editing out your mistakes. I also like to edit out any abnormally long silences between sentences or statements and any weird sounds that don’t belong.

Remember, though, that pauses are ok (and even necessary) to help break up the audio and make it feel more natural and conversational.

To learn more about this, check out this cool post on reducing audio noise in your recordings.

6. Import your audio into your video editor

In Camtasia, importing and working with audio is as simple as a couple of clicks. For more information, check out this post on syncing audio and video in Camtasia.

That’s it! You’ve successfully recorded your voice over!

Don’t forget the captions and audio transcription

I noted above that a large portion of your audience will listen to your video via headphones. But, what if I told that there’s a high likelihood that a large number may watch your video with no sound at all?

And, there will always be viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

This is why captioning your video and providing an audio transcription are so important. For those who can’t or otherwise won’t listen to the audio elements of your video, captions and transcriptions give them the opportunity to get all of the information your video provides.

And it’s another reason that TechSmith Audiate is such a helpful tool.

With other audio tools, you would likely have to send your audio out to a professional transcription service to have your audio file transcribed and timestamped. Even if you typed out a full script, it won’t have the necessary time stamps to be used as a captions file.

But with Audiate, the transcription happens automatically, complete with time stamps for captions.

Once you’ve recorded and edited your voice over, you can export that transcription as a caption (.SRT) file and import it directly into Camtasia. Camtasia then automatically inserts the captions into your video.

How’s it feel to be a voice over pro?

Recording voice overs like a pro is easy when you know how to do it and you have the right tools.

Taking the proper steps before you hit the record button and then taking the time to edit your audio appropriately will go a long way to ensuring your voice overs sound professional and engaging.

And remember, practice makes perfect! The more you do it, the more natural it will become.

The Easiest and Fastest Way to Record and Edit Voice Over Audio!

Audiate makes recording and editing your voice as simple as editing text in a document.

Try Audiate for Free

Do I need a professional recording set up to do voice overs?

No! You can do great voice over work with minimal investment. You’ll want a microphone and audio recording software to start.

How do I improve the sound of my voice?

The short answer is you just have to get used to it. But, there are a few things you can do to improve the overall sound of your voice, including speaking from your diaphragm rather than at the top of your throat. Also, be sure your vocal cords are hydrated. Keep water handy for when you’re recording.

What software works best for voice over recording?

There are a lot of options available for audio recording, but if you only need to record voice overs, TechSmith Audiate is your best bet.

Will my laptop microphone be ok for recording voice overs?

Not likely. While a laptop mic is fine for calling into a Zoom meeting, you’ll want an external microphone for your voice over recording. But, the good news is that you can pick up a really decent microphone for between $50-$100.

Do I need to hire a professional to get great voice over?

No! You can do it yourself with great results. You just need the right tools and a little practice.

Note: This post was updated in October 2020 to include new information.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist. Geek. Science Enthusiast. Retired roller derby coach. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me ... 1. Mildly obsessed with the movie Alien, 2. Two pibbles: Biggie and Reo, 3. Friend of ducks everywhere.

Choosing to Create Video – You’re in Charge | Andrew Kan

Choosing to Create Video - You’re in Charge | Andrew Kan

If anyone can help you gain the confidence to get behind the camera, press record, and create video content, it’s Andrew Kan.

Andrew Kan is a leading YouTube video creator who’s worked with TubeBuddy, Salesforce, and other big brands to create videos that audiences find valuable and enjoy.

We sat down with Andrew at Video Marketing World to get his thoughts on what first-time video creators should know before they hit record, why video is such a valuable and impactful medium, and how to incorporate storytelling in your content.

Andrew’s interview is the perfect example of a video that keeps serving audiences as it was recorded back in 2018 and all his tips, advice, and recommendations are still relevant today!

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Before you hit record: know your why

Getting over the hump of just getting started is one of the biggest hurdles you may ever face when you create video content. There might be a million reasons stopping you from first hitting record. Not having the right gear, not knowing the nuances of your camera, or other tech hang-ups can be overcome with one thing: knowing why you’re recording video content in the first place.

Andrew says working out your message and what you’re trying to communicate is “far more important than any piece of gear”. Not only is it a powerful way to get you motivated to press record, but it also results in a better video

“People want to be told a story, they don’t want to just be told ‘buy my product’. If you can make someone feel something, if you can make them relate to what you’re doing, your video is going to be more successful.”

How to incorporate storytelling and emotion when you create video

Storytelling is a brilliant way to make your video more impactful overall. Andrew notes that people come to videos for one reason, perhaps they need to learn something, but stay or even return because they enjoyed the content.

Entertaining your viewer by taking them on a journey and telling them a story is a sure-fire way to be more memorable and keep viewers coming back for more. But how can you make a tutorial video, for example, entertaining?

Andrew believes you can work emotion and storytelling into almost any kind of video ­content – you just have to think about the wider implications your product or video has on your audience and use that to drive your content.

“Think about it this way, instead of using your video to sell your product, and selling in terms of what need does your product fill? Consider how teaching people about this product can make them feel better.”

Andrew shared an example that many people who needed help from TubeBuddy wanted it because they were afraid of being unsuccessful on YouTube. So to help people stop feeling this way, they produced content that gave their audience hope.

Video tutorials are an excellent way to instill hope in your audience. They show people exactly what to expect and build trust in you as a provider who can help them achieve their goals. In this case, understanding your audience’s emotions and using a story can help people move from one emotion (fear) to another (hope) in an incredibly powerful way.

Why video is the most impactful medium

So why does video make such an impression on audiences? Andrew suggests it’s the connection element that goes so much further than other mediums.

While blogs may be entertaining and contain lots of detail, it’s typically much harder to show your audience something clearly. Podcasts, although they’re a fantastic way to connect with your audience, often struggle with the same issues.

However, video doesn’t restrict your showing and telling abilities ­– you can easily do both. Andrew says that being able to communicate without these limitations is “the most powerful thing you can do as a business”.

Why understanding your audience is key

One of the biggest mistakes Andrew’s made in the past is forgetting who he creates video content for. Keeping your audience front of mind is critical as, ultimately, they’re the people watching your videos.

Understand who your audience is. If they’re beginners, it’s probably best to avoid any language that’s too technical or going in too deep to a topic. The last thing you want is to become unrelatable because then people stop watching.

Andrew suggests taking a step back and considering what your audience would need to know if they’d never seen the product before and going from there. A great starting point for this is showing your product to people who aren’t familiar with it and asking them what questions they have about it. From here you can work out exactly what it is you need to teach.

How to keep people coming back to your content

Creating video tutorials is one thing but getting people to subscribe and return to your content is another. Andrew says, if you want returning viewers, you need to give people an experience that shows you’re a reliable source of information and that you’re worth coming back to.

“Give me a reason for that subscription, give me a reason to come back. If you tell me subscribe because I’m going to help you make new tutorials every week that will blow your customers minds, then all of a sudden, I have a value proposition for why I should subscribe to you.”

He says you should promote your content with a sense of urgency, aka, tell them you have more information to give. Relying on the old “thanks for watching, please subscribe!” mantra might get you so far, but giving people a reason to return will get you much, much further.

Andrew also notes that if your content has done its job and satisfied the watcher’s question or helped them in the way they needed, they’re far more likely to come back. So asking them to subscribe or follow a call to action shouldn’t feel like it’s too imposing or salesy. He urges people to remember:

“People always say curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

How to overcome on-camera anxieties

Even pros struggle when they create video content. For Andrew, it was getting in front of the camera.

If you have similar difficulties, Andrew suggests shifting your mindset. Think about being in front of the camera as one of the choices you make on your journey to helping others. 

“Instead of thinking the camera is the enemy, see the camera as your friend. It’s your ability to tell and spread what you’re trying to do.”

Here are some of Andrew’s other top tips to create video content:

  • Practice in the mirror – this helps you get more comfortable with the editing stage too
  • Focus on your strengths, not your flaws
  • Know that you can always do another take!

We learn as much with failure as we do with successes, so don’t worry if you first, third, or even tenth video isn’t exactly how you want it to be. Developing a new skill is a learning process, and failure is a great teacher.

The biggest challenge when you create video content

Once you’ve overcome your own challenges with video, the next step is to tackle the most common problem video creators face. Andrew says that this is carving out where your product fits into the space.

Andrew suggests that video creators often go in with a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality, but the key to getting views is searchability. His advice is to focus on how you’re marketing your video and how searchable it is so that people can find it.

To make your content more searchable, Andrew recommends niching your content down. Your video title, for example, needs to be specific. Just using a title like “how to boost your audio” isn’t searchable, but by refining it to “how to boost your audio skills in Camtasia 2021” more people are going to find your content and get the help they need too.

But that’s just one of the challenges video creators face. Depending on what kind of content you’re creating, who you’re creating for, and your skillset, you may encounter many more along the way. Whatever stage you’re at, we’ve got brilliant behind-the-scenes interviews with more video creators, instructional designers, learning and development professionals and more, who can help. Find them in the TechSmith Academy. All their knowledge is just waiting to be discovered!

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

Perfecting Your Tutorial Video Workflow | Josh Cavalier

Perfecting Your Tutorial Video Workflow | Josh Cavalier

Tutorial videos are a fantastic way to connect with your audience through teaching and learning. But is there such a thing as a one-size-fits-all tutorial video workflow?

Josh Cavalier has over 25 years of experience in learning and development and is a passionate instructional video creator. He joins The Visual Lounge to share how he adapts his tutorial video workflow to ensure highly effective instructional videos.

This episode is packed with actionable advice that will revolutionize how you approach your tutorial video workflow.

You can watch the video on this topic above, to listen to the podcast episode below, or read on for more…

What does it mean to have a tutorial video workflow?

A workflow is the steps you take to get the outcome you want. For Josh, designing a workflow means focusing on his audience and knowing what results they need to achieve. He can then work backward from here and create a workflow that’s going to help his audience reach the desired end-result.

Josh says that, from an instructional standpoint, the goal is usually to change behaviors, attitudes, or teach some new information. Once you know which goal your content is aiming for, you can begin to modify your workflow and then move forward with your video production.

Understanding barriers to entry

One of the biggest challenges to how successful an instructional video is, is how easy it is to access. Josh notes that removing any barriers to entry for your video is the best way for it to reach and help as many people as possible.

When planning your tutorial video workflow, you need to think about where the video is ultimately going to live. Will an elearning course be inserted? Hosted within a content management system? These could be seen as barriers when people have instant access to other types of learning content (such as YouTube and TikTok).

Josh says that asking these “ease-of-access” questions is a vital part of his workflow process.

“I’m not only thinking about the creation process, but the access. Where is it going to be stored? How is it going to be consumed? Am I going to get any analytics from the back end that I can then use to try and confirm from a measurement standpoint if some of our objectives have been met?”

Crafting video tutorials as part of a learning journey

Tutorial videos are often used as part of a much wider “learning journey”. But what does this mean for you and your viewers?

The first stage is awareness. Josh says that your audience needs to know what’s in it for them and why they should care before they’re going to commit to watching that video.

We’re bombarded with so much content every day, that everyone’s constantly making judgement calls about what is and isn’t worth their time. Josh recommends thinking about how you’re going to market your instructional content to convince people that it’s worth consuming.

Josh says that this initial part of the learning journey needs to tap into people’s emotions. What he means by this isn’t necessarily about making people happy or sad, but creating content that motivates the learner to listen.

To do this, Josh uses a variety of techniques such as showcasing company leaders (to create intrigue and add weight to the content) and discussing learning objectives so the learner is fully aware of what they have to gain.

After this initial stage, Josh moves through a learning journey that looks something like this:
  1. Awareness stage (why the learner should care about this content)
  2. Pre-training (priming people for what they’re about to learn)
  3. Training (the knowledge-transfer stage)
  4. Post-training (reinforcing what they’ve learned)
  5. Performance support (helping the learner apply their new knowledge)

How the learning journey affects your video tutorial workflow

Josh notes that a video tutorial isn’t the solution for every stage. To find out what content best suits your audience at each stage, you need to understand what content your audience prefers consuming and where they’re consuming it. Thinking about audience preferences and what you learned when asking those ease-of-access questions is going to help you greatly when making these decisions.

If you’ve chosen to create a video, Josh encourages you to think about how the whole journey will work.

“By thinking about the whole entire learning journey, you will find opportunities from a recording and creation standpoint, that you’ll have never seen before.”

As an example, Josh says that if you’re planning to record a leader speaking, you may have limited time and contact with that person. When you can think about the entire learning journey and how each piece works together, you may realize that you can get multiple pieces of content recorded in one go. You can then feed these content pieces into different stages across the learning journey. However, if you’re just thinking about one stage at a time, you may miss the opportunity to bring that speaker back later to reinforce messages or raise emotion.

How to spark emotion with your video tutorials

If you’re unsure about how to make your learning videos more “emotional” ­– or why you’d want to – Josh suggests thinking about emotion as a way to grab the learner’s attention.

“What we’re trying to do is get the user in a state of being that’s active listening and active watching.”

He explains that when we sit and watch a 90-minute movie, we’re captivated. But for a 6-minute training video, we might struggle to pay attention. By thinking about where you can place “emotional fenceposts” you can encourage your learner to stay connected to the content.

One way to bring that emotional aspect into your tutorial videos is to include people.

Josh says that breaking up your video by introducing new or returning speakers and getting them to move the topic along is fantastic for reducing your learner’s cognitive load as well as humanizing your content.

Another way to ensure your learners stay engaged is to introduce more variety into your content. If you do a series of videos with the same background, same shirt, same delivery, your audience will struggle to maintain their interest. But if you keep your content varied, people will naturally pay more attention.

Josh notes that while subtle changes to your background, clothing, and delivery are all recommended to keep your audience engaged, you should be “strategic” about incorporating bigger elements, such as music.

“I’ve seen training videos where it’s very over the top in regards to that forced emotion, like maybe they’re putting music in the background of a step by step instructional video for a system based training. Why is the music there?”

Josh’s advice is to think critically about where you place your emotional fenceposts. Think about whether they add to the learning experience, or just put strain on the learner’s cognitive load. Music at the beginning of a video, for example, is a great way to catch a learner’s attention. But consider if you really need it during the training stage.

How long should a tutorial video be?

While there’s no perfect length for an instructional video to be, Josh says that you can work out how much a learner needs to know depending on where they are in their instructional journey.

A good way of thinking about this is to think about where you need high level information versus detailed information. If you want to learn to fix your washer, you’re likely to watch an entire video to make sure you don’t miss any steps. But, if you just need one very specific piece of information, it’s less likely that you’ll stick around and watch the whole video.

Perfecting Your Tutorial Video Workflow | Josh Cavalier

Josh says that a big problem right now is people jumping on the micro-content bandwagon

While short-form content may be the solution in some cases, when it comes to instructional video, it’s not one-size-fits-all.

“A lot of individuals who hear terms like micro-learning will intentionally try to make something short. That’s not always the best strategy. The best strategy is making the content as long as it needs to be for where the learner is in their learning journey.”

But what if a learner just needs to know a small part of a longer process? You might have created a video with the answer they’re looking for. But because it’s hidden in a longer format, your learner may not be able to find the content they need. In this case, they may go looking for help elsewhere.

This comes back to Josh’s thoughts on ease-of-access. By thinking about learner’s goals, you can craft a better learning experience for them. To solve this problem, Josh suggests making long form content more accessible. Do this by tagging chapters and adding time codes so the audience can access the specific content they’re looking for, without having to scrub through a longer video. This results in greater success for your learner and your video.

Josh’s top tip for creating a perfect tutorial video workflow

A tutorial video workflow may look different every time depending on your budget, time, and what you’re able to produce. Josh says, no matter what limitations he’s working with, he always aims high.

“In my mind, I’m always thinking, infinite time, infinite money, what would be the best solution for this from a video or instructional standpoint, elearning, whatever the case may be, what is the optimal solution? If I had all the time and all the money, that there’s the solution. Now I’m gonna go ahead and work that back to my reality.”

Josh’s advice: think big! Then work out how you can (realistically) execute it. There’s no better place for learning how to create instructional and tutorial videos than the TechSmith Academy! Check it out for tips and advice, and dos and don’ts from some of the world’s leading tutorial video creators.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

5 Steps to Record the Perfect Live Streaming Video

Every day when we open social media at work, we are bombarded with live video from Facebook, live streaming webinars, and streaming on YouTube.

How are we supposed to process it all in real time, especially when it might disappear the second we scroll with no way to find it again?

More importantly, how can you record streaming video so it’s not all lost in the internet’s void?

Don’t let the internet run your schedule.

You can easily capture or record live streaming video and share it with your friends or  coworkers, or save it for later viewing. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it will bring order to a chaotic media landscape.

Here’s how to get started:

Step 1: Find a desktop capture tool

First, find a great screen recorder and screen capture tool.

There are many tools that will let you record your desktop screen. I use TechSmith Snagit, which is great to easily make screen recordings. You can even cut out the parts you don’t need. Or, if I need a tool with more editing abilities, I’ll use TechSmith Camtasia.

Easily capture and record your screen!

Snagit gives you the ability to easily record streaming video, as well as anything else on your screen.

Download Your Free Trial

Step 2: Adjust your recording settings

Once you’ve downloaded Snagit, open it and familiarize yourself with the different settings.  

Check your settings to be sure you’re ready to record video rather than capture an image.

After selecting the area of the screen you want to record, the screen recorder toolbar appears under the selected area. You can select to record microphone audio or system audio with a video recording.

If you want to record streaming  video, you’ll probably want to capture the audio as well. Make sure system audio is selected. 

Snagit capture settings.

System audio is any sound from your computer, such as application alerts, audio playing from your speakers, etc.

Step 3: Select an area to record

Click the Capture button and then select your entire screen, a particular window, or a custom region.

Here is an example of a NASA live stream that I recorded earlier:

An example of a live video.

Instead of selecting the entire browser window, I simply captured the streaming video section.

Step 4: Hit record

After you make your selection, click the record button to start.

While recording, pause and resume at any time, switch between the webcam and screen recording with the webcam button, and even change audio settings.

When you’re done recording, click the stop button to stop the recording.

A word of caution: If you plan to record a longer video stream, be aware that if your computer goes to sleep or if a screensaver starts running, your video recording may be interrupted. So, if you plan to start recording and walk away from your device, you may want to turn off screensavers and sleep mode. 

Step 5: Save and upload

Once you have your video, you can save it to your computer as an MP4 or upload to share as needed. Snagit and Camtasia both have built-in export features to popular platforms, such as YouTube, Slack,, and more.

Snagit sharing and exporting options.

Snagit even lets you make a GIF out of your video! Remember, though, that a GIF won’t contain any audio. 

Video capture can help you make a little sense of the chaos you may feel, especially if you’re working remotely. One of my favorite uses is recording a Zoom meeting, and there are an endless amount of other great uses for video capture, too.

Make sure you have permission to record and share content. For example, if you pay to attend a webinar but then record and share it with your coworkers, that could lead to trouble for you and your organization.

For a great video walkthrough of the process outlined in this post, check out the link below:

Start recording livestreams today!

Snagit gives you the ability to easily record livestreams, as well as anything else on your screen.

Download Your Free Trial

Frequently asked questions

Can I record a livestream’s video and audio at the same time?

With Snagit and Camtasia, you can! Simply toggle the aspects you’d like to record, like your screen system or system audio.

Can I record a livestream on my phone?

Yes, you can! To capture a livestream on your phone, download TechSmith Capture. Then, once you’re done recording, you can easily upload the video to Snagit or Camtasia for editing.

How to Easily Get Perfect Audio for Your Videos | Jake Pechtel

Research shows that bad audio is the single most important factor in people stopping watching videos.

Simply put, bad audio means no viewers. And, of course, as video creators, we want viewers! So how can you improve the quality of your audio recording to get perfect audio for your videos?

As a beginner, it can be overwhelming stepping into the world of video. When you add audio into the mix, it becomes even more difficult to know what levers to pull to get the outcome you want.

Jake Pechtel is the Product Strategist for Camtasia and Audiate and has over seven years’ experience at TechSmith. He shared some high-level tips and more advanced insights about how to achieve that perfect audio for your videos and keep your viewers watching for longer.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Is there such a thing as “perfect audio”?

At TechSmith, we believe that striving for “perfect” is overrated…that being said, Jake believes there is such a thing as better audio.

Some audio is just plain bad. Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve the listening experience for listeners, video viewers, and yourself as a creator.

But audio is subjective. What sounds great to one person, may not sound good to another. So Jake advises that rather than aim for “perfect”, aim to craft an audio experience that “gets the job done”.

The three Cs of good audio

Jake suggests bearing “the three Cs” in mind when recording audio: clarity, consistency, and candy.

Clarity is the most important factor in any audio recording. Jake advises you focus on getting the levels right to make sure your listener can easily understand you.

The next goal is consistency. When your levels are inconsistent across different videos or pieces of media, it can result in an unpleasant experience for the listener. If you’re recording a series, for example, it’s best to check that the audio isn’t jumping around from too quiet to too loud, as this can be distracting.

The final aim is to sweeten the listening experience by being aware of how your voice actually sounds (aka add some candy). The recording devices many of us have access to, such as your phone or laptop mic, aren’t always the best for helping your voice sound as full as it could.

While you can use tools to get that bigger, fuller sound, Jake recommends experimenting with your voice to try and get it closer to how you sound in your head. His top tip is to “put a little bit more low end in to get more of that authoritative tone”.

Audio recording: where to start

When you first start creating video content, your focus is more likely to be on getting your visuals right and delivering your message correctly. As you dip your toe into editing software, like Camtasia, you may start to play around with the visuals and the audio.

But as any editor knows, it can be easy to dive into the deep end fast. Audio editing software tools are powerful and flexible, but if you’re just trying to correct some small mistakes, do you really need a program that can record a Grammy winning album?

If you’re just getting started, these tools can be intimidating and not a great use of your time. To achieve a decent result fast, Jake recommends keeping things simple and doing everything you can to get a good recording that you don’t have to clean up later.

The audio mistakes to avoid

“The more that you do to prepare, the less you have to do on the back end.”

Preparation for any video or audio project is absolutely key to a more efficient workflow and a much better end result. Jake suggests eliminating the more difficult editing work by just making sure that you’re getting as good a recording as possible first.

The first step to achieving this is making sure you’re addressing the microphone correctly. Understand how your microphone best picks up your voice and then be aware of your body. Moving around in the space and even turning your head can affect your ability to get perfect audio, so try not to do this.

The next step is ensuring that you’re using an even tone. If you’re recording a voiceover for a tutorial, for example, it’s better to avoid being overly loud or dramatic unless it’s absolutely necessary. A more even tone produces a much more pleasant listening experience overall.

Finally, be aware of your environment. While you may not always be able to control what’s going on around you, there are things you can do to improve your recording space. Here are some of Jake’s simple suggestions:

  • If you have hardwood floors, lay down a rug
  • Add sound absorbing foam squares to surfaces behind your mic
  • Record in a smaller room or a room with plenty of furniture in to stop any dreaded echo

Or you could get really creative with where you record. Jake’s heard stories of people recording in closets and even cars “to get that real buttery voiceover”!

How to improve your audio recording skills

To level up your skills and get perfect audio recordings every time, Jake suggests using online resources. However, he cautions that there are thousands out there, and it’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole. So his top tip is to conduct super specific searches for exactly what you want to know, or – even better – searching for gear-specific tips.

How to Easily Get Perfect Audio for Your Videos | Jake Pechtel

Getting to know your audio recording equipment is a great way to learn new skills fast. Plus, you may be able to find others with very similar setups to you, using the same gear for similar applications, who you can borrow tips and tricks from.

There are also plenty of free resources available in the TechSmith Academy, such as this short basics course, Recording Audio In Your Environment.

Jake also suggests there’s one more thing you can do to improve your audio skills – or at least help you become more comfortable with recording – try different microphones.

Like anything, it’s important that you find the right gear for you. Different mics often change how you sound – so if you’re finding it tough to listen back to your recording, it might not be you, it may be the mic! If you’re recording and editing a lot of content, having a microphone that makes you sound how you want to sound can make the entire process a lot more enjoyable.

How Audiate can help you get perfect audio

As the product strategist for Audiate, Jake also shared how this TechSmith software can help you create a much smoother finished product with your audio recording.

Audiate is to audio what Camtasia is to video. It’s a user-friendly audio editor that helps people get professional results with their audio recordings, as it allows you to edit audio files as if they are text files.

By transcribing audio files into text documents, it’s far easier to find your mistakes and correct them. The powerful thing about Audiate is, when you edit the text (e.g., deleting wrong words) it also edits the audio file. So even beginner users can achieve the perfect audio end-product in far less time.

Jake says the benefits of using an audio editor like this go beyond getting a great result, they also help you become a better audio recorder too.

Audiate has helped Jake become more aware of how he speaks, as speaking slower and more clearly gives you a more accurate transcription.

How to Easily Get Perfect Audio for Your Videos | Jake Pechtel

“I certainly speak a little slower and clearer now, which, especially when I’m making voiceover for video, has actually improved the pacing and the clarity of those videos a lot.”

This slower, more calculated speech helps to speed up the audio recording workflow for Jake. He notes that if he makes a mistake, he just repeats the sentence, then looks for the repeated text in Audiate, and removes the first one (or ones) with the errors in. This is far quicker than hunting for mistakes and it doesn’t disrupt his recording flow.

An audio-specific editing tool is a powerful addition you can make to your audio recording equipment and can make your workflow a lot easier. So, no matter what gear you have or audio projects you’re undertaking, Jake’s final tips for helping get the best results and making your audio process work for you are:

“Be experimental, get the right setup, and really get to know your gear – even if you just have a really simple setup.”

For more tips on getting perfect audio, creating videos, screen recordings, and much, much more, check out the courses and resources at the TechSmith Academy.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

Tips and Tools We Use to Make Our Tutorial Videos | Jason Valade and Ryan Eash

What does it take to make your tutorial videos shine?

Jason Valade and Ryan Eash are both Instructional Designers at TechSmith with several years of experience in creating high-value instructional videos.

Jason is also an ATD Master Trainer and has a background as a classroom teacher. He loves teaching and training people on all things TechSmith-related. Ryan works on the customer education team creating video tutorials and course materials to help customers learn how to utilize TechSmith tools.

This world-class Instructional Designer duo has plenty of tips, tactics, and advice to share, so hit play on the video or podcast player, or keep reading to learn more.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

How do you decide what type of video to make?

One of the first hurdles to overcome is deciding what type of video you need to create. Will it be a short screen recording? A polished video? Or will screenshots suffice?

Of course, there’s no single right answer, and this is something the customer education team at TechSmith always struggles with, according to Jason.

TechSmith videos fall into many different categories, from highly polished videos for the masses to smaller ones covering tiny topics, webinars, and more.

“Deciding what method and what style of video to make, that’s a constant challenge that we actually meet on and discuss on a pretty regular basis.”

One of Ryan’s first steps is to look at what TechSmith tutorials already cover the subject. He can then decide whether something new needs to be created or simply altered.

Another thing that often determines the outcome is the time available. Jason says that this can greatly determine the outcome and style of a video.

“I would say, ultimately, it comes down to timing. When are these things needed? And when are people going to find it most helpful?”

Staying focused and making decisions

With so many different decisions, big and small, to make about a tutorial video, it can quickly get overwhelming.

A quote they both like to use is: “don’t let perfection be the enemy of done.” Jason emphasizes that you don’t have to try and do everything right away. There’s a lot of value to splitting up a big complex task into manageable chunks.

His advice is to just work on one thing at a time and focus on your strengths.

“I tend to focus on the audio, on the voiceover. I’m not a great writer. So I script what I think, pass it around the team, and let everybody give feedback. I take which parts I want to take or which parts I want to leave out. And then I record the voiceover. When the voiceover is done, I feel like a million bucks because that is such a huge component of the video. The rest just kind of flows in its place.”

How TechSmith uses a tiered system for videos

The customer education team at TechSmith tends to use a tiered system to prioritize videos. There are three tiers that differ based on audience, content, review process, and production style.

Tier 1: This is what you’d see on TechSmith tutorials. The team spends a lot of time scripting it, recording audio, editing, and reviewing it to make sure it’s all perfect.

Tier 2: This type of video may have a script and a quick review process, but it doesn’t go through such a strict process as tier one videos.

Tier 3: This is the simplest type of video where you just hit record and give a quick answer to a question. It could be a webinar-style video without a ton of editing.

Jason likes to use a spaghetti sauce analogy to explain the tiers.

“The spaghetti sauce tiers are: tier one is grandma’s or mom’s. It’s the ultimate gold standard by which you judge all other spaghetti. It cannot be off by a little bit. It tastes perfect every single time. Whereas tier two is like your friend’s spaghetti where it’s really good. It might interchange a few ingredients here or there, but it’s not mom’s or your grandma’s. And then tier three spaghetti looks like spaghetti, kind of tastes like it. It’ll do in a pinch.”

How to get more comfortable producing tier three-style videos

“You’re a human being. You’re not a robot. Make sure that gets conveyed in your content.” – Jason Valade

Despite the spaghetti analogy above, tier three does not mean bad or even low quality. It’s just a different approach to getting the information across.

Interestingly, for some content creators, it’s the tier three videos they feel least comfortable with. Those who always aim to make ultra-polished videos aren’t always comfortable releasing less-than-perfect videos.

Jason’s advice is to just do it anyway and see how you feel.

“You might say “um” or an “ah,” but you’re a human being. You’re not a robot. Make sure that gets conveyed in your content as long as you’re comfortable with it. There’s a comfort level, but as far as getting more comfortable doing tier-three videos, just do them. Just get them out there and see how they feel.”

Ryan admittedly is one of those people who find tier-three videos difficult. He likes to rely on scripts that he practices with before recording. However, as much as it is about confidence, it’s also about the team you have around you.

“Confidence is a big, big thing. But in the end, surround yourself with people who can help build you up.”

Top tips for video success

As instructional designers and training professionals, Jason and Ryan are used to giving out advice on a regular basis. But what’s the tip they give out the most often?

For Jason, he likes to introduce people to the library in Camtasia.

“The library can save so much time over multiple videos where you can store content in there. I mean, I’ve got all the text with branding in there, all our colorways and the themes, all our logos and icons and cursors, and stuff like that. Helping future Jason is an important thing to me.”

Ryan, on the other hand, is a big believer in the power of scripting. He finds that having a script means he can keep his videos shorter and to the point.

“If I were to do a video of scripted and then I would do that same video unscripted, it might be twice as long as the other one.”

Camtasia features everyone should know about

Camtasia is packed full of intuitive and handy features, but Ryan’s favorite is using the shift key to click and drag the playhead to move everything down the timeline. This is so useful if you decide you want to include a title slide at the beginning.

Jason likes to use the emphasize audio feature, which is a great way to introduce music with a simple click and drag method. Another feature Jason likes is the animations feature which you can find on the animations tab.

Audio tips when working remotely

During the pandemic, many instructional designers and content creators have had to make do with their home setup.

Jason’s top tip for this (besides heading over to the TechSmith Academy) is to spend some time testing out and learning more about your equipment. It doesn’t matter whether you have a $20 microphone or a $500 one, just learn how it works and sounds, and make sure you practice.

Ryan likes to record his audio separately from the rest of his video, which gives him a chance to edit out mistakes and clean up the sound before it goes live.

For those nervous about speaking on camera, Ryan’s tip is to “speak like you’re talking to your mom.”

Long videos vs. short videos

“If it has to be a longer video, keep it engaging, so they’re like, wow that was a 10-minute video, it didn’t feel like it.” – Ryan Eash

The debate goes on. Should your videos always be as short as possible? They certainly shouldn’t be longer than they need to be, but sometimes a longer video is necessary if it’s a complex subject.

However, if you do make a longer video, Ryan says you should always try to “keep it engaging so that when they’re done, they’re like, “wow, that was a 10-minute video. It didn’t feel like a 10-minute video.”

Whatever type of tutorial video you want to make, whether it’s an ultra-polished one, a tier-three, a short and snappy, or a longer one, be sure to check out the TechSmith Academy. This resource hub has everything you need to learn more about video creation, audio, editing, Camtasia, and much more!

Take It from the Teacher: Tutorial Video Advice with a Camtasia Trainer | Jayne Davids

Want some video creation and editing tips? Who better to ask than a teacher? In this episode of The Visual Lounge, we invited Jayne Davids, Camtasia Trainer, Video Editor at her company, Raiveon Video Specialists to share with us her tutorial video advice.

Jayne shares thoughts on how you can improve your video creation skills by sharing some insights into her own methods. She takes you through her processes, how she manages projects, her tips on creating storyboards and scripts, and much more.

Jayne has been involved in learning and development for over 20 years now, designing and delivering training systems. She’s combined her love for teaching with making videos and now helps others do the same with tutorial video advice.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Why is video creation so important?

Of course, we love video at TechSmith. We don’t need any convincing, but we asked Jayne to give us a short pitch. And she put it perfectly…

“I think everyone should be making videos. And if you’re not, just press that red button and get started. I think it’s great for your branding and getting your message out there connecting people. Brilliant opportunity for sharing information and helping people. I love it.”

The early days of being a video creator

While Jayne may be a video expert now, she says it wasn’t always that way. Video creation is a long learning process. She explained that her first videos were “awful” and producing videos had tons of challenges to contend with.

“I think the first thing I really didn’t like was listening to my voice…Now when I look back, it wasn’t too bad. But my voice is the main thing. I was very high-pitch, very fast. So that’s what makes me cringe.”

But Jayne powered through and instead focused on what she wanted each video to achieve.

“I still had lots of planning, I still went through the process, you know, understanding or sort of recognizing what’s really important, what can I include in this video that will help the person to be able to do what they need to be able to do?”

What makes a great video tutorial?

While there are plenty of video tutorial tips Jayne could give, one she starts with is a simple one – get to the point.

People are busy and impatient, and when they need information from your video, they want it to be fast, straightforward, and to the point.

“Make sure that you get to the point and cover all the necessary points as quickly as you can.”

"What is the safest, quickest, or most appropriate way we want our studets, our viewrs to take to be able to be able to complete that task?" - Jayne Davids

The process for putting a video tutorial together

Everyone has a different process. What one process works for one, won’t for another. And so, the best process and tactics are the ones that work for you.

Jayne says that her process varies depending on the stage her clients bring her in and the type of video. Some may be right at the beginning of the process and need a whole lot of training material. Others may bring her in during the later stages for more editing than training.

“I start trying to get familiar with the client and understand their tone of voice and how they approach things. I review some of their videos that they’ve already made just to get a feel – because it could be that I’m asked to make videos exactly to what they’ve done before – so they’re consistent.”

The editing process

For Jayne, there’s usually a template involved that will have all the customer information on. She takes some time setting up the project in Camtasia and then puts together some notes.

An interesting part of her process is recording the audio separately.

“I can concentrate a lot better if I’m just looking at doing the audio. That very first tutorial video, I did everything at the same time. And boy, that was quite hard concentrating on, articulating properly, and smiling and recording where your cursor is supposed to be going. I found that quite a challenge.”

The result? A much smoother, more polished video, according to Jayne. Sometimes, she will still record videos without doing it separately, but that’s only when a less polished one is needed.

How to proactively improve your video creation skills

Jayne’s tip is simple, but hard to argue with – “Learn by doing, improve by doing.”

Even a trainer as qualified and accomplished as Jayne knows there’s no greater way to learn than by trying things out, experimenting, getting things wrong, and then improving next time.

“Whilst I teach people how to do it, I think where I’ve learned more, is actually making those videos myself.”

"I make videos, I watch videos, but until I actually put that into practice, I need to experiment. I need to be doing it." - Jayne Davids

Is scripting necessary or just useful?

Everyone has a different take on this. Some people love scripts. Others hate them. Some prefer to rely on loose notes. But where does Jayne fall on that debate?

Jayne likes to use a simple yet highly efficient storyboard system with three columns for her tutorial videos.                  

Column 1: The words she’s going to be saying

Column 2: What’s going to appear on screen.

Column 3: Hints and tips about where she will be clicking during the recording. There will also be some notes on what to highlight, when to zoom in, and so on.

“My script most of the time is scripted word for word. One of the other reasons I do a storyboard, especially working with clients, is that they have the opportunity then to review that storyboard and review the script. So it gives me an option, an opportunity for them to review that and make any changes.”

Jayne’s Camtasia tips

As a big Camtasia advocate, Jayne has plenty of tips and features she recommends.

A few features she mentions are the Ripple Delete, Magnetic Tracks, and even Shift, which helps you move things around the timeline.

“I always say shift is your friend. Because, if you highlight that first piece of media, then hit shift, you can drag the individual pieces of media as a whole on that track.”

Another one is Ripple Move, where you click on the grey play head, and it splits all your tracks.

“Normally, when I show people, it’s that sort of, ‘oh my gosh!’ You can see people’s lightbulb moment.”

Camtasia, of course, has lots of features like these that can really transform your videos. If you want more tips, be sure to check out TechSmith Academy – it’s full of video creation and editing tips to level up your videos.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

Tips for Measuring and Analyzing Your Videos with Elizabeth Pierce

If you’re producing video after video, you need to know how well they’re doing.

Are they effective? Is there room for improvement? Do they cover everything they need to?

You won’t know unless you measure and analyze your videos!

Elizabeth Pierce, Senior Director of Learning Experience and Consulting at TaskUs, joined The Visual Lounge to share her thoughts behind measuring video engagement.

Elizabeth has 20 plus years of experience working in the learning and development space as a fantastic leader and advisor. She’s dedicated to driving a progressive learning culture throughout organizations to meet company, customer, and employee goals for strategic growth. She’s worked with big names such as Walmart, Oracle, Uber, Eventbrite, and Glassdoor.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Getting clear on company goals

One of the biggest areas of focus for Elizabeth is to get clear on the goals of your leadership team or client. When trying to achieve any real change with learning, you need to figure out the potential roadblocks to reaching those goals.

“Always look at the overall business, and then how training can plug and play and actually support the business and support those goals and how they want to move forward.”

Elizabeth likes to dive into the details here. She says the best way to deliver training is to look at the goals for each company division and get clear on what behavior changes and knowledge checks the company needs.

“It really is about supporting the whole business and what training we can provide that would support the business and have an impact to help it reach those goals faster, but also in a robust way.”

A good collaborative team effort is key

When it comes to producing effective instructional videos for businesses, it’s always a team effort. Elizabeth works with some fantastic instructional designers and content writers who collaborate really well together.

“You need to make sure that you hire the right people in the right roles. And there are amazing instructional designers that are on my team and content writers…and there’s no way I could do that. They’re amazing. They have a very collaborative environment, and we really encourage that.”

According to Elizabeth, one of the most important things to remember as a leader is that your team needs to know what they’re working towards. That’s where communication becomes key.

“One of the key things is that as a leader, you make sure that your team actually knows what the end game is. So communication is absolutely 100% key.”

How to test for engagement

How do you ensure that the viewers of your video have absorbed the information?

Elizabeth says: quiz them!

The simplest way to check that the information has been absorbed is to have a knowledge check at the end of the video. This achieves three key things:

  1. It ensures they paid attention
  2. It means it sunk in
  3. It reinforces that training is not just a one-and-done experience

“If you don’t have a quiz or you don’t have a knowledge check, like, that’s a huge mess.”

If you really want the information to sink in, an even better way to test it is to do a little refresher a few days later with a new mini knowledge check quiz.

How to deliver content that drives engagement

Another thing to bear in mind if you’re trying to boost engagement is how you deliver the information. Throwing together a slideshow with hundreds of slides isn’t going to lead to high engagement and knowledge retention.

Elizabeth says that the knowledge check is only part of the work. The content itself needs to be engaging enough so people can retain the information.

“So many times, I’ve walked into companies, and it’s basically been like, 300 slides, and then they just throw it into an eLearning. That’s not very helpful. Because then I’m just sitting there looking at slides, and I don’t even know what I need to retain. And I don’t know why I need to retain it.”

Video vs. PowerPoint vs. eLearning modules

300-slide PowerPoint presentations are probably not the best way to deliver information, but is video always the solution?

Elizabeth loves video because it can tell a story. While you can do something similar with static images on a PowerPoint presentation, it’s just not the same. Video, she says, is much more entertaining and easier to remember.

“People tend to remember things that are more interactive, versus looking at a static slide that’s not necessarily the most interactive way of doing something. So I’m a huge fan of video.”

What true engagement looks like

Tips for Measuring and Analyzing Your Videos with Elizabeth Pierce

The word engagement can mean a few different things. For some, it means interactivity. It means sharing the video, responding to it, putting the ideas into action. But interactivity isn’t the only way to measure engagement.

Elizabeth’s definition of engagement in this context is “engagement in terms of the space.”

She defines it by asking, “is that person staying in the experience? Are they clicking around and moving around to different spaces? Are they retaining something? And they able to answer a quiz question?”

She gives an example of an anti-harassment training session she found that had highly engaged, scenario-based videos that were also a bit funny because the scenarios were so obviously wrong.

This led to them recommending other managers to take the training, when usually, HR would have to track people down to get them to take it.

“They found the training was super engaging and certain aspects of it were kind of funny because it was like, why would you ever do that? So it was kind of self-populated, and everybody ended up taking it. I think it was a 99% rate of accomplishment.”

Other ways to measure engagement

Oftentimes, measuring the effects of videos and training is hard to put into hard numbers. There’s always a qualitative aspect to it.

However, there’s plenty of data ready to look at. It’s just not always immediately apparent. Elizabeth talks a little about hidden data points that you can look at in the wider business.

For example, if a business has a high staff turnover rate, better training can help to reduce that, which is something that can be clearly measured.

“My first training job, the CEO would walk by my desk and be like, “we’ve got a problem in the call center, 40% turnover rate, fix it.” So basically, I had to figure out how to fix it. And I was like, well, where’s it coming from? Why do we have that 40% turnover rate? So that goal for the company was to get that turnover rate reduced. So I fixed it.”

What to consider before creating a learning management system

There are lots of things to consider before creating an LMS. Elizabeth takes us through some of the most important questions to ask ourselves.

  1. Who is the client, and what does the company need?
  2. Who is the audience?
  3. What is the skill set of the learning team?
  4. What’s the complexity of the training?
  5. How will the training be rolled out, and to how many people?

“There are so many different things that you need to consider for the best LMS. No one LMS fits best for any one space.”

The challenges of remote training

In the era of COVID, the way many companies conduct training changed drastically overnight. In some cases, there were layoffs in training teams, and there was a lack of experts delivering the training.

Another way things have changed is that companies now rely on eLearning to replace what would have been in-person training. But the content itself wasn’t built for eLearning, so it didn’t have the same effect.

“They were throwing all these decks that were normally facilitated in-person with activities and were super engaging, and just threw them into eLearning. You’re sitting there, and you’re clicking through the slides, but you’re not getting that engagement level.”

So this is definitely something to be aware of because training sessions are going to look different, and the level of engagement has changed. There are all sorts of distractions to contend with when people are at home, such as children or pets running around. 

That’s why TaskUs prioritizes wellness and breaks training up into more manageable chunks. This helps engagement rather than hinders it because it’s more realistic for people to manage.

If you’re ready to start creating engaging videos that get the results that you want (either in-person or remotely), be sure to check out TechSmith Academy. It’s full of resources to help you get started and create amazing videos.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

How to Add Text to a Video (Quick & Easy)

Most of us don’t consider ourselves trainers, but at some point, nearly all of us will have to show a colleague or a customer how to do something. A video is a great way to show someone a process, teach new skills, or train someone on a new system. But sometimes, just showing what to do or how to do it isn’t enough. Adding text to a video can bring more clarity, help identify what you’re trying to show, or bring more life to your explanation. 

But how do you do it?

Luckily, adding text to a video is incredibly easy. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

The Easiest Way to Edit Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

Why add text to video?

Video works well as a learning tool because everything your viewers need to see is right there on the screen. You can literally show what you know. So why would you need to add text?

Turns out, there are a lot of reasons to add text to a video. Here are a few common ones:

  1. Show your video’s title
  2. Identify something or someone on the screen
  3. Provide more explanation as to what viewers see
  4. Draw attention to a detail that might not otherwise be obvious
  5. Show a series of steps

I could go on, but you can see that text in a video can be a critical part of ensuring viewers get the information they need.

To be clear, when I talk about how to add text to a video, I mean adding dynamic text that’s actually part of the video. You could add a static image of text onto the screen, but it’s really much easier and more efficient to do it right in your video editor. 

Bottom line: Adding text in your video editor makes it much easier to update and edit the text when needed.

Note: This blog is not about how to add captions or subtitles to a video. If you want more information on how to add captions on social media or other videos, check out this great blog: How to Add Captions or Subtitles to a Video.

How to add text to a video

One of the best things about TechSmith Camtasia is that unlike other video editing tools, it’s super quick and easy to add text to a video.

  1. Step 1: Choose annotations

    With Camtasia open, choose Annotations in the menu.WIth Camtasia open, choose Annotations in the menu.

  2. Step 2: Pick your style

    Choose the style of annotation you want to add and drag it to the timeline where you want it to appear.

  3. Step 3: Place the playhead

    Place the playhead over the area on the timeline where your annotation appears.Place the playhead over your text.

  4. Step 4: Position your text box

    On the canvas, click and drag your text box to position where you want on the screen and use the handles to scale it larger or smaller as you need.

  5. Step 5: Add your text

    Double-click in the text box and add your text.

The Easiest Way to Edit Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

That’s it. That’s how to add text to a video in Camtasia. It’s really that simple.

Also, this works whether you created your video in Camtasia or imported it from another source.

Beyond the basics: How to enhance your text for greater impact

If basic text is all you need, that’s great, but I’m guessing you’d like to learn how you can customize and animate the text in your videos.

Camtasia offers a ton of ways to enhance your text and help it have an even greater impact. 

For example, instead of plain text, you can use an annotation such as an arrow, speech bubble, or a shape. 

Basic enhancements

Want to change the font, size, color, or other properties of your text? With your text box selected, click the Properties button to open the Properties panel. Here, you can change all of the attributes and settings that determine how your text looks. 

To add text to a video open the Properties pane to make basic changes to the text's appearance.

If you have one you want to use, select and apply it. You can make all kinds of changes, including the ones I just mentioned. Plus you can select a theme if you have one, change your text’s alignment, and more.

To add text to a video select the film icon to change the size and position of the text box.

Select the film icon, and you can change the size of the text box, its opacity, rotation, and position on the screen. The rotation and position properties are particularly useful if you want to start animating your text. 

You can also change most of the visual properties by clicking and dragging the anchor points on the text box right on the canvas, as well.

To add text to a video you can animate the text in Camtasia

Increase or decrease the length of time your text appears in the video by dragging the edges of the clip on the timeline. Adjust when your text appears by clicking and dragging it to where you want it to be.


Want to add some motion to your text? You can do that, too!

Camtasia offers Behaviors, which are dynamic sequences of animations, and can help draw attention to your message or add some flare. Select Behaviors from the menu, and the list of available Behaviors will appear. 

To add text to a video you can add a Behavior to the timeline to make the text move

You can preview what each does by hovering your mouse cursor over each one. When you find one you want to use, click and drag it to the timeline and drop it on the text or clip you want to animate.


When you add your text to the timeline, it will appear suddenly and disappear just as suddenly when its time is up. Transitions help soften this and add some style and elegance to how your text appears on the screen.

Select Transitions from the menu to see the available transitions. Just like Behaviors, you can hover over each one to see what it looks like in action. 

To add text to a video you can add a transition to make it appear and disappear

When you find one you like, drag and drop it onto your text on the timeline. Transitions can be applied to both ends of a clip at once or to the beginning and end individually.

My favorite transition is Fade. It’s subtle and does a nice job of softening the appearance and disappearance of your text.

A word of caution: Whatever transition you choose, use the same one for all transitions throughout your video. Using different Transitions can give your video an amateur or unpolished look. 

Lower thirds from TechSmith Assets for Camtasia

Camtasia comes bundled with a cool selection of free assets, such as intros and outros, music, icons, and more.

But Camtasia also comes with a nice selection of lower thirds. Also called chyrons, these are the combinations of text and graphics often used to identify people speaking on screen. If you’ve ever watched a TV news broadcast, you’ve seen a lower third.

While you can certainly use plain text for this, using one of these from TechSmith Assets will add style to your video. 

To add text to a video select the Lower Third you want from the Assets Library and drag it to the timeline.

Just select the one you want and click and drag it to where you want it to appear on the canvas. You can also drag it directly to the timeline, where it will appear on the lower left of the canvas by default.

And, of course, they’re totally customizable by opening the Properties pane. 

Snagit can do it, too

Adding text to video isn’t exclusive to Camtasia. With Snagit’s Create Video from Images feature, you can create video from a series of screenshots or other images and then add annotations (including text and other callouts) as you record your video. It’s not the same process, but for more basic videos, the results can be just as impactful. 

Keep accessibility in mind

As with any content, whenever possible, videos should be accessible to people with disabilities or who may use accessibility tools. 

While a person who is blind or visually impaired may not be able to see your video, they may be able to learn through the audio portion of the video along with an audio description. That description should include anything that is only presented visually, including any text that appears on the screen.

Text me!

While a video without text can be impactful, interesting, and effective, adding text can enhance understanding and bring more clarity.

In fact, even if it’s just to indicate your video’s title, nearly all videos can be improved with text. Luckily, with Camtasia, it’s easy to add professional-looking text and effects!

The Easiest Way to Edit Videos

From quick and easy cuts and annotations to more advanced editing, TechSmith Camtasia takes the guesswork out of creating beautiful, rich, and professional-quality tutorial, explainer, and training videos. And, with a drag-and-drop interface and a huge library of templates and other assets, there are no professional skills required!

Try Camtasia for Free

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist. Geek. Science Enthusiast. Retired roller derby coach. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me ... 1. Mildly obsessed with the movie Alien, 2. Two pibbles: Biggie and Reo, 3. Friend of ducks everywhere.

3 Ways Screenshots Improve Your Word Docs, PowerPoints, and Emails

I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of reading Word Docs, PowerPoint slides, and emails with nothing breaking up giant walls of text. It’s nearly impossible to stay engaged and absorb the information.

If you hate reading them too, then why are you sending them to your colleagues and customers?

Luckily, it’s incredibly easy to make your communications more scannable and easy to consume:

Just add some screenshots!

Not only can screenshots break up your content into more manageable bites, they help clarify key aspects and add a visual aspect to your documents that will help viewers better absorb and retain information .

Plus, the viewer of your email, Microsoft Word document, or PowerPoint presentation might find a screenshot or two a welcome change to the traditional — dare I say, oring — approach.

Here are three ways that screenshots can help improve your communications:

1. Screenshots help you use fewer words

Including step-by-step instructions complete with screenshots in your procedural or technical documentation can make a big difference. They break up the text, and they can make your message even clearer by visually showing what you’re trying to convey using text alone.

An image showing steps in a process, like creating an image from a template.

If your content isn’t a how-to guide or otherwise showing steps, including a relevant image can still add a lot of value and boost information retention.

2. Screenshots add clarity and personality

People often dread viewing PowerPoint Presentations. There’s nothing more boring than plain slides of words being read out loud.

Not anymore!

Add visuals to your slides, like screen captures of data dashboards with arrows, to call attention exactly where you want your audience’s focus. That way, they won’t have to use too much brainpower to identify and retain the important pieces of information.

You can also include an animated GIF to show a process or simply add a touch of humor! This is a great way to let your personality shine through and hold your audience’s attention.

3. Screenshots build engagement

Two thirds of people understand information better when it’s communicated visually, so what better way to boost engagement across your communications than by using screenshots? 

Additionally, more than a third (38%) of employees believe they would be more engaged if corporate communications were more inspiring than they are today — five times more than those who think it would make absolutely no difference (7%).

Read more on the Value of Visuals here.

These numbers make it clear — if you aren’t already using screen captures and images in your documents, presentation slides, and emails, it’s time to start!

Start taking and editing screenshots today!

Ready to get started with adding visuals to your communciations? Download a free trial of Snagit!

Get Started Today

Just like that, you’re ready to start transforming your communications from boring blobs of text to clear, engaging messages for your coworkers.

For more resources on capturing your screen and editing screenshots, check out The Best Way to Take Screenshots and How to Edit a Screenshot.

Looking for a great screenshot tool? Snagit is perfect for capturing screenshots, adding additional context, and easily sharing with coworkers. Watch the video below for a great overview of Snagit’s features.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use GIFs in all my communications?

Sometimes, a GIF can be a great way to add some fun or personality to your content. However, it isn’t always appropriate. Use your best judgement!

Does adding images really boost engagement?

According to our research, yes! 38% of employees believe they would be more engaged if corporate communications used visuals.

How to Scale Your Tutorial Videos and Create More Successful Users

Creating great instructional videos doesn’t start when you hit record. For the best success during production and beyond, good planning is essential.

Planning and following a set process are key to producing consistently high-value tutorial videos. From scripting to research and analysis to drafting, the better foundations you can lay with your work, the easier it is to scale your videos and achieve the desired effect with your audience.

Chandra Owen, Instructional Designer at TechSmith, joined this episode of The Visual Lounge to share her processes and insights behind planning to scale your videos.

Chandra’s work as an Instructional Designer means she creates content for TechSmith’s customer education team, including video, written tutorials, and webinars. Prior to joining TechSmith, she worked for 13 years in higher education, managing training, and social media.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

How to decide between video and written instructions

One of the first steps in creating educational content is to decide on the format. Will this work better as a video or as written instructions?

Chandra’s advice for someone who is unsure is to try writing it out first and see if you feel like it could do with some visuals. If you need something that shows a step-by-step instruction, video may be a better option.

“Complexity is a big decider. If you find you’re writing 40 steps out, then that’s probably going to be hard for somebody. It might be better to create a video or even written text with an image to show them those 40 steps.”

However, there are plenty of other scenarios that Chandra says are better suited for written instructions, for example, settings and system preferences.

If you have access to data that helps you decide, even better. Chandra’s team likes to use a lot of data-driven feedback, which is typically taken from webinars. When collecting feedback, you can also get a good idea about what content type people want to see more of.

“If you attend our webinars, and you fill out a quick Q&A and ask us a question, we look back at those spreadsheets, and we say, hey, here’s a common question that came up, we should probably create some content to help people with that particular topic.”

The process behind a tutorial video schedule

For those who need to create multiple tutorial videos on a regular basis, a solid process is much needed. This can help make the whole production and distribution much more efficient and effective.

But where do you start?

Chandra likes to start with research and analysis to come up with topics and also work with subject matter experts. Once she has a list of topics, her team turns to Asana, the project management software, to build out cards for each topic.

Next, it’s over to Google Docs for script templates which include the objectives of each tutorial and special notes. For example, if the marketing department wants to emphasize something, this will be noted here.

The next step is to write the scripts, and then everything is put through a thorough review process.

“We keep making updates until we really love the product that we have and can publish that.”

Starting with objectives in the scripting process

Everyone approaches the scriptwriting process slightly differently, but Chandra likes to start with objectives before anything else.

“I want to make sure I know each feature or each piece that needs to be included in the video. So I have bullet points at the top of my Google Doc script. This makes sure that, as I’m going along, I hit on each of the objectives that I want in the video.”

Others in her team like to take a co-writing approach where they’ll go away and write as a duo or small team. It’s whatever works best for you.

How to Scale Your Tutorial Videos and Create More Successful Users

Chandra’s tier system for creating videos

The average length of time it takes Chandra’s team to create a polished tutorial video is about two weeks. However, there are some instances when video content is required more quickly or simply doesn’t require that same level of polish.

This is why they use a tiered system for each video.

  • Tier 1: This is the most polished type of video where you want to give it more time and attention to make sure it’s perfect
  • Tier 2: This type of video probably has a script but goes through a little less polishing
  • Tier 3: This is where you just start recording and talk through it. Scripting is not necessary.

“A quick support video would be more of a tier three. And that would only take as long as it pretty much takes you to hit the record button, and then maybe do a few cuts here and there to fix it up and then publish it.”

The challenge of creating evergreen content vs. updating existing content

In an ideal world, you’d create the perfect set of videos and never need to update them. However, things change, advice becomes outdated, and you sometimes need to edit existing content. That’s why some teams like to focus more on making content evergreen to save time in the future.

Chandra prefers to spend more time on new content that people want versus spending time on a video series that needs a few edits.

Her team started making some changes to the way they created videos to make them more evergreen.

“For a while, we were putting in the version or the year for the release. So we’d have “Snagit 2019”, let’s say in the intro […] now we’re coming up a couple of years later, the video might still be relevant. But it starts with Snagit 2019, so it looks a little outdated. One thing you can do is just put “Snagit tutorials” instead of “Snagit 2019 tutorials.” That allows it to be evergreen for a few more years.”

Simple changes like this to your process can extend the life and relevancy of your videos.

The journey from script to production

Once all the planning, research, and scripting are covered during the early stages of production, what next? Chandra’s team still has a few steps before actually creating the tutorials. One is that they gather the assets and tools needed for the video.

This can be a time-consuming part of the process. However, Chandra has a way to reduce it – create an asset library.

“Anybody who has created videos or tutorials knows that one of the most time-consuming pieces is gathering all your assets. So, your intro, your arrows, your colors, your outro, transitions, and any sort of sound effects or audio that you might want to add. What we do to try to speed that process along is we before we create one tutorial, we create a library of all of our assets.”

This is where Camtasia becomes very handy. Chandra has themes, branding colors, cursor icons, and so on already saved. These can be pulled straight into the timeline to start creating.

Use scratch audio tracks to make the editing process easier

Another key part of the process for Chandra is to create scratch audio tracks.

These are draft audio tracks that she works with while getting the visuals produced. Once the visuals are done, she then records a polished version of the audio to put it all together.

Chandra does this because she has had difficulty matching up her audio perfectly. Sometimes when editing, she realized she should have put more context into one section, or there were long gaps. In cases like these, it’s much easier to work with draft audio than editing the final version.

Creating a truly helpful tutorial video series starts with a good foundation, proper planning, and a streamlined process. Not only can this save you time from having to revisit content and make major edits, but it also ensures your message gets across clearly and efficiently.

If you’re already a tutorial video creator or are planning to create a video, make sure you check out TechSmith Academy for lots of free resources to help with planning and production.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

How to Write a Script for a Video (Free Template!)

Have you ever tried to write a script?

It can be daunting.

Few things are worse than staring at a blank screen. But here’s the lie: “Everything has to be original and new!”


The key is to use a video script template.

An unscripted video wastes time, takes too much effort, and is painful to watch.

The first thing you want to do before you create a video is to write a script, even if it’s brief. And although writing a script can seem daunting, don’t worry. You just need a starting point.

Writing a video script is a lifeline that can help you be more confident and articulate when recording an effective video.

The reality is, whether you’re writing a screenplay, tv show, a movie, or a simple explainer video, a good script makes all the difference.

Scripts all contain similar types of information, like who’s speaking, what’s being said, where it’s being said, and other critical pieces of information.

Now, all this information can be super helpful. However, if you’re not creating a film that’s for entertainment, you probably don’t need all the nitty-gritty details or worry about the video production yet.

You only need a few simple steps and tips to write a great, easy-to-understand video script.

Free tutorial video script template!

Our free script writing course breaks down how to write a script and gives you a perfect script template for all of your video projects.

Get Started Today

How to make an instructional, informational, or tutorial video script

One of the most common reasons people make videos is to walk others through a process. Before you write your tutorial video script, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What specific problem will the tutorial solve?
  • What will the audience be able to do after watching this?

Considering these factors will help set you up for success. After that, just follow the same steps as above!

Check out this blog to learn more about making a successful tutorial video.

Another type of script format is for informational content, like training, product demos, or explainer videos. These can be great if you need to show off products or services.

You can format your script in a variety of ways, but generally, you need to have the same information.

Your script should include a few components:

  • The words that will be spoken
  • Information about the words
  • Where they are said
  • How they are said
  • Any other helpful information information

You may also want to include an easy way to reference each line or sentence.

When you write a script, you can use whatever format best works for your needs.

I’ll walk you through just one example of a script that works particularly well for screen recording videos, animations, and videos that are mostly voiceover.

Step 1: Find a good spot to write a script

When it comes time to write your script use any tool you’re comfortable with, including pen and paper.

Consider choosing a writing environment that’s comfortable for you where you can focus and be creative. When you write, consider what you don’t have to say out loud. A lot of your message will be shared through visual components.

Keep your writing conversational and think carefully about the words you’re choosing.

Step 2: Use a template

Speed and consistency come from not reinventing the wheel every time you sit down to create something. It’s using the compound knowledge of what works and doing that time and time again. I’m not saying don’t innovate — but you don’t need to force yourself to come up with something entirely new every single time.

When I sit down to write a script, I don’t actually start with a blank page.

I start with a template and go through it step by step. And it’s helped us batch create video content every single month.

Here’s the script formula we use to create how-to videos:

The A.A.A.A Formula

– Attention (Grab their attention in the first line)
– Agitation (Agitate the pain that you can solve)
– Activity (Show them HOW to solve it)
– Action (Call them to action and tell them how to get the solution)

Example script template using the A.A.A.A Formula

Use this general template when you’re creating a video, and you can write a successful script in less than 10 minutes.

Step 3: Be conversational

Scripts that we like tend to use words that are specific and focused. You should probably avoid buzzwords cliches and generalizations. You want your audience to clearly understand you, but not roll their eyes.

Step 4: Tell a story

When you’re trying to explain something clearly, make sure to follow a good story structure. Make sure your script, no matter how short, has a beginning, middle, and end. This will give the audience watching your video a familiar path to follow.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good story?

Step 5: Edit your script

As you choose your words, make each one work for a specific spot on the page. They need to have a purpose.

Once you have your first draft, go through your script and start editing, rearranging, and cutting. Cut out as much as you can. If it’s not moving you towards your goal, consider cutting it. You want your video to be as long as it needs to be to cover the required material, but as short as possible.

Step 6: Read your script out loud

I usually like to read my script out loud but make sure my message flows. It’s good to get away from people to ensure you can practice in peace.

I recommend you read your script out loud at least one time before recording or moving on in your process. Even if you’re not the one who will read it, this is a great way to make sure your message flows naturally.

Words that sound good on paper don’t always flow when they’re said out loud. You may find that there are changes you need to make based on how difficult particular phrases are to say.

It’s easier to make changes now than during the recording process.

Step 7: Get feedback

So, you’ve built your script, and you’ve read it out loud.

Finished? Well, not so fast.

If you haven’t yet, you also need to ask someone not involved in the writing to read the script.

As difficult as criticism can be, it has always made my scripts better. You can get your feedback through email, Google Docs, or other online methods. However, my preferred method is the table read.

Bonus! Set up a table read

For the table read, gather your reviewers. Whoever you choose is up to you, but make sure they are individuals who will contribute and have the project’s interests in mind.

Read through your script out loud. As you read, watch their faces, listen to their comments, take it all in. Now isn’t the time to defend your decisions, but ask questions and get clarification.

Side note: this doesn’t have to be an in-person meeting! You can do a remote table read via Zoom, Teams, etc.

If the conversation gets stuck, there are a few questions to have in your back pocket:

  • Is the message clear?
  • Does the script make sense and achieve its intended goal?
  • Are there words that they would change?

After you get the feedback, decide what to incorporate. You can take a little or a lot; it’s up to you.

Even after running the table read, you may want the person recording the script to review it as well. Ask them to read it out loud. They may find parts of the script to be a mouthful.

In an ideal situation, you’ll be there listening and making notes. As they read it out loud, make adjustments on emphasis and word choices if needed. As you listen, you may find things you can clarify or points you’ve missed.

Download an editable script writing template PDF

Looking for some help getting started with a script? Download this free, editable PDF!

Download the free template


Whether you make a YouTube video, an instructional video, or another type of video, a good script will save you from many common pitfalls. Most of all, it will keep you on track and make your message clear.

Oh, and after this entire blog post, if I still haven’t convinced you to write a script, you can always create a basic outline. That may be just enough to keep you afloat.

For some great scriptwriting tips, check out the video below!

Video Script Template: Our free scriptwriting course breaks down how to write a script and gives you a perfect script template for all of your video projects. Get started today!

Frequently asked questions

How long should my video be?

We recommend making your video as long as it needs to be to cover the material, but as short as possible.

Do I need to be experienced in video to write a good script?

Not at all! The tips in this blog and the links we provided can help even first time video creators make great scripts.

How One Instructional Designer Prepares Successful Videos (and You Can Too) with Lee Rodrigues

Instructional videos are a cornerstone of many training programs, onboarding processes, and team communication. But if you have never produced your own videos, it can be a bit of a daunting project.

There’s producing, editing, camera equipment, audio equipment, and then distributing the content to think about. But in this post, we’re focusing more on the steps you need to take before you start rolling. How do you plan your content for maximum impact?

Lee Rodrigues, the Senior Instructional Designer at Sunrun, joined this episode of The Visual Lounge to talk about how to master the planning stage.

Lee has 15 years of experience in the technology, training, and multimedia production fields. He uses a number of tools and tactics to develop and evaluate blended learning solutions for measurable and improvable behaviors. He saw great success with his automated e-learning assignments, which Sunrun used as part of their onboarding process.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

Why you should always use a prototype

Any big project should start with a prototype, says Lee. As an example, he explained a time when he created 85 videos for an organization’s certification program. These videos started as room recordings of a presentation with someone recording a whiteboard or a big screen.

However, this isn’t the most engaging way to get a message across. Lee helped them to prototype a more engaging video. He introduced good planning, scripting, and storytelling to drive engagement.

The result? Everyone loved it, and he was soon asked to produce lots more videos.

What started as one project soon became a production team with 15 animators, six editors, and a bunch of writers.

Lee says this was a great example of why you should always use a prototype for a big project. Rather than trying to create 80 videos from the start, the prototype video was a great way to test the waters before committing to a big project.

Gather the ingredients together first

Another tip that Lee stands by is to gather all the “ingredients” before you start making a video.

He likens it to cooking in a wok. The best thing you can do is have all your ingredients prepared in front of you before you start throwing them together. That way, you’re not scrambling around and rushing because everything is ready and where it needs to be.

The same goes for creating a video. You want to have all your tools at the ready before you sit down to create.

Lee refers to this practice as mise-en-place, which means everything in its place. Haphazardly creating a video without having all your tools and equipment in place means that things are bound to get left out.

“I always start with a script, get it clear, get it clean, and I use a tool to get reviews and feedback. But it all comes back to before you make a recipe. It helps to make sure you have all the ingredients for that recipe, so you are ready to make it.”

Workflow vs. knowledge transfer

Lee’s first step in producing an instructional video for someone is to do a simple needs analysis to determine the direction of the video. Lee starts by asking two questions:

  • Is this a workflow-based instruction?
  • Or is it knowledge transfer?

Knowledge transfer, Lee describes, is providing someone with instructions, whether it’s a video, a text, or an email. They may read or watch it, or they may not. You can get more elaborate and add some animation, some music, and it’s more likely to be absorbed. However, there’s no observable or measurable behavior that you’re attempting to change with knowledge transfer type videos.

The other type is for workflow-based instructions. If this applies, Lee uses the Five Moments of Need design approach. With this type, Lee tries to determine the performance objectives that he wants to meet.

“If there’s a task they need to perform, how do we measure if it’s done effectively, is that based on how many trouble tickets are open with support? If we can find a way to hang a measurement on that, that becomes a performance objective. And if you have those nailed down, you’ve basically just created 50% of the outline that you may need for the video you’re going to move to next.”

The Five Moments of Need

Having the right processes behind you is an important part of creating successful instructional videos. This is something that Lee has got down to a science.

One tactic he uses is the Successive Approximation Model or SAM model, which is an agile approach to learning and development.

If Lee determines that a need is a workflow-based instruction, he starts to map out the workflow, refine it, and identify the decision points.

What this does is focus on the performance of the audience. It all becomes more focused and deliberate. What could have been an hour and a half e-learning model could become a 10- or 15-minute module instead because it’s much more targeted.

Scripting videos

Whether you should script your videos is a big debate in the world of instructional design.

What Lee likes to do is script the introduction and then think about the “WIFM or what’s in it for me?” principle. People need to know, “why does this matter? Why do I care about this?”

This provides context behind the video, which Lee says a lot of corporate content is missing.

Lee often scripts the conclusion as well because people tend to remember the beginning and the end of a video much more. He then outlines most of the content in between, which becomes almost a production checklist to make sure everything that needs to be in the video is.

How One Instructional Designer Prepares Successful Videos (and You Can Too) with Lee Rodrigues

The zero draft

Lee explains the term “zero draft” as this idea that when you’re writing, you just throw everything down and see what you get. You then look at it and say, “Wow, these two paragraphs need a lot of work. But at least I’ve got a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you can find where you need to polish, and typically, one or two sections need a lot of work. And the rest of them may stay as they were in the initial zero draft.”

When Lee works with a trainer or a subject matter expert, he gets them set up with Camtasia and has them record a zero draft. Lee then transcribes it, and that’s what turns into a script after a bit of polishing.

However, scripting can come with its own challenges.

“What I’ve stopped doing, I used to write up the script or an outline. And then, I would have stakeholders review that and tell me what they thought. And I found quite often when we get to the written word. They’ll get lost in things that don’t really matter as much in the final product.”

Reading a script on camera

While a script can definitely help drive the content of a video, the common problem that people have is looking like you’re reading from a script.

A lot of Lee’s videos are screen recordings, but he has a neat trick for using a script when on camera.

“I typically have a screen or an iPad behind what I’m reading. So I’m looking at the camera. But beyond the camera is my iPad in teleprompter mode.”

Lee’s other tip is to record in chunks. Take it paragraph by paragraph.

“I assure you that’s how they’re doing it in Hollywood. Rarely is someone nailing that entire monologue in one take.”

Creating powerful instructional videos can be a difficult thing to get right and often requires a lot of practice and planning. If you’re just getting started or are trying to improve your own instructional videos, be sure to check out some of our other episodes in this series or head over to TechSmith Academy for plenty of handy resources.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.