8 Steps to Improve Video Lectures


Are you an educator looking for advice to improve the quality of your video lecture content? If so, this blog post is for you. Fifteen years of teaching experience and multiple years of creating content for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other online outlets, inform the advice I offer you today.

This week we rolled out remote learning at the university where I work as an assistant professor. The schedule had some challenges. Several students complained about not having access to live lectures and small group meetings. Others adjusted to the online classroom without a problem. As a team, we addressed students’ concerns and also discovered some tools to deliver instruction via our learning management system, Blackboard.

Last Tuesday, I sent a LONG email to my colleagues detailing how to create professional-looking video lectures using a cellphone or webcam in their office. That email became this blog post with these eight technical and structural tips.

1. First and foremost, feel confident in what you have to say. You are valued, and our students need your expertise. Mistakes are part of the process. Recording yourself multiple times to capture your discussion of one slide does not mean you are inept. It means you care!

2. Write a script. The best speakers need a script or outline to ensure they stay on target and cover their key points. When you make the inevitable mistakes, the script gives you something to reference and improve with each take.

3. Be sure your microphone is on and turned up! This advice also comes with making sure you record in a quiet space. I can make most audio adjustments in my editing software, but I can’t work magic. If there is no audio when you record or too much background noise, I cannot make you sound crystal clear with the push of a button.

4. Establish eye contact with your camera lens. Avoid looking at yourself in the camera and focus on the dot that is your phone or webcam lens! Do not look down, off to the side, or read directly from your script for more than four seconds. Familiarize yourself with the script to make it appear as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with a student. A tripod and adaptor for your cell phone will help with the angle ( I have one in my office).

5. It is okay to use “you.” For example, instead of saying, students should do multiple choice questions, strive to connect with your audience, and replace students with “you.” i.e., you should do multiple-choice questions

6. Check your light source. Be sure to turn the light on in your office or situate your camera with a natural light source from the window. I have an additional camera and external light in my office if your camera does not give you the desired look.

7. Be mindful of time. Let’s aim for a target of anywhere from 1-4 minutes per slide. Most adults have about a twenty-minute attention span of intense focus.

8. Please, record the video with a clear and organized space behind you on the wall. This space is important to eliminate potential distractions for the student. A clear space also allows the editor (me) to paste our university’s logo and other creative images in the background.

Do your best with what you have, and give yourself some grace. The transition to remote learning is challenging, and it takes time to work out the kinks.

In my email, I sent out a video example supporting my advice. For you, I would recommend you take a look at this preview video for my course, Personal Development 100.

Take care of yourself, your family, and good luck with remote teaching- V