Lecture Capture | Feature

10 Tips to Improve On-Camera Performance

Modern lecture capture technology has simplified the process of recording classroom discourse, but it's still up to faculty to provide a memorable lecture. Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your time in the spotlight.

  1. Capture a practice lecture and critique your own performance before you publish anything for student consumption, advises Deirdre Jones, associate director of innovative outreach technologies for the College of Business at the University of Toledo (OH). And show the test video to some trusted peers for feedback. "Keep a box of tissues handy, just in case," says Jones.
  2. Focus on one--and only one--on-camera skill at a time, suggests Anne-Marie Lerner, assistant professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville: "If you have to focus on looking at the camera and sitting up straight and reducing your use of the word 'like,' you will fail at all three. Repeatedly."
  3. Adjust the camera to eye level, says Chris Mizell, professor of mathematics at Northwest Florida State College. "I like to position my webcam on top of the overhead projector whenever possible," he says. "Otherwise, it may give the viewer the impression that he is sitting on the floor looking up at you."
  4. Make sure that your lecture capture system is set up properly and actually working before class, warns Garret Brand, professor of law and director of distance learning and instructional technologies at Grand Rapids Community College (MI). "It's a real stressor to walk in and expect things to work and they don't!" he says.
  5. Even if you're just capturing audio, remember that you're still performing for an audience, says Charles Calahan, assistant clinical professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue University (IN). "I think the key is to work on your vocal variety, much as a radio announcer would do," he says. He suggests reading aloud for one minute a day to work on vocal range.
  6. Make eye contact with the camera to connect with your audience, says Jones, and smile so that you look approachable, confident, and energized. "You want the audience to feel as if you are talking to them," she says.
  7. Experiment with different content-delivery methods until you find one that you really like, says Lerner, who suggests that if you don't like using a tablet PC, try an interactive whiteboard: "On-camera delivery becomes exponentially easier once you've found a content-delivery method that you have an affinity for."
  8. Stand up to help increase your energy, and don't be afraid to tape off your walking areas so that you stay in the shot, advises Jones: "Sitting makes most people complacent, and they end up dragging."
  9. Consider investing in a backdrop if you record events or create captures in a studio. "Bare walls and light switches in the background make a good presentation seem less professional," says Jones.
  10. Recognize that you are human and will make mistakes. "You will stumble over your words, occasionally lose your train of thought, spell something incorrectly--and these will be caught on camera," says Lerner. "These things happen in live classrooms, too. When they happen, just move on. Trust me, students don't care."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.

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