How to plan and record online courses like a pro

When done with course planning, many experts stop and think how to record online courses and sometimes have absolutely no clue. It’s...

Written by Sara Illahi Panhwer · 6 min read >
plan and record online courses

When done with course planning, many experts stop and think how to record online courses and sometimes have absolutely no clue. It’s only natural, not all of us come with inherent filmmaking capabilities and an understanding of video. Rest assured, I’m here to help.

Online learning is demanding and requires a range of interactive methodologies. Therefore, it is important that representation and quality, both, go hand in hand. In order to make your course look and be of a professional quality, follow this guide on:

🎯 How to record course videos like pros

☝ Deciding the type of course you want to record

There are two kinds of online course videos – talking head and presentation with voiceover. As a course creator, it is important that you give ample time to deciding what type of videos your course will feature. You can do a quick SWOT analysis to decide which way to go.

Whichever way you prefer, make sure it suits the niche of your course. For example, you won’t completely rely on a talking head video for your course on developing Android games. So, take your time and think it through before you jump on the recording part. 

1. Doing talking head videos

Talking head videos are those in which you are the standalone element of the video. With minimal text and graphic overlays, you do most of the talking and describing. There isn’t much “showing” and much demonstration. You sit or stand in front of a camera and communicate and record course videos.

2. Presentations and screen sharing 

Presentations on the other hand are descriptive, and pretty much gather all the learnings of a lecture with text and some visuals. Some topics naturally require text and demonstrations, so sharing slides can be fruitful in that case.

In order to record a lecture with the presentation playing, screen sharing tools are required. These tools duplicate your screen and record wherever the goes cursor goes and clicks. Moreover, some tools also give you the option to talk along with it, hence providing the option to have a synced voiceover.

👀 See also our thorough guide on email marketing tips.

👉 Screen-sharing tools

While there are innumerable paid tools, try to make sure you’ve been through the free ones. One such application that is good enough to be used for screen-sharing purposes is Loom. It gives you a 14-day free trial which is enough time to record a series of short videos. If you need screen-sharing for one of your talking head videos, you can use there as well.

You can also use: Camtasia is a great choice for Windows users. For Mac, ScreenFlow is usually preferred.

👉 Breaking down how to utilize trials in software

If your course has, say 5 modules, then statistically each module should have 4 videos ranging from 3 minutes up to 20 minutes. The first two modules are usually an introduction to the course, etc. If you are prepared enough, you can get done with recording the first two modules in maximum 2 days. The rest of the three modules, you can take your time to record over the next 8 – 10 days so that you also have ample time to go through all the modules once again. 

👉 Slide tools

Because you are opting for slides with voiceover doesn’t mean you won’t have to work on the presentation and the outlook. Your main goal should be keeping it as simple as you can.

To keep up with your professionalism as a course creator, you are recommended to use Google Slides, MS Power Point, Slides Carnival, Canva, Prezi, etc. Almost all of them provide free slide templates and are widely used by creators. 

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3. Have talking points ready

Always divide your script using the one concept per video snippet rule. This rule helps you stay focused and divides your workload. In this rule, you try to explain one concept per one video snippet which usually spans 3 – 9 minutes. Abiding by this very rule, you move from teaching basic stuff to complex stuff.

Additional advice: As a maiden course creator, you are bound to make mistakes. So, if you feel you might miss important points, keep a piece of paper, a card sheet or a white board in front of you with the important points written on it.

4. Looking comfy

It is generally recommended that while recording the course video, you wear the clothes you are most comfortable in. Moreover, to get a good flow of words and script, trying tongue twisters can prove to be quite helpful.

To get a professional feeling as an instructor and a trainer, you may choose to wear a good perfume. Secondly, you are highly recommended to put your cell phone on airplane mode.

Lastly, it is important that you do not have abrupt cravings in the middle of the lecture and you do not have to use the restroom. Having to use the restroom or feeling low on energy can break your flow and is likely to cause distractions. Therefore, make sure you have eaten enough and are full of energy and comfort and give your absolute best. 

Read: How to determine the right pricing strategies for your online course

5. Hunting a location and background

One of the first things that a course creator ought to do in order to record online courses is declutter their space. A calm and minimalistic background helps the audience focus and grasp more.

By decluttering, we do not mean you have a plain white background. Decluttering means throwing out stuff that has nothing to do with your course or your audience. You can, of course, use relevant objects, like books, in the background.

You can also hang on the wall the certificates you have had or physical proofs of your other achievements, portraits, etc. This will send out a positive impression to the attendees. It is similar to YouTubers flexing their play buttons in their videos.

6. Setting up your camera

If you are just starting out as a course creator and have opted for recording talking head courses, you should know the basics of video making, the right camera angles, etc.

Since mobile phone cameras have advanced over the years, if you’ve got a decent iPhone, Samsung, OnePlus phone with good camera and audio – there’s no need to go looking around for professional DSLR cameras.

One of the ways to make sure your camera angle looks good and professional is keeping your digital camera or phone camera at a 2-3 inch distance from where you are sitting. Other than the distance, make sure to always keep your phone/camera in landscape mode.

If recording on a phone, always use the rear camera for a better video quality. And make sure to sit in the middle so that the camera focuses your face and it looks clear. It is always better to run a test before officially recording the video. 

One way to ensure that your camera doesn’t shake is to get a tripod. But tripods are not necessary to record online courses. Anything resembling a tripod can work such as stacking up books to your eye level.

For your first online course, don’t spend too much on gadgets and upgrades but rather find a way with using available resources. Part of being a course creator means being resourceful. 

7. Light it up

Lighting is especially important if you are taking the talking head route. If recording from your home office, make sure that you do it during day time and are seated beside a window. Natural light is always a great option because the lighting is even and it is free.

Moreover, you can also diffuse it, if you feel it is too bright, by sticking a piece of gloss paper on the window. If there is no window or no daylight, you can use your room light and complement it with a white light lamp or torch.

8. Managing sound and audio

When it comes to ensuring quality of a course, audio can not be avoided. To improve your audio, therefore, it is usually recommended that you spend a few bucks and get yourself a good quality headset.

Additionally, find a quiet place with little distractions to record online courses. Don’t shoot in an empty room because there will be an echo. Lastly, as a back up, if you’re recording with an external mic, make sure to also press record on your smartphone’s voice recorder.

9. Organize everything

Recording course videos is generally no biggie once you know what you have to speak. What is usually avoided is the organization of the recorded content. Your job doesn’t end when you record online courses videos; it merely begins. A crucial thing that course creators sometimes don’t take care of is putting the right files in the right folders.

Honestly, organization is not the fun part for us as well but it saves you so much time later. To cater but we have exactly what you need to make your life easier. The Japanese 5S methodology works like magic. A workplace organization method, it consists of: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. 

10. Editing your footage

Editing is an integral part of recording course videos. But you don’t necessarily need a professional editor or a heavy-duty software. You can use light software such as Lightworks, Filmora Wondershare, Blender, Shotcut, etc.

There are generally 5 steps to editing a video, a course video in this case. First, you log the data in an editing software, arrange the footage (as in assemble it), cut out the parts you think are redundant and parts that make your video look weird, look at the nitty gritties, and finally, assemble and review.

If the video doesn’t need further editing, that’s your final cut and you are good to go. You can also spend a little more time and invest on adding text and graphic overlays. Short tutorials on YouTube are a search away and we recommend you use them!

11. Always keep a backup

While most course creators take care of this very point, maiden course creators usually tend to forget about it. You should definitely transfer your data to either Google Drive or OneDrive. This is helpful because in case anything goes wrong with your computer or your device, your data will be safe and can always be retrieved. 

It is generally not recommended but you can also get an external hard-drive to keep your data safe and secure. Google Drive and One Drive only keep limited data, an external hard drive will be a lifetime investment, only if you are serious about pursuing a career in course creation.

And there you go, here’s how you can record online courses professionally and shine ✨ Also, if you haven’t started creating a course – now’s the best time to do it. Go here and get started today!

🔥 Let’s create my course 🔥

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Written by Sara Illahi Panhwer
Constantly striving to help course creators become a monumental part of the billion dollar ed-tech industry. Profile

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