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Making a screen capture training video is a useful skill in any career. Maybe you’re an engineer looking to teach a new hire how configure something, an executive trying to make company training videos for staff, or an artist creating YouTube videos to show people how you create your masterpieces.
You can create screen capture trainings with a wide assortment of free applications. Christian covered several great screencasting apps you can use and Joel reviewed three screen recorders that do the job as well.
In this article, I’m going to use a free screen capture application called ActivePresenter. Regardless of the screen capture software you use, the following tips will help you take better screencast videos for use in training.
Why You Should Use ActivePresenter
When choosing the software to use to make your training video, you should make sure it has the following features:
- Full-motion recording: It should be able to record your entire screen while you’re moving the mouse around and clicking.
- Multiple layers: The software should allow you to record a video layer and an audio layer, so you can place or edit each with video software.
- Video editing: While you can use external software to edit videos, the screen capture software should let you do basic things like joining or cutting clips, changing video speed, and changing volume.
- Multiple export formats: The software you choose should let you export to the most popular video formats like MP4, AVI, or WMV.
The free version of ActivePresenter has all of these features, so download your copy now and let’s get started.
Setting Up Your Capture Session
When you first launch ActivePresenter, you’ll need to choose a profile type. The Record Software Demonstration option records full-motion video at the highest quality.
The other options allow you to record screen video as well, but at lower quality (lossy codec) to save space. Space shouldn’t be an issue, so choose the first option.
ActivePresenter will open a small control panel you can use to stop and start recording, but first you need to set up the area on the screen you want to record. Recording the whole screen is a possibility, but if you’re just trying to show how specific software works or demonstrate something in a specific window, it’s better to focus in on that area.
ActivePresenter lets you move the recording area by grabbing the crosshairs in the center of the screen and selecting the area to record by resizing the green box.
Once you’re ready to start recording, just click on the red Record button. Click it again to stop recording.
Now that you know how to record each video snippet that’ll make up each scene in your training video, it’s time to explore the right way to do things.
1. Create a Script for Your Videos
To sound natural without all of the “um” sounds that often go into a presentation that isn’t well planned, you need to create a solid script for your training video. Ideally, you should create the entire outline for your training, and then break the training down into video segments. Use a tool like Google Docs or Microsoft Word to type up your script.
The key here is to make your script sound natural. Read it out loud while you’re writing it and make sure it comes across exactly how you would speak it if you had a person standing next to you and you were showing them how to do something.
Once you’re done with your script, it’s time to start making each video clip.
2. Engage With Your Audience
Whatever you do, resist reading directly from your script in a monotone voice. Use inflection and speak the words just like you were speaking them in a live presentation to a room full of people.
The following are key behaviors you can emulate to engage with learners:
- Start with the point: Your first slide should introduce learners to what they’re going to learn in your video. This will pull your audience along as they anticipate the next step and boosts their desire to learn all the things you’ve promised.
- Be conversational: Avoid using complex jargon that your audience won’t understand. Remember that typically people are brand new to the concepts you’re describing. If you do have to use a new term, make sure to explain what it means.
- Tell a story: When you’re making your script, don’t make it all about technical steps. Tell a story about a time when you did something wrong and explain what happened. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke or two during your conversation.
- Rehearse your script: The last thing you want to do is stumble across a typo while reading your script live. Walk through your script. Speak it out loud and go through the steps that you’re planning to do during the actual video training.
- Don’t dig too deep: Avoid going down complex rabbit holes. Especially in the era of technology, it’s tempting to go into an in-depth concept to prove your expertise to your audience. It’s not important to prove yourself. If people are watching your training, they already view you as an expert. Keep it simple and use as few words as possible.
- Remember to pause: It can be tempting to race through your script in order to get your points across in the time you’ve alotted. Resist the urge. Pausing after important points sends a signal that you’ve just made an important point, and it gives your audience time to digest the information.
- Ask questions: It may sound odd to suggest asking your audience questions in a training video. There’s no way for your audience to answer. But asking questions is a good prompt to get the learner to think about their own situation. Follow up your questions with your own answer.
Being a teacher is a gift, but it is also a developed skill. While creating a training video is less personal than standing in front of a classroom full of students, your role is still that of a teacher.
You need to think in terms of how you can best convey your knowledge to other people.
3. Focus on One Thing at a Time
Now that you’ve made your script and rehearsed it, it’s time to start recording video. Ideally, the outline you’ve created should include a mix of demonstrational videos as well as slides with important points. Mixing text slides with video segments prevents boredom and is a great way to keep watchers engaged.
You can use Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint to create these slides. There are two approaches you can take to making the video segments that use a slide. You could export the slide as an image and import that into your video during the editing process (which we’ll get to below).
Or you could use ActivePresenter to create another video clip focused on the slide and use the software to record your voiceover. The second option is the simplest since you’re using ActivePresenter to make your video clips already, but the option you choose is up to you.
4. Record Audio While Creating Video
Consider each recording session as though you’re creating a movie scene. Each time you click on the Capture Slides icon, you’re launching a new scene. You’ll see a three-second countdown before your scene begins. Take a deep breath, relax, and prepare to start reading your script and performing the on-screen demonstration with your mouse.
When you’re finished with each scene, just click on the stop button in the ActivePresenter taskbar in the lower-right corner of the screen.
Once you do, the scene will get added to the list on the left panel of the ActivePresenter software.
If you have any issues with recording your video, you can check your video settings in ActivePresenter by clicking on the dropdown near the Narration icon, and click on Record Narration Options.
This will let you choose which microphone to use.
Speaking of microphones, always try to use the highest-quality microphone possible to do your audio recordings. The last thing you want is for your audio to have an annoying background hiss or an echo. There are plenty of great professional and affordable microphones to choose from.
5. Put It All Together With Video Software
When you’re done recording all of the scenes, click on the Export menu, and then click on the Video icon.
This will allow you to export all of the video clips to a single video file, which you’ll use to edit and create your final training video.
To edit your final video, you can use any preferred video editing software you like.
Just import the video into your editing software.
Finally, you can start splicing your scenes, cutting areas where you might have paused or mispoken, add more voiceover if you like, and add a nice introduction and ending to your training video.
Why Screencasting First Is Better
While you could potentially use video editing software to capture the original screencasting demonstrations, this approach is better. Screencasting software is made so that you can customize areas of your computer screen you want to capture.
It also lets you completely focus on performing your demonstration while creating your screens, and then focusing on editing and cleaning up your training video at the end, just like the pros do it.
Have you ever created a training video for work or any other reason? What tools did you use, and what tips do you have for other people trying to do the same thing?