Monday, 11 June 2012

Delivering a better presentation / training course. No. 10. Record your sessions.

This is the tenth in a series of posts where I plan to discuss my ideas, tips and best practices for delivering a great presentation / training course. Record your sessions.

There are a number of screen recorders available now although I have settled on Camtasia. It helps that it is given away free to MCTs

I initially began using it to record all my sessions when delivering a new course that I had written for Train The Trainer - TTT material.  i.e. to pass on to other trainers hoping to pick up the course.

I then continued to use it in later teaches in case I delivered a better session the next time or if I had ironed out any issues that occurred during the first couple of teaches.

Even after recording my TTT videos, I still continue to record my sessions.

Benefits include, a wealth of videos featuring you delivering demos so that you could quickly edit them and upload them to your own YouTube channel like my colleague Andrew Mallet.

I find it a good quality check. As I am conscious that I am recording, I then find myself evaluating my performance. i.e. at the end of the session, I quickly think about whether I should publish the recording to my TTT library or reject it because of something that I did or didn't do and am unhappy with (I usually know if I am unhappy with my performance and do not need to play back the session in order to decide).

If I am conscious of a poorly delivered topic/demo/explanation, I note it in my course diary (now there's another post right there!) and then resolve to do a better job of it next time. I also note at that time what it is I am to do differently next time rather than wait for next time and hope it's better.

I also note anything that worked particularly well in my diary in addition to those that didn't. I quickly review my diary before my next teach. Usually just before each session.

Another great benefit of recording is to play it back and self critique. This is important to help identify where you might have gone off topic or answered a question badly.

It is important not to focus/obsess too much about your voice here. No one likes the sound of their own voice. Don't worry about it.

What you should focus on it what the delegate can see. Imagine you are a delegate listening to/watching your presentation.

Do you do keep moving your mouse across the slide? Can you actually read the text on the slide? Can you understand the diagram as it is being discussed?

Thought not.

What about when you are delivering a demo? Can you read the code in Visual Studio 2010? Did you see where you clicked?

Thought not.

With a screen resolution of 1366 by 768, there are 1049088 pixels to which your mouse could be pointing at any given time. If you hadn't been delivering the demo, would you know where it was you were supposed to be looking?

In other words, do your demos resemble a game of "Find the lady"?

Think about the tools that you are demonstrating. Do they have any features that would make them easier to read? e.g. font size etc. Why don't you change your mouse pointer?

By the way. Don't do this during the demo, you are just wasting time. Don't even make a show of it. "Look guys, look at what I am doing in Visual Studio 2010 to make it easier for you to follow what I am doing.". Shut up! Get it ready before you start!

Here are a couple of things that you can try:

Why not use a tool such as Zoomit and zoom in on key areas of the screen as you are presenting the demo.

Try all of those things and then record the demo a second time. I bet you will be impressed with the difference.

Now have a think of all those killer demos that you reckon to have presented  over the months and years. Then think of the many delegates who sat there and tried to follow what you were doing for days on end and failed. Doesn't feel too good does it?

Incidentally, Camtasia can be used a couple of ways. i.e. have it launch as soon as you start a presentation (F5). However, you are then prompted to stop recording if ever you press Esc in Powerpoint.  E.g. if you are about to switch to Visual Studio 2010 for a quick demo.

I do that a lot. So I start Camtasia recording independently of Powerpoint then start my session.

I also experienced some other problems with Camtasia when launched automatically by Powerpoint. I.e. it crashes from time to time. The key here is to experiment with it.

Finally. I have mentioned before that I do not sit down throughout my presentations except when I am delivering a demo. Therefore, an integral microphone is of limited use. I have found best results with a simple desktop microphone stand which I point to cover an arc that I am most likely to occupy whilst stood up. It also helps to raise your voice!

Good luck.

See you soon

Phil Stirpé
"I don't do average!"

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