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Getting the most out of your webcam

You don’t have to have expensive equipment to produce a good quality recording or live stream for your learners, audience or meeting participants. There are, however, a few easy tips you can take to set up and use your webcam and microphone to create the best experience possible for you and your viewers.

These seven tips are broken down into improving your performance, looking good on camera, and tips on how to sound good on camera too.

Performance

  1. Look into the camera. We know to focus when someone is talking because they give us eye contact. When addressing students through videos (pre-recorded and live!) try to make eye contact with your webcam and imagine that it’s your class you’re talking to them and smile. This will help keep engage your video students.
  2. The camera eats your energy. When talking on camera, delivery of content can sometime be a bit static. Try to use hand gestures and intonation. It might feel strange at first, but the resulting video will look very natural and engaging. There’s a short video about overcoming the energy-drain in this link Quick task! Have a go at talking to your camera normally and then have ago at delivering the same content with but with hand gestures and intonation – play with different ways to deliver your micro-lectures and review your different styles, you might find that over gesturing can be too much, so it’s about finding out what works best for you. Practising like this will help you become more confident and familiar with recording videos for your online students.

Looking good on camera

  1. Make sure your webcam is eye level. You could raise your laptop by putting it on top of a stack of books.
  2. No windows behind. Make sure you are facing a light source. You could even place a desk lamp directly behind your webcam to evenly light your face.
  3. Try to use an interesting background but one that isn’t too cluttered. You might dress your background with related objects. For example, if you were teaching Globalization you might put a globe or map in the background (Try to make sure they are not too close to you though and are in the background). Also, try to remove any obvious copyright material, that’s right you’ll have to take down that lovely movie poster behind you.

Sounding good on camera

  1. Try to make your recording space as quiet as possible. During recording shut all windows, if you have other people in your house or flat, you could make them aware you will be filming and close doors.
  2. Microphone. Remember those headphones you got with your phone? The ones you left in the box… well, many of them have a built-in microphone. If you are struggling to capture clean audio with your computer’s built-in microphone, why not try some headphones. Many headphones now have a small microphone which can help capture clean audio.

This is a link to a video summary of some of the hints and tips

TOP TIP

Before you start recording… TEST YOUR KIT…. take the time to record a short one-minute test and watch it back. There’s nothing worse than recording the best performance of your life and realising a cable was loose. Don’t let it happen to you!

Authors

  • Michael Swift

    I am a Digital Media Producer at CU Online helping to make learning engaging and digestible by storytelling through video, illustration and podcasts. I have a background in broadcast television, the performing arts, and have provided business management and leadership training for SMEs.

  • John McCaughley

    I am a digital media producer who is focused on enhancing the students learning journey through digital media and storytelling.

Updated on January 26, 2022

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