Tips for pre-recording lectures

Making a quality pre-recorded lecture does not have to be a lot of hard work. Use the following tips to help guide you in your lecture recording process.


The first step in recording a lecture is preparation. Consider what students will need from the video to achieve the learning outcomes and complete assessments.

  • Outline: Prepare for the video shoot by creating talking points, a script, and/or slides. If you are planning to edit your lecture video, script out your planned edit points.
  • Practice: Practice what you are going to say on-camera. You will find that it gets easier and more natural sounding as you rehearse.
  • Length: If your lecture is longer than 20 minutes, think about breaking it up into smaller pieces. Several short videos will be easier to replace if new information becomes available, rather than having to re-record an hour-long lecture. Also, the files will be smaller, and you will be able to upload them more rapidly. A good goal is to keep videos under 10 minutes each.
  • Choose a recording location, and then consider the following:
    • Backdrop: Be aware of what will be behind you or the subject in the video.
    • Materials: Have your script, props, and/or other materials ready before recording (anecdotes, visual aids, and props are easy ways to make videos more engaging)
    • Audio: Avoid recording in public unless the location is the subject of the video. Be aware of potential noise-makers (e.g., a loud fan or someone typing on a keyboard).
    • Lighting: Be sure not to point a light source right at your face, and avoid sitting with your back to a light source (e.g., lamp, window, etc.). Overhead lighting may be a good option if available.

Before recording

Let your personality shine, and don't worry about perfection. The more comfortable you are the more engaged the viewers will be. Even if you are giving a presentation, make sure you and/or another instructor are shown in at least part of the video. This enhances instructor presence, which is a major factor in student success in online courses.

  • Check to see what tabs you have open if you are going to share your screen and close your email and other tools that may send audible or visual notifications as you record.
  • If using your webcam, sit near enough to the camera so that the learners viewing the recording can see your facial expressions and nonverbal cues.
  • Before speaking, look directly into the camera, pause for a beat then start speaking.

During recording

Effective instructional videos deliver information in an engaging way and adds to the instructor's presence in the course. Establishing a connection with your audience is an important method of engagement. Using a tone similar to a one-on-one conversation will help establish a connection with the viewer.

  • Maintain good posture and eye contact with the camera. Use hand gestures to emphasize points of discussion, but not too much.
  • Try not to read off a slide or script, but if you need to, make sure you pause and look at the camera.
  • If you make a mistake or mess up, don't stop; just plan to keep going.
  • If you plan to edit your recording, be sure to leave room for editing by pausing for a few seconds between topics or at edit points.
  • At the end of your recording, look directly into the camera for a second or two when you are done speaking.

After recording

Upload your recording to Canvas using Kaltura to save space in your course and optimize streaming. For more information, see Getting started in Kaltura.

If editing:

  • Keep edit transitions simple, so as not to distract from the content.
  • Beware of using too many short clips; they can create a frantic or messy quality when used unintentionally.
  • See these video editing software tips for more information on editing
  • Make sure that the color of any titles or captions you add manually over the video contrast enough with the background to be accessible. For more information on color accessibility, see Accessible colors.

Accessibility tips

  • Add synchronized captions to your videos. Kaltura and Panopto automatically generate captions for videos with dialogue, but you will need to fix spelling, grammar, and timing errors for accessibility
  • Include a transcript of any audio files (e.g., podcast, MP3, audio lecture, etc.)
  • Verbally describe the concepts conveyed by charts, graphs, props, and other visuals as they appear in the video
  • If demonstrating a tool, do not rely on location, color, or shape when providing verbal instructions, e.g., instead of saying "click the red button," say, "click the submit button."