23 Research Things – 19: Screen Capture tools

Most have you have used Captivate. You may want to explore one of the other free tools. Please share your top 5 tips for using a screen capture tool.

I’ve had a go at CamStudio before and found it quite good.

From both watching and making screen capture videos, my top five tips would be:

  1. Have a script (as the “thing” said.) You might not need something to follow word for word – sometimes that can be unnatural. But have something to follow that stops you going off-topic, and makes sure you cover everything.
  2. Be aware of your cursor settings. There are different settings as to whether your cursor appears in the recording or not. For a screen capture video where you’re going to demonstrate something you will probably want it ON, and you can have it appear highlighted too for extra visibility.
  3. Keep it short and to the point. People who are taking the time to watch probably don’t need a long-winded explanation at the start. I get a little frustrated when a video consists of 30+ seconds of talking about nothing, while looking at footage of an unmoving desktop before we get into the real demo. Just jump right in!
  4. Avoid keyboard shortcuts. It feels counter productive if you’re used to using them, but they can’t be seen on screen and it makes your demo go too fast and the viewer can’t tell what you’ve done. Even little things like directing the mouse to File > Save and Clicking on the “search” box instead of pressing enter makes the video much easier to follow. If the task you are showing purposefully includes keyboard actions, you should explain it and edit the footage afterwards to include the keyboard instructions with text on the screen.
  5. Put plenty of expression into your voice. Reading off a script can make this challenging (tip 1). Even though you’re sitting at a computer, you should use your public speaking voice. It’s more interesting and engaging to listen to. Also a little thing I’ve noticed is lots of people (including me) have little quirks and habits of making noises, sighing, drumming their fingers, etc when waiting for a page to load or looking for something on screen. These come across sounding very weird in a recording! Be in control of your voice, movements, breathing etc being mindful you are making a presentation.

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