Discover The 7 Most Popular Lecture Recording Styles for Your Online Course

So you’ve finished polishing your online course lecture slides and are ready to press record but… wait!

What recording style should you choose?

Like so many things in life, the answer is: it depends.

Below I’ll provide you with 7 + 1 bonus online lecture recording styles to choose from.

Which one you should choose depends on 3 factors:

  1. Your topic
  2. Your budget
  3. Your skills

Let’s start, shall we?

(Click on the thumbnails to see each sample lecture video)

1. Talking Head

01-Talking-Head-Ramit-Sethi

The talking head is one of the simplest lecture recording styles. All you need is you, a camera, and a microphone (in this example, Ramit Sethi is using a lavalier microphone).

To spice it up a bit, you can add title cards and change your framing a bit every so often.

PROS:

The talking head style is very effective to deliver lectures where you want to establish a strong emotional connection with your audience. It’s you looking directly in the eye of your viewers. It doesn’t get more personal than this.

Because its simplicity, the talking head recording style is also one of the most affordable ways to record online lectures.

CONS:

The main disadvantage is the lack of visual elements to illustrate your ideas. Unless you add some graphics, complex ideas will be harder to understand for your audience.

Here is another talking head video with Dan Martell with slightly higher production value.

2. White Board

Here we have Ameer Rosic teaching using a white board.

PROS:

The main advantage of teaching using a whiteboard is the organic look you get. It feels more authentic, less staged, rawer. If you are confident on camera and can draw this is a very powerful setup.

CONS:

Every time we add a new component things get a bit more complex. Here are 3 cons:

  1. Hard to light: The main issue with a white board is that they are quite reflective so they are harder to light evenly.
  2. Eye contact loss: The second issue is that, when you write on a whiteboard, you are forced to look away from the camera which breaks eye contact with your audience.
  3. Need drawing skills: The third issue is that, unless you’ve already pre-drawn your illustrations, you’ll need to be pretty good writing and drawing on the fly or you’ll end up with unintelligible content.

Check THIS VIDEO to see what teaching with a huge white board looks like.

3. Paper Easel

HERE we have Brendon Burchard delivering one of his most popular lessons on YouTube.

Brendon is a master educator who loves the camera. I would say his only weak point is that he is so over the top, his message can come across a bit forced an inauthentic.

Nonetheless, Brendon has built a multi-million dollar educational empire creating several best selling online courses. The man knows how to teach online and offline.

In this video, we can see how he avoids having to draw by having his paper sheets already pre-drawn.

Also, Brendon creates anticipation by covering the main points with post-its which he reveals only as the lecture progresses.

The pros and cons of this method are almost identical to the whiteboard style, except paper is a lot less reflective and therefore easier to light.

4. Flat Screen

Here we have Dan Martell delivering a lecture using a large flat screen TV.

This high-tech style suits his brand because his audience is mostly tech and SaaS entrepreneurs.

In this case, he is playing back a Keynote presentation using a remote clicker to advance the slides.

Notice how Dan also creates anticipation and increases engagement by covering the main points of the slides with “virtual” post-its, the same way Brendon Burchard does in the previous example.

PROS:

Greater perceived value. The ideal style for tech-savvy audiences.

CONS:

 

  • More expensive. Need to invest in a large flat screen TV.
  • More time consuming: need to prepare all the slides in advance.

 

5. VO & Slides

This is a purely slide-only presentation made using Keynote and recorded using ScreenFlow for Mac.

Slide-only lectures are the main choice for webinars or live presentations over the web.

PROS:

 

  • No camera or studio required.
  • Perfect if you are camera shy.
  • Convenience: You can record a slide-only lecture in your underwear and no one will ever know 😉

 

CONS:

 

  • Less emotional engagement because your audience cannot see your face and expressions.
  • More work to put together as the slides need to compensate for the lack of visual engagement derived from having a talking head.

 

6. Tablet

This is a still frame from one of the over 3,000 lectures recorded by Salman Khan on YouTube.

To watch a video where Sal explains how he records his lectures CLICK HERE.

PROS:

 

  • Very organic and appealing look. It reminds you of an old fashion chalkboard.
  • You can spend hours watching Sal’s videos. He has truly mastered this teaching method.

 

CONS:

 

  • You need great calligraphy and drawing ability.
  • You need to learn how to draw on a tablet. This alone can take several weeks to master.
  • (Optional) You need a great voice. Sal has a beautiful voice, he is articulate and a great storyteller.

 

7. Webcam + Slides

Here is an example of a webcam + slides lecture recorded my me.

This is the same style I’ve used to record close to a thousand lectures for my online courses.

It has a bit of the best of all the styles. You can show your face when you need to address your audience and you can create beautiful slides and animations to illustrate even the most complex ideas.

All my lectures are recorded using a Macbook Pro, Keynote for the presentation, ScreenFlow to record my screen and webcam, and the Logitech C920 as my webcam.

To learn exactly how I record my online lectures check out this Free Tutorial.

PROS:

 

  • Relatively inexpensive. You need only two pieces of software and a webcam.
  • Best of all worlds. Combine slides and talking head to achieve better engagement and illustrate harder points.

 

CONS:

 

  • More work than other styles. You need to prepare the slides in advance and it requires a bit more video editing work as you are working with two video layers (screen recording and webcam video).

 

8. (BONUS) Screencast

HERE is an example of a screencast walkthrough video explaining how Thinkific works.

This is the best recording style option for showing how software or a website works.

All you need is screen-recording software. Either Camtasia (Mac and PC), ScreenFlow (Mac only), or OBS Studio (free Mac and PC).

PROS:

The easiest way to record a lecture. No need to prepare slides. Just fire up your computer and click record.

CONS:

As in any style where our audience can’t see your face, the main disadvantage is the lack of emotional connection which needs to be compensated with a good energetic and engaging voice track.

And talking about recording your voice…

What about audio?

For any style that requires you to be more than 3 feet away from your computer, you’ll need either a wired or wireless lavalier microphone or a wired shotgun mic.

Here are some popular options:

For all the other lecture recording styles, you can use a USB microphone that connects directly to your computer.

The most popular options are:

For more info on how to record audio when shooting with a video camera or a DSLR camera check out this great tutorial by Wistia.

Any Other Lecture Styles?

Of course, you can also mix styles. For instance, many instructors like to start and end their lectures using talking head only video and switch to slides-only for the main content.

Check out this video with Brendon Burchard giving a lecture where he switches from a paper easel to a flat screen TV, to a wall, to a whiteboard all in the same video (he’s loco!).

A popular option with talking head lectures is to add some graphics and text to spice up the video and make it more engaging.

And if money is not an issue, you can do like Marie Forleo, go all in and rent a professional studio with multiple cameras, and professional audio and lighting equipment.

Whatever style you choose, make sure it fits both your budget and most importantly, your brand.

Which style will you choose?

Let me know in the comments.

Peace, Love, and happy-lecture-recording-cookies.

Miguel

P.S: For an in-depth study on which lecture recording styles are most engaging to students check this paper HERE – (Thanks to Donna Barker for the tip)

P.2: Book recommendation of the week: Primalbranding by Patric Hanlon (2006). I’ve been interested in learning how big companies build lasting brands. This book seems to have the keys required for brand success.

P.3: Movie recommendation of the week: Toni Erdman by Maren Ade (2016). A bizarre German production about an awkward father trying to show her love for her unhappy daughter. This movie is very special. Let me know what you think if you watch it.

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