Course Dreamers

Getting Over First-Time Camera Jitters as a Course Author

While browsing the community forum of Teachable, I spotted this post from Benito, a first-time course author, who was about halfway through recording his course content but feeling a little stressed out about the camera.

I am almost halfway through my course and I despise this camera. The last thing I want to do when I set time aside to work is create another video or open the video editing app. It makes my stomach nauseous just thinking about it! Is this normal? If so, how do I overcome this?

Being shy or nervous in front of a camera is a natural experience for new course authors creating videos. The short and unsatisfying answer is it will get better with time and practice. There are, however, some strategies first-time course authors can use to help with getting over these nerves.

Less face time, more voice overs.

One of the best ways to overcome this fear is to put yourself in a position where you don’t have to be on camera as much in the early days.

Showing your face in some capacity can help create meaningful connections with your students, but in the context of videos of online courses, you don’t need to be on screen at all times. Your presence through voiceovers can carry most video content. Consider face time introductions to a section and audio-only voiceovers for the content.

The other real advantage of leaning into audio is the power it unlocks for editing. It is much easier to cut and trim audio to produce a good sequence than to attempt long, perfect takes on camera.

Smaller sequences mixed with B-roll.

For the sequences where you need to be on camera, craft your scripts into smaller chunks. Embrace some B-roll footage so you can cut and arrange smaller sequences that need not be captured as one perfect recording.

Be mindful of your energy and vibes.

Some people are morning people; others are better late in the day. Be mindful of your preferences and find a recording time that best matches you.

Consider recording with someone else in the room behind the camera. Talk to them instead of the camera.

Record live action after the audio.

When building screencasts (recordings of my computer desktop) in my work, I often write a screenplay and record the audio first. Afterward, I record my actions on the computer screen. I have a list of things I need to do on screen and one by one, I do the action, pause, then do the next action. In my video editor, I can snip and speed up the captured actions to match the previously recorded audio.

You can see me talk about this in process on my YouTube channel: A Screencast about Building Screencasts: How I Built the Guildflow 70-second Introduction Video.

There is also some relevant content in Jeff Delaney’s video on how his production workflow works.

Perfection is the enemy of progress.

At the end of the day, try to give yourself some slack and just keep working at it. The creative process and finding your skills is something that happens with practice.

See also: Ira Glass on The Creative Process

I hope these suggestions help someone out there. Let me know what I missed or what you need help with as a first-time course author.