Hack Your Digital Presentations Like a Pro: Tips & Tricks

Still of Greta Garbo

As the leaves turn a subtle amber and the wind begins to usher us along our hectic school schedule, no sooner is the fall semester underway in library school land. With it, comes your first whiff of freshly assigned discussion board write-ups, papers, maybe even a group project or two and then the ever-present slide show presentation. But, beware for what I have in store for you can blow the socks off any professor! Before you start powering up good ‘ole PowerPoint, see after the jump 5 good tips to making a great screencast video.

I created my first digital screencast last semester for my Digital Libraries class. It was quite a departure from my usual slides and witty bullet points. A majority of my classmates and I chose the free tool “Screencast-o-Matic”, because of its ease of use and direct capture from the browser (no download required). You can view my screen cast here. My fellow classmates, including fellow Hack Library School alum, Michael Rodriguez, each reviewed a different digital library. Those who gave permission to repost their screencasts have been added to the SeminoLIFE Digital Library site and can be viewed here as a resource of example videos.

Note however – making a video or screen capture presentation requires some finesse. Be sure to consider these tips when deciding on how to plan your video.

5 Tips on Making a Successful Screencast:

1. Give yourself plenty of time to record your screencast

No extra supplies necessary or specific instructions here, just the emphasis that making enough time available from the deadline needed to submit your screencast is imperative for a successful assignment. Rarely can you get a screencast recorded in one take. Most of the time you’ll encounter plenty of retakes and depending on the tool used to record the video, one retake may require that you start all the way back to the beginning.

2. Choose the screencast tool that’s right for you

There are plenty of awesome tools out there. Some are free and some are available for a fee. I strongly recommend that free is your best route as a student, unless you have access to better video editing tools (at no cost to you) through your employer or school. I’ve provided a list of the tools and where you can find them below under the Lights, Camera, Screen Capture Tools section below.

3. Design a storyboard for the areas that you would like to cover in your screencast

This will help you bring order into your presentation. Do you want to start your video with contact information about you or at the homepage of a website? Planning a storyboard helps you to direct the sequence of events in your presentation. You can storyboard by doodling it on paper or taking screenshots of the areas you want to cover. This will also help if your presentation has a time limit.

4. Write out your screencast script

If you don’t have enough time to storyboard, please don’t neglect a script. It helps you prevent those “ums” and “uhs” that can distract from your presentation. It also does not need to be verbose, instead, let simple one liners become a jumping pad for adlibbing: “Here is the home page” after multiple takes can turn into, “Florida State’s home page provides a set of simple navigational tools for easier use by the site visitor”. It’s all in how you practice it. Let the script be your framework.

5. Find a nice quite spot and record away

I used my bedroom closet and sat on my daughter’s old car seat. Yes, that was my recording studio and it worked. So find a nice place with minimal distraction and outside noise and record until you find your groove. Once you’re comfortable with the pace, avoid being a perfectionist. Be sure to cover only what the professor has asked you to demonstrate. Nada más.

Below are other applications for creating screencasts:

  • Troubleshooting issues– show step by step a computer error you’ve encountered for review by the IT department
  • Online instruction – create an online tutorial on how to navigate a database
  • Website Evaluation – review the merits or heuristics of a website
  • Editorial consultation – screen capture a colleague’s paper and provide constructive criticism

Lights, Camera, Screen Capture Tools:

So take heed mighty library students who embrace the idea of creating a screencast for your next presentation. It can be done! Go forth, make awesome videos and don’t forget to comment below with any screencast/video tools not listed in this post and how you might utilize them as a student and future librarian!



4 replies

  1. Jing is another free screencasting tool that works well and is easy to learn, but does have limitations (all takes go back to the beginning and it only records up to 5 minutes).


  2. Thank you Jill! I’ve heard of Jing and it’s very similar to Screenr. The nice thing about a time limit like 5 minutes is that it forces you to only capture the most important parts (at least for a website review).


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