This guide is only a basic introduction. With video presentations the world is your oyster. With the right equipment, you can set your background to whatever you want: PowerPoint slides, memes, or even change the location of your presentation to London, Paris, the moon, or even cyberspace.
You can add graphics, if you want! (Just please no 90’s WordArt, although there are no explicit rules against it…).
There’s so much you can do to keep your audience interested and engaged with your presentation content that you don’t have during a normal conference. So, don’t read this short guide as a limit to what your presentation could be. Experiment, and importantly have fun!
For sure, some of this comes with a skills requirement or software need, but with the way teaching has been slowly moving online, being able to produce online presentations is a worthwhile skill to add on your CV.
Before you plan your presentation, look at the conference requirements, and plan your talk around that.
If the conference gives you a specified time, keep to it. The ECN conference organisers have the right to reject your video if you present a video that’s woefully under the 15-minute mark, or far over.
Also read at submission requirements. Does it need to be in a specific data format? What about size limitations or resolution requirements (720/1080/4k?).
For the Random Access Memories conference, we have tried to be flexible. The requirements can be found below:
Keep presentations around 15-minutes.
The resolution should be 720p or above (720 x 1,280 pixels), ideally 1080p or 4k.
All text and graphics should not appear blurred or over compressed. If you’re having issues with this, you might need to up the resolution.
The video file should either be an .mp4 or .mov. (More on that later)
Planning your presentation should be not too much different to your normal offline conference talk. For starters it needs a subject – typically your research paper.
Then you need to convert that into a talk. When doing this, you should consider your audience. Not everyone is a statistician and will understand complex modelling – so make sure to consider how you can present your findings for a more general audience.
Other things to consider are the advantages you have with the virtual format. Firstly, you can make more of a script with a video presentation than in front of a audience. Secondly, with a video you can have more options for showing items on screen than with PowerPoint Slides. And finally, you don’t need to worry about responding or preparing for Q&A’s, you can do that after in the comments in a more considered and less time-pressured way.
There are many fantastic guides to talking at a conference and I recommend you give a few of these a read. One example comes from Paul Edwards, and is worth a read here. Obviously not all guides are applicable for a virtual conference, for instance guidance on looking your audience in the eye. But otherwise are worthwhile resources when planning your presentation.
One of the most important things to get right is audio. Most people can forgive a bad quality video but won’t forgive poor quality sound. Make sure you speak clearly with little to no background noise. This is also hugely important for increasing the accessibility of your talk. As clear audio is required for YouTube’s auto transcribe feature, which we will be using to allow those who are deaf or hard of hearing to engage with the conference.
Recording your presentation
Roughly speaking, there are four ways to approach recording your presentation:
Simple video recording
Screen recording with PowerPoint
Simple video recording
This method is one of the easiest ways to deliver your conference talk – pointing the camera to your face, pressing record, and giving your talk. This route is the least technologically demanding and simply requires a camera of some type.
However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when recording. The first is your recording environment. Ideally, you’d be in a quiet room (no fan noise in the background), with good lighting.
The second is equipment. Most people probably already have the necessary equipment to create their presentation. Be it a webcam with recording software, a mobile phone, or a handheld point and shoot – all of which should provide decent picture and audio quality. Although some inbuilt webcams for low to mid-tier laptops might provide poor results and grainy video.
However, there are a few cheap additional bits of equipment that you can use to boost your recording. If you have a tripod for your camera, this should give you a lot more flexibility for how you can position yourself, and frame yourself within the video. You can a mobile phone tripod for around £15 on amazon.
This is yet another simple method of recording your presentation. For this you’ll need a computer with a newer version of PowerPoint, and a microphone. You can also use your webcam to provide a webcam recording of yourself while giving the presentation.
Simply create your PowerPoint presentation, then when you’ve finished that, click under ‘Slide Show’ and go to ‘Record Slide Show’. Make sure you have your webcam and microphone correctly set up, and your Record, Stop, and Reply settings can be found in the top left hand corner.
When you’ve recorded your presentation, go to file -> Export -> Create Video. Make sure the video is over 720p.
While the two above options are designed to be accessible to most people, they can be somewhat limiting. If you have the hardware and knowhow you can really make your presentation go above and beyond. For instance, you can use a free software package called OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to act as a more advanced screen recorder, or if you wanted to go out with a camera and turn your talk into a documentary, filming in different locations (while respecting Covid lockdown guidance) you can! Similarly, you might want to edit your videos with iMovie, Adobe AfterEffects, or with free alternatives. However how to do this is outside the scope of this guide, but YouTube has bucketloads of guides on how you can use any of these tools to make your presentation talk. Please note that there are many such programs available and that we are in no way endorsing any particular product.
Please be mindful that if you decide to use any images, graphics, or b-roll in your videos, that all content is copyright free (such as from Pixabay) or you have the rights to use such material.
Making your presentation accessible
There are a few ways to make your video presentation accessible to those who are blind, visually impaired or deaf.
If you’re using any on-screen graphics to demonstrate a point, it is a good practice to briefly explain what is on screen if you are using a PowerPoint, Prezi, or some other type of presentation. This is something that you may well already do somewhat automatically. For example, you might say, “The next image is of…” or “As we can see by the inclusion of _____ in the lower right of the screen…”
YouTube has an automatic voice detection and closed captioning system, that will be using to allow those with hearing impairments to read the content of your talk. While this system is good, it’s not perfect. It requires good clear audio of you speaking.
Getting the presentation to us
Once you have recorded your talk, you will need to get it to us. Because your video file will likely be too large to send via email, for transferring video, we will be using a website called Smash (fromsmash.com). From this website you can upload the video to the service and we can download it after from the link provided to you on upload.
Please remember that in both situations by sending us your conference video that:
You agree for us to show your presentation on the conference website during the duration of the conference
The video will be accessible to the public via our YouTube channel
You have the correct permission or rights to use any material that you show in the video.
In any situation, please have the presentation to us before Friday 2nd July (The sooner the better). This is a firm submission deadline, and we cannot promise that videos submitted after this date will be available on the website for the start of the conference.
When submitting your video please send your video along with the following information:
Biography – please send us a biography of up to 50 words. This should include your current position, institution, and research area(s).
Link to the Fromsmash.com download:
Title of presentation:
Presentation description of up to 50 words.
Your Twitter account if you’d like us to display this:
A link or copy to your paper if you’re providing this.
Please also indicate what you would like us to do with your presentation video after the conference is over. Common options include:
Please keep my presentation video archived on the ECN’s YouTube Channel after the conference.
Please remove my presentation from the ECN YouTube Channel after the conference.
Please send this to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “PRESENTATION SUBMISSION” with your name and presentation title.
Preparing, and recording yourself might be daunting. But in many ways, it’s easier than undertaking a traditional offline conference. It’s cheaper too when you consider transport, fees, and all other associated costs. Plus, with the move towards more online learning through virtual learning environments it’s a worthwhile skill to have and demonstrate on your CV.
But above all else, make sure you have fun!
If you have any issues with the above, please give us a quick email at email@example.com and we will try our best to give you a hand.
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