Over the last couple of months I’ve had a few people get in touch about the CV talk that I recorded for the Oxford University Careers Service.  A few fellow careers advisers have asked about the process used to create it, and so I thought I’d write the following ‘making of’ guide. This feels like a DVD extra for the world’s most over-hyped cinematic feature!

Before we start, the new version of my CV talk is below:

If you find this useful feel free to share the link: http://www.careers.ox.ac.uk/students/getting-a-job/cvs-and-applications/cvs/ or http://youtu.be/xZWwCyv4_HI

‘The History’

The first version of the CV talk, released on in October 2011 was prompted by the opportunity to trial a presentation recording tool called Panopto.  Inspired by a free trial (I’m always inspired by free stuff) I began to explore the other ways in which online video could be useful to provide careers advice and information….

Aims included:

  • Recording popular talks to be available outside of term
  • Extending reach of our talks to alumni and students outside of Oxford
  • Allowing a choice in receiving information – in webpages and pdfs or visually and aurally

We also thought about potentially using recording tools to capture talks that were given less frequently, such as panel sessions of employers, or event streaming popular events where rooms were over capacity.

Following an extended trial over two months, we came to the conclusion that recording live sessions was very difficult to get right. Problems encountered included:

  • Panel session members reluctant to allow a recording, or requesting restrictions on viewing
  • Recordings with live audiences: interactive elements of the presentation don’t come across well when watching online
  • Length of recordings for live events – rarely just the 10-15 minutes that a viewer might be willing to watch

We recorded a few test talks and the talks to camera directly for the web worked well, particularly the CV talk (promoted on our website, Twitter feed and Facebook) which received 577 unique viewers in seven weeks.

To record a talk for the web you will need…

  1. A computer
  2. An internet connection
  3. A webcam (built in, USB, any will work)
  4. Either a) a very quiet place INDEED or b) a microphone. Even with the door shut in my office I still had lots of background noise picked up by the microphone in my webcam. In the absence of a fancier mic I took a headset with one of the microphones that bend around, laid it on the desk, bent it to face me, and it did the job very nicely indeed.
  5. A presentation ready to go. If you’re using Powerpoint and would like to have a little picture of you talking visible, make sure to leave enough space in the slides, and list all links with clear URLs.
  6. Some kind of recording software to record your screen/slides along with your voice and image.
  7. Sticky-backed plastic. (This may be a Krumboltz-style ‘world-view generalisation’ based on an early-childhood associated learning experience)

Some kind of recording software?

Exploring other tools to record presentations for the web was essential, as Panopto (although lovely) has more functionality than perhaps we could use, and came with a price tag outside of our budget at around £8,000.

Camtasia Studio (used to make the new version, above) gives a 30 day free trial, and has (in my opinion) a very intuitive user interface for editing, as well as a record button directly from Powerpoint to start recordings quickly.  It currently costs £138 for educational users like ourselves. Once you’re ready to record click the red button, powerpoint loads in full screen helpfully, and once you escape out of this it asks if you’re ready to save. Once you do, the editing interface opens and you can chop bits out, create titles, zoom and pan (e.g. over the CVs) and adjust the size and location of the picture-in-picture (the little video of you talking).

Another option I rate highly is Screencast-o-matic, which is free to use for ever (!). Try it now – click record, you don’t even need to download anything! It’s phenomenally simple, and this is definitely the solution I’ll use for quick guides to doing something online for family and friends.  The free use version comes with a maximum recording length of 15 minutes, and a watermark. To get rid of these costs a whopping $12, and you get editing stuff too (although not quite as involved as Camtasia).

If you’re a Mac user then Screenflow is pretty nice, but it’s only available for Mac, so this ruled it out for me.

Another option if you’re not that keen on the video of you, would be a series of powerpoint slides with an audio track attached to each. You can do this easily in PowerPoint for internal use, but to share online, I found that one of the best ways was to use SlideShare’s ‘Screencast’ function  (I trialled it here and there’s a handy guide here on how to do it). Slidecast is a way of sharing PowerPoints similarly to YouTube, and is free (although you can pay to get branding and upload videos too).

Lessons learnt?

  1. Make sure you do a quick test recording before investing 20 minutes to find that the microphone’s too quiet.
  2. If you want to add into a recording you made a while ago, remember to wear the same top that you did before.
  3. Look at the camera, not the screen.
  4. Click back and start the slide again if you go wrong – it’s easier to edit out.
  5. Keep things generic so you don’t have to update too frequently – e.g. references to the term or dates for talks.
  6. Be prepared for students to point at you and say “you’re the lady off the CV video”. This is disconcerting, and can lead to the kind of over-inflated ego that makes you write ‘making of’ posts for a 15 minute PowerPoint.