Vibrant Videos and Amazing Audio

A good video can make all the difference.
Brian May

Audio and video are very much a part of our everyday lives, so they are accepted –and even expected media in a presentation. They are attractive options for a presentation because they provide learners with more dimensions by which to receive information. While video and audio both represent a one-way communication to participants, the opportunity to use them as part of learning exercises or in the ensuing discussions adds value to the presentation.

There are three main ways to obtain video material:

  • Creating your own media using a small personal video camera
  • Purchasing off-the-shelf video designed for training presentations
  • Hiring a professional video production company.

Your media budget, the amount of available preparation time, your comfort and skill level with video, and the type of presentation will all influence the direction.AudioAudio can be used as a standalone option, as part of the video, or even created by the participants, such as an exercise to write and sign a song.

Required Tools
For video with audio you will need some type of player, depending upon the media type:

  • A DVD-ROM or Blu-ray player if you are using a video disc
  • USB memory stick
  • A laptop or PC with software to play digital video

You will also need a projector and a projection screen. Speakers are optional, but recommended for more than the smallest room and group.Although today’s cameras are light-sensitive, you may also need some simple lighting, such as a handyman light from a hardware store. If you want more than the onboard audio built into the camera, get a simple lavaliere or handheld microphone.Finally, especially if budget is an issue, consider using one or more personal video devices — such as smartphone. You’ll also need a handful of inexpensive ear buds. You can pass the iPods around the room at certain times, or have participants up to view and listen to the material. While perhaps less formal than the others, this solution, is much more portable if your presentation is delivering off-site.

Tips and Tricks
Purchased Off-The-Shelf Video:

  • Check reviews of the media online
  • Shop around for the best prices
  • Preview the work before you purchase
  • Test the video in conjunction with the exercise with a colleague before the presentation.

Personally created video:

  • Plan by creating a simple outline that matches your presentation content
  • Create a storyboard using PowerPoint, a word processor, or paper before you record
  • Check your equipment thoroughly
  • Do a practice run before your final recording.
  • Transfer the recording immediately to a computer for backup.

Professionally produced video from a production company:

  • Create an outline. (The storyboard may be provided by the production company.)
  • Carefully create a request for proposal, and interview several companies
  • Preview finished samples of each company’s work
  • Ask for a client list, and check with several of them
  • Plan to dedicate an in-house resource person to work with the production company
  • Manage costs through a preproduction meeting, trimming, if necessary, where it makes sense
  • Maintain frequent two-way communication during the project
  • If all proposals come in nearly equal, trust your instincts based on the relationships you have formed with the prospective companies

Creating a Plan B
Regardless of the method you use for your audio and video, it is essential to have a backup plan in the event that something goes awry with the technology.

  • Have one or two backup copies of your media, perhaps on a USB flash drive and a DVD
  • Test everything before the presentation
  • For higher-end productions, have a technician on standby if possible
  • Record and back up the audio track separately; if the video fails you will still have the audio
  • Create a handout with the key concepts contained in your video
  • Capture screen shots directly from the video (if permissible by copyright) and add them to a PowerPoint file
  • If sequence isn’t an issue, and you have access to a technician later, adjust your agenda to utilize the video later in the program.

If, for any reason, none of the above is feasible, consider substituting a role play between you and the selected participants. Above all, today’s participants understand the “gotchas” when technology is involved, and will probably be empathetic as you carry on your presentation as if it was no big deal.