The COVID-19 pandemic has found us having to rapidly adjust to new work styles and figure out how to engage with our audiences from a home office. You may be wondering how this shift is also impacting content creation. Now, perhaps more than ever before, we’re seeing an unprecedented thirst for new and engaging visual content from our audiences. Whether you are just getting started or scrambling to figure out how to create content from home without the equipment your office might have, we wanted to share some tips for creating meaningful, engaging content that resonates with your audience.
Obviously, the format of the content you create will vary based on the resources you have available, but most people probably have a way to record video and audio using items they have at home. Your smartphone, tablet, laptop webcam, DSLR, or camcorder can all serve as a way to capture video and audio of decent quality.
However, not all content creation has to be a live recording of someone on a set. If you’re hesitant to jump right into live recording in a studio-esque environment, there are several other very common formats that can still engage audiences without the live element.
As one example, consider scrolling through the slides in a presentation as you would when delivering training in person. You can record audio of the same things you would say to your audience, including key points, as well as additional context and examples. Together, the visual presentation and audio recording will work in a manner similar to an in-person presentation. This format is a great way to get started with building a library of on-demand content.
You might also choose to use screen capturing software to walk your audience through a process, like a product walkthrough. Again, you can record audio as narration to help explain what your learners need to know, while modeling what they need to see.
There are also several options for online animation or whiteboard videos. These software tools allow you to add your audio and visualize your message in a way that is simple and clear, but still fun and engaging.
In the image below, you can see how I’ve been building an animated course alongside my script.
One last example to consider is to set up a camera and record yourself as if you were actually delivering a training or presentation. This is a way to deliver the same content someone would receive in-person, but make it on-demand and reusable.
Tips & Tricks for Creating Valuable Content
If you are going to be creating your own content, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to improve the end result!
- Lighting: If you are filming something or someone, lighting is key! You don’t necessarily need studio quality lighting, but poor lighting will stand out to your audience. This is where it helps to do some test runs using different setups. Generally, you’ll want to provide even front light while avoiding backlighting. Backlighting occurs when you have more light behind what you’re filming than in front of it. This causes your subject to appear darker, like a silhouette on a bright background. Finding an area with good, natural light can be a great alternative. You can also try moving some lights or lamps from other rooms until you have a consistent, even light on your subject.
- Audio: Poor audio quality can quickly ruin a piece of content! Again, testing out several different setups can help you find what works best. You’ll want to find somewhere quiet to record. If you’re not on camera, consider using a microphone or headset with a microphone, if available. If not, you can record using a phone, laptop, etc… You’ll also want to record in a location that doesn’t have a lot of hard surfaces to reduce echoes. Somewhere with carpet or curtains can help, but you can also record audio in a clothes closet or set up an area with some pillows, towels, or shirts to help absorb any reflection. I even know people that record their audio under a blanket!
- Duration: Video length is also something to keep in mind. While it depends on the purpose of your content, many people shy away from a single ninety minute video and favor delivering the same content in smaller chunks. Shorter pieces of content can feel like less of a commitment for your audience, while also giving them a way to fit training into their schedule as they have availability .
- Pace: The tempo of your video is also important. You don’t want your video to seem dragged out because it is longer than it needs to be, but it is also important not to cover too much, too quickly.
- Background: If you are planning to record on-camera content, be mindful of what is visible to your viewers. Having a dirty laundry basket in the back of the room can take attention away from what you are trying to explain. Tidy, simple backgrounds create fewer distractions and keep the focus on your intended subject. You can also put up a sheet or curtain to record in front of, or find a non-cluttered room or blank wall. I recommend avoiding backgrounds and items that give reflections, like windows and mirrors, and as I mentioned earlier, try to avoid backlight.
- Add Music: Background music is a great way to cover up some of the “blemishes” in your audio. There are plenty of options for finding royalty free or inexpensive licenses for music to add to your content. Keep in mind that it is usually meant to be “background” music, meaning that you want to find the right volume so that it doesn’t drown out your subject, but you also don’t find yourself straining to hear it. Try to match the style/feel of the music to your message. Choosing the right music for your content can quickly add a ton of production value!
If you’re curious what a home setup could look like, check out my hallway recording studio below!
Use What You Have
You might be convinced that without a $10,000+ setup you won’t be able to create quality content for your audience. That’s just not true! The reality is that using items that you already have available can be a great way to get started in content creation. It may not be perfect on your first try, but learning and growing is part of the experience!
This is also a great time to reach out to members from other teams who may find themselves with extra capacity! You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help out and potentially learn something new. Asking for help reviewing your content, recording audio, or helping you figure out a new tool can provide different perspectives and variety, as well as build stronger, collaborative relationships.
Don’t be Afraid to Give it a Shot!
While we typically have a high quality bar for external-facing content, the impact of COVID-19 and the pace at which things are changing demand a shift in perspective. Rather than seeking perfection, let’s focus on supporting customers, partners, and others with the information they most need, when they need it. Our audiences are looking for quality, authentic content – not perfectly polished content. Be human, keep in the “ummms”, fumble for a word or two – it will help you come across as genuine and relatable. Let your audience know that, like them, you’re also learning something new and trying to figure it out!