How to Create Great Online Video Course Slides

When creating an online video course, one of the best ways to organize and assemble content is through the use of a presentation slide software such as Microsoft’s PowerPoint platform or Apple iWork’s Keynote application.

These software packages provide a great deal of flexibility for what you place within slides and once your slides are created, they can simply be recorded on your screen using a screencasting software such as Screenflow (for Mac) or Camtasia (for Windows).

And it doesn’t necessarily need to be just basic text slides which you’ve likely endured at more than one conference presentation!

Simply creating a series of video lessons where you’re talking over slides like this

Well, you’re not going to teach your students…you’re going to put them to sleep!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at tips for creating three different types of slides which can all be used within the same course to spice up your content and keep the attention of your students.

First…a couple of quick tips…

Aspect Ratio

With most high definition video recordings playing on a screen with a 1920 pixel by 1080 pixel resolution (a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning there are 16 units of video width for every 9 units of video height), it’s best to set our slides to the same ratio.

We can easily accomplish this from within the slide editor. Keynote makes this simple by simply allowing you to choose widescreen slide templates…

However, any slide’s aspect ratio can be adjusted…

Be Consistent

We’re going to be covering three different styles of slides in this post. However, although the slides are very different, you need to stay consistent with your branding.

If you incorporate a specific color scheme in one slide, be sure to use it across all of the others. If you have a logo for your course, use it across all of your slides. Use the same font within all of your text in your slides.

Ensuring a consistent visual presence throughout your course demonstrates professionalism and authority to your students.

Text and Image Slides

Let’s start simple.

It’s highly likely that most of you already know how to open Keynote or PowerPoint and start dropping in text and images.

While it’s hard to resist the tendency to just begin listing bullet points, animate the slide, and begin speaking into a microphone over them, these slides can be used for much more…demonstrations, visual illustration to cater to visual learners, or even storytelling.

Here’s an example of a slide I’ve actually used within a course which simply allowed me to use visuals to tell a story…

Our good friend, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, does a great job of storytelling over images and text as well…

One final note here on text and image slides…if you’re going to be speaking for a long length of time, be sure to alternate slides from time to time. No one wants to listen to a long-winded presentation going for 10 minutes while staring at the same image on the screen.

Talking Head Slides

Talking head slides are templates where you are using an animated presentation slide, but you place a video of yourself speaking within the slide.

There are a few ways to pull this off. My business partner, Ben, uses a “green screen” or chromakey background while he records with his webcam and then makes the background transparent behind him in his video editing software (Screenflow for Mac).

However, I typically use a more low-budget process. I record myself speaking in front of a white backdrop, crop that down to a small square in Screenflow, and then drag and drop it on top of a slide with a white background. You can see an example of how I create those in the image above.

Once you’ve recorded your video and dragged it into your slide, you would then just need to go into your animation build order to set the video part of the slide to begin playing first and you can then begin moving through the rest of your elements as the video plays…

Portrait-Style Videos

Portrait videos are probably the easiest video to create, but they also likely have the most impact on your students.

These are simply videos of you in front of a camera, speaking to your students. You don’t need to use them often, but they’re a great way to break up the monotony of presentation-style slides and they also allow your students to engage with you a bit personally and understand who’s behind the course they’ve signed up for.

Most webcams these days can actually record really good video and audio, so you don’t need much more equipment than that. However, there are a lot of different options as we’ve written about before on our blog.

There are a lot of ways to set portrait-style videos up. You can record outside if the weather is good, in a dedicated home studio, or anywhere else. I typically like to record these in my home office in front of my desk.

In this video, I’m speaking directly to my students about a topic. It’s a very basic setup…

  • One umbrella light
  • A small digital camera on a tripod
  • A lapel microphone recorded by link to my iPhone

This entire setup could be put together for less than $200, but again, a $70 webcam would do the trick just fine.

As with talking head videos, within your slide you would insert the video, drag it to cover the entire slide (remember…1920 x 1080), and then enter your animation builder to begin playing the video “on click”.

You can then even begin adding your course logo or any other style of animated elements within your slide and cue them as your portrait video plays. When I’m discussing a list within a portrait-style video, for instance, I often use what’s called in video or television production a “lower third”.

You see lower thirds very often in news programs and they’re a great way to add a small visual element to your portrait-style videos so that your students stay focused on the topic you’re discussing.

And they’re very simple to add. All you need to do in Keynote or Powerpoint is add a small shaped element (like the white rectangle above), place some text on top of it, group the two using the element grouping function, and then if needed you can animate it to slide in and out.

For example, in the video above, I covered five separate points and created five separate rectangle + text groupings. I then set the groups to slide in from the right and out to the right on click. As the video played and I talked about the five different topics, I moved the corresponding lower third element in and out.

And There You Have It!

There are practically an unlimited number of ways to use presentation slides for a video course. However, these three slide types can be mixed up to help you demonstrate virtually any learning point while also keeping your course interesting and your students engaged.

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Nate Johnson is one of the co-founders of CourseCast, and is one of the creators of the first and most widely-implemented learning management system for WordPress, WP Courseware. Since 2012, he has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, corporate training departments, and higher education institutions develop and deploy online training courses from their WordPress websites.

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