Setting up your slides to optimize for video before making them will save you time down the road. We will talk about this in more detail later, but you should set up PowerPoint for video before recording your slides. If you have existing slides, you can import them into your video-ready template. Here are a few things you should do…
Set Up the Slide Size for HD Video
If you visit the Design Tab in PowerPoint, there is a command icon for “Slide Size” in the ribbon. You might be tempted to click on the “widescreen” option, but we should go a step further than that.
Click on the “Custom Slide Size” option. In the dialog box that opens up, type 1920 px in the “Width:” box. It will quickly turn into 20 in. Type in 1080 px in the “Height:” box. This will change to 11.25 in. This ensures that your video will be in HD resolution for when you convert it to video.
Set Up Margins
It is also a good idea to set up margins for your slides. I’ve placed light grey lines about 0.4 inches from each edge of my slides. This can be done in the Master Template. We’ll talk about the details for this later.
Keep Text Sizes Large
You should use a minimum of 36-point font when making video lessons. Students may watch the videos on a cell phone. If you make your fonts too small, words may become illegible.
Leave Room for Captions
Set up an area that you will leave empty. When YouTube puts in closed captions, they will be placed in the lower center part of your screen. If you have any information there, it will be hidden from anyone making use of closed captions.
I place a centered 1.95-inch-high by 9.5-inch-long box just above the lower margin border on my slides. This seems to work well for most screens.
Use the Slide Master
I mentioned above that I use the Slide Master to set up margins and a space for captions. Setting up a good slide master also helps maintain consistency between your slides and between your different videos. If you have ever been to a talk and noticed the titles on a slide jumping around or changing fonts between slides, it is because the presenter did not use the Master Slide.
Don’t Include Slide Transitions
Most slide transitions are just annoying. They also don’t always translate well to video. Since you shouldn’t talk during the transition, the transition adds essentially empty time to your lesson.
Think Long Term
Use a logo and/or watermark
Videos that you place on YouTube will stay up until YouTube doesn’t exist anymore. It is also possible (but unlikely) that other people might try to take credit for your videos. I place a small logo in one of the corners, and my name and a copyright symbol or Creative Commons mark in the other.
Avoid school branding
I also try to avoid using my school logo. I’ve seen logos change at schools more often than is really necessary. Chances are that physics will still be the same in twenty years. I don’t want my school logo to be ten years out of date.
In addition, if you change schools or want to host your own courses, there may be issues involved if your school’s logo is present. If your school is footing the bill for production, though, you might want to include the logo.
Setting Up Your Slides
Setting up your slides using the guidelines above will help make your videos more readable, more accessible, and more consistent. If you have older slides that you want to use, copy them into a new template that has the settings listed above. While doing this, think about how you can improve the lesson. You may have been using the same slides for years. It’s time to freshen them up.