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CCATP #662 – Rod Simmons on Screencasting Tips and Tricks

This week Rod Simmons of the SMR Podcast joins me to talk about our tips and tricks for doing effective screen casting. We started by going through some more strategic ideas on how to get your message across with a screencast, and then we dug into some of the techniques and tools we use to edit our screencasts. Below is an outline of our talking points and some links to the various tools we discussed.

If you want to follow Rod on Twitter, you can find him at @RodSimmons

mp3 download

Rod’s strategies


  • Determine your target audience
  • Start at the end and work to the beginning
  • Sit down press record and start talking. Watch and then take notes
  • Outline key talking points. Avoid reading a script unless you know it like an actor
  • How long is the recording
  • Introduction: What are you going to tell me about
  • Story: Tell me
  • Summary: What did you tell me about
  • Great presenters are great because they present a lot

While Recording

  • Check your setting. Check again
  • Screenshots are your friend
  • It is ok to mess up. You are more human with mistakes, just understand someone will correct you.
  • It is ok to use a bubble to correct a mistake. Do this before then when complete do tis before when you wanted to say after
  • Transitions are there for a reason….USE THEM but don’t get cute with 20 different time fade to color
  • Get the mouse off the screen
  • hide the clock
  • Record in a different user profile if possible. It removes all possible distractions
  • If something goes off the rails. Give yourself a moment of silence and keep going if you don’t need to start over again.


  • Speed up slow stuff. Feature takes 2 minutes to process. I don’t want to see it or listen to you babble so fast track it and move on
  • Use call outs to draw my eye to key points. DO NOT USE THE MOUSE
  • Topic markers are a pro move

Tools and Tips

  • Some desktop recording apps have bad audio consider Audacity… and CLAP to align the good quality audio from Audacity to the poor quality of your screen recording app
  • Trimming a video is easy if you shut up (if you’re talking after a flub it’s harder)
  • Do several dry runs
  • Don’t go off scriptm that’s when stuff goes wrong
  • Identify places where you can use screenshots vs video
    • Ensure screenshots match resolution avoids the need for transitions
  • Use a timer app (keeps you from going too fast or too slow)
  • Only show stuff that is important. (We all know how to launch an app)
  • A slide or two is ok
  • Standard dimension 16:9
  • 4K Video is amazing. 4K screen recording is not nice for all
  • Dual monitors know which screen you are recording

Allison’s Strategies

Preparing the Computer

  • Fresh account
    • Uninteresting desktop
  • Few menu bar apps (see below) Screen resolution – 1600×900 hide
    • People are unlikely to be viewing on a screen with as high resolution as you have – may even be on a phone
  • Disable notifications
    • Again recommend Parallels Toolbox because it has a feature for disabling notifications AND not letting apps bounce in the dock AND getting rid of everything on the desktop with “Presentation mode”
  • Put your phone and computer in do not disturb mode (if you haven’t used Parallels Toolbox)
  • Hide menu bar items to the bare minimum
    • Distracts people

Preparing the Talk

  • Make an outline or a mind map – I use iThoughts X on Mac and iPad…
    • It’s way less work to just start recording and ramble around, but if you want the talk to be tight and not waste time, make an outline/mind map
    • Rearrange to tell a story

## While Recording

  • Take your hands off the mouse/trackpad
    • Keep cursor off screen when possible
    • If you wiggle the mouse it’s distracting
    • If you move the mouse and then have to do a cut, that’s distracting too
  • Record in short snippets
    • ~3 min
    • If you mess up it’s easier to get the thing you’re demonstrating back to where it was. If you add gobs of data to an application it’s a lot of work to back that out
  • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Keyboard Maestro from Don
  • If you have to type something long, speed it up AND slide it under you talking
  • When you mess up what you’re saying (and you will…often)
    • Let go of the mouse and keyboard
    • Take a pause
    • Restate the last sentence or two
    • Now start working again
    • You can take that restatement of the audio, replacing the messed up audio with the good video, and cut out that paused video

Tools Allison Mentioned

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