Recording Your Online Course without Losing Your Mind: What to Do When Things Go Wrong

I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.” Neil Gaiman

Recording video—whether it’s for an online course or a simple promo—can be exhilarating. Or it can give you ulcers.

Cats crowded together.   Ideally, whether you are a crew of one or a crew of ten, you’re a practiced, smooth-running machine. More often, however, the recording session is akin to herding cats. Lots of random energy and too much thinking outside the box. The litter box.

Here are some of the things I’ve seen go awry in the studio and some ways to avoid or fix them. Doing a practice run will reveal most of them so you can solve them ahead of time.

The Top 9 Attributes of a Great Teacher

I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” Robert Frost

Who was the first teacher to make you like a subject you really weren’t that interested in before or didn’t think you could understand?

Frog in a jar during Biology_Class  Mine was Mrs. Putnam, my ninth grade biology teacher. I was convinced that I hated science and that I wasn’t any good at it. I was wrong on both counts, but it took Mrs. Putnam to help me see through my biases. How did she do it? Through the #9 attribute of a great teacher. But let’s work our way up to that.

If You’re a Great Teacher…

11 Business Books that Have Stirred Up My Thinking

The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.” Maya Angelou

Bulldozer plowing down middle of road.  For the last year I’ve been reading business books to shake up my understanding of:

  1. What a successful business is these days,
  2. How you run a successful business these days, and
  3. How you market a successful business these days.

In the process, I ended up rethinking what I want out of life as well as business and have changed nearly everything I was doing as a result.

Reverse Outlining: How to Save Your Butt when You’ve Screwed Up Your Content

A man of words and not of deeds/Is like a garden full of weeds.” Benjamin Franklin

Have you ever seen an overgrown garden? It’s a sad thing. You can sort of see the shapes of the beautiful peonies, coral bells, and unrecognizable maybe-flowers beneath the tangle of dockweed, pokeweed, and random weeds that have eradicated the shape and lines of the bed.

weedyGarden  To recover it, you have to weed ever so carefully. Your instinct is to save every plant and get back to the original design as best you can. You must first identify the good plants and then pull away everything around each one. Gradually, the shape and structure of the garden will emerge.

Then plants will need to be moved. Some will have grown too pathetic and will have to be dug out and replaced. Perhaps some need more water, others less, and they’ll have to be regrouped.

Today’s metaphor is about what happens when you’ve written like a maniac and then sat back to discover that you’ve got a mess on your hands. You’ve got words that don’t hang together, that have buried its best points, and that have no sense of pattern or shape.

Reduce Rework: 9 Tips for Editing Onscreen Text

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” —Dr. Seuss

The first time I worked on an online course that had multiple video editors, I knew by the second lesson I reviewed that we were in trouble. We were on a ludicrously tight timeline, and so everyone was pitching in.

Slide1 Using his or her individual style.

Making his or her individual mistakes.

This meant that some bulleted lists used diamonds, while others used dots. Key words might be underlined in one lesson and bolded or capped in another. When I saw that some text was pink, some green, and some black, I knew that we’d gone too long without a style sheet.

Why is a style sheet so important? Four reasons: