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Finding Your Lecture Style for Your Next Online Course

Publishing your first online course can be intimidating. Even when you have the right tools, there are plenty of other factors that go into building a course that fits you. You don’t want to just throw something out there because you think people will buy it. You need to find that sweet spot where your interest meets a true need.

But how do you build a course that fits your personality and meets their needs?

Start with finding your lecture style. There are basically two types of styles: traditional and computer-based.

Which style you choose will depend upon at least three factors:
  • Your budget
  • Your personality
  • Your skills
Let’s get down to business with the lecture types.

Traditional Lecture Styles
Talking Head: In talking head, you basically don’t need anything except yourself, something to record with, and a microphone. HERE is a fantastic video on how to record a talking head lecture.

Pros: Talking head is perfect for those looking to stick to a tight budget. You also get to display your personality as the audience reads your facial expressions, voice, and tone. You control the pace by how quickly you move from point to point. No lights, beeps, or boops to distract your audience.

Cons: Requires a certain level of charisma to pull off. You cannot be camera shy, and need to be comfortable with talking to people face to face. No slides or additional presentation aids means you need to depend upon that charming face and voice more than you would with these aids.
Paper Easel: Record a lecture with the help of a paper easel. The presenter can either write with markers before his presentation, or he can write as he goes.

: Requires no technical setup to get started. Most paper easels are very cheap. You can easily establish an emotional connection with your audience as you speak directly into the camera. You can create your sheets ahead of your lecture so you know exactly what to say.

Cons: You cannot erase your mistakes. You need to be good in front of an audience. Your tone of voice and facial expressions can make or break this style for you. If you are camera shy it may be hard to remember everything you need to say. You need good penmanship and the ability to spell. No autocorrect to save your butt here.
Whiteboard: Using markers the presenter writes or draws their lesson on a whiteboard. HERE Ryan Avery uses a whiteboard to teach a fantastic lesson about goals.

: This style has a very organic feel to it. You don’t need the expensive electronics to get going. You will have plenty of space to elaborate on your genius ideas. Easy to erase if you make a mistake. By spending some time on the whiteboard you don’t need to be fantastic at public speaking.

: You don’t have to be Michelangelo, but you are going to need decent penmanship. You have to strike a balance between writing on the board and speaking to the camera.

Mix: HERE we have Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, explain the difference between active and passive investors.

Robert uses a combination of paper easel and marker board to teach his audience. Choosing specific questions to draw out common misconceptions, he effectively teaches a simple lesson on how to generate wealth.

: With the paper easel and whiteboard at your disposal, you can create sheets in advance while still retaining the ability to draw in the moment. You are not forced to follow a strict lesson but can go with the flow.

Cons: It takes a lot of practice to be able to switch between the marker board and paper easel set up. Also, you may distract some of your audience if you don’t leave space between the boards and clearly indicate which board to look at with your own body position. Robert does this well because he shifts his body towards the board he wants his audience to look at, but this takes lots of practice for the average person.

Computer-Based Lecture Styles

Slides with Voice: Build slides using PowerPoint or Keynote for Mac. After building the slides you record your screen and voice using software such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow for Mac.

Pros: If you are camera shy this is probably your best bet. You can record visually stunning presentations and simply add your voice after you build the slides. Any mistakes you make can be deleted. You have access to high-quality photo and video.

Cons: Higher start-up costs than other styles. Requires technical knowledge of how to use PowerPoint and a screen recording software. Harder to establish an emotional connection because the audience cannot see your face.

Webcam with Slides: You follow the same exact style as mentioned above with the addition of recording your face with a webcam.

: You can connect with the audience easier because they can see your beautiful face. You can switch between slides and your face which allows you to engage the audience when you need to.

Cons: Can take a lot more time than just recording slides with your voice. You need more tools, which will cost you more money to set up this style of lecture.
Tablet: This style allows you to get creative. You draw/write with a tablet and pen. What you do on the tablet shows up on your computer. Using screen recording software you capture in real time what you do on your tablet. Pretty nifty. HERE you will see Salman Kahn teach about evolution with his tablet.

Pros: The least complicated technical setup. Very organic feel to a presentation, like a chalkboard. Easy to erase, copy designs, and choose separate colors on your tablet.

: Limited ability to use outside photos, videos, and other sources of media. You need to be a decent artist and know how to spell well. Takes a while to get used to using a tablet and recording yourself as you practice.

Flat Screen TV
: Relying on a flat screen tv, the presenter stands off to the side as the tv displays slides for a presentation.

Pros: No need to worry about your ability to write well or draw fancy ponies. Televisions are great for displaying photographs, videos, and infographics. You don’t have to rely as much on your facial expressions and voice.

Cons: Can be harder to see the tv and the presenter due to darker rooms for better display. May not be able to keep the attention of the audience if you rely too much on your visual aids and not enough on your own voice.

So there you have it. Feel free to play around with these lecture styles until you find the one that fits your personality like a glove. Don’t settle for mediocre. Really get to know yourself and have fun as you present.

What do you use to record your lecture? What’s the hardest part about facing an audience and trying to teach something really cool?


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