Thing 5: Video Presentations

Presentations are a useful method for the communication of information and ideas to team members, colleagues or your library users. The traditional method of presenting information using slides and delivering your ideas in front of a group is familiar to us all. In Thing 5 we are not going teach you how to deliver a fantastic oral presentation. Instead, we will introduce you to two tools that are a little bit different; one tool is for screencasting and the other one is for creating animated videos.  Both of these can provide new opportunities to reach your audience through online channels, outside of library opening hours and engage your audience even when you are not present in the library.

How to create a good presentation

Two core elements of a good presentation apply no matter what the purpose of your presentation is.

Your Audience


Know your audience. Who are you presenting to? What are their interests? From a library perspective, is the presentation for general library patrons, incoming students or staff or management?

Your Story

Before you even look at what type of technology you are going to use, write your story.  Do not be tempted to start with your presentation visuals and work backwards.  A story must have a beginning, a middle and an end and good continuity in your presentation will mean more success in conveying your message.
This is particularly important with the type of presentation we are looking at today; video presentations are of a passive nature and you will not be there to fill in any gaps or answer questions afterwards.

Only when the story is written is it time to look at the software.


Screencasting is the method of creating instructional videos on how to complete a task on a computer screen. Software such as Screencast-O-Matic allows you to record a video of your computer screen, while you click on areas on the screen. The viewer will see your screen, and your cursor or mouse pointer move about, as you complete the task. You can record audio at the same time, explaining what you are doing, for further clarification, or add subtitles if you do not want to use audio.

Using Screencast-O-Matic

Using this software is very straightforward. You do not need to download anything, although there is an option to download the recorder if you wish to use it while offline.
Simply go to the Screencast-O-Matic website, create an account if you wish to keep numerous recordings, and click on the "Start Recording" button. This might prompt you to download the latest version of the software, but you can simply use the "Old Recorder v1.0" option......this will give you the exact same end result as the newer version, but it is a web-based app, rather than something you have to download to use.

Creating your first Screencast

To give you a quick preview of what the process looks like, take a couple of minutes to watch this video.

If you are unable to watch the video, follow these basic steps:

Go to the Screencast-O-Matic website
Click on blue button marked start recording
Click on the green button marked launch recorder
A grey box will appear on the lower left of your screen with a red button marked Rec. You can now chose options such as what microphone to use, if any, and the size of your recording.
Now set up your screen to make your recording. Are you recording how to access a service on your library website? If so might want to go to your library home page before you begin your recording. Or perhaps you want to demonstrate typing the web address into the search bar, so maybe you should begin at a search page or your browser homepage.
Click on the red button to begin recording.
Take your time to play around with how it works, and do not worry if you make a mistake: no one will see anything until you are happy to share your work.

Below is a screen shot of my computer screen with the Scree-cast-o-matic software open and ready to record. In this instance I am set up to record a video on how to use Powtoon. I could use it to demonstrate any activity on my computer such as how to open a Word document, or search a library database. 
  • The black and white line marks the area of the screen that will appear in the recording. Click and drag this to change its size. 
  • You can chose to show both your computer screen and a shot of yourself using the webcam.
  • The pen icon beside the record button allows you to draw shapes while you record.

Some tips when Screencasting

  • Make sure all your other tabs are closed if you are recording on an internet browser.
  • Delete your cookies; if you are recording yourself typing an address into the address bar or a search term you do not want previous searches coming up as suggestions.
  • Turn off any notifications and close your email account so that nothing pops up on your screen during the recording.
  • Do not use keyboard shortcuts. You might be accustomed to hitting the return key to complete an action or using the tab key to move around the screen instead of clicking on the screen. Remember, the viewer can't see you doing this so you must use your mouse to click on the screen as much as possible to show exactly what you are doing. 

Sharing your Screencast

When you have made your recording, you will have to decide what to do with it: the options are to either download it as an MP4 file, upload it to the Screencast-O-Matic hosting site, or send it directly to YouTube.
    If you download it as an MP4 you can then upload and share your recording on other sites, play it on a computer in your library or use it as part of an instructional class or tutorial.

    You can also upload it directly from Screencast-O-Matic to your YouTube channel, if you have a Gmail address. When you upload it to YouTube you will be given the option to give your recording a title, add tags and make it public or private. Keeping it private can be useful if you plan to add subtitles to your recording in YouTube afterwards. This is explained further on in this blog post.


    Powtoon can best be described as a video version of PowerPoint. It comes with a range of icons, graphics and templates. You construct your presentation in the same way that you put together a PowerPoint presentation – slide by slide. The difference is, all your elements on the screen can move, jump, slide in and out, and get bigger or smaller.
    Powtoon can be a bit intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it you will find yourself immersed in transitions, timings and speech-bubbles for hours.

    To access Powtoon go to the Powtoon website and sign up for a free account. There are some limitations to the templates and graphics that you can use with a free account but there are still plenty to choose from.

    When you log into Powtoon for the first time you will be greeted with an invitation to view an introductory video tutorial. It is worth taking a  look at this tutorial if you can, to help familiarise yourself with how Powtoon works.

    Powtoon can be a bit tricky to get the hang of but if you have worked with PowerPoint, or a similar slide-show package you will find many of the functions are the same.

    You can chose to create a Powtoon from scratch or customise one of the Powtoon templates.  Once you begin a new Powtoon the screen will show four distinct areas:

    The lef-hand side of the screen.

    The Left-hand area of the Screen 

    • Shows the slides in order of appearance. 
    • Click on the plus symbol to add a slide.
    • Click on the arrow in-between slides to change the transition. 
    • Rest the mouse over a slide to see three white dots
    • Click on these white dots to create duplicate slides or clone objects - a real time-saver. 

    View of the slide as you edit it.

    The middle area of the screen

    • Shows the slide you're currently working on.
    • Click on the cog wheel in the top left to format the background of the slide
    • Across the top are options to add a grid to help with object placement, change the dimensions and zoom in and out 
    • Click on an object on the slide to edit it, change the size, colour or orientation or remove it.  

    The right-hand side of the screen 

    • Contains all the objects you might want to add to your slide.
    • Some objects are only available in the Pro version..
    • You can upload your own images or videos here under 'media'. 
    • To add an object to your slide click on it from the options - it will appear on the slide at whatever moment the pointer is set at on your timeline. You can change this later - see below.

    The timeline with options for the object entry methods.

    The bottom of your screen 

    • Shows the time-line of the slide you're currently working on. 
    • Each object on your slide will appear on this time-line
    • Click on the small icon that represents an object on the timeline.
    • The colour of the timeline will change to blue for the duration that object remains on the slide.
    • A darker blue line either side of this blue timeline marks the moment the object enters the slide and leaves the slide.
    • Click and drag this dark-blue line to determine when the object appears and leaves the slide.
    • Click on the white four-way arrow beside the object icon on the time-line to chose the method by which your object enters the slide - try the hand for a bit of fun. 
    • Click and drag the dark blue pointer on the top of the timeline to slide it up and down, showing you what your slide will look like at that moment.
    • Click on the bright blue play button to play the slide from that moment. 
    • Click on the smaller grey play button to the left of this to play the slide from the beginning.
    • Click on the + and  - symbol to the right of the timeline to add or remove seconds at  whatever moment the pointer is positioned.  
    • If you have more than one object appearing on the slide at the same time and you want to edit it on the timeline click on the object itself on the slide first.

    Those are the basics of Powtoon to get you started. In order for you to really get the hang of it, I would recommend you first look at some of the templates and how they are constructed and play around with it as much as possible.

    Sharing your Powtoon

    As with Screencast-O-Matic, you have the option to upload your Powtoon to a YouTube channel. You can also share it on other social media sites by publishing it on the Powtoon website. You can then copy a link to share it, share it directly to twitter or Facebook, or copy some code to embed your Powtoon directly into your blog.  You will need the pro version if you want to download your Powtoon as an MP4 but you can download it as a PowerPoint presentation for free.

    Take a look at this Powtoon created by Taylor Library, at the University of Aberdeen. Powtoon videos will only work on devices that support Adobe Flash, which is a drawback to sharing your videos. If you're having trouble viewing the embedded video click here.

    This is about as simple as a Powtoon gets but it is still very effective. 
    • The text is clear and the slides are well paced so that viewers have plenty of time to read the information. 
    • They have added external links to the 'Read More' and 'View Online' buttons which brings viewers to more information. 
    • They've added their own images such as a map of the campus, a photo of the library building and a photo of the staff, with the staff names. 
    • I especially like the fact that the author of the powtoon points themselves out in the staff photo. Transparency in social media is always the best approach.

    Overall this Powtoon is an excellent example of how to create something simple but very effective. It's personal and reflects the personality of the staff in the library; it conveys the message clearly; the slides are well timed so that you have enough time to absorb the information before it moves to the next slide and the external links allow you to access more information.

    Your tasks for Thing 5 are: 

    Option 1 : Take a look at Screencast-O-Matic. Try recording a few minutes of a screen cast explaining how to complete a simple function on a website or software.

    Option 2 : Create a free account on Powtoon and try putting together a couple of slides, either from scratch or using a template.

    Feeling adventurous? Try uploading your video presentation to your YouTube channel or embed it into your blog.

    To embed an object into your blog post: 

    • Click on the 'share'  area for the object you want to embed. 
    • Look for the option 'embed' - sometimes it's on a second tab.
    • Copy the code that appears under the embed option. 
    • Open up a new blog post. When writing a blog post you can alternate between writing your blog post in regular text or HTML code usually by clicking on a tab at the top left or right of the blog post you're writing. 
    • Click on HTML and paste the embed code here. 
    • Click back to the regular text view of your blog post to see the embedded object.

    If you want to know how to add subtitles to your YouTube video watch this instructional tutorial:

    Thing 5 was written collaboratively by Niamh O'Donovan and Wayne Gibbons.


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