Christian Heilmann

Presentation tips: using videos in presentations

I am currently doing a survey amongst people who speak for Mozilla or want to become speakers. As a result of this, I am recording short videos and write guidelines on how to deal with various parts of presenting.

Photo Credit: Carbon Arc via Compfight cc

A lot of the questions in the “Presenting tips for Mozilla Reps” survey this time revolved around videos in presentations. Let’s take a look at that topic.

Videos are a great format to bring a message across:

As part of a presentation, videos can be supportive or very destructive. The problem with videos is that they are very engaging. As a presenter, it is up to you to carry the talk: you are the main attraction. That’s why playing a video with sound in the middle of your talk is awkward; you lose the audience and become one of them. You are just another spectator and you need to be very good to get people’s attention back to you after the video played.

Videos with sound

The rule of thumb of videos with sound is either to start with it and thus ease people into your talk or to end with it. In Mozilla we got a lot of very cool and inspirational short videos you can start with and then introduce yourself as a Mozillian followed by what you do and what you want to talk about today. You can also end with it: “And that’s what I got. I am part of Mozilla, and here are some other things we do and why it would be fun for you to join us”.


Screencasts are a superb format to use in your presentation to narrate over. Using a screencast instead of a live demo has a lot of benefits:

Of course screencasts have a few pitfalls:

What about length?

Videos in presentations should make a point and have a purpose. In the end, a talk is a show and you are the star. You are the centre of attention. That’s why videos are good to make things more engaging but don’t lose the audience to them – after all they will have to look at them instead of you. One minute is to me a good time, less is better. Anything above 5 minutes should be a screenshot of the video, the URL to see it and you telling people why they should watch it. This works, I keep seeing people tweet the URL of a video I covered in my talks and thanking me that I flagged it up as something worth watching.