This is the second post in a three-part series on making money with online courses.
One of the questions that often comes from entrepreneurs testing the waters of course creation is, do I really have to go on camera to teach my material?
Well, there are many course creators who simply use slides for their presentations. Others use screencast videos. As the name suggests, these videos record images of a computer screen.
These are, technically speaking, videos and are a perfectly legit way to create an online course.
There is, though, a difference between courses that perform well and those that perform extraordinarily well. That difference often lies in the on-camera presence of the instructor.
Assuming you want to build an online course that hits and surpasses all your expectations, here are a few reasons why you want to go on camera for your online course.
Building bonds with students
Let’s get something out of the way—nothing is exactly wrong with ‘faceless’ online courses. However, putting yourself on camera can give you an edge on your competitors.
In an increasingly competitive environment, you always want to do everything possible to be a nose ahead of others in the marketplace who are nipping at your heels.
Putting your self on camera when creating an online course checks off one important box—students are able to see you. This is critical because when compared with in-person education, taking an online course can be an isolating experience for students.
We are social creatures by nature. Online courses, in which you appear on camera, allow you to breathe a little life into the process of learning outside of a traditional classroom structure.
By appearing in your online course, it’s no longer that one student in a room at home in front of a computer. It’s a shared experience between yourself and the person to whom you’re passing on your knowledge and expertise. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
When you step in front of the camera, students can see they’re in the hands of an actual person who is invested in helping them learn the skills for which they’ve signed up.
Keeping students engaged
The key to any successful online course, and indeed the long-term success of an e-learning business model, is student engagement.
As it happens, seeing and listening to an instructor in an online course is particularly effective at keeping students engaged. That’s what you want too, because it’s not enough to have people register to take your course. You want them to see your lessons through to the end.
Course completion by satisfied students is what brings in the glowing reviews. Making it to the finish line is what stimulates sales of future courses.
There may be hundreds of courses similar to yours. What can’t be replicated, though, is the special touch your face and personality add to your online course.
Even if you don’t see it in yourself, every instructor has something unique to bring to every class. It could be the way personal experiences tie into the main lessons. There’s also the personality factor, that unmistakable YOU that other course creators can’t copy.
When done right, an engaged presentation in front of a camera incorporates all the crucial elements of human interaction and connection—body language, facial expressions, the physical manifestation of passion for a subject.
You want your students to feel as excited and in tune with the material as you are. They should come away, not just having learned something, but feeling like the experience of your online course was rewarding.
Stepping up the quality factor
There’s another undeniable benefit to putting your face in your online course—you step up to an entirely different level of quality.
Your on-camera presence shows students your course goes beyond a list of materials to digest and a bunch of assignments to complete. It gives them a sense of greater value for their investment of time and money.
Presenter-driven video courses, as mentioned above, deliver a better interactive and engaging experience. The result is a learning experience that looks and feels more professional to students. And when students feel they got more out of an online learning experience, the perceived value becomes the achieved value.
Remember, it’s not just about what they learn, it’s about the impression you make on your students through the connection your on-camera presence establishes.
When building your online course, stepping in front of the camera (which many of your competitors won’t do) puts you in an altogether separate quality category.
Online video learning
While nothing is wrong with online courses that rely solely on slides or screencast video, without a human presence to hold the interest of students, an online course can tend to be a bit dry.
While many course creators focus on the content, the value of that content is of little use if students can’t bring themselves to see the course through all the way to the end.
So here are our suggestions on how you can use video to create a successful online course.
Video in each lesson
Given our television backgrounds and years of creating video content, appearing on camera for our online course has never been something we need to think twice about.
We’re huge fans of showing up on camera for each lesson in an online course.
The beautiful thing about this approach is, you don’t have to be on camera for the entire lesson. That’s right, it’s not an either or scenario.
A combination of speaking on camera with slides or screencast video is the ideal mix to keep your students hooked on each lesson. If you like, you can start and end each of your lessons with a short on-camera presentation.
This way, the amount of teaching you have to deliver on camera is short, yet you still establish that all-important connection with the audience.
Open lesson on camera, close lesson on camera. Easy!
Research shows that courses using the multimedia approach, with a mix of your face, voice and on-screen images perform better with students.
An introductory video
Now, if you can’t bring yourself to show up on camera for each lesson in your online course, here is a suggestion for incorporating an on-camera element.
Make an introduction video to open your course.
In your video introduction, you can tell students how they will benefit from your course or give an overview of your lessons. You can share some inspirational words to get students excited about beginning your course or you can share a bit about yourself and your expertise.
This video will tell students, hey, I’m your instructor. I’ve poured my heart, soul and knowledge into this course and I’m here with you to make sure you get the best out of it.
If you want to go a step further (and you should), you can do a short on-camera video to introduce each module in your online course. You can give students some insight on what they can can expect to learn in this module and how these lessons fit into the overall skill that you’re teaching.
We also suggest doing a video to close off each module to re-establish your presence. This ‘wrap up’ video can congratulate students for having completed the module, reinforce the main takeaways from the lessons and provide inspiration for students to keep pushing on with the course.
Reading text instructions behind the scenes is fine in an online course. Many of us, however, absorb information more readily when shown demonstrations on screen.
For example, perhaps you offer stress management coaching for harried entrepreneurs, executives and just hard-working folks. Then showing up on camera is definitely recommended.
An online course that teaches meditation, breathing and other at-home stress management exercises is far more effective when the instructor demonstrates these methods on camera.
By putting yourself on camera to teach lessons that are better absorbed through physical demonstrations, you make your course modules more captivating and effective for students.
As the old saying goes, “to teach is good, to show is better.”
Q and A video
Here’s another video idea that can add more of a personal feel to your online course—a Q and A video.
Compile questions you’re regularly asked by your audiences or invite students to send in their questions midway through your course. Then you can answer those questions on video and then add that video to the last module of your course.
This is a excellent way to stimulate interaction with course participants. It’s only natural that there may be queries on topics or points which you can clarify in a Q and A video. This video will show students they’re not merely subjects in a one-way interaction, but equal participants in a two-way exchange of information and ideas.
Your presence on camera is what will make this exchange work.
The expert is in!
Given that the goal is to construct a profitable, sustainable business out of online courses, the advantages of appearing on camera are considerable.
You want to create online courses that are a resounding success. The goal is amassing legions of happy students who are more than eager to leave glowing reviews.
By presenting the lessons on camera, you are creating more than lessons or instructions. You’re creating an experience that’s rewarding for both students and yourself.
When you appear on camera for your online courses, you automatically put distance between yourself and others in your niche. Your on-camera visibility is a key ingredient in an e-learning product that’s more engaging, valuable and, ultimately, successful with audiences.
Just remember, when it comes to showing up on camera appearing for your online course, it doesn’t have to be all in or nothing at all. A mix of on-camera presentations, slides and other media is the recipe for impact.
Read the other blogs in this three-part series:
Part 1: How an Online Course Saved Our Struggling Business
Part 3: How to Promote and Sell Online Courses Using Video