Recording Tips

Do It Yourself Best Practices

You do have room for a quick and dirty virtual stage.


Real is best--with no distractions. Virtual is a poor substitute. Try to have a blank wall behind you. See the quick and dirty video.

Unless you are a professional with a full lighting schematic, I recommend the simple background and do not recommend fancy additions; oftentimes, they do not work to your best advantage.

*If your goal is to insert a virtual background post-recording, use a solid and highly contrasting, non-reflective backdrop as a "green screen." This provides a uniform color to select and remove for the purpose of adding other creative touches and backgrounds.

Click on the boxes below for more best practices.


Lighting should face you. It should not be behind you or to the sides of you. When test recording, be sure that odd shapes of light and reflections do not appear and adjust accordingly.

Eye Glasses

If you can be rid of glasses, go for it. The reflection of light can completely diminish that "connection" that is wanted with the audience. There's another consideration, too: Glasses can reflect the items in the room and have viewers squinting to figure out what pictures they see.

Framing You

Keeping the focus close to face and shoulders to create an intimate experience that mimics personal storytelling. Eyes should focus on the viewer--not necessarily the camera or blinking light. Check to see where your eyes land and adjust accordingly.

Note: If this is for recording purposes, leave room around yourself for later editing--to center or enlarge your image.

Sitting or Standing

Whether you sit or stand, the camera should focus on your upper body--shoulders and face. Gestures that are made with your body are carried through your facial muscles. Nothing is lost. But, you don't have to have your body in the frame and doing so can be a serious distraction, as can hands. Try to limit bouncing and swaying; it can be very disconcerting to persons with vestibular issues and the like.

Use of Hands

If showing your hands is absolutely necessary, keep them at your sides, or, when raised, close to your shoulders. Moving them forward enlarges, shrinks, or blurs them and can be distracting and unsettling.

Clothes and Other Details

The rule of thumb for teachers and other professionals holds that jewelry should be kept to a minimum and clothing should be modest and muted. In other words, don't let your attire pull attention away from you, unless there is a significant reason such as being a clown or character actor where such things play an actual role.

Mics Make a Difference

Practice with different microphones if you are able to. It's good to have a usb digital microphone. They are available at a full range of prices, and you can certainly explore the internet for additional information. Or contact me, and I can help. Personally, I use a Blue Snowball. It's relatively inexpensive and does an adequate job for me.

Bear in mind that audio can be edited to a degree, and at the very least to increase volume.


Assumptions about Family Ties

Do not assume that everyone has a traditional family complete with a mom, dad, brothers and sisters, and grandparents.

Be sensitive to those who do not. Try to refer to adults as adults rather than your mom or your dad in personalizing stories, especially with younger children.

To the point, some children do not have moms and dads to ask for help, but they do have an adult.

Self-Check for Inherent Biases

Be sensitive to how your message may be interpreted. Avoid tales that mark a group as "other" or ascribe negative characteristics to represent a group, such as being remarkably silly, aggressive, or any number of generalized traits.


Use technology to bolster easy comprehension of the tales. Close Captioning and details in text can make a tremendous difference to the story reception and experience.

Alternative Text

The key to alternative text is to think about the meanings behind your images, not a description of them. Here are some tips:


  • Decide what information the image conveys: Does someone need to see the page to understand your message? If not, you can treat the image as decorative use a null (empty) text alternative (alt=""). Make sure not to include a space inside the quotes since some screen readers may then read it aloud.

  • If the image is information, be complete, but concise: In most cases you should be able to use a short phrase or sentence as alt text.

  • Prioritize information in text alternative: Aim to put the most important information at the beginning.

  • Avoid superfluous information: There is rarely a need to use the words “image”, “icon”, or “picture” in the alt text.

  • Handle complex images as a special case: Complex images such as graphs, charts, maps, and illustrations contain substantial information – more than can be conveyed in a short phrase or sentence. In these cases, a two-part text alternative is required. The first part is the short description to identify the image and, where appropriate, indicate the location of the long description. The second part is the long description – a textual representation of the essential information conveyed by the image.

If you want to learn more about creating good alt text, I recommend the W3 alt decision tree site as a resource: This site guides you with simple "yes/no" questions on how to create your alt text.

source: Coursera, course: Intro to HTML5