If you’re creating an e-learning course to teach people how to use a piece of software or an app, chances are you’ll end up recording a screencast as part of that training. If you’ve never recorded a screencast before, you might not know the best way to do it. Do you record your screen first? Or start with the audio? Or do you record both at the same time? Which way is best? 

The short answer is all of these ways can work well. It’s really a question of personal preference.

In this article, I’ll walk you through all three methods—screen first, audio first, and audio and video at the same time—and point out the pros and cons of each so you can choose the one that’s right for you and your project. Ready? Here we go!

1. Screen First, Audio Second

With this method, you start by recording your screen without any audio. This approach allows you to focus on clicking all the right spots without having to worry about saying the right thing. When you’re done, you can watch the screencast as you record your audio to get the timing right. 

The advantage of this method is that you can focus on one thing at a time—either the video or the audio. It also gives you an opportunity to confirm you haven’t forgotten any steps before you record the audio.

This method is also a good way to go about creating a screencast if you need your SME to record their screen themselves—in case you don’t have access to the software, for example. 

The disadvantage of recording your screen before your audio is that you’re not explaining what you’re doing out loud as you walk through the steps, so you may end up going through them too quickly or too slowly.

If you go through the steps too slowly, the video could feel like it’s dragging on and learners may start to tune out. Luckily, it’s usually pretty easy to fix this problem in post-production by simply cutting out some of the extra time. 

However, if you go through the steps too quickly, there’s not always an easy way to fix it after the fact. You may end up having to cut out some of the explanations, speak really fast, or even re-record your screen. This could impact the quality and/or the amount of time it takes you to finish the screencast.

If you decide to record your screen first, be sure to move through the steps at a slow and steady pace to avoid running into this issue.

2. Audio First, Screen Second

You can also do the opposite—record your audio first and then your screen. Like the previous method, this has the advantage of allowing you to focus on just one thing at a time. 

However, unlike the first method, you don’t have to worry about the timing issue since you can listen to your recorded audio as you click through your screens. 

That being said, if you record the audio first, you might end up realizing as you record the video that you’ve forgotten to explain something. If that happens, you’ll have to record whatever’s missing later. 

That may not sound like a big deal, but if you don’t have a sound studio, it can be difficult to ensure your audio sounds exactly the same the second time around—which can make your screencast sound less professional. The only way to get around this would be to re-record the audio for the entire screencast, which could be time-consuming.

To avoid this issue, I recommend going through the video steps a few times before you record the audio. That way, you can be sure you haven’t missed anything and avoid having to re-record your audio.

3. Audio and Screen at the Same Time

The final method for recording a screencast is to record both the audio and video at once. For some people, this method makes it easier to get the timing right. And I see their point! Because you’re walking through the steps as you speak—like you would in a live demo—you’re always moving forward at exactly the right pace.

However, to be successful at this method you have to be a good multitasker. Whether you’re ad-libbing your explanations or reading a script, it can be tough to get the audio perfect while simultaneously focusing on clicking in all the right spots. 

The longer your screencast, the harder it will be to get through the recording without making any mistakes either on screen or in the audio. For lengthy videos, I recommend recording a minute or two at a time and then splicing the videos together.

The Bottom Line

There’s no right or wrong way to record a screencast. It all comes down to personal preference. Some people always use the same method, while others prefer to switch it up depending on the project. To help you decide which method to go with, I pulled together this handy pros and cons list:




Pro Tip

Screen First, Audio Second

Allows you to focus on clicking in all the right spots in the right order without worrying about explaining what you’re doing at the same time.

Gives you an opportunity to confirm you haven’t forgotten any steps before you record the audio.

Video timing could be too fast or too slow, which can be hard to fix in post-production and could result in having to re-record the video.

Move through each step in your video slowly. It’s easier to cut sections out than make them longer.

Audio First, Screen Second

Allows you to focus on your explanations without worrying about where to click.

Upon recording the video, you might realize you missed a step in the audio, requiring you to re-record it in part or in full.

Practice going through the video steps before you record the audio to ensure you haven’t missed anything. 

Audio and Screen at the Same Time

Easier to get the timing right, since you’re walking through the steps as you speak—like you would in a live demo.

Harder to get both the audio and video perfect, since this method involves multitasking.

Record a minute or two at a time instead of recording a long screencast from start to finish.

If you’re still struggling to decide which method is right for you, try recording a short screencast using each method and see if one feels easier or more natural. If you run into problems, try switching it up for your next project. Once you’ve done a few screencasts, you’ll get a feel for what works best for you.

Looking for some more pro tips on creating software training? Head on over to these helpful resources:

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