The first half of this guide includes basic principles to achieve the best framing and lighting for your IAP 2022 Pre-Recorded On-Demand Video. The second half of the guide focuses on how to maximise accessibility when designing and presenting your session for IAP 2022. We ask that you please read through this guide and adhere to the requirements as much as is possible for you. The instructions in this guide aim to support you to create a conference presentation that is clear, quality, and accessible for your audience.
Framing & Lighting
Here are five tips and tricks for maximising the accessibility of your presentation and ensuring you look and sound professional:
1. Use a little less head room
When most people sit down in front of a webcam, they position themselves so their head is in the middle of the screen.
There’s too much empty space above the speaker’s head in the image above. This is called head room. Head room refers to the amount of space between the top of the head and the top of the frame. Too much headroom will make a presenter look small and insignificant. Too little (or no) headroom will make a presenter look like their head is stuck to the top of the screen.
The best way to get the right amount of head room is to imagine a ‘tic tac toe’ or ‘noughts and crosses’ grid laid over top of the screen. Instead of placing the head in the centre square, put the eyes along that imaginary top third line of the grid. Make sure the shoulders can be seen in the shot.
This image shows an example of how to place yourself within your imaginary grid:
This is the perfect amount of head room.
This type of ‘head-and-shoulders’ shot is ideal for communication. Any further away, and the presenter will start to lose that personal contact. And moving too close to the camera can make it uncomfortable for the viewer.
2. Raise the camera up to eye level
Low camera angles can make the presenter’s face look distorted and difficult to read. Ensure that the camera on the phone or computer is raised up to eye level, or better still, even slightly above. If need be, try stacking a few books underneath the camera set-up, or lowering the chair.
If the camera is slightly above eye-level, it will lose any potential ‘up the nose’ shots and your face will be easier to read.
Below is an example of how to raise the device to eyelevel to get a clearer view of your face.
3. Light the face
If the light is brighter behind the presenter, the presenter will become backlit and the face will be in shadow.
The camera will detect the amount of light and will increase or reduce the exposure to produce an image that is on average, not too bright or not too dark. If set up with a bright light behind, the camera will see that big bright light and lower the exposure level overall to compensate. As a result, the presenter will end up looking like they are shrouded in shadow.
It is important that your face is well lit. If possible, record during the day, and position yourself so you are facing a window to take advantage of natural light. Alternatively, set up an additional light source in front of you. An example is the below desk:
4. Simplify the Background
The focus should be on the presenter, not what is going on behind them, so keeping the background as simple and uncluttered as possible is important.
Avoid cluttered bedrooms, bookshelves or walls with lots of paintings or posters. Where this cannot be avoided, make sure they are neat and tidy and close any doors that might be in the background.
Examples of unsuitable backgrounds:
Ideally choose a clear, plain wall. If you are recording with items in the background, try to ensure they are organised and that there is as minimal clutter as possible. Aim for as much natural light on your face, and as plain a background as possible.
Examples of suitable backgrounds:
5. Clean, Clear Audio
It is crucial that your audio is clear and loud enough for your audience to hear, and for captioning software to easily detect. Try and record video in a small room as this will prevent an echo. Carpet is best, and curtains and other fabric will help limit the echo.
When filming, close the doors and try to ensure that there is minimal background noise. TVs, washing machines, or people chatting will all detract from what the presenter is saying and make it harder for your audience to understand you.
Where possible, use microphones that are located within headpieces, or small lapel microphones that will cut out a lot of the additional noise. When recording with corded headphones that have a microphone attached, keep the microphone cord clear so that it is not brushing against your hair, collar, jewellery or anything else. On recording day, make sure to do a trial first and check your audio is loud and clear of any interference with the microphone.
Maximising Accessibility in Designing Your Presentation
Slide Layout and Template
Your presentation should have a consistent theme, with a simple background, and high colour contrast. Keep your slides minimal and simple, with a descriptive title on each page that refers to the content.
Although colour can be a great tool to visually convey information, it can create accessibility barriers. When using colour, it is important to have sufficient contrast between the background and text colour (dark text on a light background, or vice versa). Strong contrast between text and background mean people with low vision can access the content more easily.
If you would like to understand colour contrast further, you can download and run a Colour Contrast Analyser with your presentation. To make text more readable for colour-blind audiences, limit the use of reds and greens. If in doubt, we ask that you use one of these templates that Microsoft has identified as optimal for accessibility.
Large and Minimal Text
Please ensure that the fonts you use are easy to read, that the text is large, and that any writing has a high colour contrast. Sans Serif is typically the most readable font (eg Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, Verandah). Be generous with spacing between letters, words, and lines. Use bold for emphasis, rather than underline or italics. Use mixed case text rather than all caps. Text should be 18pt or larger. You can read more about font accessibility in this guide.
Provide Alternative Text and Image/Video Descriptions
Alternative text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals. Briefly describe the images that appear in your presentation, conveying whatever information about the image is important. If you are playing a video in your presentation, describe what happens in the video. Read more about adding alternative text to visuals in Microsoft documents.
- Good colour contrast with a consistent and clear template.
- Avoid cluttering slides with a lot of text.
- Do not use colour as the only way to convey information.
- Avoid GIFs, automatic animations, and complex transitions.
- Give every slide a unique title and number your slides.
- Provide alternative text and image/video descriptions.
- Run the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker for an automated accessibility check.
- Ensure to read the final page on ways of creating automated closed captions.
For further information, read this guide to making PowerPoint presentations accessible.
Four Principles for Presenting
First, please watch this video on hosting accessible online meetings
Please ensure to read to through to the last page on captioning your video presentations.
Slow it Down
We tend to speak faster than usual when presenting. When preparing and presenting, keep pacing at the forefront of your mind and avoid writing a presentation that you need to rush. We suggest somewhere between 120 – 150 words per minute. Speaking slowly and clearly will help with automatic closed captions and ensure everyone can keep up with your content. Try to use plain language, and avoid the use of acronyms, complex metaphors, and jargon.
Prepare Your Handout Documents
If your presentation is pre-prepared, we ask that you provide a transcript in a Word document to maximise accessibility. If you create handouts for your presentation, please make them available in a Word document and send them to the conference committee prior to your presentation. In these documents, we ask that you use headings, lists, and avoid using tables. Read more in this guide to creating accessible documents in Microsoft Word.
Provide Content Warnings
If your presentation raises sensitive or distressing material, please give your audience some notice beforehand so they are aware and can take care of themselves as needed. For example, before playing upsetting case studies, describing experiences of trauma, or instances that depict racism, ableism, homophobia, and more. Advise what you will be playing or describing and give your audience enough time to skip through the presentation, take their headphones out, or do whatever else they need to do.
Describe What You're Showing and Flag Who is Speaking
It is fine to use visual information in your presentations, but you should be prepared to describe what is happening on your screen. If you are presenting with multiple people where speakers are taking turns to speak, mention who you are each time you speak. This will be particularly important for panel presentations, and any other presentations with multiple speakers.