How to Record Your Talk for Impact

Sometimes we need to create a recorded version of our talk quickly and with limited resorces. How can you do it?

In this post I am going to show you a great TED talk that was recorded during the pandemic with extremely simple techniques, yet an excellent result.

I will also explain what equipment you will need, and don’t worry, it’s all well within your reach.

The video

The video that I’m going to use as an example is “Hot to be a good ancestor” by Roman Krznaric. It’s very short at 7 minutes. Watch it and observe how the recording was done.

What have you noticed?

Exactly. He does not move.


Roman does not move from his spot and the camera switches between a medium shot and a close up. Nothing more. This is very easy to achieve with just one camera, by recording the full talk with a medium shot and then editing the parts where you want to give more emphasis so that the shot is a close-up.


Notice also the background. It has good lighting and is interesting. You can arrange something similar in your place. You might need to try a few times by moving things around, but you don’t need to do anything fancy.

If your camera allows it, try to have the background slightly out of focus as in Roman’s video. This makes the speaker pop out of the screen so to speak.


The second most important component of a good video is lighting. See how the background has good lighting but is slightly darker than the speakers face. This combines with the out of focus background to make the speaker pop out even more.

The speaker’s face is in fact the most critical aspect of lighting. You can see that here there is a light from the side, which for you could possibly be a window, and another less intense light from the opposite direction, giving volume to the speaker’s face.

Audio recording

This is the most important part of any video. What wait a minute, isn’t it the video itself? Absolutely not. A decent video with a great audio performs much better than a great video with poor audio. At the end of the day, we watch a talk, but the main message reaches us through our hears.

So make sure you invest a little money in a good microphone to connect to your camera or smartphone. There are several options, but I would suggest to use a lapel microphone, that kind of microphone that you attach to your jacket or shirt just below your chin. Then you pass the cable under your shirt and to the camera.

Make sure to buy a microphone with a long enough cable, or add an extension cord for the microphone. You’ll need at least a 3 metres (10ft) cable to go from your chest to your camera without being in sight.

Video recording

And finally the video recording. As I suggested above, modern smartphones tend to have great cameras that can do a great job at recording your talk. Just make sure to use a stable support for the camera while recording, like a tripod.

If you manage, do the recording in one go. But you can also do it in separate chunks with a few tricks. Make sure to split the talk in places where you would change the shot from medium to close-up or viceversa. Also, make sure your position, clothes, hair, remain exactly the same. Be particularly careful with lighting and exposure. Keep exactly the same lighting between shots - which might be a challenge if you use natural light - and make sure the camera uses exactly the same exposure parameters. This is particularly insidious with smartphones and cameras set to automatic exposure. Experiment on that to avoid disappointment.


Another important part to produce a good video sample of your talk is editing. You should use a simple video editor which allows

  1. to slice your talk in chunks and
  2. to zoom in on selected chunks.

If you recorded all your talk in chunks, just join them in one single video, making sure you camouflage the joints by changing shot from medium to close-up and viceversa.

If you recorded in one single take then you’ll have to clean it up.

You will first slice (or crop) the video around the parts where you mumbled, or stumbled, or had to repeat a sentence or a word. (While recording, whenever you stumble, make sure to restart from the previous sentence.) This way you can cut off the mistakes, while keeping the whole text intact.

When you get rid of a mistake, chances are that the images before and after the cut don’t match. In that case you can change the shot zoom of the part after the cut, so that the discontinuity in your position is camouflaged by the change in the shot, that is from medium shot to close-up and viceversa.


At the end of the day, it’s simple, yet it requires some attention and a few tools to make it work. Here’s a list of the recommended tools:

  1. a decent to good smartphone
  2. a tripod or other support for the smartphone
  3. a good microphone to connect to the smartphone, with a long enough cable
  4. one main light source on one side of your face
  5. a secondary light source on the other side
  6. a third light source for the background
  7. an interesting yet non-intrusive background

Setting up the whole thing for the first time might take you a good couple of hours. Plus another hour to record and another hour or two to edit. But when you find out the right setup for you, replicating it for subsequent recordings of the same talk or a new one, will become child’s play for you.

I hope that these simple(ish) instructions will help you record your talk quickly and inexpensively if you want to have an idea of how your talk will look like and share it with friends and colleagues for comments before delivering it on stage.

Keep doing your incredible work as Changemakers and Impact Leaders. Talk for Impact, and move audiences to action!

In a future post we will explore a few alternatives to record your video with two cameras from two different angles. A few of my speakers did it and the results were great!

That’s all for now, thank you for reading.

Talk for Impact is a platform for Impact Leaders and Changemakers, with a newsletter packed full of suggestions and other resources on how to deliver great talks that move audiences to action. You can share and subscribe to the newsletter and podcast below. And if you feel ready to work one-to-one with me reach out for a 20' discovery chat with me (in English, Spanish or Italian.)

Talk for Impact is a platform for Impact Leaders and Changemakers, with a newsletter packed full of suggestions and other resources on how to deliver great talks that move audiences to action.

And if you feel ready to work one-to-one with me reach out for a 20' discovery chat with me (in English, Spanish or Italian.)