Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Understand Slide Decks and B-Roll

A roll of film | B-roll

In a virtual training session, people will often set up their laptop webcam, sit down in front of it, and start talking.

If you set up a single static camera, sit in front of it and talk, you are creating what is called a “talking head” video. Talking head videos are fine – they’re personal, they have a low barrier of entry, and there is genuinely a market for them. You can be a great trainer, facilitator or presenter with just talking head videos.

However, if you’re not a charismatic speaker or your material isn’t interesting enough, this type of video will become dreadfully boring.

For both live and pre-recorded sessions, you can use slide decks to enhance your material. For pre-recorded videos, you also have the advantage of B-roll.

Slide Decks

You’re probably already familiar with slide decks – PPT, Dextr, Google Slides or any other slide deck software of your choice. Presentations are a staple in communication and training because of an important storytelling principle called, “Show, don’t tell.” They allow you to show your content to the audience, not just talk about it.

Since presentations can be used to improve the aesthetic quality of your material, it is important to put some thought into your slides. Don’t just make a few white slides with bullet points on them. Make them tell a story with your design and structure.

We assume you already know how to create a presentation on your favourite platform, so instead we’ll share best practices for you to get the most out of your slide deck. We see the lack of these best practices very commonly, and it leads to ineffective sessions.

Slide Deck Best Practices

  • Use a theme: Look at the theming options available on your platform. If you can’t be bothered, select a simple Master theme and it will make an otherwise boring presentation look a lot better. If you’re going further, select fonts and colors that match your brand and let them guide how you structure your content. 
  • Don’t put all your material on the slides: We see this mistake all the time. Your slide deck is a tool to supplement you as a presenter. If you put all your material on the slides, then your audience doesn’t need to pay attention to you, and they won’t. Instead, use slides to tease the audience and give them a taste of the material. 
  • Hide your bullet points: In a similar vein, if your platform allows you to hide your bullet points and reveal them one by one, use that feature. If you show all your bullet points on the screen, the audience will read ahead. 
  • Memorize the flow of your presentation: You should run your slides, your slides should not run you. Don’t read your slides. Not only does that make your voice very monotone, but it shows that you are dependent on the tool. You should be so prepared with your material that you can deliver it without your slides. 
  • Use milestone slides: Your deck should have a variety of slides to keep the audience engaged. Slides that allow your audience to focus on a specific piece of information or summarize information are very helpful. They give your audience a chance to breathe and absorb the knowledge before you move on.

B-roll

While you may have heard the term slide deck, you may not have heard the term B-roll. But if you understand one, you understand the other. In filmmaking, B-roll is the term used for extra footage, as compared to A-roll which is the main footage.

B-roll is the perfect next step for someone who has mastered talking head videos. It allows you to overlay photos and videos of the content you’re talking about, giving the viewer a chance to absorb the information in 2 ways.

Example: Suppose you’re making a video about being more productive and you’re talking about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of Flow. If you cut away to show the flow diagram while you’re talking about, they’ll understand better.

A great example of a YouTube channel that uses B-roll well is Cultaholic, which is a wrestling news and commentary channel. They do list videos where they use images and simple zoom techniques to keep a video interesting. Here is an example:

The beauty of B-roll is that you can scale it as you get more comfortable storytelling in video format. You could do something as simple as Cultaholic’s list videos. For more complex B-roll usage, you could see short filmmakers like Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon.

Putting together a pre-recorded video with B-roll requires planning, foresight, and video editing skills. But it’s a skill well worth learning. The quality of your video will go up tremendously, and you will stand out.

If this topic interests you, we have a more detailed essay about visuals. If you would like consultation on getting started with B-roll and slide decks, reach out to us at abhilash@gentlebamboo.com.