Montana State University

Tips for Success


Preparation for the video conference teaching session is perhaps the most important facet of the conference. Teaching via two-way interactive video usually requires more preparation time than teaching in the traditional classroom. The best way to learn about how to use the conference facilities is to attend a conference or two yourself. This will give you a feel of how the conference will flow, and how you may need to redesign your current lecture style to include the distant participants. Please contact us at 406-994-6550 for a schedule of upcoming conferences that you may attend.

Graphics Preparation

If your presentation will involve the use of graphics, there are a few guidelines to consider. Graphics should be in a horizontal format (landscape) with no more than six or seven lines of text appearing on any one visual. The larger the font, the easier it is for the students to see. The smallest font size you should use is 24 point. The ideal size is 32 to 40 point. Do not prepare your graphics on transparencies because they will be difficult to read. White paper is permissible, but light blue or green is preferred. White is at the extreme of the color spectrum, and the camera is better capable of handling tones in the middle of the color spectrum. The graphics camera can also be used to view slides and art work of all types.

Video Tapes

Video tapes can be an effective option during your conference. VHS video tapes can be played and transmitted over the network by your technician. All tapes must be viewed at least two (2) days prior to your conference. Some video tapes do not transmit well over the network and can not be used. This preview of the tape will alert us to that fact.


Computer presentations and demonstrations can also help deliver your presentation more effectively. Please take the time to be sure that the proper software is on the computer you will be using. Computer presentations in EPS 126 must be tested two (2) days prior to your conference. This will assure that the Presenter interface will properly interlace your computer and the Elmo document camera.


Handouts to the local participants can be handed out at the beginning of the class. To assure that the distant sites will also have the material please send the material one week to ten (10) days prior to your conference to allow for delivery. Please have facilitators at the distant sites to disperse the material.

Explain Your Presentation to the Video Technician

When you arrive for your conference, take a few moments and let the video technician know what your presentation entails, and how you intend to deliver it. The technician is there to help your conference run smoothly. The discussion could alert you to a problem in your presentation, or inform you of a new way to approach the conference.

Instructional Variety

All learning should be interactive, but this technology seems to intimidate at first, and may lead to an unresponsive audience. There are many things that you can do to combat this, and make the conference a learning and fun experience. Listed below are some ideas to work with to promote interactivity:

  • Lecture
  • Overheads
  • Slides
  • Video
  • Computer software demo
  • Computer presentation
  • Guest speakers
  • Interviews
  • Discussions
  • Demonstrations
  • Case study
  • Brainstorming exercise
  • Quizzes
  • Other written exercises

The Conference

At the beginning of the conference take a minute to check in with all the sites. This will alert you of any technical problems and make the distant sites feel more a part of the class. During the conference keep these points in mind:

  • Humanize your program - focus on the students, not the media/materials. Personalize your involvement as much as possible.
  • Speak in your normal tone of voice. There is no need to speak more loudly than usual, however, it is important to speak clearly. Remember to cough or sneeze away from the mike. Assume that everything you say is being heard by others before, during, and after the presentation.
  • Don't let the medium throw you. Don't be afraid to speak to your video technician during your presentation. If you need a visual changed, say so, or if you are aware of a technical problem, acknowledge it. Ask the technician to help remedy whatever is making you uncomfortable.
  • When presenting to the class, please set the camera and monitors in your line of vision. Not only will you be able to see the far sites, one at a time, but when you glance toward the camera this will create the illusion of established eye contact with all of the sites.
  • Take time to interact with the distant sites. Interaction results in increased learner satisfaction. For every hour of broadcast time, set aside 40 minutes to be devoted to content delivery, with 20 minutes reserved for interaction and other planned student involvement. If interaction dips below 30%, students may become inattentive and tune out.
  • When asking questions of your students, allow a longer period of time to pass when waiting for answers because students are usually reluctant to speak at first. Coax them along and call on them by name and site. You should always have a class roll available so you can learn their names.
  • Don't forget the distant class - don't forget the live class. Don't overemphasize the distant class - don't overemphasize the live class.
  • Take stretch breaks every 50-60 minutes.
  • Overall, just be yourself.
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