Class presentations can be frightening! The biggest fears about giving any presentation are often anxiety about being up in front of the class or forgetting what to say. Using hand lettering to create a video backdrop solves both problems and will leave your class wow’ed.

Benefit #1: Timing and Content. If your video lasts 4 minutes and you pace your words with your video, you know you’ll cover your content in the perfect amount of time! A lettering video running on a projector screen during your oral presentation helps you stay on track to cover all your content in the perfect amount of time.

Benefit #2: Distraction. Yes, distraction! In my experience using live action doodle videos as presentation backdrops, all eyes follow the illustrating video, leaving the speaker free to relax and follow along.

This is my favorite way to participate in a group presentation, as it’s actually a very quick process with a huge “wow” factor in the classroom.


So how can you create a live action hand lettering video for your next presentation or group presentation? It just takes a couple steps:

1. Plan

(with your group if it’s a group project) a few main points you need to cover in your presentation. Then summarize those points down to a handful of statements that can be lettered/illustrated.

2. Plot.

With pencil on scratch paper, plan your layout for each statement and how you’ll use words and letters to create visual interest.

Rough Sketches were a starting point for planning my lettering video
Based on the main points we brainstormed together, here’s what I initially sketched and posted for my group to review.


3. Prep Space.

Set up a filming station. Using no special supplies or equipment, this is my setup when I film my illustrations in my graduate school’s library. I use their lighting provided for study cubical and a metal bookend to hold my phone steady directly overhead while I film.

Arrange the pens you will need on one side, your sketches on another side, and clean paper within reach.

A school library has everything you need to set up and film your lettering video
My school library’s study cubbies provided everything I needed for my makeshift film studio: Study lights provided even lighting, an overhead shelf with a bookend held in place by books provided a stable overhead view for my camera phone

3. Film.

Begin filming, illustrating one page/statement per video clip, so if you make a mistake it’s very easy to remove that scene during the editing process. (Just deleting a clip is much faster than editing a longer clip down to cut out the mistake)

Take time to letter carefully, but avoid slow perfectionism, as slow clips may make the video harder to compress into the allotted presentation time.

4. Edit.

Load clips onto your computer, delete the clips that held errors, then splice together remaining video clips.

Next, use your video software to then increase the speed of the clips, so what took you much longer to illustrate now fits exactly in the allotted time for your class presentation.

5. Upload.

You may plan to show the video in class via a connection to your laptop, but always have a backup plan. Loading the video on YouTube the night before is a great way to make sure you’ve got a backup in case there are  issues using your laptop.

6. Practice & Succeed!

You’ve got the makings of a presentation that is sure to impress your instructor, but you’ll want to practice the oral presentation alongside the video a few times to make sure you are comfortable with the pace and timing of the video. If you find yourself too confined by the video’s timing you can play with speeding up or slowing down particular clips to allow time for you to speak the words you need to during that segment.

That’s it! Have fun! .And please post links to your own videos in the comments section!


DON’T be perfect. With the exception of film school or maybe art school, a basic camera-phone shot video will suffice. You could spend hours on this project, but a basic cut and splice will keep your audience entertained.

BOLDER is better. Detailed notes are the way to go for test prep, but for a presentation you’ll get the best effect out of fewer words that are large, bold, and interesting.

SIMPLE but FUN. Don’t get carried away with detail, but have some fun. When we showed the video I am using as a demo here in my class of 120 students, I was surprised to find that the class laughed at the moment that the shining star was colored and given rays!

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