Make Demos of Your Projects

A picture of 3 screens with the word Demo on them.

So, you’re trying to land that cool new Web Dev job and you’ve made a cool sexy CV that showcases your skills, education, and experience. You probably (you should) also have a little section for any projects that you’ve worked on.

Those projects on your CV should have a little description of what they do and a couple blurbs about the tech stack used for them. The tech stack used is important because it reinforces the skills you have listed in your “Skills” section.

You should also have links to the project’s repository on Github. If you have both a frontend and backend, list them both side-by-side. This is good, because more technical recruiters can go into the project’s files and see your code and know you’re not bullshitting.

But one thing that not many people think about is adding a video demonstration.

A video demonstration can be super helpful as you won’t always get very technical recruiters (or just people who don’t have that kind of time during the hiring process) who will go into your Github to see if your project is up to snuff. Sometimes people will just want to SEE that this project works. And what better way to sort out someone who wants to see your project than providing something to SHOW?

Well, I’m going to walk you through what I think is the best way of creating a great demo that will really showcase your project.

Be Clean

The first step is making sure you have a clean browser and taskbar. You don’t want to distract the viewer with a bunch of tabs being open. You want them watching your demo, not trying to figure out what you were looking at before. Also it just looks nicer.

Same thing applies to your taskbar. Only have the programs open that you NEED to have open. Browser, Code Editor, and Screen Sharing software should be the only things you need open at the time. Also, if you get any popups during the time your recording, like, “Windows would like to update” or “Clear space on your drive”, well, time to start the recording over. Again, you don’t want any distractions, it makes the video look unprofessional.

If you’re wondering about what software to use for recording your screen, I personally recommend OBS (Open Broadcast Software). It’s free, fast, and has quite a few options. It’s great, but there’s lots of screen recording software out there, so if you already have a preference use that.

Make sure as well that the settings allow for the video to be recorded and exported at the highest quality allowed.

To Talk or Not To Talk

Now you need to decide wether or not you’re going to have a voiceover. There’s pros and cons to both.

If you’re a good orator, you’re basically doing a double-whammy of selling both your app and yourself. But just being a good speaker isn’t all, you need to have a good script.

Yes, like a movie script. You need to plan out what you’re going to say so you’re not umming and ahhing all over the place. Since you’re not on video you can read the script right in front of you.

But there are good reasons NOT to do a voiceover.

  • No good audio equipment and/or sound environment: Poor audio quality can completely ruin your voiceover and make you look unprofessional, because you sound like a robot or like you’re recording inside of a jet engine. I recently had to go with a silent demonstration for this exact reason.
  • It can keep your video short: Time is of the essence when a recruiter is looking you over. They have other candidates that they’re looking at and so you want to make an impression in a short period of time.
  • It can make output faster: If you have quite a few projects and want demos for all of them, it can be a lot to ask to spend your whole day writing scripts and doing multiple takes for each demo. A silent demonstration can get your videos out faster.

Be Succinct

Make sure you don’t spend too much time setting up the demonstration. If there’s voiceover say “hi”, give a little description of your project, and then get right into it. No longer than 5 seconds. If there’s no voiceover let the screen sit for about 2 seconds so the viewer can get their bearings and then get into it.

Only do every required action once. If you have a Todo app, you’re only going to demonstrate the create function once., then the edit function once, and the delete function once. Don’t repeat actions, it’s boring. But make sure to demonstrate EVERY major thing about the project. You never know which aspect will impress someone.

As you do each action, explain in short what you’re doing, “Alright, let’s check out this search function.” Do the action, and move onto the next one, leaving just enough time to let it sink it, but don’t blaze through or sit there forever.

As I mentioned before, a voiceover can add a fair amount of time, so make sure you think it’ll be good and/or neccessary. A longer running time means recruiters might just get bored and click off it.

One little plus for doing silent demonstrations is that you can up the speed by about half which can significantly shorten the video while still looking natural.

Cut it Up and Send it Out

Once all is said and done you’ll want to chop off the beginning and ending bits, you know, that time spent navigating to your app after hitting record or the time spent navigating to the recording program to hit stop.

You can do this in a simple video editor like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Whatever you have will work fine.

Then you just have to upload. I figure YouTube is still the best place to do this. Vimeo is probably okay too. I wouldn’t use any more obscure video hosts though.

Now that you’ve read through this blog on creating video demos, hopefully you’ll give it a go.

Only one thing left to do: Hit Record.

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Isak Kallenbach

Isak Kallenbach

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