V-VSS Presentation Tips

This page contains requirements, tips, and suggestions for preparing your V-VSS talk or poster presentation and interacting with your attendees. If you have some tips to share with your fellow presenters, please send them to vss@visionsciences.org. We will update this page as we learn more about these topics

Video Presentations

Talks presenters are required to upload a video presentation, not to exceed 12 minutes in length. Poster presenters can optionally upload a video poster tour, not to exceed 6 minutes in length. The uploaded file must be in mp4 format and cannot exceed 2GB in size.

Note: VSS may delete your video and request that you upload a new one if the play time significantly exceeds the time limit.

When attendees click to play your video presentation, it will appear in a pop-up window that is 800 pixels wide. They can resize the window freely to their preferred viewing size. Additional presentation files, such as poster PDF, will also appear in a separate window so the attendee can arrange them side-by-side for viewing.

Video Format

The resolution and aspect ratio of your video is up to you. Both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect rations are acceptable. For most presentations a resolution with a frame width of 1280 is adequate. For higher resolution, you can use a frame width of 1920, which will fill most user’s computer screens. Resolutions above 1920 are not recommended because this may affect playback if the user does not have a fast internet connection.

When an attendee clicks to play your video, it will open in a pop-up window with a frame width of 800 pixels. This window can be resized freely for larger viewing of the video. Attendees may also download videos and view them in a local player of their choice.

Recording Your Video

How you record your video is up to you. You will need a way to transfer your video to your computer for editing and upload if you recorded it on another device. If you need to convert your file to mp4 format, there are many free online file converters, such as https://www.online-convert.com.

There are many effective ways to record a talk video. You may want to use facilities available in PowerPoint to record  your talk and then export the slideshow as a movie. Similar facilities are available in Keynote, although in this case you will need to convert the exported movie from Quicktime to mp4 format (see above).

Or you may prefer to record yourself giving the presentation and then edit your image on top of a movie of your slides, using some sort of video editing software. Another similar method is to record a video of yourself giving your talk or poster tour, and rely on your uploaded poster or slides provided as supplemental talk material.

We are sure there are yet other possibilities, including recording your video using a platform such as Zoom. Here are some instructions from How-To Geek. The Neuromatch page on how to avoid “zoombombing” is also a useful resource.

Adding Closed Captions

We encourage presenters to add closed captions to their videos to maximize accessibility. There are various ways to add closed captions.

New! Support for Closed Captions

To support the display of closed captions on videos uploaded for V-VSS, we’ve added the ability to upload a captions file to accompany your mp4 video. For this method you will need to generate a WebVTT format file (.vtt file) that contains the captions for your video. Here’s how to do it.

  1. First, create a .vtt file using one of the methods described below.
  2. Log in to your MyVSS Account.
  3. From your account home page, click View My Presentation.
  4. Click on the Closed Caption icon.
  5. Upload your .vtt file.

You can now view your video from your presentation page. The video controls will include a closed captions icon. By default, your video will play with closed captions turned on.

Thank you to Alon Hafri, Yulia Revina, Matthew Dye, Jonathan Kominsky, Christine Salahub and others for helping develop and test these closed captioning methods.

Create Closed Captions Using YouTube

Several V-VSS presenters have reported used YouTube for generating closed captions with great success.

  1. Start with the instructions at YouTube.
  2. To download a .vtt file, go to ‘Classic YouTube Studio’.
  3. Select Subtitles on the left to see a list of your uploaded videos with subtitles.
  4. Select your video, then select Edit in YouTube Studio Classic (in upper right).
  5. From Edit mode you can download files in different formats.
  6. After downloading your .vtt file upload it to your V-VSS presentation using the instructions above.

Other Tools for Creating Closed Captions

  • If you are using PowerPoint to record your video, PowerPoint has closed captioning capabilities.
  • Google provides instructions for Google Drive users.
  • The video recording tool ScreenCast-O-Matic, software for creating video presentations that can also combine a speaker and slides has built-in captioning ability. It can auto-generate captions for you, and then allows editing and fine tuning. There is a free version with basic functionality.

Video Captioning Service Providers

  • Rev.com – full-service provider of captioning, transcription and subtitling solutions

Do-It-Yourself Video Captioning Tools

  • Amara – Online captioning tool that has free and paid versions.
  • CADET – Do it yourself captioning tool for Mac and Windows.  
  • MovieCaptioner – closed captioning software for Mac and Windows (works offline)

If you learn of other effective closed captioning tools, let us know and we will add to the list.

Guidelines for Writing Captions

Adapted from DCMP Captioning Guidelines for Educational Media

  • Place captions on the bottom two lines of the screen as long as it does not interfere with existing visuals. If there are visuals appearing on the bottom of the screen, then place captions at the top of the screen
  • Make captions two lines or less
  • Make caption length 32 characters or less per line
  • Left-align the captions
  • Divide longer sentences at a logical point where speech normally pauses
  • Use font type Helvetica medium or similar type
  • Use a translucent box so that text will be clearer, especially on light backgrounds
  • Use sans serif characters with a drop or rim shadow, and space proportionally
  • Caption higher education media at a presentation rate of approximately 120-130 words per minute. Caption theatrical presentations at a near-verbatim rate. No caption should remain on-screen less than two seconds or exceed 235 wpm
  • Editing is performed only when a caption exceeds the presentation rate limit. Edit to maintain original meaning, content, essential vocabulary, and meet presentation rate requirements

Recording Tips

Here are some tips for recording a good quality video presentation of yourself giving a talk, if you choose to go this route.

  • Choose a quiet, brightly front lit spot (light behind is a problem so do not choose to be in front of a window).
  • Use an external webcam with a good quality microphone.
  • If shooting video with a cell phone, attach it to a stand or tripod for best results.
  • Be mindful of what appears behind you in the background and/or consider using a virtual background.
  • Wear clothing that is neutral in color (no plaids or stripes). Avoid wearing colors that are the same as your background.
  • Look straight into the camera. Your camera should be at eye level. A stack of books might work to get the recording device at a good height.
  • Practice – record your presentation once, watch and make improvements to it, and do it again.
  • Minimize distractions in your local environment like cell phones, computer notifications, and barking dogs.
  • Stand up – standing up provides for a higher energy presentation and allows you to move like you would in an in-person presentation.


Poster presentations are a one-page PDF (50 MB or less), optionally accompanied by a 6-minute video tour of your poster. See above for video requirements and tips.

Your Poster PDF can be any aspect ratio or resolution. Landscape orientation is recommended because we expect most attendees to be viewing presentations on a computer screen. Resolution should be high enough that all details are clearly visible. This will allow attendees to zoom in on areas of your poster.

Most programs allow saving or printing to PDF format. The initial PDF created by many programs can be large. If you have Adobe Acrobat, you can reduce the file size by going to File > Save as Other > Reduce Size PDF.

Free online converters and compressors can be found on the Internet (Example: https://www.freepdfconvert.com). Be aware that you may have to use a limited set of fonts if using an online PDF converter.

Supplemental Files

For talk presentations, you can upload a file to supplement your video presentation. This can be your presentation slides or another document that attendees can download for viewing. Supported file types are .pptx, .key, and .pdf up to 50MB in size.

One reason for doing this would be to provide a higher resolution version of key elements than can be done with the video. Another might be if you choose to provide your talk just as a video of yourself speaking, and wish to provide your slides separately for attendees to download.

If you choose to provide a PowerPoint or Keynote file as a supplement, you should embed your fonts or the slides will look different when viewed by an attendee that does not have those fonts on their computer. Also bear in mind that not all attendees may be able to easily view PowerPoint or Keynote files.

More Information

Also see, V-VSS Presenter Instructions.