To provide a bit of background, my company does both technical projects and "teaching projects" in which someone from my company goes to another to teach them how to use certain technology, framework, and so on.

I am a Software Engineer with another fancy title, basically I develop what I am told, and more recently also give (small?) lectures.

Recently I have been tasked with giving classes, which I was reluctant but since it is something I was told when I joined, I was ready for it, and I have tried my best.

Now all of a sudden (they basically have not told me until I have no other choice), for the current classes I am giving I am required to also record myself doing a summary of what was seen on the class.

Thing is, they already telling me that I should make the video as neutral as possible, so it can reused as needed in the future.

I am usually a shy person and even with friends I try to sneak out of photos, just goes with how I am. I feel like this falls out of my obligations, and I get nothing from going so far out of comfort zone, so I am not only incredibly nervous but also wondering how hard should (can) I refuse.

Not sure if anyone has been in this situation but I could really use some advice. They are trying to selling it to me in a "it will improve your visibility" and that kind of empty phrases, so all in all I feel I am very negative and close to have a mental block where I simply refuse (which is what I want to do).

I do not want to say out loud that I consider quitting the job over this, but I do have to fight that impulse, that big of an issue is for me personally.


After talks with a couple of managers, it seems it would now be enough with just recording my voice. For them it seems like very different issues, prior it was both video and voice, now being only voice, it appears to not be the same issue.

To me the problem still exists, but I am still going to process it and cool down to check whether or not it is.

  • 3
    @JoeStrazzere I am indeed fighting the urge to make that ultimatum. Couple years back, I would have acted more recklessly. So, yeah. I can find another job where this is not required, is basically the idea. Might sound silly but I do not choose what I love and hate about life :/ May 23 '19 at 11:43
  • What does your contract say about the lectures?
    – Player One
    May 23 '19 at 12:09
  • Are they asking that you be recorded during a lecture (ie; the only difference is that you'll be doing the same thing while the cameras roll) or do they expect you to produce actual recorded lectures meant specifically for online viewing? Those are two very different things and the latter would make me nervous as well.
    – Erik
    May 23 '19 at 12:12
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    Before you agree to the recording (it sounds like this is on video), have you previously signed, or are you being asked to sign, anything that gives the company the rights to use your photo and likeness for whatever purposes they deem appropriate? I had to sign a release before my employer would even ask me to appear in group photos, let alone videos. And it was optional - no repercussions for not signing, I just don't appear in certain company photos.
    – alroc
    May 23 '19 at 12:26
  • I'll throw in a loosely related comment: since this obviously causes you a great deal of stress and anxiety, you might consider talking to your doctor about it, as your extreme discomfort could be treatable. Your employer is correct that it would be advantageous for both you and them to create these videos, as they'll very likely have a positive impact on your reputation and influence over time, so it might be worth the trouble. (My anxiety, which sounds at least comparable, went away when I started taking propranolol for an unrelated issue.) May 23 '19 at 13:31

I used to be a very shy person who didn't want to be in pictures. And in a lot of ways I still am. Yet I have recorded more videos than I can count and they have been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. With that background, some tips:

  • first, you don't need to record video of you at all. They want you to do a summary of the course? Fine. Use a screen recorder like Camtasia to record your slides and demos while you speak. No face. You can also quickly edit this recording to remove mistakes and do-overs.
  • make sure the time to prepare these summaries, as well as to record and edit them, is all paid time and your other duties are adjusted accordingly.
  • clearly your current training is going very well. It is unusual for companies to use developers for training on a regular basis, because most developers are not good at explaining things, even things they understand well. Be proud of your skills.
  • visibility is not an empty phrase. Having essentially every developer in the company think of you as an expert is a big deal. Having management think of you as "that developer who trained everyone on [whatever]" is also a big deal.

It is uncomfortable to be recorded, to hear your own voice while editing, and so on. It feels weird and vulnerable. Your company sees the benefit for them of you doing this, and it will be good for you to provide that benefit. It will also be good for you to develop a new skill and to grow in your role.

This could make a real difference in your career for a number of reasons.

  • as mentioned above, it changes your profile within this company. A number of people will have heard of you, and think of you as an expert.
  • because you have developed the skill of in-person training, adding the skill of recorded-video training will make you a better trainer. You have to come up with examples and explanations that work "the first time" because you're not there to clarify.
  • you will become more confident in your subject knowledge and this will show in your voice and posture when you do in person training too, or have a technical discussion with a colleague, or tell a manager why things should be done a certain way.
  • you'll find doing presentation talks, such as conferences, easy as well. You may even decide to use your own equipment and time to upload some explanations of non-proprietary information to a blog or youtube.

All of this means that when you want a new job, there's a chance many firms already know you (they employ someone who used to work at your firm who you trained, or they saw you at a conference, or online.) And even if they don't, in the interview when they ask technical questions, your confidence and good explanations will be really obvious. Firms like to hire people who don't just know their stuff but can also explain it to others. You could even end up like one of the experts in your field you currently admire. They mostly started this way.

Take a big breath and do your best. Nobody is expecting you to be the best ever. They have already decided you are as good as they need for this. You can do it.

  • On a personal level, can you or someone with more experience than I have, what would be an example on this situation making a difference in my (or anyones) career? I just feel like this is a whim of the business needs and it will not go anywhere, and my effort will be wasted. May 24 '19 at 7:13
  • I added quite a bit on that. May 24 '19 at 11:44
  • 1
    I've had the same experience as @KateGregory. Giving presentations and having them recorded for broader audiences is really good for your career. For one thing, it gets your name out there. For another, being comfortable in front of audiences is a really valuable skill. You may be uncomfortable, but know this: your audiences really like you and want to know what you have to say. I suggest you work through this issue of shyness. Toastmasters? a class in presenting?
    – O. Jones
    May 24 '19 at 13:34

Have an honest conversation with your line manager about this. Tell them clearly that you're uncomfortable, and explain why it makes you uncomfortable (it may help to sit down and make a list of reasons beforehand). Also tell them clearly that you don't want to do it.

Since their goal is (presumably) to get the videos made and viewed, having a reluctant star is against their best interests as well. If you're the resident subject matter expert then you can offer to help prepare material for someone more willing to present instead.

  • 3
    This is good advice, and I just did. Their answer so far was that I can over my nerviousness and they trust me. Basically I have told them in the most certain terms I am not confortable at all, suggested they can find actors and I write what he should say, but in the end, so far they still want me to do it. I am basically giving them some time to absorb the information from the conversation, and giving myself time to cool down. May 23 '19 at 11:45
  • @monkeyintern taking some time is always a great idea. Everyone's likely to be more reasonable after they've had some time to cool down and think.
    – Player One
    May 23 '19 at 11:48

You might be surprised to learn that most people in business hate giving speeches and lectures, but it's done because it's part of the job. Your managers have now made it part of your job.

This is a great way to gain exposure in your company and industry, but I agree - it can be scary the first few times you do it. However... you CAN go on training courses that will make you more effective at this. Ask your manager if you can identify and attend such a course. DEFINITELY use video, at least when practicing, so that you can see how you move, stand and project yourself. Watch how professional presenters approach the podium or whiteboard, and how they move around the room to take control of the attendees (even if there is nobody in attendance, treat the camera as an attendee). And learn how to use a microphone correctly (Lavelier mics are the easiest to use for a beginner).

Treat this as a business opportunity, not as a punishment, and become the best you can. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

  • I keep hearing about the gaining exposure aspect but I REALLY would like to know... Is this actually true? I lack the experience to see it as something positive for me, professionaly, I feel like it will not have any impact whatsoever. May 24 '19 at 7:11
  • @monkeyintern I obviously can't speak for everyone, but yes - it is good for getting exposure within any medium to large company, and if your company allows these lectures to be shown externally, it gives you exposure within the industry. If I was looking for a software engineer, do I just want someone who can write software, or do I want someone who is out there explaining concepts well to people also? Me, I'd want the communicator.
    – PeteCon
    May 24 '19 at 13:25
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    Yes, it is true that gaining exposure is good for you personally. There is simply no doubt about it. No doubt. Seriously. If your name is recognized even a little bit, it will be much easier to find work or have your voice heard a decade or two from now. My presentation work from 20-30 years ago has been very very good to me.
    – O. Jones
    May 24 '19 at 13:39

It looks like your bosses want to start building a library of these lectures to distribute without additional cost of an employee giving them.

You may see it as an opportunity to request a raise and paid preparation / study time in order to better yourself to be more comfortable giving these lectures

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