6 Ways to Work Smarter & Faster with Visual Communication

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to work smarter, not harder and they seem to be great ideas. But until workplace nap time becomes mandatory (apparently siestas help you work smarter, not harder), using visual communication can save you and your viewers time.

Getting your message across in a clear, concise way can be difficult with words alone. By incorporating visuals, you can save a lot of back and forth due to confusion. Here are a few ways you can use images and screencasts in your communications to make life easier for you and your audience.

1. Onboard new employees

It’s very time consuming to schedule face to face training sessions every time a new employee joins your organization. It’s also overwhelming to be a new employee with so much to learn right from the start. Make it easier by creating narrated screencasts that show how to use your organization’s standard programs. They will be able to re-watch it when they need a refresher, and you’ll save time by avoiding in-person training sessions. You can even use animated GIFs to help with training!

2. Capture inspiration

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So when you see an idea you like, take a screenshot of it! Saving good ideas with screenshots lets you build up a library of inspiration to use the next time you’re stuck for ideas. Similar to mood boards, you’ll have images of examples or ideas you liked, or didn’t like.

screenshot of my Snagit Library

3. Skip writing pages of notes

Have you ever had the problem of trying to scribble down pages of notes, only to go back and realize your handwriting has gotten out of control and you can’t read what you wrote? One way to help alleviate this problem is to record the conversation (with permission, of course). At TechSmith, we often interview customers to learn how they use visuals in their jobs, and will record the calls rather than just relying on handwritten notes. Then, we just share a link to the recording with others to listen to when they have time, rather than blocking out calendar time for them to attend the original interview.

4. Give Clear Feedback

Giving and receiving feedback on content or projects can be challenging. You often have to wait (or chase) stakeholders for feedback on projects. And sometimes when they provide their suggestions, it’s paragraphs of text which you’re left to interpret yourself. Using visuals to show your exact feedback can reduce the time spent sending emails back and forth and helps everyone get on the same page. This can make the approval process go much faster.

In the below example, my coworker was able to take a screenshot and point out exactly how to improve this project, without having to write a long email. Her screenshot and comments helped me immediately understand what she wanted me to change. If we would have tried to communicate these changes through text alone, it probably would have taken a few hours of back and forth emails to get to this outcome.

5. Reporting progress

I like graphs. But without context, sometimes they don’t make as much sense as they could. By hitting record and narrating your graphs or even slide presentations, you can help your audience better understand results, data, and the impact they may have on your business. This can be particularly helpful when reporting data to coworkers in different departments who may need a little more explanation or context in order to understand what the numbers mean. Adding images to reports can also help achieve clarity and engagement, instead of only using text. We even have a  blog  showing results with screencasts  to help you get started.

6. Better emails

Emails are a necessary part of many jobs, and pretty crucial communication tools. But what if you could cut down the amount of text, and still convey your point in a way that will grab people’s attention? Adding screenshots to your emails can help you achieve this. They are more engaging to view than blocks of text, and you can draw your reader to your main point with marked up screenshots. Here’s another blog post to help you get started on 3 Ways Screenshots Make Your Microsoft Word Doc, PowerPoint, and Email Better  

Visuals can also add an element of entertainment to your emails.

Animated Gif Slide

The best part of working better and faster with visuals, is that it’s super easy to do. All you need is a screen capture or screen recording tool, like Snagit. Simply select the area to capture, press the red button, and share. It’s as simple as that. You can try it yourself with a free trial of Snagit.

What other ways do you use visuals in your job? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter!

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How Digital Learning Can Help Solve These Training Challenges

With today’s technology, many companies are turning to video for new employee onboarding and training because it saves time, money, and resources. Proper employee training is critical for an organization to run efficiently and effectively, as it helps employees develop the skills needed in the workplace.

The demand and consumption of video has been increasing significantly over the last years, and will continue to do so. A Cisco study predicts that global IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73% in 2016. Training videos have seen an increase in usage and popularity, they are a digital trend that allows learning materials to be shared out to employees, independent of location and time. It is therefore not surprising that more and more organizations are enhancing and replacing their training content with video, as it helps employees complete training quickly and efficiently.

Below are a few digital training challenges and how video can help:

Present it once, watch it over and over

Once a face-to-face training session is converted into a video, it is no longer a one-time session. Whether the training material is a recorded live session, or a screen capture, the video can be presented once, and then stored and used as a reference for all new employees. Not only does this save the trainer’s time, but the user’s as well. If the videos are saved and accessible to all new employees, there is no need to coordinate a training session that could potentially take up valuable company time. Each user can complete their training when it most conveniently fits into their schedule.

Face to face training is expensive

When it comes to face-to-face training, expenses can add up. Sending trainers abroad, booking venues, and bringing employees to training sessions can be costly. The more hours spent commuting results in less work and productivity. Video training materials can eliminate unnecessary travel costs and save time and resources.

Training across the globe

For international companies, training videos can be shared out worldwide. This can also reduce travel costs for trainers, and give anyone in the world access to the videos day and night, regardless of where they are located. Tutorials can be designed for international audiences, or be localized into other languages and cultures, catering to all audiences.

Why SoftwareONE switched to video

SoftwareONE, a software consulting company, made the switch to video training in 2011. With consultants across 145 countries, it was difficult to deliver necessary training in person, which lead to both lost time and revenue. Traditional training and development methods could take up to a month to organize, and could even take the new hire away from customer-directed work for up to three days. SoftwareONE began using TechSmith Camtasia to create online training videos for their own Global Learning & Development Team.

The team quickly became experts in both the software they sold and how they would properly train their employees on how to sell it through quality video and digital learning content. “Having trainings available anytime, anywhere and on any device keeps employees engaged and motivated, has offered a highly sustainable learning library, and reduced travel costs immensely” explains John Mayes, Global HR Leader.

When it comes to facing digital learning challenges, creating video content can help boost efficiency and productivity within the organization. Accessing videos is a quick and easy process, and cuts out any unnecessary costs that come with face-to-face training. With the help of TechSmith Camtasia, you can easily create, edit, and share your own video content. Download your trial copy of Camtasia here.

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How to Nurture Leads with Video Marketing

For most marketers, the concept of nurturing leads through their digital marketing funnel is not foreign. And in terms of video marketing, the concept that they should be using more video throughout their customer touch-points is not only known, it’s likely been screamed at them at every conference, workshop, and webinar. And it’s been emphasized in countless pieces of content they’ve read throughout the last decade.

So most marketers understand why they should be using video throughout their funnel, and they know the video push isn’t just marketing propaganda of the latest trend. The need to tell your story to consumers using video is here to stay. In fact, Cisco predicts that globally, IP video traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021, up from 73% in 2016. But what’s not as clearly known is when, where, and what videos you should be presenting to consumers throughout the different stages of the funnel to nurture leads with video.

The Five Levels of Awareness Established by Eugene Schwartz

One seemingly small, yet monumental shift in our marketing team’s thinking over the past year has been expanding the scope of our digital marketing funnel to accommodate the Five Levels of Awareness. Originally presented by Eugene Schwartz in his book Breakthrough Advertising, this funnel-based concept presents a formula for nurturing leads in a way that provides them with the right content at the right time to encourage them to progress towards conversion. It outlines how aware the people are in your target audience of the problems that your products and services solve within your brand’s niche.

Although Schwartz’s book might be worth the read for all the details, I understand that you are likely a time crunched marketer, so I’ll give you the basics of what you need to know to ensure the effort you’re putting into creating and promoting more videos throughout the funnel gives you the return your brand is looking for. Let’s dive in!

The five levels of awareness are as follows:

  • Unaware – Consumers are unaware they have a problem or a need
  • Problem Aware – Consumers are aware they have a problem and are looking for a solution
  • Solution Aware – Consumers are looking for proof that the solution works
  • Product Aware – Help consumers decide to buy your product
  • Most Aware – They’ve purchased! Aid consumers in next steps

Nurture Leads with Video

Where to start:

No matter the type of content you’re creating, it is important to start with understanding the goal. To start, you really need to begin with an understanding of the segment you are communicating to and ensure you are developing content that speaks directly to them. For instance, those that work in finance have very different needs than teachers. Our content directed to these segments should reflect that by using the correct verbiage, imagery, and acronyms that hit home for each consumer base. Your goal throughout these levels of awareness is the create content that makes the consumer feel as though your solution and product were developed with their needs in mind.

Secondly:

The next thing to keep in mind is that your goal is to capture their attention in the stage they are in, and only give them what they need to progress to the next level. This can be hard for brands who are accustomed to jumping right into their products features at their first touch with a consumer, but having patience instead by guiding leads through the level of awareness does produce results. For the first three stages (unaware, problem aware, and solution aware) keep your product promotions and features sets tucked away. They will receive their day in the sun during the product aware stage, but until then remaining focused on the consumer’s needs is a best practice that will pay off.

Lastly, align your goals (and therefore content) to each level of awareness:

For this post, we will be focused on the Unaware stage and specifically what video content can help unaware consumers make the leap from prospect to lead.

Unaware – Consumers are unaware they have a problem or a need!

unaware funnel stage text image

Put simply, when consumers are at this stage of awareness, they are nowhere close to considering your product or service because they aren’t even convinced they have a problem it solves. You need to provide content that helps them become aware of a problem or need they have.

Sure, you could try to do this with stand alone text and images, but when you have the option to create something more dynamic and engaging with an easy-to-use video editor, why wouldn’t you opt for the medium that’s proven to stand out in someone’s social feed and get you the clicks, impressions, and conversions your content deserves?

Keep in mind that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound. So even combining images with text that pops up to share your message is more effective than a stand-alone image with surrounding text. Consumers watch these silent videos in line at the grocery store, in meetings, and — yes — likely even in the restroom as well. But the good news is, they are watching! Applying video to these messages provides a boosted opportunity to engage consumers before they continue to scroll past, optimizing the opportunity that your message is received.

Here’s an example of a video we’ve used to help those that don’t even know what they are missing without a screen capture solution realize they have a problem that needs solving.

Other opportunities for video within this awareness stage include:

    • Statistics-based videos highlighting thought leadership concepts or PR-oriented story lines. For instance, to aid marketers in realizing they need to be using video, we could create an animated infographic that calls out“Video Traffic will be 82% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021! Is your content ready to stand out?”

  • Connect with industry influencers who can help plant the seed of need to their audiences. Influencers are usually the first to report on trends, so stay connected so that they are highlighting a future need that complements your solutions to their audience. Remember, at this point, they aren’t promoting your product, they are promoting the need for the solution your product provides, so this approach doesn’t have the slimy promotion feel that sometimes results from an influencer plug!

What now?

This post is the first in a series of blog posts that will talk through each level of awareness and how video can be used to guide consumers throughout each stage. Be sure to catch all five by subscribing to our blog so posts are delivered right to your inbox!

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Working with your Subject Matter Expert

When it comes to developing great curriculum for the humans in your organization, finding the right subject matter expert (SME) can mean the difference between elegant content simplicity or complexity in motion.

We can all accept that design simplicity is critical to the exchange of knowledge. As workplace educators, our job is help people succeed in the workplace. Our SME has a different role. Their role is to have complete knowledge of the topic. Their knowledge helps the organization perform at level best.

Now enter the big question. How do you get the right amount of information from the SME into the training content?

First and foremost, before getting to the 6 tips, try to imagine how the SMEs think about the world around them and their role within the organization. Take a moment to stop and remember their perspective will be inherently different from your own. Your goals are different, your perspective of the business needs will be different and your approach to solving those problems will be different.

Keeping this point of view in mind, here are 6 Tips to help you build your relationship with your SME.

Active Listening

Developing your active listening skills will help you in all areas in your life and not only working effectively with SMEs. Your SME may appear to be difficult in your first meeting, this is due to their passion about the topic.

If this is your first time working together, try to break the ice and discover common ground. Share success stories or stories of difficult projects. Reflect on what they are telling you and why.

Remember, active listening means focusing on the the words and showing verbal and nonverbal signs of listening. Pay attention to what is not being said as well as the content of the words. Such emotional attunement will level up your ability to understand your SME’s point of view.

Avoid Assumptions

As with any working relationship, avoiding assumptions will get you closer to your goal.

Our gut reactions have a tendency to believe SME’s will share our overall perspective. We assume the SME will agree because you both have the best interests of the organization in mind.

However, studies on a cognitive bias called the “false consensus effect” indicate we significantly overestimate the extent to which others agree with our opinions. As a result, we are actually closer to conflict when we assume agreement with the SME and it contributes to the “us versus them” mentality.

The key is to ask solid follow-up questions: “I think I heard you say…” or “Help me understand why this is important?” This will get you both closer to your goal.

Remove Communication Barriers

For open and honest communication to work, first remove communication barriers.

Figure out your communication preferences and compromise on something that works well for both of you. The importance of adapting one’s communication style to your SME cannot be underestimated. A great beginning is in understanding your SME’s mental state – is your SME happy, excited, frustrated or even angry about working on the project? You will have to adjust your communication style accordingly.

As with active listening, as you communicate with each other, don’t listen only to what the other person is saying. Listen to the emotions underneath the words. SMEs are understandably passionate about their subject. Acknowledge their passion and work together to clarify goals.

Be Prepared to Disagree

Conflicts can be healthy! Don’t let the first serious disagreement lead to the end of the partnership. Instead, learn strategies for healthy conflict resolution.

Talk about both the facts and how you feel about them. Be open to understanding why your SME feels strongly about certain content, images or processes. It’s easy to self-sabotage the relationship by trying to put yourself in a position of power, however be as generous as you can be in interpreting the other person’s actions. Be open to changing your mind if you discover you made a mistake and apologize quickly.

Collaborative Compromise!

Compromise in the workplace sometimes gets a bad rap. But sometimes we have to compromise to get the hard work done. In this case let’s talk about compromise in this way, “Individual commitment to a group effort to reach an agreed goal”. Compromise doesn’t have to be a win-lose scenario.

When you and your SME collaborate for agreed compromise, you both integrate ideas and energies so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Balance getting your needs met with meeting the needs of the SME.

Remember, Your SME has worked hard to achieve the level of knowledge they have, respecting this will get you further than focusing on being right.

Set Expectations

There is nothing wrong with setting some ground rules for working together. Setting the expectations with your SME will ensure everyone is on the same page at the same time.

  • Know your project may not be the SME’s main priority. Be sure to establish clear guidelines for communication and collaboration.
  • Create a collaboration area to minimize meetings and to respect the SME’s time. Use tools like Evernote, Google Docs or other project management tools to share information.
  • Be sure everyone is clear on deadlines and review cycles. Get the SME’s buy-in and write a schedule with agreed review dates.
  • Record meeting notes in a shared document to avoid misunderstandings.

At the end of the day, you and the SME both want the same thing; to help people in the organization perform at the highest levels. Because people are people, this takes some negotiation and ground rules to meet those goals. Use these 6 tips to help guide your project journey and you’ll see higher success rates with your content and SME’s who actually want to work on projects.

About the Author

Shannon TiptonAs owner of Learning Rebels, Shannon Tipton knows what it takes for businesses to get real results from their training departments. Having spent over 20 years developing successful learning strategies and infrastructures, Shannon has helped businesses to realize their full potential.

Working throughout North America, Europe and Korea, Shannon has demonstrated an unrelenting passion for enabling businesses to achieve applicable business results. Shannon utilizes her extensive real-world expertise and integrates 21st century learning technologies and microlearning tools that drive workplace alignment, enhance collaboration and increase learning connectivity.

Shannon’s book, “Disruptive Learning,” is known in the business industry as an innovative workplace learning strategy resource. As a result, Shannon has been named as one of eLearning’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers. Her blog, “Learning Rebels” is also in the top 100 eLearning blogs and can be found at learningrebels.com.

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Three Reasons Why Your Tech Support Team Should be Using Screen Capture

Nobody contacts tech support when things are going well. If everything works perfectly and there are no problems, there’s no need for assistance.

In many cases, the standard response to a tech support request might be to type out the steps needed to resolve a customer’s issue. However, the more complex the instructions, the more difficult it can be to write a response that is easy to understand and follow. Luckily, there’s a better way. Screen capture can provide a easy-to-understand and often much faster way to provide that information. Below are three reasons why your tech support team should be using screen capture to provide customer support.

image of a laptop computer in use at a desk

#1: SAVE TIME

For most people, contacting tech support is the last resort to fix an issue. This means they have already invested time, and the faster the resolution, the better. Nobody wants to sit on the phone or reply to an email to ask “Where do I find that button?” or “What am I looking for, again?”

Prevent additional frustration for your customer by helping them fix their problem quickly. Using a screenshot saves time on both sides. It’s faster for the tech support agent to mark up a screenshot than to type a long email. It also saves the customer time by providing an easy-to-follow response. TechSmith’s tech support team uses Snagit to create screenshots, screencasts, and even an occasional GIF.

screenshot showing email instructions next to instructions using a screen capture with some added text and numbered steps

#2: ELIMINATE CONFUSION

When you show instead of tell, instructions are much more clear. Prevent back-and-forth emails and follow-up questions. Using visuals allows you to boil down your communication to what’s essential. Plus, according to research, people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.

screenshot with click here instructions

#3: OVERCOME LANGUAGE BARRIERS

If your organization serves customers across multiple cultures and languages, effective communication can be even more challenging. While Google Translate is a fantastic resource, incorporating images into your tech support correspondence makes it easier to get the point across quickly and effectively. There is less risk of losing meaning in translation.

Screen capture showing where to click

As an added bonus, if you are using Snagit to create visuals for something a bit more permanent—say, a knowledge base article, as opposed to a disposable email—you can easily create a localized version of your screenshot. Simply upload the translated text into Snagit, and easily create a new set of localized screenshots using the translation workflow feature.

SUMMING IT UP

Using a screen capture tool to help with tech support is a great way to quickly and effectively provide assistance and ensure customer satisfaction. Are you currently using screen capture to support your customers, or planning to start soon? We’d love to hear about your past experience or future plans. Leave us a comment or send us a tweet on Facebook or Twitter.

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