How to Record Your Desktop with Screencasting

What is Screencasting?

A screencast is a video recording of your computer screen, and usually includes audio. Screencasting is also referred to as video screen capture, and is a great way to teach or share ideas. Think about your digital life. All that time sitting at your desk. Think of your apps, websites, IMs, emails, and everything that makes up your digital world. What if you had a camera in your pocket, ready to capture and record in full, crisp HD at a moment’s notice? What types of videos would you create? Would you ever want to share what’s on your screen? How could it help you work better?

Common examples of screencasts are onscreen tutorials, video lessons, or slideshare presentations. A major benefit of screencasting is that the viewer can watch the screencast at a time when it’s best for them, because learning doesn’t always take place in an academic setting. Additionally, the viewer can absorb the information at their own pace by pausing and rewatching portions. Screencasts add a personal touch in ways that other methods (I’m looking at you PowerPoint decks and written proposals!) simply cannot.

Here at TechSmith, we understand the power of screencasting. We make both screen recording and video editing software because we know that being able to capture your computer screen at work increases productivity. We realize that you may want to make a more polished screencast, but sometimes a quick-n-dirty vid can get the job done, too.

Screencasting–also commonly referred to as a “secret weapon” by seasoned screencasters–is a work hack you can jump in and use it today. Here are some great screencasting pointers to get you started!

9 Ways Screencasting Can Make you More Productive at Work Today

1. Revitalize your onboarding and retain knowledge

Getting the new person up-to-speed can be a time consuming process. You’re not only trying to get your job done, but you’re also having to explain it every little step of the way. You feel like you’re on the spot (which you are) and it can be overwhelming.

Take the pressure off you and record a screencast instead. With screencasting, you don’t have to continually start and stop to answer questions, which allows you to focus on the material. The new hire can start, stop, and re-watch the screencast as many times as they need, because nobody worries about interrupting a video recording! Screencasting allows you to train your new hires effectively and free up your time.

When people leave companies for new opportunities or to retire, there’s often a knowledge void. This is especially true if the departing employees were experts on certain tasks or procedures. A great way to retain this knowledge is to have them record their computer screen as they walk through the steps. By having experts capture their workflows, you ensure that best practices or important information is not lost. These videos are extremely valuable when onboarding new hires.

If you’re looking for inspiration, see how Virgin Media is using video to retain knowledge at their company.

2. Record the screencast once and share it every time

How many times a day do you have to answer the same question?

“How do I reconnect to the printer?”
“How do I access those Q4 files again?”
“What is the best way to input the data?”

You know. It’s that type of question. It’s the question you’ve answered countless times and by now your response is totally autopilot. Snap out of it! And snap your co-workers out of it too by creating a screencast that leaves a lasting impression.

Why not create a little library of screencasts that answer frequently asked questions? Screencasting not only saves you time answering the same questions over and over, but it has been proven that 80% of viewers can recall a video they have seen in the past 30 days. Oh, and did we mention that it will make you look like a rockstar?

3. Record live streaming video, like a company meeting

Nowadays, it’s not unusual for companies to have employees dispersed throughout the world or working remotely. That’s why live-streaming video is being used in the office more and more. Live-streaming a company meeting makes it more accessible, but streaming alone doesn’t ensure that everyone in your company will be able to attend the meeting. By recording the live video, you’ll have it available to share with colleagues who were unavailable or otherwise unable to attend the meeting. Also, you or anyone else can go back and reference details of the meeting at any time. This is something we do all the time here at TechSmith.

If recording live streaming video sounds scary, we promise it’s not. Here’s a great post that walks you through how to easily record live streaming video.

4. Walk your sales client through a proposal

These days, sending an email proposal is the bare minimum. As you know, most business decision makers don’t have the time or energy to go through every proposal that hits their inbox. You can’t just have a great proposal, you need to find new and creative ways to stand out from the rest of the pack.

What if you guided your lead through a sales proposal with a personalized video? Helpful explainer videos ensure there is little chance that your message will get lost in translation. By screencasting, you can also add the extra details that are not typically included in a PDF proposal. A short video is easily shareable, allowing the lead to forward it easily to all of their additional silent decision makers.

Lastly–and perhaps most importantly–sharing a screencast is a highly personalized interaction that can provide the crucial opening to a larger conversation. For example, Snagit user Chad Ridderson now closes 50% of his cold sales bids simply by adding screencasts to his email proposals. What could screencasting do for your bids?

5. Make a software or product demo

There is no better way to show off your product than by actually showing off your product! The Content Marketing Institute says that consumers need numerous touchpoints before they decide to make a purchase. Did you ever consider that explainer videos, walkthroughs, tutorials, and helpful how-to vids are all awesome additional marketing opportunities to show (and not just tell!) the value of your product?

Oftentimes potential purchasers need to feel what the experience is going to be like before they commit. However, by viewing a screencast, they are expressing real interest in your product and possibly intent to purchase. Video is a powerful tool that keeps eyeballs on your website.

6. Provide clear feedback

Sometimes the best way to provide clear, concise feedback is to talk it out. Yet what if the person needing feedback is in a different location? Or a different time zone? Screencasting is a solution that helps bridge the gaps for today’s globally connected workforce.

A major part of providing feedback isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Context is everything when giving constructive critique. Recording a screencast allows the person on the other end to actually hear your voice, and provides important context to your words. So the next time a webpage, PDF, or video edit is sent to you for feedback, consider dropping the red pen and record a screencast instead!

7. Record Skype or Google Hangout Video Calls

Interviewing customers or subject matter experts makes for great video content. But with time, distance, and budget constraints, it can be nearly impossible to visit everyone in person. Technology like Skype and Google Hangouts solve this problem, allowing you to get in touch with anyone, anywhere. Conduct and record interviews in video calls and then bring the recordings into the videos you create.

Not sure how to record Skype or Google Hangouts? It’s easy-peasy. Learn how to record Skype and Google Hangout Video Calls.

8. Create a Quick How-to Training Video

It makes sense that words alone aren’t always the best way to show someone how to do something. Recording your screen and sharing a video with colleagues is typically a better technique that allows you to demonstrate exactly how to perform a task. Want to show someone how to log in to the new company system? Or give a quick rundown of how you created a mock-up for the web team? Use Snagit to record your screen as you walk through the process. Here’s how!

The best part about recording your computer screen and turning it into a quick video? You won’t need to write a lengthy email or repeat yourself. If your trainee forgets any steps, they can reference the video at any time to get a refresher. And if anyone else asks you to explain the same process, you can simply send them the video you’ve already created.

9. Send Customized Sales Videos

It’s easier to be personable in a video than through an email or over the phone. Video allows you to showcase your personality, letting the customer see you and your body language. This will help you gain trust and build stronger relationships. Furthermore, instead of trying to coordinate a phone call, video allows you to communicate with someone when it’s most convenient for them. And best of all, screen recording can help you close more sales.

Take Chad Riddersen, owner of Deviate Labs. He was able to improve his close rate from 33 percent to 50 percent when he started adding quick Snagit videos to his outbound proposals. Check out Chad’s story to see exactly how he used screencasts to create high-converting sales proposals.

Screencasting: From Script to Screen

With Screencasting, it’s all about process. Pre-recording, recording, and post-recording are each equally important phases of the project.

Of course, you might not know this unless you’ve also spent ridiculous amounts of time redoing screencasts because you forgot to add an element or messed up a certain action on the screen.

In the interest of saving you time, I’ve jotted down a bunch of tips over the course of this experience that can help streamline your screencasting process. In order to achieve this, it’s important to put some forethought into the moves you’ll make in the video.

What do you want your viewer to take away from the video, what do you want them to learn? What do you want to show them, and what kind of visuals would be the most efficient way to do this? Your pre-recording process begins by answering these questions and starting to outline the scope of your screencast.

Pre-Recording

Write your script. While this may cramp your “wing it” attitude, this will help you plan out your visuals for your screencast. By pairing your audio with an action on the screen, you can clearly envision what’s happening at each point in the screencast. This will help you cut out any unnecessary content and keep your video focused. In the editing phase, it’s incredibly helpful to see this outline for easier clip splicing. When you’re finished, read over your script out loud to see if it makes sense logically and flows audibly.

Record your audio. Pay as much attention to your narration as your visuals. Ideally, you should use an external microphone to record your audio, but if you’re using an external webcam, they might already have a great microphone built-in, test it out. Read one line of your script at a time with brief pauses in between.

During editing, this allows you to cut, rearrange, or insert audio clips easily in between each other on your timeline. Before you start your screencast, make sure to edit down your audio so you’ll have those verbal guidelines properly timed and matched up to your script to help you figure out what visuals go where.

Plan out your screencast. Are you going to use a specific website, application, or program? Know what each action on the screen will consist of and what you need to set up first in order to record it. Of course, the idea that you have while writing the script may change when you actually start recording – that’s okay.

Don’t forget to set up your screen so it’s camera-ready: hide your bookmarks bar in your browser and any other icons or folders you don’t want seen on your desktop. Also, make sure to disable any alerts so they don’t disrupt your screencast.

You’re almost ready to start recording. However, you also need to think about where this video is going to be uploaded – who’s the audience and how will they watch it?

This matters not only for the content of the video, but also for recording the correct dimensions so you don’t have a stretched or fuzzy video. If your end goal is YouTube, record in 1280×720 or 16:9 resolution. If you’re recording in PowerPoint, the same goes; however, you must change the default slide size to 16:9.

Now, before you even think about starting your screencast, you should practice, practice, practice! Trust me, you’ll be grateful later. Or, you’ll waste time redoing your screencasts.

Recording

Hopefully, you practiced your screencast because now it’s time to record it for real. Double check your recording settings to make sure they’re in the right resolution.

Also, check your microphone settings under the recorder’s audio output setting. Open up any applications or programs ahead of time unless you want to show how to get to them in the screencast.

When you do start recording, keep in mind how a viewer would see each of your actions. Be deliberate with cursor movements to guide the viewer’s eyes to the elements you want them to focus on or be aware of. Don’t linger on pages unless you have a reason to.

As people’s attention spans get shorter and shorter, it’s more necessary than ever to stay on task and keep the viewer engaged. Be concise and focused while navigating your content.

If you need help with any aspect of screencasting, don’t knock the helpfulness of tutorials until you’ve looked through them thoroughly. Be sure to check out our library of free tutorials and guides for Camtasia.

Post-Recording

Before you do anything drastic, clean up your screen recordings; trim ends and splice out loading pages and unnecessary bits. Keep the pace lively, but focused enough to follow. Below are some more specific tips to help you get the most out of editing.

  • Use elements of repetition to structure your content for the viewer’s benefit such as specific transitions to mark changes in topic.
  • Transitions are key to a well done video. Too flashy and they draw attention away from the content. I recommend the fade transition for a smooth, seamless look.

  • Callouts can also make or break a video. Use them to guide the viewer’s eyes and focus. Don’t visually assault them; let the callouts enhance your narration rather than distract from it.

  • Zooming and panning can help clarify and emphasize audio instructions. However, use them sparingly as it may be jarring for viewers if used too frequently.

  • Keep track of your tracks. Don’t let clips linger at the end of the video only to be rendered and included in the final version. Check to make sure there aren’t any extra clips, sound bits, or callouts lingering in other tracks before you produce and share your video.
  • If you want to edit large chunks of audio, disable the tracks you don’t want to change by clicking on the eye to hide the track. Then, select all of the tracks that you want to change and you can change them all at once.

  • When it comes to using licensed music, it’s incredibly important to do your research. Check the allowed uses carefully before buying or using. Creative commons licenses are fairly common and give you free reign to use the music however and wherever you want; whereas, royalty-free and standard licenses come with a bit more rules as well as a license fee. No matter the license, always check that the available uses align with how you’ll end up using the music.

Editing can help you completely transform your content. Pay close attention to detail to perfect the presentation of your screencast.

Behind the Scenes

The screencasting process is a fickle one. There are multiple parts that need to come together in the right way in order for you to produce a finished, polished product.

Two of the most important things we’ve learned (that we consistently relearned every video) was to plan and practice your screencast. As perfectionists, we redid a lot of our screencasts anyway, but the rerecording count significantly decreased whenever we thoroughly planned and practiced our narration as well as our actions on screen. Of course, things didn’t always go the way we planned, but we took them in stride and even tried out a few new things along the way that turned out pretty well.

If we were ever stuck or unsure,we were definitely the one asking my co-workers a thousand questions – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out on Twitter @Camtasia, @TechSmith, or @Snagit, or browse the many video tutorials on our YouTube channel. In the end, the production process is a long one, but establishing a good work ethic and routine as well as cultivating your list of resources are the best way to make sure you stay at the top of your screencasting game.

How to Record Your Desktop

Most of us have heard of a screenshot, but what if you want to record video of what’s happening on your computer screen?

Whether you want to document a process or show your IT department how often your email crashes, here’s how to record your desktop and share it.

Screenshot vs. Recording Your Screen

The difference between taking a screenshot and recording your desktop is simple, but significant. While a screenshot captures a static image of your screen at one point in time, when you record your screen (also known as “screen casting”), you’re capturing video of what’s happening over time, which you can then share as a video or animated GIF.

So, imagine you wanted to show someone the steps necessary to log in to an online account. You could record your screen, including typing the address into your browser and all your mouse movements and clicks to show exactly where to go and how to get there (see the videos below). Or, as noted above, it’s also a great way to show your IT professionals exactly the steps you’re taking before your software crashes.

You can even include audio when you record your screen, as narration from your computer’s built-in microphone or an external mic, or you can record your system audio (that’s the sounds that comes out of your speakers).

Short, simple recordings that won’t require much editing can be done with something like Snagit (which is what we use most of the time). For longer or more complex recordings that may need more editing, something like Camtasia will be better. Camtasia even allows you to enhance the video by zooming in on areas of emphasis, highlighting your mouse clicks, adding text or graphic callouts and more.

We’ll be using Snagit and Camtasia for Mac, but you can easily record your screen with the Windows versions, as well.

Free Trial: You can try any of our screen recorders for free. Get everything you need to record on your Windows, Mac, and iOS devices.

How to Record Your Desktop Screen

Step 1: Open Your Screen Recording Software

Choose the software you’ll use. As noted above, Snagit is great for simple, short desktop recordings, while something like Camtasia might be better for longer, more complex jobs. However, recordings made with Snagit can be easily shared to Camtasia and assembled into longer, more complex videos there.

Step 2: Choose the region of your screen you want to record

For some things, it may make sense to record your entire screen. However, if you’re only showing the steps necessary for a particular piece of software or where to click on a website, you may want to choose to record only that window (or a portion of it), rather than the entire desktop, to ensure your users can focus on what’s important.

Step 3: Record!

Now that you know what and where you want to record, go ahead and do it! If you’re documenting a process, it’s not a bad idea to have some notes about what you want to include and the order you want to include them, just to avoid confusion. If you’re narrating your recording, having a script or at least some talking points is a good idea to ensure you say what you want to say in the way you want to say it.

Note: If you’re doing a full screen recording, it’s a good idea to clean up your desktop a bit so that it’s not too cluttered or so you’re not revealing anything you might not want the whole world (or at least your customers or colleagues) to see. The same goes for bookmarks or your browser history, if you’re going to be recording any browser activity.

Also, you’ll notice in the video below, we have blurred out the username when we log in to WordPress to avoid anyone trying to hack the account.

Step 4: Edit

Once you’re finished recording, you’ll probably want to edit it a little. Even the most carefully planned recordings will have something you want to cut out, such as any wasted time at the beginning of the recording or the part at the end when you move your mouse over to stop the recording. With Snagit, you can easily trim your recording to remove unwanted pieces.

Step 5: Share

Once you’re done editing, there’s nothing left but to share it with the world (or at least with the people you need to share it with). With both Snagit and Camtasia, you can save your video as an MP4 (one of the most widely compatible video file formats) or as an animated gif. Camtasia for Mac also allows you to export as a QuickTime .mov file.

Both Snagit and Camtasia offer a wide variety of options for sharing directly from the software, including YouTube, Screencast.com, Google Drive, Dropbox and more. You can also save as a file to your local drive.

BONUS TIPS!

  • Camtasia’s advanced (but SUPER-easy-to-use) editing capabilities allow you to add audio tracks after you record your screen. Whether you want to record your narration after the fact or want to add some plucky music, you can do it!
  • Be prepared to record the your a time or two to get what you want. Almost everyone messes something up along the way. But recording your screen is so easy, it won’t matter if you have to do it again.
  • That said, don’t get TOO hung up on making everything perfect. If you’re demonstrating a process, make sure the steps are clear and easy to follow. If you’re narrating, you can decide how many “umms” and “uhs” you can live with. It also depends on your audience. Things meant for people outside your company probably need to be more polished than things you’re sending to one of your fellow employees.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When You Record Your Computer Screen

Whether it’s for training, tutorials, demos, or presentations, here are seven mistakes to avoid when you record your computer screen.

Mistake #1 – Have too many programs running

How can you possibly guide viewers succinctly through a task when you have 35 unrelated windows open? Clutter on your computer screen is distracting. And there’s nothing worse than having to fumble through unnecessary apps and programs to get what you actually want to show in your video.

A better way: Tidy up your desktop beforehand. Only keep open programs and windows you plan to show during your video.

Mistake #2 – Forget to turn on your mic

We’ve all done this at some point. It’s beyond frustrating to deliver a rousing rendition of your entire presentation only to realize that the mic has been off the whole time. Or, that the mic was on, but the volume wasn’t up enough. Or, it was up too loudly (ouch).

A better way: Make a point of checking your audio levels before you start recording. Do a short (30-second) narration test run, then review it to confirm that the correct mic is on (are you using your built-in mic, or an external one?), and the volume levels are correct.

Mistake #3 –  Stumble over your passwords

Showing on-screen workflows includes logging in – which is suddenly tough to do when you’re used to relying on password-autofill to do it for you. The same goes for usernames and other qualifying info. Hunting for your login information can mess up your momentum.

A better way: Know all your passwords before you begin recording (and make sure you know the URLs of the login screens, too – especially for websites that you have open indefinitely and don’t readily know the “start screen” URL.

Pro tip: Sometimes it’s actually better not to show the ‘typing’ part of logging in. Why? It’s kind of boring. You can easily trim it out. In your finished video put a “wipe transition” on the typing – show the first few characters of your user/pass, then jump to the end, when you’re ready to press “login.” Your audience will get the idea, and won’t have to sit through a straightforward process they already understand.

Mistake #4 – Forget you have a roommate

Whether it’s your kids, spouse, housemate, or dog, Murphy’s Law guarantees they will unceremoniously pipe up at an inopportune time during your recording.  Any of these background noises – crying, laughing, sneezing, yipping, or inquiries into “Who ate the last of the cornflakes?” – distract from your presentation and are a pain to trim out.  This goes for workplace noises, too, such as hallway chatter, printers, and ringing phones, as well as sounds coming in from open windows – trains, motorcycles, birds, and lawnmowers.

A better way: Record in a quiet room, with the windows closed. Put a sign on the door that lets people know you’re recording, to avoid unnecessary barge-ins.

Mistake #5 – Get ‘dinged’ every two minutes

Notifications are great, except when you’re in the middle of a recording. Hearing your email chime every few minutes is annoying at best, and takes away some of the polish from your video. With more apps than ever getting in on the notification game, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll have some unwanted “ding” come through, or an annoying pop-up alert box,

A better way: Turn off all your notifications (email, apps, etc.) before you start. If you don’t need to record sounds from your computer, turn off your system audio altogether.

Mistake #6 – Go too fast

Maybe it’s because we’re just a little nervous. Or maybe it’s because we know the workflow so well that we talk waaay too fast when we’re presenting. Especially when we’re showing detailed digital processes on-screen, it’s easy to overwhelm viewers by slinging your mouse across the screen and clicking too fast.

A better way: Slow down your explanations. What may sound slow to you is probably just the right speed for your viewers to understand what you’re explaining. That goes for your mouse, too. Point and click with purpose. Consider using a screen recorder that has a cursor highlighter, to more clearly show your movements.

Mistake #7 – Wing it

You’ve done this workflow a million times before.  But….once you get off autopilot and start actually explaining all the steps, the words don’t seem to flow. Or, they flow too much and you end up rambling.

A better way: Write a script ahead of time. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Even a rough outline can help a lot. For extra credit, do a dry-run walk-though.  You might be surprised how a quick rehearsal changes your strategy on how to present your material.

Of course, there are other ways to mess up a recording (ever run out battery while recording?), but this list covers some common ways. When you know how to avoid these pitfalls, you’ll finish recording with fewer retakes, and be more happy with your overall video-making process.

How have you tried screencasting? What did you think? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

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How I Use Quizzing in Videos

Why am I taking this Quiz?

I’m back in college and it’s time for final exams, and frankly the entire concept of one test possibly making or breaking my entire semester gives me nightmares.

I remember when I was in high school. I was never fond of taking test. I didn’t see much value in them and thought of them as a torture device that my teachers used against me. So, I understand why learners, of any age, aren’t excited to subjected to them, and view them merely as a sign that the training (that they probably didn’t want to take in the first place) is finally coming to an end.

Quizzing in Videos

After becoming an instructional designer, I gained much more of an appreciation for quizzes, realizing that a quiz is more than 10-20 questions for the learner to take a stab at. It’s a tool we use to measure the effectiveness of our training.

Before you begin creating training, whether it’s an eLearning module or a video, you must understand why you’re creating it and what you’d like it to accomplish. That’s why most training initiatives start with writing measurable objectives. Quizzing in videos is one method we use to determine if training objectives have been met, and it can easily be incorporated in your training videos using Camtasia.

Creating Your Quiz

Here’s how I create quizzing in videos with Camtasia. First, place the playhead on the timeline where you’d like the quiz to appear. Then click Interactivity. Next, click on Add Quiz to Timeline. This creates a new quiz. From the Quiz properties box you can name your quiz, add your questions and answers and preview your work.

Add quiz

Quiz Results

The quiz results can be accessed either through an LMS (Learning Management System) or emailed directly to you. Email is a great option for those that don’t have access to an LMS. And results tell you more than if a learner passed or failed. Reviewing results, you can see questions that were commonly missed, and determine if either the content or question needs to be adjusted. This is critical information for instructional designers, because it lets us know if the design is effective.

Email quiz results

 

 

 

 

Value in Quizzing

In either case, as a student I’m still not excited by quizzes, but now I understand that a quiz is a vital part of an educator’s tool bag, and when used correctly can benefit both you and the learner long after the training is over.

P.S My sincerest apologizes to my 8th grade math teacher. Placing a lizard in a cookie tin was probably not the best way to protest your pop quiz.

About the Author

Cindy LucasCindy Lucas is the owner of Digital Artifex, a custom training solutions company in Atlanta, GA. She is also a Learning Consultant, Instructional Designer, Trainer, Technophile, and Rick and Morty Fanatic.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindylucas24/

The post How I Use Quizzing in Videos appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

8 Surprising Ways to Use Microlearning Activities in Your Online Training Course

Are you making the most of your microlearning online training resources? In this article, I’ll share 8 unexpected ways that you can use microlearning activities in your online training course.

How to Use Microlearning Activities in Online Training

Employees assimilate information more effectively when it’s in small doses. This helps prevent cognitive overload and allows them to focus on personal pursuits, such as bridging individual skill gaps. One of the most common applications of microlearning in the corporate world is performance support online training libraries. But there may be more to microlearning than meets the eye. Here are 8 surprising ways that you can use microlearning activities in your online training course.

1. Qualitative Self-Assessments

Simulations, branching scenarios, and other interactive online training tools also serve as great qualitative assessments. Employees can test their skills and task mastery autonomously. Thereby, identifying gaps that are holding them back and seek out timely interventions, such as online training courses or modules that improve their understanding of the topic. The secret is to make them micro to allow for quick and convenient evaluations. Encourage employees to conduct self-assessments periodically to gauge their progress. They can even use the ever-popular microlearning online training library to improve their performance based on their qualitative assessment results.

2. Task Performance Evaluations

Invite employees to participate in microlearning simulations that center on work-related tasks. Then provide immediate feedback to highlight areas for improvement, as well as personal strengths. This is a virtual alternative to traditional on-the-job evaluations. Instead of a manager observing and then evaluating the employee’s performance, the LMS analyzes every step of the process. It can also point them in the right direction based on their performance data. For example, suggest microlearning online training modules or infographics to improve their proficiency.

3. Skill-Boosting Serious Games

Serious games entertain employees, which enhances their motivation and engagement. These benefits are even more significant when the game is bite-sized and quick to consume. Focus on a specific skill, then create a storyline and memorable characters. Each level centers on related talents or abilities that help employees bridge skill gaps. Incorporate game mechanics like levels, badges, and points to give them an extra incentive.

4. Company Policy Infographics

Infographics are a must-have microlearning online training tool, as they provide a comprehensive overview of the topic or trend in a way that’s easy for employees to understand. They also cater to different learning preferences. Create company policy infographics that highlight various compliance uses, organizational protocols, and processes. For example, one infographic features the COI guidelines, blending images with statistics and facts to improve knowledge retention. Employees can use the graphic to refresh their memory or to brush up before a certification exam. These microlearning online training tools are ideal for onboarding, as well. New hires can focus on one policy, absorb the takeaways, then move onto the next without having to worry about cognitive overload.

5. Timed Decision-Making Branching Scenarios

Develop brief decision-making branching scenarios that test employees’ ability to handle work-related pressure. They must make the correct choice within the allotted time based on the information they’re given, as well as their professional experience. Just make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure. The goal is to gauge employees’ reactions when they’re up against the clock, not to stress them so much that they feel frustrated or defeated.

6. Employee-Produced Demo Videos

Give employees the chance to produce their own demo videos that feature products, tasks, or compliance issues. They can upload these videos to a learner-generated microlearning online training library that their peers can access anytime, anywhere. For best results, assign topics to each staff member to avoid redundancies or allow them to choose from a list that pertains to their job duties or positions. For instance, customer service associates have a separate list from warehouse employees. Thus, everyone is able to concentrate on their area of expertise and provide valuable information to co-workers.

7. Social Media Team Building Tips

Post social media tips to help improve the team dynamics and peer-to-peer collaboration. Offer insights on how employees can streamline their work processes and communicate more effectively in group settings or post links to videos, articles, and guides they may find beneficial. They can also post their own tricks and techniques to help co-workers navigate daily challenges and improve their understanding. You might consider separate social media groups for each department or online training course to make it even more convenient. As a result, employees can access the group that relates to their duties or gaps instead of searching the page for tips that pertain to them.

8. Micro Webinars

Webinars don’t have to be hour-long events that cover every aspect of your online training program. In fact, webinars are most effective when they are short and sweet, focusing on a targeted online training sub-topic, such as how to deal with a challenging customer or speed up the return process. Host micro webinars that are 10 to 15 minutes in length and then follow up with supplemental online training activities. For example, a social media discussion that explores the topic in greater detail and allows employees to exchange information. You can even invite employees to host their own mini-events to share their expertise.

The Golden Rule of Microlearning in Online Training

Every microlearning activity you integrate into your online training program must contain a complete learning unit. It needs to provide employees with a clear understanding of the topic or task in question instead of merely giving them fragments of information that create even more confusion. For example, a microlearning simulation should feature the task from start to finish. Employees must have the ability to use the skills and knowledge that tie into the task.

As you can see, microlearning has many uses that your organization may be overlooking. Just keep in mind that microlearning online training resources are usually intended for reinforcement and refreshers. In other words, there’s no substitute for comprehensive online training courses that build a solid foundation of professional expertise. Unless, of course, you piece together microlearning online training activities to create a more holistic online training path.

Do you want your microlearning online training to stick with your employees for a long time? Read the article 7 Tips To Create Memorable Microlearning Online Training to discover 7 tips to help you develop microlearning online training activities, multimedia, and modules that your corporate learners will never forget.

The post 8 Surprising Ways to Use Microlearning Activities in Your Online Training Course appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Tips for Adding Visuals to Your Social Media

Video is HOT right now! Like, on fire. Use of video has been on the rise over the past several years and continues to grow. According to research from Cisco, “82 percent of all global consumer internet traffic will come from video by 2020”.

There are many ways to use video in business, Including explainer videos, promotional videos, and testimonial videos. One of the most popular ways to use video, however, is on social media — especially Facebook.  But what does it take to be successful with social media videos? What logistical items should you keep in mind when posting a video on your company’s Facebook page?

Background: Why use video on Facebook?

Facebook is the king of all social media platforms. But, because there is so much content published on Facebook each and every day, the competition is fierce. Up 200 percent from 2015, Facebook serves 8 billion views per day and people watch 100 million hours of video per day. It’s hard to get in front of your audience among so much clutter. As a result, some changes to the algorithm have taken place over the past couple of years, which have left marketers scrambling to receive the reach they once enjoyed for free.

People love watching videos. Considering that 1.18 billion people use Facebook daily, this creates an unprecedented opportunity for marketers to get their video content in front of potential customers.

In 2016, Facebook announced a company-wide push to become “video first”. CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided his reasoning: “People are creating and sharing more video, and we think it’s pretty clear that video is only going to become more important.” As a result of this commitment, the Facebook algorithm currently rewards the highest visibility to video posts (including live video, but we won’t cover that in this post).

In Spring of 2017, Hubspot published an article titled The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm. In it, the author noted, “videos on Facebook are engaging and make visitors more likely to stop, watch, and maybe even unmute when they spot them in the News Feed. Use videos with captions, animations, and engaging visuals to draw in Facebook users’ attention.” Posts that get a lot of interaction earn higher visibility; video can help to get the engagement that is necessary for successful posts on Facebook.

Here’s Why Marketers Are Obsessed with Facebook Video

So why are advertisers going gaga over Facebook video advertising?

1. World-Class Targeting

Facebook knows more about its users than any other advertising platform on earth. Everything a user has ever liked, clicked, watched, or interacted with is utilized to create an incredibly detailed personal profile.

For example, Facebook knows your U.S. political affiliation. Don’t believe me? Go to Privacy Shortcuts > More Settings > Ads > Ads Settings > Manage preferences > Visit Ad Preferences > Top Interests, go to “More” > Lifestyle and Culture > Scroll down to US Politics. Did Facebook peg you correctly? Browse through the other audiences Facebook has placed you in. What do you think? Pretty accurate?

Adjusting your Facebook ad Preferences can dramatically change which ads Facebook serves you.

As an advertiser, you can take advantage of this incredibly detailed and accurate Facebook targeting to serve your video content to the exact right audience. Target only your relevant potential customers and don’t pay money unless they watch your advertisement.

Click here to go to WordStream’s awesome infographic about Facebook ad targeting.

2. Facebook is a Discovery Platform

Everyone knows that you go to YouTube to search for a video. Makes sense. YouTube is a search-based platform, meaning people type in what they’re looking for. Search implies intent, like you actually know what you’re looking for (or at least have a general idea).

Facebook, however, is a discovery-based platform. People are in a different frame of mind when they use Facebook. In most cases, people aren’t looking for anything in particular, so they are potentially more receptive to your video. If your video is relevant to the target audience (and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be!) there is an even greater likelihood it will get viewed.

3. Video Delivery

Targeted video is great when trying to reach all those potential customers who aren’t yet aware of your brand. According to video statistics released by Adobe, “shoppers who view video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers.” Video is eye-catching, memorable, and an easy way for non-customers to get introduced to your product.

No need to bring traffic to your website to watch your product video; instead, show potential customers your video directly in their Facebook news feed. For example, here at TechSmith, we have completely changed how we serve up tutorial content.

Prior to Facebook video advertising, here at TechSmith we hosted all tutorial content solely on our website and YouTube. You needed to either seek it out on our site or search for it on YouTube. Now, we serve helpful tutorials directly into target customers’ Facebook newsfeeds. In the course of one month, we’ve served over 66k tutorials to 10k unique individuals on Facebook. Many of those viewers are folks who would never seek out a product tutorial on their own, but they end up watching because it’s convenient and they then want to learn more.

The Social Media Video Experimental Campaign

Because of this, at TechSmith, we recently made a decision to start using video more on our social media channels. Our current video campaign is a tactic of our content strategy, with a goal of driving traffic to our blog. Each week, we use TechSmith Camtasia to re-purpose two upcoming blog posts, by summarizing them to re-create the article as a video. We share the videos on social media (and also embed them in the blog post), and when people click through the video, they’re taken to the TechSmith blog. If they don’t click, but they view the video, we’re happy with that too.

As with anything new, we made some mistakes. But, we’ve been using social media video for awhile now, so we’ve been able to iron out some of the kinks and have developed some best practices.

Here are three things you must consider when you promote your video on Facebook.

1. Consider what sort of sound will be used in your video.

Captions or subtitles are something that you should consider using in all of your videos. If you aren’t already doing this, though, you’ll definitely want to include them in any videos you share on Facebook. Many people will view the video from a mobile device, and many will view your video without sound. If the meaning is lost by viewing the video without audio, it’s very likely that the meaning will be lost altogether.

To upload video captions in Facebook, you’ll need to use an .srt file. Facebook has a very particular naming scheme for .srt files, so be sure to name your file correctly, or you will not be able to upload. These can be created in a text editor, such as Notepad, although most video editors, like Camtasia, can create captions and export an .srt file.

To save time, we often upload our videos to YouTube, and use the auto-captioning functionality. You can make any necessary corrections, then download the .srt file (and rename it) for use on Facebook.

Consider whether you’ll only offer captions in English, or if you’d like to offer them in multiple languages. If you need to have the same video shared to different audiences in different languages, you’ll need to create unique posts, and also create unique .srt files for each language.

In our current blog video campaign, we’ve opted not to use captions or .srt files, because instead, we use text throughout the video to tell the story. Currently, we only produce these videos in English. We include soft music, which neither adds nor detracts from the content, whether you view with or without audio turned on. Below is an example.

2. Don’t forget about your thumbnail!

The video thumbnail is important. It’s what your video looks like when it’s not playing, and it’s easy to overlook. Some people might have their Facebook account set up so that videos do not automatically play, so in these circumstances, it’s super important to have an enticing thumbnail in place. It will also act as the preview of the video after the post has been long forgotten.

After you post a video, it will end up in the Videos tab of the Facebook page. You can sort your videos to create playlists, if you’d like, which is a good way to organize this content, and often where you’ll really notice nice-looking thumbnails (or lack of).

Did you know that text cannot cover more than 20 percent of an ad’s image when you pay to promote a post on Facebook? This is something you’ll definitely want to remember when you select or upload a thumbnail. Facebook has recently updated this policy, so it is now technically possible, but not recommended–you’ll receive less or no delivery at all. Due to this advertising policy, you’ll want to give careful consideration when you designate your video thumbnail, or you’ll risk getting a fun message from Facebook, telling you your ad(s) are disapproved.

If you are unsure what 20 percent text might look like when overlaid on an image, the Facebook Grid Image Checker Tool is helpful.

Facebook will assign a default thumbnail–the platform provides 10 options for you to choose from. You can upload a different image to use as a thumbnail, though, if you prefer.

3. Set a goal and/or clear call-to-action for your video.

To truly  reap the benefits that video has to offer when it comes to Facebook visibility, focus on quality over quantity. Don’t increase your number of or frequency of posts, but rather, increase the effectiveness of your posts.

Regardless of what your goal or call to action is, make sure you have one. We like to aim for a “share” call to action, but we may tweak that over time. We invite viewers to share the video in the last frame. Overall, what we really want is to drive traffic to our blog, and encouraging people to share the post supports that goal.

Facebook offers a variety of buttons for page posts, all which would be suitable to select as a call to action button, and may help you come up with an idea of what to use.

It’s hard to say what will be the next big thing in social media. But, for now, let’s embrace, and ride this video train for as long as we can!

Video Marketing on Social Media: 5 Ways To Maximize Your Efficiency

So you want to start using video to increase awareness of what you do, generate more leads, and increase sales. Great choice. I’m going to show you five video tips for repurposing your video to help you maximize the use of your recording time so you can reach the most viewers with the least amount of time.

1. Always Engage for the Platform

If it’s on YouTube, do YouTube things. If it’s on Facebook, do Facebook things. You want to respect the platform, respect the users, and “show them you know them” by engaging their way on the platform. Facebook viewers tend to watch videos more passively; so edited videos need to be shorter (20 seconds to a minute long). The audience is more diverse in age so you can really zero in on the niche of your choice. In other words, you can reach out to young moms with one video and then reach out to teens in another, etc. Cater the video toward the different target audiences that would be interested in your product. There is not always a one-size-fits all video and Facebook is a great way to reach many because there are so many more choices. YouTube viewers on the other hand, are searching for video so they are willing to watch longer. That audience tends to max out at middle age. Knowing that, you can cater your audience to that more limited demographic.

2. Start with Facebook Live

Start with a Facebook live event. 20% of all videos viewed on Facebook are LIVE videos. Viewers watch Facebook live videos 3x longer than pre-recorded videos and engage with comments 10x more.

Facebook Live is where you can answer a question like “How to write a mission statement for your business” or “What’s the difference between a vision statement and a mission statement” if you are a business coach. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment either. Just speak into the camera using a mobile device or webcam. I broadcast from my webcam twice a week for my The Business of Video Podcast. Jot down topics and times on a pad and paper while you are live streaming so you can easily find the good parts when you’re done. Or watch it afterward if that’s not possible, and record the topics and times then.

While pre-recorded videos on Facebook are best kept short, Facebook Live is a great place to explore long form content and give you enough time to talk out your ideas. Viewers on Facebook will engage with your content for a maximum of a couple of minutes and that’s ok.

Use that time to flesh out your ideas, restate your ideas if you messed them up earlier and really search for good pieces of content that you can later repurpose on YouTube.

3. Repurposing for YouTube

Now that you have the video stored on Facebook, you have an HD quality video file that can be downloaded directly from Facebook and imported in Camtasia for simple editing.

Using Camtasia and the notes from the Facebook Live, you can search for those areas that would work great as standalone videos. Then, cut them out of the video and save them for later.

So, for example, if your Facebook Live was something like “How to Launch an Advertising Campaign,” you may want to pull out one segment where you discuss “Choosing your Target Audience,” then create that segment as a standalone video.

After you segment the clip, create a custom introduction and a custom ending. You can pre-record these really quickly using the screen recorder in Camtasia. Add the intro at the beginning of the timeline and the outro toward the end.

Using this technique, ideally, your Facebook Live could turn into three or more videos for YouTube, each with it’s own intro and outro, giving you not just a video, but a growing YouTube channel.

4. Don’t Forget iTunes

Podcasting is a powerful tool to deeply engage with your audience members. But the most important reason to engage with podcasting is because podcast listeners are a whole different group of people. Audible learners don’t engage in as much video but they are on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher, and they are looking for podcasts in your niche.

After your Facebook Live is over you can export only the audio and upload to an RSS feed (we use Libsyn). Use Camtasia to make edits or even add simple audio bumpers to make it sound like a podcast.

Perhaps you want to have shorter podcasts. No problem! Simply export the audio from the 3 smaller YouTube videos. Now instead of one long podcast, you have 3 smaller podcasts. Here’s how our friends at Everything Tesla do it.

5. Memeify

A meme is a square image or video that usually has a humorous or ironic message. Memes are short-form content and highly shareable memes are great for sharing on Facebook, Instagram, Stories, and other image and video viewing sites around the web.

65-percent of Facebook video views are coming from mobile, and a square video uses more of the mobile screen than a standard rectangle video.

Similarly, Animoto reports that square videos are shared 22% more on social media. Square videos are really easy to produce in Camtasia so it doesn’t take much time at all.

First, change video project settings to 1080×1080.

Next, pull your square video clip into the document. Then add a text annotation above, possibly with captions, your logo, or additional text down below.

*NOTE: This upload is designed for mobile viewers on Instagram and Facebook. When you view the video on desktop it won’t look the same.

Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be able to repurpose your video content all across the web. You’ll also be more efficient in your video marketing which will lower your production costs.

Using Facebook Live as your starting point and filtering the video down through YouTube, iTunes, and Instagram will meet the needs of more audiences on four platforms in less time. This will give you more time to answer those questions, messages, and contacts who are interested in your products or services.

So You Just Facebook All Day? Here’s how you can use screenshots for social media marketing

One of our favorite tools for the job is the screenshot. Screenshots fit into all aspects of social media marketing (including proving you really DO work) from content creation, capturing customer feedback, to showing campaign results of your hard work! Here are just a few ways I’ve found them to be helpful.

Content creation

Screenshots are invaluable when it comes to content creation. You can grab images from the web, re-purpose customer content, or combine images to make the perfect visual element for your social posts.

It’s also important to make sure your images are sized right for each social network; I created a custom fixed region preset in Snagit which allows me to capture images in the right size from the start! For example, I have created a preset for Twitter share images. I assigned a hotkey so I know when I press CTRL + T I’m going to get a capture box exactly the size needed for a Twitter share image! No unexpected cropping!

Content feedback

Screenshots are a great way to give quick, clear feedback. When drafting social content our team regularly uses screenshots to share our ideas or suggest changes and edits. This eliminates a lot of back and forth communications.

How-tos

When responding to customers through our social channels, it’s often much faster to show rather than tell. I take a quick screenshot to show people how and where to access certain settings within a product.

Customer feedback

Screenshots are a great way to capture customer interactions to share internally. This is especially true if you’re using a tool that not everyone has access to. For example, we use Sprout Social to manage our social media accounts and not everyone has a login. We can easily grab the conversation history and send it off to our marketing team to follow up on a customer story, or just give the product team an example of how people are using a specific feature and how they like (or do not like) it!

How to Post Animated GIFs on Social Media Networks

We’ve all been there; You have the perfect animated GIF ready to post, but it shows up as a static image. Understanding how animated GIFs behave differently on each social media network can take some trial and error for social media marketers. Don’t worry about figuring it out though, we did the research for you so you’re not surprised next time a GIF doesn’t auto play like you intended.

Facebook

Facebook does not support uploading a GIF directly but you can upload it to a site like Giphy, Screencast.com, your website, or blog and paste the URL into your Facebook post (make sure the URL ends in .gif). The GIF will not animate in the compose view but will animate once posted.

To get the correct link from Screencast.com, paste the shortened Screencast link into your browser’s address bar and hit Enter. Then when the GIF loads, click the GIF. The URL in the address bar will be replaced with one ending in .gif. That’s the one to paste into your Facebook post!

At first, Facebook only supported animated GIFs posted from personal accounts but now brands with Facebook pages can get in on the action, too. Just keep in mind if you’re creating your own animated GIF you’ll need to keep the file size under 8MB for use on Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter supports animated GIFs directly by upload. Animated GIFs can be up to 5MB when uploaded from mobile, and up to 15MB from the web. Twitter also recently launched an integrated GIF library, allowing you to search for a topic and insert a GIF right from the compose box!

Instagram

Instagram does not support importing animated GIFs, but you can post the MP4 video and it will auto-play and loop, just like an animated GIF.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn does not support animated GIFs at all; that includes status updates as well as profiles. You can convert a GIF to MP4 and post it that way but it will have a play button and will not loop.

LinkedIn post

 

Animated GIFs are a great way to grab attention on any social media platform, as long as you know how to properly use them. They can also be super helpful to use at work too- here’s a post to inspire you- 11 Ways to Use GIFs at Work Right Now.

Have you used social media video before, either on Facebook or another network? We’d love to hear about your experience, or any questions or thoughts you have. Send us a message, tweet, or comment on Twitter or Facebook!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

 

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How To Create A Product Demo Video Strategy That Drives Results

Compelling product demo videos are powerful sales tools. They’re informative, educational, and memorable. But most of all, they help you make sales and close deals. A great demo video shares the value of your offering, shows how it solves a problem, and convinces viewers why they cannot live without it.

At TechSmith, we’ve made a lot of demo videos and helped a lot of people make their own. We have a bit of experience in the biz.

In this post, I am going to share some criteria to help you decide how to make your demo video and offer a strategy for crafting one that gets your message across.

Who will make it?

The first thing to consider when you approach a demo video is who will make it. There are essentially two choices:

  • Hire a company
  • Produce the video in-house

Let’s tackle the first option. Hiring a company to create your demo video can be a great route. There is no shortage of talented, professional companies that will create top-notch videos for you. They’ll usually take care of almost all the work, from creative concepting to scripting and production. You’ll get a high-quality final product that you can host wherever you like and share with customers.

Of course, they will charge a premium for the work. The average explainer video can cost as much as $7,972.

Now, if that price seems a little gaudy to you, you’re not alone. Cost is just one of many reasons companies choose to produce their own product demo videos. Not only is the per-video cost less, but you can personalize demos to your customers.

A video you (or someone at your organization) creates is far easier to update. And, over time, creating your own videos can turn into a sophisticated video marketing strategy. It’s just about taking the leap and making your first (and second, and third) demo video.

Think you’re ready? I’m confident you are. Here are some ways to get started making your own demo videos.

Think solutions, not features

Improve your demo video by focusing on solutions rather than specific features.

I’m sure your product is filled with great features and functionality that all your customers love. It’s tempting to focus on those in your video. I’m here to tell you that you can’t focus on all of them.

For one, there are probably too many to fit in a single video.

Second, they’re features that people love once they know what makes your product so valuable.

And, third, features usually have terminology and jargon that don’t necessarily speak to the problems or pain points the viewer has.

Think of it like this: features only matter if they solve a problem for your customer.

Instead of laying out features to show, think solutions.

Why does someone want to use your product? What task are they trying to complete or problem are they trying to solve? This is the key to creating an effective product demonstration. People will listen and invest in your video when they realize you are speaking to their experiences or answering a question, not just showing off a feature set.

Consider the buyer’s journey

Of course, people might use your software for different purposes. Or, someone might already know the general solution but need a demonstration with more details. This is another reason producing your own product demo is a great choice.

Knowing your audience is key to creating a successful demo. Sales reps may need to see a completely different type of video than end users or decision makers.

You can target different videos at buyers who are at varying points in their journey or interested in different aspects of your solution.

Your first demo video will likely be for viewers who are earlier in their journey.

A good starting point is the Consideration phase. This is where they are aware that solutions are available or what your product is, but aren’t ready to buy yet. Your demo video for these potential customers should be more general. Focus on the broad solution your product offers and how it achieves those goals.

Tell a story in this video. Relate to what has brought a potential buyer to this point, speak directly to their experience, and emphasize the outcomes that your product offers.

After you finish and share your first demo, you can start thinking about a second (and third, and fourth) one. These can speak more specifically to particular buyers, segments, industries, or problems. Buyers at this stage are Product Aware, and likely know of your product along with competitors.

Here you can focus on the particular features that set your offering apart and spend more time demonstrating exactly how your product is used. Buyers at this point must be convinced why your product is the best one on the market.

Making the demo video

At this point you’re probably amped to start making your demo video(s). Allow me to offer some great starting points.

Learn a Video Editing Software – It sounds intimidating, but I am confident in saying anyone can learn to make great demo videos. Naturally, I am partial to Camtasia, which has a low learning curve (and low price tag as well), but feel free to choose whatever you are most comfortable with. Remember that if your product is software or technology, you will likely need screen recording capabilities.

Use Music and Graphics – TechSmith Assets is a tremendous library of graphic and audio resources that you can use in your demo videos. Customize the intros and outros to your company, which allows you to easily create videos with the same look and feel, or use music to set the tone.

Gather Feedback and Perfect Your Video – Demo videos often require input from people throughout a company. Instead of sending a video or link to your product manager, marketing manager, and sales director, try TechSmith Video Review. Invite stakeholders to a review and collect all their feedback in one central location.

For many companies, starting a product demo video strategy sounds overwhelming. They wonder who will produce and maintain the videos, how they’ll be shared with customers, and, simply, where to start. If you started this post with similar concerns or questions, hopefully I’ve been able to answer them and give you a good starting point. And when you’re ready for more instruction on how to create videos, I highly recommend checking out TechSmith Academy, a brand new (free!) way to learn the basics of video and much more. Between TechSmith Academy, Camtasia, our Camtasia Tutorial series, and new Video Review service, you’ll be able to create your own product demo videos in no time!  If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments- we’d love to hear from you.

The post How To Create A Product Demo Video Strategy That Drives Results appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

TechSmith Academy- Helping You Learn About Visual Communication and Video Creation

We Heard A Common Theme…

Over the last several years, I have had the privilege to speak to thousands of people about video creation. I have met people with a variety of skill levels and knowledge, with many just starting to start the video creation process.

For the most part, none of these individuals were trained or went to school to create video. They are Trainers who saw a need and opportunity, Marketers who want to catch the video marketing wave and keep up with or beat their competitors, and many others in other professions and roles that have an interest or need in video creation.

We Saw a Need…

What all of these people have in common is that they want to use the medium of video and visuals to help solve problems and answer questions, but they’ve had to figure out how to do it themselves.

While video doesn’t have to be difficult, it can feel overwhelming and challenging to figure out where to start. We firmly believe that one of the best learning tools is to start creating. Nothing will substitute for trying things out and experimenting.

There is so much to learn, and everyone deserves resource to help them jump start their understanding, resources to build knowledge, and to learn from mistakes that others have already made. We believe that there should be a place for you to cut the amount of time to learn, gain understanding of best practices, and to gain inspiration.

That’s why we are thrilled to announce the launch of TechSmith Academy.

We Created a Resource- TechSmith Academy

 

TechSmith Academy Logo

 

TechSmith Academy is a free online learning platform with courses to help you learn more about visual communication and video creation. With our initial launch, we are releasing eight courses all about video creation. These courses range from the beginning stages of why you should write a script, to basics for setting up lighting, capturing audio in your environment, and more. In addition to lessons, many of the courses provide downloadable templates or supplemental materials to help you learn, grow, and practice.

TechSmith Academy home page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are excited to share our knowledge with you through TechSmith Academy and plan to add new content throughout the year about a variety of related topics. We hope you will find the courses and materials both helpful, enjoyable, and useful in helping you to learn more about video creation and visual communication.

Go check out TechSmith Academy, try one of the courses and let us know what you think in the comments below!

 

The post TechSmith Academy- Helping You Learn About Visual Communication and Video Creation appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Screencasts for knowledge sharing

Throughout my 20 years in IT, I learned a lot by following a daily routine. Between all my jobs over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge (some good, some bad) in this head of mine. I’ve leveraged this knowledge to progress in my career, and to increase my income. Potential employers loved to see lots of experience on my resume, and every time I jumped to another job I saw a 10% or more bump in salary.

However, unbeknownst to me, I held the golden ticket to more significant opportunities locked away in my noggin — my knowledge. On a whim, I started a public blog about my work. I felt that if I could step away from the daily grind and document my successes, it could act as both documentation for myself, and a helpful guide for others. It’s a win-win!

heads with gears

In addition to blogging, I started tweeting about the topics that interested me and some of the unique scenarios I encountered. In short order, it took off. Google picked it up, and I was soon answering questions about all kinds of IT topics. It was so rewarding! But it didn’t end there. Suddenly I was teaching online courses, presenting tech demonstrations on YouTube, and writing on other sites. I was hooked! Fast-forward four years, and I have multiple online courses published, a YouTube channel, a complete eBook and a print book due out next year. Times have changed. My knowledge paid off!

Contributing to a community

people on digital devicesThroughout my knowledge-sharing journey, I learned a crucial lesson — first, give back with no expectation of payment. I didn’t start out making money from my knowledge. I wanted to share it with others. Being around like-minded people is intoxicating. It motivates me to do more and push harder and connect with others. Through these connections, I build friendships and comradery, but also put myself in a position to unlock more opportunities. Through my community connections, I found a job making double what my previous job paid. Being part of a community allows you to help others, make friends and potentially make career advancements in the process.

Improving self-confidence

My community is IT. Geeks tend to be introverts. Lack of self-confidence makes a difficult barrier to sharing knowledge. Many people in my community think they’re not good enough. They may believe everyone already knows what they’re going to talk about — or have any number of other reasons to avoid speaking up. These reasons come down to one thing — lack of self-confidence.

To share your knowledge means exposing yourself, even if just a little. To write a blog post, record a screencast and post it on YouTube, or reply to a question on a forum opens you up to some level of criticism. Some random, anonymous person on the Internet may try to discredit your statements. But, in my experience, those haters make up less than 1% of the feedback you will receive.

Nearly all of the people you interact with online will be appreciative you took the time to share your thoughts. They will thank you for helping them with a problem. You know lots of things others do not. Never assume that whatever knowledge you have is common. You have valuable knowledge to share!

Screencasting as a knowledge-sharing tool

Sharing knowledge boils down to contributing content in three forms — written, audio, and/or video. Numerous studies show that video makes the most impact online. Whether it’s an iPhone video demonstrating how to make the perfect basket underwater, or a recording of your computer screen while narrating (known as a screencast), video grabs attention. Attention spans are short. Video captures and keeps that attention by providing movement and interesting/entertaining audio. It’s a lot easier to close a browser tab with a bunch of text rather than seeing constant action in a video!

Free Trial: You can try any of our screen recorders for free. Get everything you need to record on your Windows, Mac, and iOS devices.

Screencasting, in particular, works powerfully for my niche. Since 100% of the content I produce is on the computer, screencasting is key for me. Screencasting helps me explain complicated technical scenarios much easier than the written word (especially with the right screencasting tools). People are visual beings. If you can help them visualize what a solution may look like, they will better understand your message.

Introducing TechSnips: A training platform

techsnips gears

 

TechSnips is a training platform for anyone with techy knowledge that allows you to contribute short screencasts about your area of expertise, and get paid for them. If you share knowledge via video, you could use a platform like YouTube, but you’ll find that you’re amongst a sea of content (some good and some bad). Differentiating yourself is hard.

A platform like TechSnips works differently than YouTube because all training screencasts are professionally edited at no cost to you. You also become part of a community of like-minded techies you can learn from and make connections with. It’s like being in an exclusive club. Being a part of a community like the TechSnips contributor community will help promote your content, and you will get paid in the process.

Learn more

If you’d like more information about how to share your knowledge, I encourage you first to check out my recent session, How to Accelerate Your Career and Others by Proving You’re a Badass. I wanted to inspire others to share knowledge and reap the benefits. It covers everything we’ve gone over here and shows you my rise in the ranks by sharing my experience and getting involved in a community.

Start recording

Not sure where to get started? TechSmith Academy is full of courses for people to level-up their video and visual communication skills. You can find free courses about all areas of video including: scripting, lighting, editing, audio, and post-production! Check out TechSmith Academy

The post Screencasts for knowledge sharing appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Video Recording

Your mobile device is capable of so many things, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the features that mobile apps offer. You can surf the web, check your bank statement, or place an order for take-out right from your fingertips. So let’s say you want to record a video of your mobile device in order to create a tutorial or provide clear instructions for a friend or a co-worker. Thanks to some tips and tricks from TechSmith, mobile video recording has never been easier. Let’s take a look!

The Basics

Before hitting the record button, it’s important to consider a few key factors that can have a lasting effect on the quality of your video.

Audio

Built in microphones on mobile devices are very limited. If you can, try and get as close as possible to the source you are shooting. And make sure to listen for noises around you as well. Make sure there are no cars driving by or buzzing from lights – anything that can interfere with the audio signal.

Lighting

For the most part, cameras on mobile devices work better with as much light as possible. So if you can, avoid dark areas. And also, try to avoid getting the sun, bright lights, or windows pointing directly into the shot. This can dramatically over or underexpose your subject.

Shot Composition

On mobile devices, zooming is very limited. So if you can, physically move the camera forward, back or side to side, to fill up your frame. And try to stabilize the shot best you can. No one likes shaky footage. A good tip is too lean up against something. If you have a tripod or flat surface nearby, that will work great as well.

Apps

Here at TechSmith, here are a few apps that are used for shooting and sharing video:

For more visual demonstration, watch the video below!

Recording a Mobile Device Using a Camera

“Blasphemy!” cried the townspeople as they descended on TechSmith headquarters, pitchforks in hand. “Why would you use a camera to record a mobile device at a screen recording company!?”

Well, consider this method a tool in a toolbox. It can be jarring for viewers to cut from a “real world” camera video with actors right into a screen video. Using this technique eases the transition from your live video to your screen recording. Or Perhaps you’re using an accessory like a new tablet pen that you’d like to review? Maybe your fingernails are on fleek and you want to show off that fresh new manicure. Whatever the case, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and we here at TechSmith have got your back with some tips on how to make your mobile device look good through a lens. Check out the video below as it takes you through the following tips:

  • Use a solid surface to place your mobile device on
  • Shooting directly down will capture everything on your screen
  • Avoid pointing lights directly at the device to prevent a glare
  • Take note of the focus – try using manual focus and exposure so your camera doesn’t adjust in the middle of the video

Get Mobile Video Files Off Your Device

So you’ve recorded your mobile device, but you want to bring it onto your desktop for editing, saving, or sharing. Here are some tips on the different options available for getting your video off your mobile device and onto your computer:

The simplest option is plugging your phone into you computer with your USB charger. Or if you have an android device, take out your memory card and use a card reader that is hooked up to your computer. Once connected, you can click and drag your video files right into any folder you desire.

But, let’s say you don’t have a card reader or USB cord available. The next solution is wireless or “cloud” sharing options.

But what is the cloud exactly? The cloud, or cloud computing, basically means software that is operated by internet enabled devices. Instead of storing your files on your mobile device or computer, the files are stored on a server somewhere out there in the world. So for these options to work, you will need to have an active internet connection. Here are a few options:

  • Dropbox works on all devices and you are given 2GBs for free to get started with options to upgrade if needed. Dropbox is available for all major mobile offerings.
  • Google Drive gives you 15GB for free to get started and it is compatible on all mobile devices as well
  • Apple’s iCloud offers 5GB of storage for free to get started and works basically the same as the other two. And believe it or not, iCloud is available for Windows users too.
  • Email services put a cap on file size, usually around 25MB per email, so this option can be limited, but still works if you are in a bind.

If you don’t have a cord or you don’t want to send your videos through the cloud because of privacy reasons, another option would be a product that we offer here at TechSmith, which is called TechSmith Fuse. It is a free companion app for a smartphone or tablet that works together with Snagit.

The way it works is that it connects your mobile device to your desktop computer through a WiFi connection. So as long as your devices are on the same WiFi signal, all you need to do is connect your device via a QR code and BAM! Now you can wirelessly send media safely over the network. No cloud storage involved. The app makes it easy to access video on your computer that you’ve captured on your device. You can download it in either the App Store or the Google Play Store.

How to Go From Smartphone Video to Animated GIF

Now that you have your mobile video recording off your device and onto your desktop, you now have the option to turn that video into a GIF! In June of 1987, the animated GIF was born. While the file format is just slightly older than the majority of millennials, it is widely used by people of all ages. The use of the GIF has peaked in popularity in recent years…the reason? Brands are seeking better social-media engagement.

Culture is better communicated and conveyed through visual media like video, which evokes emotion in audiences, and is more effective than static images or text alone. The GIF is a quick, digestible, auto-playing snippet of video, whose beauty is in its simplicity.

movie-clip-american-beauty-plastic-bag-swirling-in-wind

Source: https://giphy.com/gifs/FWNJ8Hdsk3YzK

Creating a GIF is easier than you think. There are several options for tools that will help you make one easily from existing images or videos, either saved locally on your computer, in the cloud, on a flash drive, or from the internet.

Below, you’ll learn how to create a GIF from video you’ve captured on your Smartphone or tablet in four easy steps using TechSmith’s Snagit + mobile app Fuse.

If you would like to follow along with the steps outlined and don’t yet have Snagit installed on your computer, you can download a fully-functioning free trial here.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Record/Select the video

Open TechSmith Fuse on your device, and either record a new video by choosing Video, or select an existing video to use by choosing Library > Gallery.

If you are creating a new video, be mindful of whether you prefer portrait or landscape orientation. It may also be a good idea to review the footage to make sure you’re satisfied with your brief video before moving on.

techsmith-fuse-interface-library-and-new-video-options

Step 2: Send the video to Snagit

Now that you’ve selected the video you’d like to use from within Fuse, you’ll want to open Snagit on your desktop and select the Connect Mobile Device option.

snagit-interface-showing-connect-mobile-device-option

A QR Code will pop up. Select Share from within the Fuse app and then scan the code using the box that appears on your device’s screen. The media will be sent into the Snagit editor.

techsmith-fuse-interface-showing-share-option-and-qr-code-used-to-connect

*Sidenote: This works for still images too! You won’t use the still images to create GIFs, but you you can use them to make memes! Sending your still images into Snagit is also a good way to gain quick access to the picture you took of a trade show booth that caught your attention, or the whiteboard full of notes that you captured with your phone that needs to be shared with your team.

Step 3: Select the part of the video you’d like to convert

From within Snagit, you can play back the video. You now have two options.

You can remove the unwanted sections of your video, and then click to create the GIF with all of the remaining content.

Your other option would be to select the portion of the video you’d like to convert and then click the GIF button.

The first option is found to be easier, but it’s really a matter of your personal preference.

snagit-interface-showing-how-to-select-portion-of-video-to-trim-or-use-for-gif

Step 4: Celebrate and share your glorious achievement!

Now that you have successfully created your GIF, get sharing! Post it publicly to your company website, distribute it via email, or share it on social media.

Whether you’ve created the GIF to illustrate steps in a process, provide mini-demos, or maybe just to impress your friends, the use case possibilities are endless. Let your creative juices flow!

slot-machine-15-iloveimg-compressed

Creating a GIF is easy! If you’d like to view a quick recap, check out this video tutorial.

Are you already creating GIF’s from your mobile video content? I’d love to hear how, and what you’re using them for. Share your GIF, and/or your thoughts, in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Mobile Video Recording appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

How to Create Alternative Text for Images for Accessibility and SEO

If you create or publish digital content of any kind, it’s likely by now you’ve at least heard something about the importance of creating content that’s accessible for people with disabilities. Alternative text (also called “alt text”) helps ensure people who are blind or visually impaired, or who may have other physical or cognitive disabilities can access and understand visual content such as images, charts, and graphs.

In the United States, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all digital content be accessible to people with disabilities. Other countries have their own requirements. For people who use screen readers or other assistive technologies to access digital content, accessible content is essential to ensure they are able to access and understand the content in the same way that someone who does not require assistance would.

What is alternative text?

Alternative text, in its simplest form, is background code added to a digital image that allows a screen reader or other assistive technology to describe the image’s content and meaning to those who cannot see the image or may be unable to process the image due to a cognitive disability.

It’s used in several ways:

  • Screen readers use it to describe the image to users so they can access and understand the content.
  • In browsers where images are blocked, the alt text is displayed in place of the image.
  • Search engines use it to determine the content and context of images.

Screen readers can tell when an image is present, but they cannot analyze their content. The alt text is read in place of the image to give users understanding of the image’s meaning and context.

How to add alt text to images

Unfortunately, there is no one way to add alternative text. Different software platforms do it in different ways. Check your software’s documentation or help files for information on how to add alt text to your images from within that platform.

In Microsoft Word, for example, right-click on the image and choose Add Alt Text. Then, add your text into the alt text window in the sidebar that opens. When you’re finished, simply close the sidebar and your alt text will save with the image.

Animated GIF showing a user right-clicking on an image and filling in alternative text using Microsoft World

Alt text vs. captions

Alt text and captions are similar in many ways. Both provide a description of the image and context of how the image fits in with the rest of the content. However, alt text is typically “behind the scenes,” whereas captions are visible to anyone accessing the page. Furthermore, captions may not always include a full description of the image and its contents, as they are typically used to enhance or provide context for a visible image.

However, captions can be more useful for accessibility purposes. Captions are especially helpful for images that might require a lot of alt text to accurately describe. Rather than creating long and less useful alt text, longer descriptions can be made using a caption. Then, the alt text can give a brief description of the image and suggest the user look to the caption for a more complete description and/or context.

Alternative text best practices

Creating good alt text isn’t a science — it’s more of an art. Too short and it may not give enough detail. Too long and it can be tedious. But here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re creating alt text.

1. Accurately describe the content and function of the image

People who use assistive technology rely on the contents of the alt text to give them not just what the image contains, but any context for the image if it’s not readily available. Depending on the complexity of the image, it may be better to provide context in the text of your content to avoid overly long alt text.

2. The shorter the better, but not too short

One of the main concerns with alt text is the length. For the most part, screen readers will read either all or none of the alt text as written. In other words, there is no way for someone using a screen reader to skip ahead to find more relevant content or to pause and go back to something they didn’t understand. If the most relevant content is at the end of your alt text, the user would have to listen to all of the irrelevant information before discovering why the image is included.

Give enough detail to accurately describe the image, but avoid minute details that don’t necessarily enhance the meaning of why the image was included.

A photo of back-end web site codes on computer monitor. Developer working on a web project in a busy office. There is a shallow depth of field in the photo. There are lots of code line in the file.

For example, in the image above, there are a number of ways you could describe it depending on what it’s trying to convey in the context of the surrounding content.

It would be tempting to just describe it as a computer screen. And, in some cases that might be enough. But, in an article about using screen blur to hide sensitive information, you may need to describe the image as a computer screen with the file tree blurred for privacy.

If the article was about a specific type of coding and the image was attempting to show an example of that code, you may need to go into more detail about what code is displayed.

Or, maybe the article is about the width of bevel on the computer screen, so there would need to be detail about that, instead.

In this sense, creating good alternative text is more of an art form rather than a science. Your alt text should be long enough to accurately describe the image, but not so long as to be cumbersome.

3. Use proper punctuation and spelling

A screen reader will read the alt text exactly as it appears, spelling and punctuation mistakes included. In programs like Microsoft Word, there is no way to check the spelling or grammar of your alt text, so you’ll want to be extra careful.

Similarly, you must use proper punctuation or your alt text may sound like a really annoying run-on sentence, or worse, not make any sense at all.

In fact, it’s not a bad idea to create a new document where you can compose the alt text using Word’s built-in spelling and grammar checkers and then, when you’re satisfied and it’s mistake-free, copy and paste it into the alt text window of whatever software you’re using.

Most modern browsers automatically check for spelling, so if you’re writing something in a content management system (CMS) or into Google Docs, it’s likely your spelling and grammar will be checked, but it’s good practice to proofread regardless.

Pro tip: Make sure your content reviewers also check to make sure your alt text is a correct description of the image, uses proper spelling and grammar, and is clear and concise when they’re reviewing the rest of your content.

4. You don’t need a title for accessibility, but it can be helpful for other reasons

From an accessibility standpoint, giving your image a title isn’t necessary. Most screen readers won’t even bother with it. However, the title will show up as a tool tip when someone browsing your website hovers over the image. The title can also help search crawlers better grasp the image’s content and purpose.

That said, you should never sacrifice clear and concise alt text that accurately describes the image in favor of scoring an extra point or two on the SEO scale.

5. Don’t include “image of,” “photo of,” etc.

When a screen reader encounters an image, it will tell the user that it has encountered an image. So, if your alt text included the phrase “image of,” the screen reader would say something like, “Image. Image of computer screen …”

6. If your image contains text, it must be included in the alt text

Because any text within an image would not be readable to a screen reader, it must be included in the alt text if it is relevant to the image’s meaning and context with the surrounding content.

A sign reading "ASK MORE QUESTIONS" in all-caps on a wall between two analog clocks.

Looking at the image above, depending on the context and intent, it may be necessary to describe in the alt text that the sign reads, “Ask more questions.” If it’s notable to better understand the intent, you may also need to describe that the text is in all-caps.

However, in an article about how to place a sign on a wall where the actual text of the sign isn’t important, you may just need to describe that the image shows a sign centered between two wall clocks.

As noted in the Alt text vs. captions section above, if an image contains a lot of text, it’s typically better to include this information in a caption instead. You may also include it in the surrounding text content. In these cases, you would want to note in the alt text that further information about the image is included in the caption or body of the text.

Because of the guidelines for keeping alternative text relatively brief, for images with markup and text like what you might create in Snagit, I suggest using the caption or surrounding text to describe the relevant markup and text. It will be far easier and useful for users.

7. Don’t rely on your accessibility checker

Many content creation tools, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat come with useful accessibility checkers. They scan the content and look for typical mistakes content creators make that could render the content inaccessible. They’re great and you should definitely use them to check your content.

But there’s a problem: Your accessibility checker can check that alt text exists, but it can’t determine the quality of that alt text. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have your content reviewer also double-check your alt text content to ensure it’s useful and correct.

8. Images with links must include the link destination in the alt text

Another tennent of accessible content is that all hyperlinks should describe to the user where it will take them. For that reason, links like “click here” or “visit us” are typically a no-no.

In the same way, an image that functions as a link should also describe to the user where the link will take them. For example, if you have a button on your page that reads, “Download a free trial,” your alt text should read something like, “Link: Download a free trial.”

Alt text for charts, graphs, and tables

Charts, graphs, and tables present a particularly tricky issue when it comes to alternative text. Because they tend to present a relatively large amount of information, any alt text could end up being quite long and difficult to follow. As such, I highly recommend using a caption that accurately describes the chart or graph content and its relevance to the rest your content. Your alt text could then just describe the chart’s title and note that a full description of the content is available in the caption or text content.

How would you describe the chart above (from our recent article on our original research into workplace communications) to someone who can’t see it? Keep in mind that your alt text (or, more likely, caption or body of the content) would need to provide all of the relevant information so that they might understand it in the same way as someone who can see it.

In this blog article, because the information in the chart isn’t necessarily relevant to the point I’m trying to make, I could simply describe it as a complex chart of information about millennials’ preferences for visual tools at work. If this article was about the research, I would need to describe the actual content in alt text, or more appropriately in the body of the surrounding content.

Unlike images, most tables are accessible to screen readers. A user is able to move through the table to get the relevant information if they chose. However, alt text can provide a brief description of the table and an overview of what it contains so that the user can decide if they want to access the table or not.

Alt text and SEO

Alt text is essential for creating accessible content. However, it comes with a bonus: it also can help with SEO!

That said, the highest and best purpose for creating alt text is to improve the accessibility of your digital content. Trying to game the system by stuffing your alt text with inappropriate keywords or other irrelevant information can actually be harmful.

In this article from Google about image publishing, they note that they use image alt text to understand the subject matter of the image and how it relates to the rest of the content. They also suggest creating alt text that focuses on “creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page.” Google notes that alt text that is stuffed with inappropriate keywords or alt text that isn’t relevant to the image or the rest of the page content risks having your site seen as spam.

Similarly, Yoast, maker of one of the most popular WordPress plugins for SEO, recommends making sure you use your article keyword when possible and when appropriate, but they expressly say not to stuff your keywords into every bit of alt text.

While this is a good overview on basics for creating alternative text for images and SEO, it’s certainly not the last word not the subject. Many organizations have their own guidelines for creating alt text, while others may not even realize they need it at all!

Are you creating alt text for images included in your digital content? I’d love to hear your suggestions, ideas, and struggles!

The post How to Create Alternative Text for Images for Accessibility and SEO appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

How to Get Helpful Video Feedback

A video, like any form of content, typically requires peer review and stakeholder approval before it’s ready for distribution. Whether it’s for use on your website, in an email campaign, or for an advertisement on social media, getting video feedback will always make for a better and, ultimately more effective, final product.

Feedback is necessary, but not always fun—often, we take it personally…but we shouldn’t! The point of asking your peers to review your work is to help produce the best possible final video.

While Google Docs is a great option for writers to easily get the feedback they need—are there best practices in place for video feedback? I sat down with one of TechSmith’s Video Production Specialists, Andy Owen, in search of the answer.

Q: Before you can receive video feedback, you must first create the video. When you receive a video assignment, how do you approach getting started?

A: It depends on the project, but I almost always need context. Typically, I’ll have a meeting with the stakeholders, to discuss and brainstorm ideas. This helps guide me in the right general direction.

People gathered around couches having a brainstorm

Prior to beginning the first draft, I’ll create an outline of sorts—essentially a rough script. I want to confirm that I am on the right track, and that what I’ve put together is what the stakeholders had in mind. Understanding the desired results from the video from the beginning is important. When you’re on the same page as your stakeholders from the get-go, it will save time later, and help make the process efficient.

Q: So after you’ve worked to put together a plan, you create your first draft. What does your typical video feedback workflow look like at that point in the process?

A: There are generally two main phases for video feedback—the first is the structural narrative phase.

You want people with a vested interest to make sure you have the story, or structural narrative, on the right track. I typically start with the primary stakeholders, making sure to provide the disclaimer that “this is not a finished product, but is this the story we want to tell?” I have them pay attention to high-level things like the overall theme and message. When you request this feedback, you may let your reviewers know “this is a rough edit, and I want to know if this is the right story to tell.”

Pile of books - what is the author going for?

I would request feedback about the story from two people, typically—not more than five (because you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen). Then, after receiving the video feedback on the first draft, I’d move forward with making any required adjustments, and begin working on the second draft.

Q: Ok. So on to the second draft. After you’ve incorporated the first round, or structural narrative video feedback—then what?

A: So once you’ve completed your second draft (at which point you are nearing completion), then comes the fine edit phase.

Here, you’re looking for the minor, more technical things, like audio glitches, words that got clipped, poorly balanced colors, etc. When you request this feedback, you may let your reviewers know “the story is complete; but how does it look and sound? Does anything in particular stand out, such as a technical error?” I’m looking for video feedback about details that I may have overlooked, or little mistakes that need correction.

Three people seated around a computer collaborating.

In my experience providing video feedback, I’d receive the video draft, and would manually find the time-code, write that down, and then write out my comments; “could we cut this a little shorter?” or “do we have another angle for this?” It was very text-based.

It’s easy to get defensive when you receive feedback in this way—it feels very personal due to the amount of time and effort that [a video production specialist] puts in. But you must be able to put aside any emotions and check your ego at the door. It’s not about you as an editor, it’s about making the end result better.

A tool I’ve been using to make this process easier—TechSmith Video Review—allows reviewers to add comments throughout the actual video as they watch it, as opposed to in an email or document. While still text-based, it does provide additional context with the comments, since I’m receiving the feedback while watching the video. This allows me to quickly understand the meaning and motivation of the feedback.

If you think about how often people communicate with emojis—sometimes you’ll get an email, where emotion is not conveyed, and you aren’t sure exactly how to take it. When you get comments on a video via Video Review, the context of seeing them within the video really helps in feeling like the feedback is not about you as a creator—it’s about the video.

A road which comes to a fork

Q: So you mentioned earlier that you’d request feedback from two to five people. What if your reviewers don’t agree with each other? Who’s feedback do you accept?

A: Everything is subjective—it’s still art. There are different ways to approach the video creation. The two most important things to consider:

    • Does it engage the audience?
    • Does it tell a great story?

You want to find a balance, making sure that you’re hitting both those elements.
One way to help make decisions about the feedback to accept as you edit, is to consider the motivation behind the feedback.

With TechSmith Video Review, it’s helpful that the reviewers can have a conversation among themselves. They can discuss any discrepancies, meaning that the video creator isn’t stuck “picking a side”… although you will still have to do that sometimes—again, allow the desired result of the video to guide your decisions.

photo of a camera on a tripod, ready to record

Q: Any last words of advice for anyone who may start creating videos for others?

A: Don’t pretend to know the subject. Talk to stakeholders, learn what they do, learn their goals for the process, involve them in as many iterations as it takes. And ask for video feedback!

Don’t emotionally tie yourself to the first edit draft. If you aren’t sure about whether or not to use some footage, it’s ok to keep it in there to see what your reviewers think. Sometimes, an outside perspective, a fresh set of eyes, may be helpful in determining whether there is value in something. This is especially true when creating a video about a topic that is unfamiliar—that’s when you really need to rely on your subject matter expert(s).

Well, there you have it!

We hope this advice has been helpful. Asking for video feedback doesn’t need to be scary! Following some of the best practices outlined here can help make a simple and effective video creation experience, both for stakeholders, and for the creator.

Visit the TechSmith website to learn more about TechSmith Video Review and get started with your free trial today!

 

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