How to Create Incredible Software Demo Videos (No Experience Necessary!)

A software demo video is one of the most effective ways to show what makes your software or application really shine.

A software demo video is one of the most effective ways to show what makes your software or application really shine. They’re perfect for highlighting key features, ease of use, important elements in your user interface, and much more.

But what if you’re a marketing team of one, don’t have a huge video budget, or simply don’t know how to create videos? You’re out of luck, right?


What if I told you that you could start creating highly effective, engaging, and professional-quality software demo videos right now — no experience required?

You can! And it’s way easier than you might think!

You’ll get more customers clicking that “Buy Now” button, and your boss will think you’re a total rockstar.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

The Best Tool for Creating Engaging Software Demo Videos

Camtasia is the fastest and easiest way to create incredible software demo videos that will wow your customers and drive sales!

Download Camtasia for Free

What is a software demo video?

A software demo video is a marketing video that allows you to show customers what makes your software, website, or app stand out from the competition. 

Typically created from screen recordings of your software in action, along with enhancements that allow you to highlight important features and user interface elements, it helps you show customers what they can expect from your software when they purchase.

Unlike a software tutorial video, a software demo video isn’t intended to show someone how to use your software, but instead entice them to purchase. It should address their pain points and show how your software solves them.

Feel free to be creative! Remember, you want your customers to be excited about your product!

I love this one from Slack. It’s a great combination of showing not just what the software does, but how it helps solve a customer problem.

Why create software demo videos?

The simplest answer is: To sell more software! A software demo video is like being able to do in-person customer demos at scale. Only, unlike in-person demos, you reach thousands of customers and once! Plus, you can use multiple videos to highlight key features or abilities without having to try to cram everything into one session. 

Your potential customers can watch each video as they want to, share them with others, and even revisit them to refresh their memory on what they liked about your application. 

That’s not to say that software demo videos can replace in-person or online personal demos, but they can be your secret weapon for grabbing attention and helping to funnel customers to clicking that “buy now” button more quickly.

How to create a software demo video

Step 1: Start with a plan

Just like any piece of good content, you need to plan what you want to show, how you want to describe it, what elements you’ll need to include, etc. 

Remember a good video is only as long as it needs to be, so don’t try to cram everything into one video. If you want to show multiple features or how your product solves various problems, consider making multiple videos so your customers can view them as they wish.

Here are some essential elements of great software demo videos:

  • A brief description of what your product is and what it does
  • Show them how it solves their problems and pain points
  • Highlight your software in action
  • A clear call to action (CTA)

I said it before, but I’ll say it again: Remember to keep your video as brief as possible. Want to show more stuff? Make more videos!

Step 2: Write a script

If your video will include any voiceover (sometimes called narration), make sure you write a script detailing exactly what you or your voiceover person will say. This ensures that you include the information you need to in the way you intend without danger of going on a tangent or missing important stuff. 

Plus, having a script means you can get all the language you intend to use approved before you make your video, which means fewer revisions!

Step 3: Fire up that screen recorder

To capture a software application in action, you’ll need a tool that will let you record your screen. I firmly believe that Camtasia is your best bet for capturing your screen and creating stunning, professional-quality software demo videos.

It’s ridiculously easy!

You can record your narration as you record your screen, but I recommend doing it before or after so you’re not trying to do two things at once. However, many software demo videos may not need voiceover, or you have someone else do the voiceover for you. Regardless of how you get it, you can import the audio into the Camtasia media bin and drag and drop it to the timeline as needed. 

If someone else has already created screen recordings or other video clips for you, can you also import those clips into your Camtasia media bin. Then, just like with the voiceover audio, drag and drop them to the timeline.

Step 4: Edit your video

Now comes the fun part – editing your video! This may sound daunting, but with Camtasia, editing is a breeze. 

You can trim your footage, add music, incorporate an animated intro, include animated effects, and more. 

While there are lots of available editing options, there’s no need to go overboard. Keep it simple so that your audience can focus on what you’re trying to convey.

Oh, and did I mention that we offer templates and assets? Yeah, you can get a HUGE head start on video creation and editing!

Camtasia includes an extensive library of free, customizable templates. Or, you can create your own and share them with your team! 

Plus, no more hunting for extra content. Camtasia includes a built-in library of music files, images, video clips and more! 

Plus, TechSmith Assets for Camtasia includes hundreds of thousands more in a fully searchable database to help you create even more engaging videos faster.

Step 5: Share it with the world

Once your video is ready, you can share it wherever it needs to go. Camtasia offers direct exports to YouTube, Vimeo, Google Drive, and more!

You can also save it directly to your computer to share anywhere else you want to!

You (yes you!) can create incredible software demo videos with Camtasia

So there you have it! Camtasia makes it easy to create software demo videos that will wow your customers, drive more sales, and make you look like a video wizard — no pro skills required!

The Best Tool for Creating Engaging Software Demo Videos

Camtasia is the fastest and easiest way to create incredible software demo videos that will wow your customers and drive sales!

Download Camtasia for Free

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

Why You Need Audio Descriptions to Make Online Course Videos Accessible

caption online video courses

Not only does the ADA Section 504-refresh highlight the need for audio descriptions in higher education videos, but it’s also an accessibility best practice that has the potential to benefit all students.

Learn the different types of audio descriptions, how they work, and how to create them so your institution stays compliant.

Are audio descriptions like captions?

Sort of.  Here’s the difference: captions use text to describe what’s being heard on-screen. Audio descriptions (AD) talk through what’s being seen. Put another way, captions help people who are hard of hearing, while audio descriptions help people who have difficulty seeing.

Audio descriptions are also sometimes called ‘video descriptions’ or ‘descriptive narration tracks.’ They all refer to the same thing – an option that gives you all the information from a video without ever opening your eyes.

You’ve probably watched movies that have embedded audio descriptions, even though you didn’t use them yourself (or even know they were there!). Ever see the AD symbol on a DVD? That means the movie has an audio description track that can be turned on as needed. Many movie theaters offer audio description support, too.

Audio descriptions icon

An example – what they sound like
Although visuals are a core strength of video’s ability to convey information, it can be difficult for people with sight loss to understand what’s going on based on standard audio alone. Audio descriptions bridge the gap by narrating what occurs on screen so everyone can understand the meaning.

Here’s an example that demonstrates how audio descriptions can describe important on-screen action that makes the video easier to understand for sight-challenged viewers.

Audio descriptions icon on a still-frame of a popular movie clip, The Lion King

In higher education, audio descriptions are important and providing them is legally required. This is good news because it makes crucial on-screen visuals in online and blended courses available to every student.

Audio descriptions help many types of learners

Audio descriptions help people with a visual disability (more than seven and a half million adults in the United States alone) as well as students with lesser degrees of vision loss.

They can help other students, too. Some people learn better with both audio and visual inputs or are primarily auditory learners. Non-native speakers may like hearing audio descriptions to better understand the language. Students on the autism spectrum can benefit from hearing social/facial cues read aloud.

Student on a jostling bus, using headphones to listen to a video lesson with audio descriptions

Some students turn on audio descriptions simply because they prefer to hear the video lesson. Whether they’re jogging, reviewing a video lesson at night with headphones while their roommate sleeps, or watching videos on a jostling bus, there are many reasons why having the option to treat the lecture like a podcast makes sense.

How to add audio descriptions

There are two main ways to add audio descriptions:

  • Embedded voice descriptions – In this method, audio descriptions are their own separate digital “track,” behind the scenes. They can be turned on as needed. This is the most advanced and versatile method because all students have the same version of the video, and only listen to audio descriptions if they need them.

The best of today’s accessible video platforms now offer features that make it easy to add audio description tracks to videos. In TechSmith Knowmia, formerly TechSmith Relay, you simply log in, go to your video, click on the ‘Accessibility’ tab, and then ‘Manage Audio Description.’

Screenshot of how to add audio descriptions in TechSmith Relay. Click on Accessibility and then Manage Audio Descriptions

Then, upload your audio description track, which can be an Mp3 or M4A file type. Once your video has an audio description track, students can easily turn it on by clicking the AD Track button on the video player.

Screenshot of what video looks like once an audio description track is included, with the AD icon
  • Separate video – Usually only used when embedded tracks are not available, this involves creating a duplicate video with audio descriptions permanently part of the audio, or “burned in.” There’s no option to turn on or off the audio description narration with this method. While this is great for students who always use the narration, having two copies of every video can be confusing and double bandwidth and storage costs.

Create audio descriptions yourself, or outsource

The easiest way to create audio descriptions is to outsource it to a company who does this as a service. Many of the same vendors who create captions can also create audio descriptions and usually charge about $15-$30 per minute.

Another option is to create audio descriptions in-house. It’s more affordable, and you retain complete control of the wording and phrasing.

An instructor creating audio descriptions

Before you begin, learn from those who have done this before and can share best practices. There are a number of preferred ways to explain what’s happening on-screen. It’s helpful and will save you time when you understand common practices. One great resource is the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), which has a handy description key and other resources with tips and techniques that will make your audio descriptions easier to create and understand.

When you record your audio descriptions, keep in mind that they don’t need to synch perfectly with the visuals. As long as they are approximately nearby the on-screen action, they will be effective.

Another tip is to time your narration so that it doesn’t interfere with on-screen dialogue or other audio in the original video. Record audio descriptions in the empty spaces in between the existing audio. You don’t need to verbally explain every single thing that happens on the screen, as long as you describe the gist of what’s happening.   

Alternatives to audio descriptions

An annotated transcript is an alternative to audio descriptions. Instead of narrating what’s happening visually, you write it out and provide it separate from the video.

For example, if a complicated chart is shown in a health sciences video, an annotated transcript would include an extra section that describes what the chart looks like, in detail.

One benefit of this method is that deaf and blind students can use assistive devices to ‘read’ these transcripts, whereas audio descriptions are only helpful to those who can hear. Extended transcripts may also help other types of students who want to review material through written words, or struggle to process visual information for other reasons. Cons include extra time creating the transcript and maintaining another resource.

Health sciences instructor explaining a medical skeletal model in a video lesson

A final alternative to audio descriptions is simply to verbally describe all visuals within your original video. This takes the concept of providing an AD track and makes it part of the video itself. This method works particularly well for educational videos and demonstrations where descriptions of on-screen action are a natural addition.

For example, if you’re making a video lesson with a chart, verbally explain the main points. If you’re hand-writing a calculus proof, talk through it as you go. Demonstrating a chemistry experiment? Describe what you’re doing along the way, so students have the audio and visuals.

There’s a lot to understand about audio descriptions. This topic will continue to grow as more video platforms offer this functionality, and more colleges and universities begin including audio descriptions alongside video captions as standard accessibility accommodations.

Learn more about TechSmith Knowmia and its accessibility solutions including Audio Description track support.

Simplified User Interface: The Beginner’s Guide

Mocked-up website with a simplified user interface

It can be difficult to onboard users to new and complex interfaces and workflows. Too much information can easily overwhelm the user and make it difficult to keep the focus on the essential feature or functionality.

Additionally, software updates tend to be frequent. These regular updates, coupled with localization processes, can make documentation work in the software industry quite demanding for technical content creators. How can we face these challenges without having to constantly update supporting content?

What if we designed our visual content in a way that is easy to follow, and is able to withstand future UI tweaks?

Let us introduce a design technique used by TechSmith’s User Assistance team and others – it’s called simplified user interface.

Simplified User Interface: What is it?

A simplified user interface (SUI) is a visual representation of a software interface that removes  unimportant elements and reduces them to simpler shapes.

Simplified User Interface graphic showing PowerPoint UI
An example of SUI (pronounced “sue-ee” by the TechSmith User Assistance team).

The elements that are fundamental to the instructions or for the user to understand are purposefully kept visible and the SUI graphics serves as a visual aid to support the instructional content given, via the sub- or figure text.

SUI graphics allow for easy-to-follow instructions which enable the reader to get to the point quickly and avoid distractions.

Keep it simple, Stupid!

SUI graphics leverage the famous K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, Stupid!) principle: systems perform better if they are kept simple and when unnecessary complexities are avoided. By reducing the graphics to a simpler state and by removing distractions, we can allow the user to focus on only the essential information, which creates a better experience.

Josh Cavalier,an eLearning expert, describes cognitive load as the “amount of information being processed by the brain”. When you reduce the amount of distractions for your audience, they are better able to focus their attention on what is important.

Simplified User Interface graphic with one menu item exposed
In this example, only a single menu item is shown so as direct user attention to something specific.

In a recent blog post from The Interaction Design Foundation, it’s explained that a user is focused solely on how useful something will be for them. This is true for both the product design itself but also for the how-to documentation and instructions.  If it’s hard to understand how to use a product, the value that it has to offer, or how a product can solve a particular problem, then users will struggle.

SUI graphics build upon these principles: using a simplified user interface in help documentation can aid in user success by giving them only the information they must have in order to be successful, increasing their success and satisfaction with a product.

Keeping content up to date

Keep your content current, longer. A quick survey with attendees at STC Technical Communication Summit revealed that keeping content up to date is one of the biggest challenges faced by technical communicators today. And that makes sense, if we look to software as an example: release cycles are shortening and new features and functionality are being added frequently. And with each feature addition and related tweaks to the user interface, the instructions that the technical documentation team laboriously put together are at risk of becoming quickly out of date, even if only slightly. So what is a technical communicator to do?

Again, simplified user interface graphics can play a strategic role in one’s content strategy. The removal of a button or addition of a feature will easily confuse the user if this change is not reflected in a precise screenshot. However, a simplified user interface graphic can often sustain multiple software versions and updates before needing further updates. The simplified design is more forgiving to minor interface changes and additions as it is already an abstract representation of the interface. Technical content creators can use this technique to extend the shelf-life of their visual content or even for repurposing content in similar scenarios.

Faster content localization

Any content creator who has been through the localization process knows that it can be time-consuming and expensive to create screenshots and graphics for each locale. Yet, the localization of onboarding materials and other graphics can be trivial for any organization that wants to be successful internationally. As Day Translations points out, we should all “scrap the idea that English is the language of business”. It’s important to cater to different customer bases by providing them with content that speaks to them…in their native language.

Most technical communicators know the effort it takes to create and manage unique screenshots for each language. In order to simplify this task, one can design the content to use SUI images instead of language-specific screenshots. The same graphic can often be repurposed across multiple languages with little to no adjustment. Additional information or instructions can be conveyed through the sub- or figure text.

Simplified User Interface used in both German and English dialog boxes.
In this example, the same SUI graphic is used in the software preference dialog for all languages.

Again, this is another area that helps to reduce creation and maintenance efforts while still providing the user with clear instructions.

How to create a Simplified User Interface Graphic

Creating a simplified user interface (SUI) graphic is easier than you think. The best way to get started is to begin with a screenshot and then transform it. To do this, you need screen capture and image editing software. At TechSmith, our tool of choice for creating SUI images is Snagit because it provides both of these functions, though there are other capable image editors.

Step 1: Capture the screenshot

Using Snagit, capture a screenshot of the user interface you want to turn into a SUI graphic and open it in the Snagit Editor. Crop the screenshot to the dimensions of your desired output.

Screenshot of a web page for Bridge Street Insurance featured a Request a Quote call to action button

Step 2: Simplify the screenshot

Simplifying an image is a process that involves covering up and removing visual noise like unrelated text, menus, buttons, or tool tips to reduce an image’s complexity and focus attention on the important parts. Snagit provides two ways to help make this an easy process with the Simplify tool available in Snagit.

The first option is to simplify a screenshot manually by selecting the Simplify tool, and using the graphic elements to hide unimportant details in your image and direct attention to the ones that matter. After choosing the Simplify tool, Snagit automatically detects the colors in your screenshot, creates a color palette, and provides a set of tools that match and are ideal for simplifying images.

The second way option is to automate the process. Snagit’s Auto Simplify feature recognizes shapes and text and then automatically covers them with the themed elements. Remove, add, and change the color of any of the elements Snagit adds to achieve the look you want.

Watch the tutorial below to see the Simplify tool in action!

Step 3: Save it

When you are done, save your file as a .png or .jpg file to be used in your documentation. We highly recommend also saving your final image as a .snag file. This is the Snagit project file type and it allows you to reopen the project to edit and adjust the image later on. This makes updating your image easy so you won’t need to recreate your SUI graphic every time.

Bonus Tip: Use a tag to easily access this file any time in the Snagit library.

Key takeaways

The benefits of using Simplified User Interface graphics in your technical documentation are twofold: First, these graphics visually enhance your instructions and improve the onboarding experience for your users. Second, the graphics make technical communicators’ jobs easier, as they reduce the need for screenshot updates and help with localization.

Integrating SUI graphics into part of one’s content strategy is therefore a smart business decision that all content creators should consider, regardless if your favorite aspect is the improved user experience, having evergreen content, or faster localization. Even just a few simplified user interface graphics can make a big difference!

If you aren’t using Snagit yet, download the free trial today, and get started creating your own SUI graphics!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Allison Boatman

Allison Boatman is a member of the Marketing Team at TechSmith. Follow her on Twitter @allisonboats She can often be found aimlessly wandering around local craft stores. Personal motto: "Work hard, stay humble." Favorites: Alaskan Malamutes, Iceland, and 90's pop culture.

How to Create Amazing Step-By-Step Instructions

How to Create Visual Instructions

In today’s fast-paced business environment, providing employees and end-users with clear and concise instructions on how to perform a task or use a product is vital to every organization’s communication strategy. 

One of the best ways to give crystal-clear instructions is with step-by-step documents that provide contextual guidance while offering clarity into the details of a process. Step-by-step instructions are often the easiest way to help guide a person to complete a specific task successfully, especially if the task in question is complex or involves several steps. 

With the help of step-by-step guides, teams can collaborate effectively and achieve repeatable success. These guides also come in handy for training new employees, providing reinforcement training, and helping to document and share knowledge within an organization.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best ways businesses can implement and create step-by-step instructions for internal and external communications. Whether you’re looking to streamline your business processes or improve productivity, this article will provide you with everything you need to create impactful step-by-step guides using visuals. 

Let’s get started!


What can I use step-by-step instructions for?

The beauty of step-by-step instructions is that there isn’t a limit to the ways they can be used, as their fundamental purpose is to break down a process into bite-sized directions. They can even be used as supplementary material to provide further context to instructional videos.   

It doesn’t matter what process you’re trying to explain. Whether it’s a short guide on how to take a screenshot or a longer one about how to make great training videos, step-by-step instructions can be really useful for sharing knowledge with your colleagues, employees, and your customers. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and practical uses of step-by-step instructions: 

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

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Employee onboarding

No matter how excited someone might be to start a new job, there’s always a lot to take in when you move to a new company. Getting to know your new colleagues, adapting to a new work environment, and becoming familiar with new processes, can be overwhelming for even the most experienced employees. 

Moreover, when someone joins an organization, they need to learn how to perform various tasks as quickly as possible. By providing step-by-step instructions, organizations can make the onboarding process smoother and more efficient for new staff members, which will help them, their colleagues, and the business as a whole.  

With the series of clear directions that step-by-step instructions provide, employees will find it easier to navigate tools and complete tasks. Such instructions are also useful for providing clarity, promoting consistency, and making it easier to learn how to correctly perform standard operational tasks. 

As step-by-step instructions can help a new employee settle into an organization, you might also find that guides like this can help them quickly build confidence in their new role. 

The ultimate guide to easily make instructional videos

In this FREE guide, we share our secrets to creating high-quality training and tutorial videos.

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Customer onboarding

First impressions are everything, which is why it’s important to ensure that a customer’s first interaction with a product is as good as it can possibly be. To do this, you need to make sure that customers know how to use your product from the get-go. 

This is where the step-by-step instructions come in, which are especially useful with software. Providing clear directions on how to set up and use a product or service, whether it’s flat-pack furniture or screen recording software, can help customers get started quickly and easily. 

The best step-by-step instructions can even help to reduce the burden on customer support as they’ll be able to steer customers away from potential issues and answer the most common questions. This allows support staff to focus on helping customers with more complex issues and will help the customers get faster and more efficient support.

So while step-by-step instructions for end-users might seem like a “nice-to-have” to some, they can have a big impact on increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

Promoting software adoption

Not everybody likes change, which is why it can be difficult to encourage and train an entire workforce to use new software. However, by shortening the learning curve, step-by-step guides make it easier for staff to fully understand the functionality of new software and the value they’ll gain from using it.

If you’re introducing new software to your employees or helping your client to do so, step-by-step instructions can help your team adapt to new processes faster and more efficiently. 

A few simple step-by-step instructions, or even screenshots, can go a long way in highlighting the software’s key features and capabilities. By showcasing these features in a way that’s clear and easy to understand, organizations can help users get the most out of the software to realize its full potential.

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking step-by step instructions. Give people detailed instructions in minutes.

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Improve knowledge sharing

Sharing knowledge is essential to the smooth running and success of all organizations, as it helps improve collaboration, efficiency, and overall success. While there’s more than one way a company can share knowledge, step-by-step guides cater to everyone’s understanding and comprehension levels. 

Whether the step-by-step directions are provided via a text document, a video tutorial, or even a series of screenshots — which are particularly easy to capture and share — these instructions play a vital role in sharing knowledge between teams and colleagues. 

By creating clear and detailed instructions on how to perform specific tasks, organizations can document their processes and procedures in a standardized way that’s structured and easy for everyone to understand. This can help ensure consistency in the way work is performed, reduce errors, and improve the overall quality and efficiency of a team’s output.

How step-by-step instructions affect your business

There are many different ways that a business can be transformed by simply implementing better knowledge sharing through the use of step-by-step instructions – and all of them are good! 

Whether you’re looking to cut down costs, increase productivity or promote better collaboration between teams and individuals, creating step-by-step instructions could be the answer. 

So let’s take a look at some of the ways in which clear and concise directions can optimize your business operations:


Research shows that employees spend “nearly 20% [of the working week] looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.” However, with clear and concise instructions readily available, employees can save themselves and their colleagues time by solving issues themselves. 

Cost saving

As the old saying goes, “time is money,” which means any time spent fixing problems that could be solved with good knowledge sharing is money wasted! 

In fact, the International Data Corporation estimates the average enterprise wastes $2.5 to $3.5 million per year due to ineffective knowledge systems. That’s a lot of time (and money!) that could be better spent when businesses find better ways to share knowledge among teams, such as with step-by-step instructional guides. 

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking step-by step instructions. Give people detailed instructions in minutes.

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Better collaboration

Having specific instructions on how to complete a project can also support better collaboration between teams. Without clear direction, it can be all too easy for people to lose track of who’s responsible for what task and the project’s end goal. Such confusion can lead to a fall in productivity, missed deadlines, and a lower quality of work. 

This is why it’s really important to ensure that all team members are clear on objectives and what’s expected of them throughout the process. One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve this is by creating clear step-by-step guides that outline and delegate all the steps in a process. 

Such documentation will help eliminate any ambiguity surrounding a project and will act as a guide that employees can refer back to if they ever lose sight of their responsibilities to the project. 

Better process documentation

A report by Panapto found that employees lose an average of five hours per week “waiting to get in touch with people that have the unique knowledge they need.” 

That’s why, when managing a large or growing team, it’s in a business’s best interests to provide staff with the best possible documentation for completing standard processes and operations. That means including clear, concise, and easy-to-follow instructions. 

This key documentation, often referred to as standard operating procedures (or SOPs), is crucial for ensuring every member of staff knows exactly how to complete a task. 

By having documentation on completing standard processes that are easy to access and understand, staff can spend less time searching for the information they need and get on with the task at hand.

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking step-by step instructions. Give people detailed instructions in minutes.

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Better quality control

In turn, having clear and well-thought-out SOPs will help guarantee a consistent level of quality and output among members of staff. Without such instructions, every team member could, in theory, take a different route to complete the same task, but with mixed results. 

With step-by-step instructions, every employee will know the standard way to complete a task and, more importantly, will know exactly what the end result should look like. 

How to create step-by-step instructions?

So now that you know the different ways in which step-by-step instructions can be used and you understand the benefits of using them, it’s time to take a closer look at actually creating them. 

While creating step-by-step guides is fairly simple and straightforward, there are some best practices to keep in mind when putting together your own directions for staff and end-users. 

So, without further ado (and without wanting to be too meta), here are some step-by-step instructions on creating step-by-step instructions:

Name the process or task

The first step is to clearly label the process or task that your step-by-step instructions refer to. This will make it easy for employees to find and refer to, both when they first use your instructions and again if they ever need their memory refreshed on the standard process. 

Establish the individuals responsible for the process

For projects that will only go on for a specific period of time, it’s always worth clearly delegating tasks to certain members of staff. This will help ensure everyone is aligned on each other’s responsibilities. 

However, even for more complex and long-term processes, such as how to apply for time off, it can still be useful to include the names and contact details of relevant people. Though it does become more important to keep the documentation up to date to ensure that the person using the instructions wastes no time contacting the wrong people.

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

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Identify the ideal steps involved

Next, you’ll need to identify the most ideal steps involved in completing a task, process, or project. This step might require some input from members of staff who may be more familiar with — and better equipped to complete — certain objectives. 

You might also take this opportunity to consult managers and decide which steps do and don’t need to be mentioned. While it’s important to give detailed instructions, it’s just as important to be concise. 

Document the steps with all the details required

Now it’s time to actually write down each instruction and explain the details for each one. This presents a great opportunity to use visual elements, such as diagrams, flowcharts, videos, screenshots, and even GIFS, all of which can help boost comprehension. 

With tools like Snagit, you can turn video clips into animated GIFs, which are a great way to split a video into smaller and more digestible snippets. GIFs can also be used for relaying information when a screenshot isn’t quite enough but a video would be overkill. 

However, if a screenshot is all you need to make your instructions clearer, then Snagit’s step tool lets you add step numbers to a screenshot with nothing more than a click.

Create amazing step-by-step instructions!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking step-by step instructions. Give people detailed instructions in minutes.

Download now!

Determine if or when it’s ever appropriate to deviate from the process

As well as outlining detailed steps to complete a process, it’s just as important to identify if and when an employee will need to deviate from your step-by-step instructions and provide clear directions of what to do in such a situation. 

While you can’t plan for every potential scenario, you can have a plan in place to deal with the unexpected. That’s why it’s worth having fallback instructions to cover situations when something doesn’t go as planned. Even if the instruction is as simple as consulting a manager, the employee will waste no time trying to figure out the best course of action.  

By doing this, you’ll ensure your staff is aware of potential situations when something doesn’t go entirely to plan and equipped to make informed decisions on how to move forward. 

Put the process into practice 

Once you’ve finalized the actual step-by-step instructions, it’s time to put them into practice! Now’s your chance to test your instructions with the individuals or teams responsible for overseeing or completing a process. 

After implementing a new process, it’s important to assess the effectiveness and success of both the process and the instructions used to complete it. You should also welcome and listen to feedback from members of staff, as this will help identify the challenges they faced in completing the process or following your instructions.

As with most things, there’s always room for improvement, so be sure to update and refine both processes and step-by-step instructions to maximize your team’s efficiency and output over time.

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Tips to create amazing step-by-step instructions

Now that you know the basics to create clear and concise step-by-step instructions, there are a few other things to keep in mind that will ensure your providing the best possible directions for your team. 

Remember, the better your instructions are, the easier it will be for employees to complete processes and projects successfully and efficiently.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to create step-by-step instructions that are tailored to the specific needs of your organization, which will drive long-term growth and success. 

Be super-organized

As we’ve already discussed, there’s really no limit to the breadth of topics, processes, and tasks that step-by-step instructions can help explain and simplify. The chances are that if you make a how-to document for one process, you’re going to do it for all your processes, which will leave you with a whole library of instructions covering a wide range of tasks. 

While having a big knowledge bank is great for collaboration and productivity, you need to be incredibly organized to ensure that every set of instructions is accessible to every employee. 

This means storing all your guides on one platform and having logical categories with a series of sub-divisions. You’ll also want to ensure that each set of instructions is well-labeled so that your staff can simply search for individual guides as and when they need to. 

Make your instructions easy to read

It might go without saying, but it’s imperative that all your instructions are easy to read and understand. While this isn’t usually a problem for shorter how-to guides, it can be easy to get lost in longer and more complex sets of instructions.

While the structure of your instructions is key to ensuring they’re easy to follow, using visuals can also help convey complex ideas.

To take this one step further, you can even simplify images and screenshots. With Snagit’s simplify tool, you can replace text and distracting visual elements in an image with simplified objects. This is perfect for when you want the reader to focus on only a portion of an image when cropping isn’t an option.

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Give some context to your reader

People learn best when they’re shown (rather than told) how to do something, which is why contextual guidance can be much more effective than simply outlining the features of a tool or piece of software. 

For example, try to create instructions that help the reader solve a specific problem or reach a goal. So rather than telling someone how to do something, try demonstrating it through your instructions and encourage the reader to follow along in real-time. 

This approach will make the instructions much more engaging and will help end-users navigate a tool’s features to complete complex tasks with ease.

Use quality media

If you do decide to use visual media, such as images and videos, in your step-by-step instructions, you have to make sure it’s good quality. 

While that doesn’t mean you need to hire a film crew to create an employee training video, you should, at the very least, ensure the picture and sound quality aren’t distracting your audience. 

You also don’t need advanced equipment, as the built-in webcam and microphone on your computer are probably good enough to create videos, screencasts, and other visuals. 

Make your instructions easy to share

It’s important to remember how busy people are, and when it comes to figuring out how to do something, not everyone will have the time to download and read a large PDF document or presentation.

For this reason, it’s important to ensure that you present your instructions in a visual format that’s easy to share and access in a short amount of time. 

If you’re using Snagit, you can instantly generate a Screencast link to your content where viewers can leave comments or ask questions. Screencast also makes it easy to organize your images and videos into collections for easy access.

Alexandra White

Alexandra is the Documentation Editor at Joyent, where she takes complicated technical content and makes it friendly for the average human being. She’s been a marketing manager, a web developer, and once upon a time she was the social media intern at TechSmith. She believes in the power of a strong women in tech community. Follow her on twitter for technical strategies and thoughts on women’s rights at @heyawhite. TechSmith is thrilled to work with talented guest bloggers to bring valuable and interesting content to readers. Have a topic suggestion? Tweet us @TechSmith!

How to Record Your Computer Screen (With Sound)

How to Record Your Computer Screen

Whether you’re a software developer that needs to create a how-to video, you need to record your screen for a presentation, or simply want to make a helpful YouTube video, being able to capture a screen recording is essential in today’s world. However, knowing how to screen record on a laptop or PC with sound will make your videos even more impactful. 

Regardless of who you are or what you do, there’s a good chance you’ll need to capture different types of screen recordings depending on your audience, the purpose of your video, and even the length of it. 

For example, a how-to video (often referred to as a screencast) demonstrating a brand-new product will probably need to be longer and more polished than a simple video showing a colleague how to take screenshots on their computer

These factors will also influence your decision when finding the best screen recording software. If the key purpose of your videos is knowledge sharing, you’ll want to make sure that the software you use can also record sound, as giving your viewers audio instructions will make it easier for you to convey information and for them to digest it. 

So if you’re asking yourself: “How can I record my screen?” Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered! 

In this article, we’ll look at how to record your screen with audio so that your viewers can hear what you’re saying and see what you’re doing. We’ll also discuss the difference between using built-in screen recording tools and third-party software such as Camtasia and Snagit. 

By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to start a screen recording on your laptop, PC or Mac.

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Should I use a free screen recorder?

Maybe. You can use free apps like QuickTime (on Mac) or Xbox App (Windows), but if you’re comparing different screen recording tools, make sure you get a screen recorder with sound recording and video editing options built-in. Not all software offer this level of functionality, but these ‘extra’ tools can have a big impact on the screen recordings you create.

The problem with many built-in screen recorders that come as standard on your computer  (and some third-party ones) is that they limit you to just recording. This could leave you needing extra tools and software just to edit and share your videos.

How to choose your desktop screen recorder

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose the screen recording software you’ll use. 

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 with Camtasia and assembled into longer, more complex videos there.

Today, we’ll show you how to screen record your screen with Snagit for simple recordings and Camtasia for more polished videos.

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Snagit is better for short, quick desktop screen recordings

Short, simple recordings that won’t require much editing can be done with something like Snagit.

Snagit is great for screenshots and quick and easy screen recordings. It’s perfect for conveying a complex idea or process — that’s too hard to explain via email — when you don’t have time to schedule a meeting.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Choose what you want to record

Step 2: Decide whether to record your webcam, microphone, and/or system audio (each one can be toggled on and off individually, so you can record all or none of them along with your screen)  

Step 3: Trim your video

Step 4: Save or share

When your video is ready, use the Share menu to save the video or click “Share Link” and a url will be automatically copied to your clipboard.

Snagit Screen Recording Hotkeys

Start Screen Recording

Windows: Shift+F9

Mac: Control+Shift+Spacebar

Pause/Resume Screen Recording

Windows: Shift+F9

Mac: Control+Shift+Spacebar

Stop Screen Recording

Windows: Shift+F10

Mac: Control+Shift+V
To configure your own hotkeys for your keyboard, see Customize the Snagit Hotkeys.

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Camtasia is better for polished, professional-quality screen recordings

Longer or more complex recordings may need more editing. With Camtasia you’ll have a built-in video editing suite full of advanced tools you can use to create stunning videos.

For example, Camtasia even allows you to enhance the video by zooming in on areas of emphasis, changing the size and path of the cursor, and adding text or graphic call-outs. These are just some of the features that make Camtasia great for creating professional videos, such as training videos, product demos and software marketing content. 

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Choose your recording options

Step 2: Choose the region you want to record

Step 3: Record your desktop with audio (if you want to)

Step 4: Edit your video

Step 5: Produce and share

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Camtasia Screen Recording Hotkeys

Start/Pause Screen Recording

Windows: F9

Mac: Command+Shift+2

Stop Screen Recording

Windows: F10

Mac: Command+Option+2

To customize the shortcuts for your keyboard, see Customize Camtasia Shortcuts

How to record your screen with sound

Including audio with your screen recordings can really enhance the viewer’s experience, and narrating what you’re doing on screen, or providing step-by-step instructions, can be especially helpful when creating how-to videos.

By using voice-over narration, you’ll provide additional context and support for your visuals, which will help viewers understand what’s happening on the screen and why. This also provides an opportunity to give viewers commentary and insight that may not be apparent from the visuals alone – no matter how crisp or clear your video is!

Sound is also useful for other screen recordings. For example, keeping the original audio in clips taken from webinars and virtual meetings will provide extra context and insight into the conversations that took place. Even if you were to provide a transcript of the conversation with the video , there are small nuances in speech that can often be missed without sound. 

Whether you’re recording for professional or personal purposes, having the original audio can be critical for communicating your message effectively. By including both voice-over narration and original system audio, you can create more engaging and informative screen recordings that will better connect with your audience.

To record your voice, select the microphone on Snagit. And if you want to record the sounds that come from your computer, like the beeps and boops you hear, select the system audio option.

When you record your screen you can include typing the address into your browser and show all your mouse movements and clicks to let people see exactly where to go and how to get there.

You can include video and audio when you record your screen too. Use microphone audio to narrate your video from your computer’s built-in microphone or an external mic.You can also record your system audio (that’s the sound that comes out of your speakers). 

Now you have all the information you need to create audio-enabled screencasts! Never again will you need to ask, “How do you record screens with sound?” or “How can I record my screen?”

Record Your Screen Today! (For Free!)

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Computer screen recording FAQs

Can I screen record with sound?

Yes, with the right software recording your computer screen with sound is easy. While some computers and operating systems come with built-in tools to record your screen, not all of them include features to record audio. 

Depending on your computer, downloading software such as Snagit or Camtasia could be the easiest and most effective way to record your screen with sound.

How do I record my computer screen?

Depending on your computer and operating system, you may or may not have a built-in tool to record your screen. Either way, third-party software such as Camtasia and Snagit offer more advanced features than most built-in screen recorders.

How to screen record on Mac?

You can use the built-in Quicktime Player to capture a screen recording on your Mac, or you can use third-party software such as Camtasia or Snagit which offer more advanced recording features. For example, with the Camtasia Recorder, you can record your screen and your webcam at the same time, as well as sound from both your microphone and system audio. 

How to screen record on Windows?

To record your screen on a Windows computer, you can use the built-in Xbox Game Bar, or third-party software like Camtasia or Snagit, which offer more versatile recording and editing tools. Not only does Camtasia let you record your screen, webcam, microphone, and system audio all at once, but you can also edit each media clip either separately or together. 

How to screen record on Chromebook?

To screen record on a Chromebook, you can use the built-in Screen Recorder, or third-party software such as Camtasia or Snagit to capture your screen, audio, and webcam footage. Camtasia and Snagit offer cutting-edge editing and recording tools to help you record and edit like a pro. With Camtasia, you can even create split screen videos and add a range of animations to your footage.

The Best Way to Take Screenshots on a Computer (PC and Mac)

Screen Capture: The Best Way to Take Screenshots

Do you often need to save or share what you see on your computer screen? Do you find that the built-in tools on your devices don’t offer as many functions as you’d like?

While mobile and desktop operating systems offer basic screen capture tools built-in, most have limited functionality.

There is, however, a wide range of third-party apps, programs, and browser extensions that have been specifically designed for taking a screenshot, editing them, adding notes, as well as sharing and saving them.

Apps like Snagit, are perfect for people that take lots of screenshots and need more flexible and robust tools than the ones built into their devices. If that sounds like you, then Snagit might be your new best friend!

One of the best parts of using Snagit to take screenshots is that it enables you to show people exactly what you want them to see on your desktop, and how you want them to see it.

Capture your screen today!

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Snagit offers a wide range of smart and intuitive screen capture tools that make it easy to take, edit, annotate, and share screenshots and video screen recordings, both of which are a really effective form of visual communication.

As well as using Snagit to capture your desktop, you can also use it to edit the photos saved on your computer. That means you can use Snagit to crop any image on your device, as well as edit, annotate and add effects to them. 

In this blog post, we’ll be showing you how to take a screenshot on both Mac and Windows using built-in tools like the Windows Snipping Tool and third-party programs like Snagit. So if you need to know how to capture your screen on a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, or how to take, edit and annotate screenshots on a Lenovo or HP laptop, we’ve got you covered. 

How to take a screenshot on PC

If you want to take a screenshot on your Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, or Windows 11 computer, there are several methods you can use.

Well, whether you want to capture the entire screen on your PC or just a piece of it, we’ve rounded up the most effective ways of capturing your screen on Windows using built-in tools like the Snipping Tool and third-party apps like Snagit, which offer advanced features and greater flexibility. 

Capture the whole screen on Windows

The simplest way to take a screenshot in Windows is to use the Print Screen button (often labeled as “PrtScn” or “PrtSc”). You’ll find it on the upper-right side of most keyboards or next to the Space Bar on some. 

To capture an image of your entire screen, simply press the PrtScn button once, this will copy the screenshot to your clipboard. You can then open any program that allows you to insert images, such as Paint, Microsoft Word, or Powerpoint, and paste the screenshot by pressing Ctrl-V. Doing this can really improve your Word Docs and PowerPoint slides as it helps break up the text and make the information you’re sharing easier to digest.

The downside to this method is that it captures everything that’s visible on your monitor. And, if you have a multiple monitor setup, the screenshot will merge all your screens together to make it look as though they’re all part of one giant desktop. 

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Not only does this make it harder to show something specific, but the words and/or images you’re looking to save or share can easily become lost in too big a picture and may be rendered unclearly. 

If you only want to capture the window you currently have open, you can hold down the Alt button while pushing the Print Screen button. This method works on any version of Windows, including Windows XP and 95. 

Just as it would with the regular method, this will copy your screenshot to your clipboard, which allows you to paste it into your desired program in order to save the file.

Capture parts of the screen on Windows 

Depending on what it is you need to do, there are different types of screenshots you can take, and different ways of taking them. As we’ve discussed, one way is to use the tool that’s built-in on your device, such as the Print Screen button or the Snipping Tool. 

The Print Screen button allows you to quickly capture an image of your entire screen or just the active window, depending on whether you use the button alone or in combination with the Alt key. On the other hand, the Snipping Tool (available on Windows 7 and later versions) allows you to capture a specific area of the screen, as well as add notes and save the image in different formats, which can be useful for conveying specific information and ideas.

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Then there’s Snagit, the third-party software from TechSmith that offers a range of advanced features for capturing, editing, and sharing screenshots. Not only can you use Snagit to take static screenshots but you can record videos, capture whole web pages, and create GIFs. You can even use Snagit to turn multiple images into a video – the possibilities are endless. 

It’s easy to use too! With Snagit, you can create custom shortcuts for quick access to the features you use the most, and use the built-in editor to add text, shapes, effects, and watermarks to your captures

With the latest features, sharing videos and screen captures taken with Snagit has never been easier. Once your screenshot or recording has been taken, you can click on the “Share Link” button to generate a link to your content. The link will be automatically copied to your clipboard so that it’s ready to paste into an email, message, or document. 

This dedicated link will take your audience to Screencast, where they can view and engage with your content by way of adding comments and graphic annotations, in real-time. Viewers don’t need an account to interact with your content, which means you can share your Snagit media with anyone.

As the owner of the content, you can also log on to Screencast to access, organize, and manage your media. However, if all you need to do is directly share a file, Snagit does allow you to save your screenshots in different formats (such as JPG or PNG) and simply share them via email, social media, cloud storage, or team messaging platforms like Slack.

There’s no right or wrong way to take a screenshot on your PC, but some ways might be more suited to you, your objectives, and your workflow. On the one hand, you can use built-in Windows tools for simple and quick screen grabs, or use Snagit for more advanced and professional captures.

Improving Your Internal Communications

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Screen capture on Windows using the built-in tool

Let’s talk a bit more about the Windows Snipping Tool. This is is a built-in screenshot utility available in all recent versions of Windows, including 7, 8, 10, and 11. It allows you to capture specific areas of your screen and save the image in different formats. When compared to older versions of the Windows Print Screen function, the Snipping Tool is much more versatile when it comes to taking screenshots, but is just as easy to use.

You can open the Snipping Tool by searching for it in the toolbar search. To do that, press the Windows key to open the toolbar and jump to Windows search – alternatively, you can also use the Windows-S shortcut to open Windows search. Once it’s open, type in “Snipping Tool” and press Enter (and note that in Windows 7, you must manually select the search field before typing). 

The Snipping Tool application will then appear in the search results. To open it, just push Enter, or click on the icon – it’s that simple! To make it easier to find and open the Snipping Tool in the future, you can easily pin it to your taskbar or start menu.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a keyboard shortcut to open the Snipping Tool and it can only be opened manually. In Windows 10, however, there’s an updated version of the Snipping Tool, called “Snip & Sketch”, which can be opened by pressing the Windows-Shift-S. 

Snip & Sketch is similar to the Snipping Tool and offers the same screen capture capabilities with some additional functionality for editing, annotating, and sharing screen grabs. However, when Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system in 2021, they decided to merge Snip & Sketch with the Snipping Tool to create the new and improved Snipping Tool (so Windows 11 users won’t find Snip & Sketch on their PC). 

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The Snipping Tool has various modes that allow you to capture free-form screen grabs and basic rectangular screenshots. However, this already offers much more flexibility than just pressing the Print Screen key. Once you start “Snipping” by clicking the “New” button, your entire screen will turn gray and all you have to do is select the area you want to capture.

Once you’ve taken your screenshot, not only will it be copied to your clipboard (so you can share it right away), but it will also be automatically saved to the Screenshots folder (which can be found in your Pictures folder). If you click the preview that pops up in the bottom-right corner of your screen, you’ll also be able to edit your capture and add markups. 

Screen capture on Windows using Snagit

If you don’t already have Snagit, you can download it for free and try the software for 15 days. Snagit works on both Windows and Mac. So no matter what platform you use, it will work on your system.

You can capture your entire screen or only a selected portion of it. The screenshot automatically opens in the Snagit Editor where you can preview, edit, and share the capture.

Step 1: Open the Capture window.

In the Notifications area, click the red TechSmith Snagit icon to open the Capture window on the screen. If you’re in the Snagit editor, click the Capture button in the toolbar to bring up the Capture window.

Screen capture on Windows using Snagit.
Step 2: Choose your screen capture settings.

The Capture window gives you a lot of flexibility depending on what type of screen capture you want to take. Grab your entire desktop, a region, or a window with Snagit’s All-in-One Capture®. Take a quick image screenshot, or even record a video.

Step 3: Click the Capture button.

Click the Capture button on any tab in the Capture window to start your screen capture. You can also start a capture with the current settings by pressing the PrtScn button (Print Screen), which is the default global capture hotkey. You can also customize and change the global capture hotkey.

Step 4: Click and drag the crosshairs to take a screenshot of the active window.

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How to take a screenshot on Mac

These methods work with different versions of macOS–10.10 (Yosemite), or higher.

Capture the whole screen on Mac

Let’s take a look now at how to take a screen capture on an Apple Mac. The macOS has slick built-in features for taking screenshots quickly and easily. However, when it comes to trying to capture an entire web page, things can get a little tricky. 

As most web pages don’t fit cleanly into the window of a web browser, if you want to take a screenshot of a whole page, you need to adjust the magnification levels by zooming out until the whole page fits. 

Here are the steps to follow when taking a screenshot of a webpage on a Mac:

  1. Open the webpage you want to screenshot;
  2. Click the green button in the top-left corner of your browser window to make it full-screen;
  3. Hold the Command (Cmd) key and press the minus key to zoom out until the whole page is visible without scrolling;
  4. Next, press Cmd-Shift-4 to open the screen capture tool. You’ll notice that your cursor arrow will turn into crosshairs;
  5. Click the mouse button (don’t let go yet!) to drag the crosshairs and highlight the parts of the webpage that you want to capture;
  6. When you’ve selected everything you want to screenshot, release the mouse button.
  7. A screenshot of the highlighted area will be taken and saved to your desktop. 

Once the screenshot has been taken, you can either click on the preview that appears in the bottom-right corner of your screen or open it from your desktop to edit and/or share it.

The downside to taking a screenshot on a Mac like this is that even if the entire webpage fits on your screen once you’ve zoomed all the way out (which it might not), there’s always a chance that the text won’t be legible and the images will render unclear.

However, Snagit’s panoramic capture feature allows you to take scrolling captures, which are a more advanced and fluid way of taking large screenshots, without compromising the quality of the content you want to share. With the panoramic capture tool, you can scroll both vertically and horizontally, making it particularly useful when it comes to capturing large web pages or spreadsheets.

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Capture parts of the screen on Mac

Depending on what you need to do, there are several ways to take screen captures on a Mac. Firstly, you can use the various built-in tools, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

Alternatively, you can use Snagit, which offers a variety of advanced features for capturing, editing, and sharing. With Snagit, you have the ability to easily capture entire web pages, as well as images, videos, and GIFs. Each screenshot can be saved in a range of formats and shared quickly and easily with your colleagues and contacts.

As well as capturing entire web pages, Snagit can be used to quickly create mock up websites. You don’t need a degree in design, you just need some screenshots – it couldn’t be easier! 

Screen capture on Mac using the built-in tool

To capture a screenshot on a Mac, press the Cmd-Shift-5 simultaneously to open the screenshot tool.

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With the screenshot tool open, you’ll have several options for taking different types of screen captures, including:

  • The entire screen (which can be done by pressing Cmd-Shift-3 at the same time);
  • A portion of the screen (which can be done by pressing Cmd-Shift-4 simultaneously before clicking and dragging to highlight the portion you want to screenshot);
  • A single window (which can be done by pressing the keys Cmd-Shift-4 together. You’ll then need to press the Space Bar and click on the window you want to capture);
  • Record the entire screen (possibly in order to complete a “lecture capture”);
  • Record a portion of the screen.

Expert Tip: If your MacBook has a Touch Bar, you can capture that in your screenshot too by pressing Cmd-Shift-6. 

The screenshots you take will automatically save to your desktop, but unlike Windows devices, they won’t be copied to your clipboard. 

If you only want the screenshot to be copied to your clipboard (rather than saved to your desktop), you will need to press the Control (Ctrl) button when using one of the keyboard shortcuts described in the list above. For example, to copy a screenshot of your entire screen to your clipboard you need to press Cmd-Shift-Ctrl-3 at the same time. 

This is a quick way to take a screenshot and have it on your clipboard, ready to be pasted into another application. It’s worth noting, however, that a screenshot taken with the Control button held down will only go to your clipboard and won’t be saved to your desktop.

Capture your screen today!

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Screen capture on Mac using Snagit

Step 1: Open the Capture window.

In the menu bar, click the TechSmith Snagit icon to open the Capture window on the screen. If you’re in the Snagit editor, click the Capture button in the toolbar to bring up the Capture window.

Screen capture on Mac using Snagit
Step 2: Choose your screen capture settings.

The Capture window gives you a lot of flexibility depending on what type of screen capture you want to take. Grab your entire desktop, a region, or a window with Snagit’s All-in-One Capture®. Take quick image screenshots. Or even record videos.

Step 3: Click the capture button.

Click the Capture button on any tab in the Capture window to start your screen capture. You can also start a capture with the current settings by pressing using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-C, which is the default global capture hotkey. You can also customize and change the global capture hotkey.

Step 4: Click and drag the crosshairs to select part or all of your screen.

Capture your screen today!

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How to take screenshots, FAQs

How to take a screenshot on a Chromebook?

There are several ways to take a screenshot on a Chromebook:

1- The simplest way is to press the Ctrl-Show Windows keys at the same time. By doing this, you’ll take a screenshot of the entire screen.

It’s worth noting that some of the latest Chromebook models have a dedicated key for capturing the entire screen. It’s usually located above the 6 key and is labeled “F5” and in some cases, this key will have a camera icon on it.

2- To capture a specific portion of the screen, press the Ctrl-Shift-Show Windows keys simultaneously. This will allow you to select the area of the screen you want to capture.

3- You can also take a screenshot of a specific window by pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Show Windows keys at the same time. This will capture a screenshot of the active window.

All your screenshots will be saved in the “Downloads” folder, where they can be easily shared with your contacts.

How to take a screenshot on an HP laptop?

As most HP laptops and computers run on a Windows operating system, the instructions for how to take a screenshot on a computer will also apply here. But, it’s worth remembering that as well as the built-in tools on your device, you can also download Snagit and try it for 15 days, for free! 

How to take a screenshot on a MacBook?

The fastest way to take a screenshot on a MacBook is to use the keyboard shortcut Cmd-Shift-4, which will allow you to capture a specific portion of your screen, or a particular window, which you can do by pushing the Space Bar and clicking on your desired window. 

You can also use the keyboard shortcut Cmd-Shift-5 to open the screenshot tool, which will provide you with options to record your screen as well as capture individual stills. 

Alternatively, for greater functionality and more advanced tools, you can install Snagit on a MacBook and use that to capture and record your screen in a variety of easy-to-edit formats.

How to take a screenshot on a Dell?

Taking a screenshot on a Dell laptop is similar to taking a screenshot on a Windows PC, as most Dell laptops use the Windows operating system. This means that the same keyboard shortcuts and built-in tools that apply to Windows PCs also apply to Dell laptops and computers.

It’s worth noting that in addition to the built-in tools, you can also use third-party software such as Snagit to capture screenshots. Snagit offers advanced features and editing tools, and you can try it for free for 15 days.

How to take a screenshot on a Samsung?

Capturing a screenshot on a Samsung laptop is similar to capturing one on a Windows PC as most Samsung laptops run on the Windows operating system. This means that the same keyboard shortcuts and built-in tools that apply to Windows PCs can also be used on Samsung laptops. 

However, it is important to note that in addition to the built-in tools, you can also use third-party software such as Snagit to capture screenshots. Snagit offers advanced features and editing tools, and you can try it out for free for 15 days.

How to take a screenshot on a MacBook Air?

Like all MacBooks, a MacBook Air runs on the macOS operating system. This means that taking, saving, and editing screenshots on a MacBook Air is the same as on any Mac device and the instructions described in this post for how to take a screenshot on Mac will also apply to a MacBook Air. 

Snagit is also available on Mac devices and offers more advanced functionality than the screenshot tools that are included with a MacBook Air. New users can also benefit from a 15-day free trial when they first start using Snagit.

How to take a screenshot on a Lenovo?

Taking a screenshot on a Lenovo laptop is similar to taking one on a Windows PC as most Lenovo laptops operate on the Windows operating system. This means that the same keyboard shortcuts and built-in tools that apply to Windows PCs can also be used on Lenovo laptops. 

However, in addition to the built-in tools, you can also use third-party software like Snagit to capture screenshots. Snagit offers advanced features and editing tools, and you can test it out for free for 15 days.

Experiencing Tech Overload? Here Are the Tools Employees Can’t Work Without

decorative image

The emergency shift to remote work in 2020 was hectic for many businesses. With no time to thoughtfully develop new processes and norms, many companies relied on new apps and tools to stay connected as a distributed workforce.

According to a survey from Okta, companies deployed 89 apps on average in 2021, up from 58 in 2015. And employees are feeling the consequences, with app overload leading to less productivity and even burnout.

Even with workers having dozens of apps at their fingertips each day, when we asked Snagit customers what their “desert island” workplace tools are, a few apps rose to the top across various industries and roles. 

In this post, you’ll learn:

The cost of using too many apps for communication and collaboration at work

While there are obvious financial costs associated with workplace technology, not finding the right balance of tools can impact your organization beyond budgets.

Misunderstandings or confusion

Too many apps can cause misunderstandings or create confusion within your company, primarily when employees use multiple tools that serve similar functions. 

When information becomes scattered across multiple apps, it’s easier for people to receive conflicting information or even miss an important message altogether. 

It can be even more complicated when teams or departments within a company use different apps to share information. 

Let’s say you’re working on a design project, and a stakeholder shares a critical change to the specifications in a Teams chat. However, the designer on your team is checking their email for updates and misses the message in Teams. 

The next time the team regroups, the designer is confused about why the stakeholder isn’t happy with their work and frustrated they didn’t have the correct information. 

Reduced productivity and wasted time

Do you have days where you work on many different tasks but don’t actually complete anything on your to-do list?

You can blame context switching, or the tendency to shift between one task to an unrelated task, for that lack of productivity. 

When we’re using too many apps at work, we can find ourselves spending more time toggling between windows than actually getting our work done.

According to a Ring Central survey, employees waste about an hour each day switching between different apps. 

Plus, each of those apps comes with its own set of notifications that make it more challenging to focus on a single task. 

Employee disengagement and burnout

According to The Anatomy of Work Index, more than one-third of workers feel overwhelmed by the persistent ping of notifications.

When you also consider how app overload unintentionally creates a fragmented, confusing work environment, it’s easy to see how employees could become stressed.

According to a survey from FlexJobs, more than three-quarters of respondents say workplace stress affects their mental health, which can lead to disengagement or burnout. 

How to combat app overload

The good news is there are several ways to help prevent app overload and its consequences.

Audit the tools you have

Start by taking stock of the apps you’re using and the specific business outcomes they support. Evaluating your company’s current tools will help identify redundancies or gaps in workflows to address.

Don’t forget to keep your organization’s most critical goals in mind when deciding which apps are essential and which you should let go of. 

If your company handles complex projects with many moving parts, it probably doesn’t make sense to get rid of your project management app.

Use the tools you have to the fullest

A study from WalkMe found that only half of the enterprises surveyed believe they realize the full potential of the apps at their disposal. 

Before deploying a new app, evaluate whether one of the tools you already have meets that need first. 

Look into features you’re not currently using or other pricing tiers to see if upgrading a current app is a better fit. You might find investing in an app your employees already use more cost-effective in the long run.

Snagit is an Essential Tool for the Modern Workplace

Empower your team to communicate more effectively and eliminate unnecessary meetings.


Streamline processes

We usually don’t add tools or apps to our workplace tech stack just for fun. The goal is to give employees the tools they need to do their job effectively.

So, creating uniform processes across teams and departments can also help reduce app overload and prevent redundant work or information silos. 

Let’s say the human resources team at your company uses Asana to keep track of their work, but the finance team uses Trello for the same purpose. Of course, there are added costs associated with the redundancy, but it can also make workflows unnecessarily complicated.

Especially when those teams need to collaborate on a project, it can lead to conflicting information or additional steps to get everyone on the same page.

Listen to your employees

When adding or removing tools from your workplace tech stack, remember to collect feedback from those who use them every day.

Asking employees for their opinions about the functionality or usefulness of an app can help you get a better idea of its overall effectiveness. 

You may discover that the features one team likes about OneDrive are the same reasons another team can’t live without Google Docs, allowing a smoother transition if you choose one app over the other. 

The top workplace tools, according to employees

To find out what tools professionals across various industries are finding success with today, we asked Snagit customers one question, “If you had to choose five software tools to continue to use in the workplace today, which would you choose?”*

Across industries and roles, the top five tools were:

  1. Snagit
  2. Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  3. Outlook
  4. Zoom
  5. Microsoft Teams

Snagit is a powerful screen capture tool that allows you to use images and videos to share ideas, give feedback, and communicate more effectively. 

It’s incredibly easy to use and ranks on G2’s list of Best Software Products for 2023.

Snagit is one of those applications that you need to have “always on” ready to go. It is such a productive tool for learning, presentation development, and idea generation.

Derek T. via G2

Building the optimal tech stack for hybrid and remote work requires thoughtful evaluation of the tools your teams use daily. Leveraging a quality-over-quantity approach to apps can help you communicate more effectively, increase productivity, and keep employees engaged.


How to Make a Boring Presentation Interesting

make presentation isnt boring hero

Whether presenting to colleagues at work or giving the keynote at a major conference, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides and other slide presentations have become an absolutely essential way to share information.

They’re easy to use, offer a great way to combine images, video, and text, and require almost no training.

So, why are so many presentations so BORING?

All the elements are there for creating effective, eye-catching, and engaging presentations, but so often we’re forced to sit through slide after slide of overcrowded, hard-to-read text and fuzzy (or non-existent) images.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

You don’t need to be an expert at public speaking or worry about giving a Ted Talk level presentation.

You can make your presentations dazzle with just a few easy tips.


How to Make a Presentation Interesting

In order to be great, you need to combine story telling, authenticity, and visual supports.  

Basically, it’s all about what you say, how you say it, and giving your audience cool slides to look at while you say it. 

Tell a story 

Often times when we think about how to make a presentation interesting, we focus on the visuals. We add animations and transitions, hoping that will keep our audience engaged. 

Cool slide designs can help, there’s no doubt about that, but if most of your attention and time is spent on that portion of the presentation you are missing out on a key element that is crucial for making presentations interesting – the story. 

The best presentations draw in their viewers with a relatable narrative, but the narrative also helps the presentation to gain memorability as well. 

You should be spending a large portion of your preparation time on crafting your content – the actual information you will be sharing and how you will be sharing it. It deosn’t matter how cool your slide designs are if they aren’t supporting compelling content. 

You don’t have to weave an epic tale for your presentation, but if you are looking to make your presentation interesting you need to incorporate some story telling aspects, like personal connection and impact.  As you sit down to write, consider these questions:

  • What am I sharing? 
  • Why is it important? 
  • What can my audience do with the information once they have it?

These questions help you get to the most important part of any communication – the purpose.  

Most presentations try to accomplish one or two of these purposes: 

  • To inform
  • To persuade
  • To inspire
  • To entertain

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!

Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.

Try Snagit for Free

Whether you want your presentation to inspire or to inform and persuade, you can build your story to achieve the goal!   

You’ll need an outline so that your purpose is kept at the centre of your presentation and so that you follow a familiar structure. You need to make sure that you have a clear beginning, middle, and end.  

Presentations that are interesting from beginning to end take the audience on a journey. If you just recite facts and highlight data your audience won’t be engaged enough to do anything with the information, but if you go on too many tangents with personal anecdotes you will lose them to confusion about what they are meant to be learning.  

To create an interesting presentation, before getting to the cool slides, be sure you structure your content in a way that makes it easy to tell the story and provide your audience with a journey that is relevant and memorable. 

How to Make a Presentation Interesting?

Be authentic and engaging

A key point that often gets forgotten when preparing presentations? YOU are the presentation.  

If you are putting on a show, creating a persona that you believe your audience would be more interested in or confident about, the audience will pick up on it almost immediately. The whole experience will be awkward for everyone.  

Instead, lean in to the parts of your personality that best serve the presentation’s purpose. Tell personal stories, speak in the same manner you normally do, and be open.  

Your energy is contagious. If you want to make your presentation more interesting, you’ve got to bring the right energy. 

High energy presenters get more engagement from their audiences, while coming in with low energy is a surefire way to destroy any hope of engagement, regardless of how good a story you have crafted with your presentation’s content. 

Memorize your content rather than relying on reading your slides, and be sure to use different speeds and volumes throughout the presentation in order to make it more interesting, draw attention to specific points, and present authentically.

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!

Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.

Try Snagit for Free

Prepare cool presentation slides

A recent study found that poorly constructed PowerPoint decks can lead to “distraction, boredom, and impeded learning,” while a well-crafted one enhances audience engagement and information retention.

Plus, let’s not forget that PowerPoint is a visual medium. People didn’t come to your presentation to read text off a slide. They came to listen to you present important information. And, the best way to present information is with visuals.

In fact, our research on the Value of Visuals shows that people actually absorb information faster and remember it better and for longer when it’s presented visually vs. text.

And a visual presentation doesn’t just help your audience, it will help you too!

Another recent study found that 91% of people feel that a well-designed slide deck would make them feel more confident when giving a presentation.

So, not only will your audience enjoy your presentation and get more out of it, you’ll feel like a better presenter!

It’s a win-win!

Improving Your Internal Communications

A guide to how visual content can help create a more collaborative and productive work environment.

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How to Make Your Slides Look Cool 

While your content is crucial to the strength of your presentation, your slide deck has the power to add to or take away from the overall effectiveness.  Learning how to make a presentation more interesting requires skillful collaboration between the strength of your content and knowing how to make your slides look cool. 

Less is more

Learning how to make a presentation more interesting has a lot to do with learning what not to include on your slides. Less is more when it comes to slide content.  

Your slides should not be stuffed with content, especially text heavy content. Incorporating speaking points rather than fully developed ideas helps your audience follow your message without getting distracted by trying to read the slide.  

It doesn’t matter how cool your slide design is if you crowd in too much content. 

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!

Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.

Try Snagit for Free

Use cool slide designs

You don’t have to start from scratch with every presentation! Chances are, you are not a graphic designer so why not use the templates that have been created by professionals? 

Using these presentation templates can help you make cool Powerpoint slides, cool Google slides, or slides for other platforms as well without spending too much time trying to create a professional look. 

You can easily find templates online for Google Slides and for Powerpoint. Each of these platforms offer themes within their software as well. 

These templates and themes have all been created by professional designers, so while you will need to make minor adjustments you should refrain from making significant changes to the cool slide designs you are using.

Be on-brand

Using consistent branding is an easy way to build familiarity and trust with your audience. If you have an established brand in place be sure to use it when building your slides.  

The colors and fonts used in your design should always adhere to your brand standards without deviation. 

If you don’t have a brand guide to work from, select a specific color palette, using color theory to ensure the message of your presentation is not counteracted by your color choices. 

Stick with just a few colors, and go the same route with fonts. Only choose a few to use, and try to avoid overly scripty options as they are difficult to read on screen.

Use quality images

Adding images to your cool slides that are blurry, pixelated, or otherwise low in quality is an easy way to let your audience “check out” of your presentation. 

If you don’t have access to high quality branded photos, use sites like Unsplash and Shutterstock to access high quality images for your presentations. 

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!

Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.

Try Snagit for Free

Use screenshots

Adding screenshots can make your presentation more interesting than stock photos. Screenshots add a level of personalization that can’t be achieved with the use of generic photos. 

You can capture fantastic screenshots and even add highlights and notations with Snagit. Download your free trial here

Use infographics

A great way to reduce the amount of text content on your slides is with the use of infographics. 

Infographics are a great tool for making presentations interesting because they can successfully convey a lot of data in a visually interesting way.  

You don’t have to lock yourself in to the idea of charts as the primary visual for your infographics anymore. 

You can display many an idea through a good infographic, like steps in a process or historical values, and they are an excellent addition to your cool presentation slides. 

Add cool transitions to your slides

Adding transitions to your slides is a great way to make a presentation interesting. There is a fine balance to strike though between using enough and using too many. 

Limiting transitions to one per slide is a good place to start. These additions make your presentation more interactive and appealing. 

Use GIFs & memes

If you want to make a presentation more interesting, a GIF or two added to highlight some key points is a great way to go. 

GIFs are a great middle ground option between static images and videos. They can be used very effectively to drive home a specific point or to highlight a specific piece of data.  

GIFs are a great way to make your presentation more interesting and more memorable. Visuals always help with memorability and GIFs usually include a touch of humor and personality – both qualities that help information stick. 

While you are creating your cool slide designs, you may find the perfect place for a meme. These can be an effective tool, especially if the subject matter you are covering is light hearted, but use them with caution. 

They have the potential to go too far with the humor and that can detract from the focus of your presentation.

Take Your Presentation to the Next Level with Images and Video!

Snagit makes it easy to ditch those boring presentation slides filled with text and grab your audience’s attention with eye-catching images and videos.

Try Snagit for Free

Add videos

We live in a video world. A lot of the workforce is now comprised of Millennial and Gen Z workers. 

Something important to note about these two generations is that they have spent a lot of time consuming video content – it is a very comfortable medium for them and can be a really effective tool for keeping them engaged. 

Embedding videos directly into your slides can play a role in creating an interesting presentation. 

However, using too many videos (more than 3 in a standard presentation) can take away the impact your own content has, and using videos that are too long (longer than 2 minutes) can detract from your authority as the speaker – so choose wisely.

Embedding videos directly into your slides can play a role in creating an interesting presentation. 

Create a Video to Share Your Cool Slides After Your Presentation 

You’ve now spent a lot of time and energy creating your presentation. You’ve done all you can to make it interesting and perfectly appealing for your audience. It would be a shame to only use it once!

You can make your presentation a reusable asset simply by turning it into a video. You have already taken the steps to make it visually appealing so it is naturally suitable to video format. 

You don’t need to add any new content, just a simple voiceover. You can use Snagit to screen record the presentation slides and Camtasia to add a voice over recording of you presenting the content!  

Doing this means that you can send your presentation to anyone who couldn’t attend in real time. You can also send it as followup material to those who did attend so that they can continue to access it as they need to.


FAQs about Successful Presentations with Cool Slides

How to make a PowerPoint presentation interesting?

To make a powerpoint presentation interesting you can consider the following:Tell a story
Be authentic and engaging
Create cool presentation slides

How to do cool transitions on slides?

Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint both have built in capacity to add transitions on your cool slide designs.

How to get cool themes for my presentation?

You can find themes to make your presentation more interesting in the design settings on both Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides. 

Proximity Bias and Hybrid Work: What You Need to Know

proximity bias can create a company culture where in-office employees are rewarded for their presence with resources and promotions while their remote counterparts are left behind.

As employees return to the office, companies embracing hybrid work arrangements face a challenge: proximity bias. 

In hybrid work environments, proximity bias could lead to the incorrect assumption that those working in the office are more productive than their remote teammates. 

Managers and employees alike are concerned about the effects of proximity bias and hybrid work. In fact:

  • Two in five employees are worried that less face-to-face time with company leadership will negatively impact their career growth
  • 41 percent of executives say potential inequities between remote and in-office employees are their top concern
  • A study found remote workers were less likely to be promoted than their in-office colleagues, despite being 15 percent more productive

At the same time, hybrid work is the new norm. Most employees favor a hybrid work model, so forcing everyone back to the office isn’t the solution. 

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be aware of proximity bias and make sure everyone on your team feels included. 

The good news is that managers and employees alike can take steps to avoid proximity bias in the workplace. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in this post: 

How proximity influences our perception of colleagues

Our brains take shortcuts all the time, using processes to simplify the information around us to make more efficient decisions. 

But sometimes, our brains misinterpret that information, and it affects the accuracy of our judgments. In the case of proximity bias, our brains overvalue what is around us and undervalue what isn’t. 

If left unchecked, proximity bias can create a company culture where in-office employees are rewarded for their presence with resources and promotions while their remote counterparts are left behind.

Illustration of a hybrid meeting. Some participants are sitting at a conference table speaking with another while another group is on a large screen.

Examples of proximity bias in the workplace

Proximity bias can show up in both big and small ways. Here are a few examples of proximity bias in the workplace:

  • Offering in-person employees more exciting projects or professional development opportunities
  • Leaving remote stakeholders out of decision-making or important discussions
  • Providing in-person employees with more perks

While bias is often unconscious, knowing how proximity influences your decisions can help you recognize and overcome it. 

What managers and leaders can do to prevent proximity bias

The reality of the hybrid model is that we have to adapt to new ways of collaborating. 

Remote team members cannot be an afterthought. Successful hybrid leaders set up processes that allow employees to flourish regardless of where or when they work. 

Adopt a remote-first approach to communication

When everyone isn’t working in the office simultaneously (or at all), key decisions can’t be made at the water cooler. 

Adopting a remote-first approach to how your team communicates will help prevent people from feeling left in the dark when working from home.

That means when one person is remote, everyone is remote. Digital and asynchronous forms of communication should be the default method, regardless of an employee’s location.

Asynchronous communication: communication that doesn’t happen in real time. Common examples of asynchronous communication are emails, video messages, and comments in which the sender does not expect an immediate response.

Make sure discussions about projects and tasks happen in a digital messaging app like Slack or Teams, where all relevant team members can contribute and benefit from the conversation. 

It’s not just remote employees who benefit. Remote-first, asynchronous communication will: 

  • Enable employees to take time off without feeling like they’re falling behind
  • Allow new employees to get up to speed more quickly
  • Archive information in a way employees can reference at any time

Ready to Embrace Asynchronous Communication?

Discover how taking an “async-first” approach and canceling our meetings for an entire month helped transform the way we work at TechSmith.

Get the Report

Stop relying on real-time meetings

When your team works across locations and time zones, relying on synchronous communication can be frustrating and unfair. Schedules and location can prevent everyone from being able to participate fully. 

If you’re like most office workers, you probably feel like you waste a lot of time in meetings anyway. Here’s the sign you need to take back your calendar. 

Matt Pierce

It’s important that you don’t have the people who are in the office vs. the people who aren’t in the office. The more that we can use these tools and communication methods to level the playing field, the better everything is going to be.

– Michelle Massey, Vice President of Community and Customer Operations at TechSmith

There are several types of meetings that are almost always better in an asynchronous format: 

  • Status updates
  • Project demos
  • Data shareouts
  • Informal training

Anytime you’re scheduling a meeting to share information, consider recording a video instead. 

Let’s say you want to share results from a recent marketing campaign with your team. If you were in a Zoom meeting, you’d probably share your screen to walk through a dashboard and provide context around the results.

With a screen capture tool like Snagit, you can accomplish the same thing in less time without interrupting your team’s day for yet another meeting or leaving someone out.


In just a few minutes, you can create a quick video that your team can watch on their own time (and even at 1.5x speed). Snagit can even simultaneously record your screen and camera, replicating the “face-to-face” feeling of an in-person or virtual meeting. 

Of course, there will be times when meeting in real time makes the most sense. There are a few things you can do to help level the playing field for remote team members:

  • Have everyone call into virtual meetings individually to prevent in-person side conversations
  • Make sure everyone has the equipment they need, like cameras, microphones, or bandwidth, to be fully present
  • Record the meeting so those who cannot attend can watch it later

Measure employee performance by output

In a typical office environment, employees can try to impress by being the first person at their desk in the morning and the last one to leave at the end of the day. 

But focusing on hours worked as an indicator of performance can leave your team feeling pressured to be “always on” when working from home to make up for their lack of physical presence.

Instead, shift your mindset to focus less on time spent in the office or online and more on the quality and quantity of work your employees produce. 

Be intentional about checking in

When working in the same physical space as an employee, you naturally have more opportunities to observe their work, offer feedback, and recognize their success. 

To effectively manage a hybrid team, you have to be intentional about how you connect or risk in-person employees receiving preferential treatment. 

Start by keeping track of when and how you engage with your team, both in-person and virtually, and identify disparities. 

You might find that you offer feedback more frequently when working in the office. If that’s the case, employees who are remote full-time may miss out on opportunities to improve their work. 

Incorporating virtual forms of feedback into your communication could help level the playing field for fully remote employees.

How employees can be more visible when working remotely

It’s no secret that flexible, hybrid, and remote work can feel isolating. More than half of people who started working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic feel less connected to their coworkers. 

But, if you’re proactive, you can still make meaningful connections with your colleagues and establish a presence on your team while working away from the office.

Turn your camera on during virtual meetings

Many people don’t enjoy being on camera, and “Zoom fatigue” is a real phenomenon. However, video conferencing can help us feel connected even when we’re not in the same place.

When you’re on camera, it’s easier to establish a sense of presence and a shared sense of being together even though we may be physically separated from across the globe.

— Diana Howles, author of Next Level Virtual Training: Advance Your Facilitation

When you’re on camera during a meeting, your colleagues can see your nonverbal behaviors and better understand who you are and what you’re saying. 

Turning on your camera will help people get to know you better and allow you to communicate more effectively. Research has even shown video conferencing can create perceived proximity.

To avoid video burnout, pace yourself and take breaks as needed. Identify which meetings you’ll benefit most from being on camera, and when it might make sense to step away.

Turning off the “self-view” option once you have established yourself in the frame during a meeting can also help relieve camera fatigue.

Stop relying on text-based communication

Asynchronous communication is essential for keeping hybrid and distributed teams on the same page, but it can sometimes feel less than human.

That’s because we often default to text-based ways of sharing information when research shows most people understand information better when it’s communicated visually. 

The next time you’re about to send a mile-long email, consider if a video message could be more effective. 

Suppose you’re providing feedback on a project. Text-based communication can easily lead to misunderstandings. But, when your teammates can hear your voice and see your face, they’re less likely to need clarification. 

Even better, with Snagit, you can record your screen and draw attention to the areas of a project needing attention with arrows and callouts while you walk through your feedback.

What could have been a boring or confusing email thread can be transformed into an opportunity for communication that feels more like the face-to-face interactions you might have in an office environment. 

Ask for advice

Proximity bias can put remote workers at a disadvantage when it comes to professional development.

For example, when leadership teams are working primarily in the office, in-person employees may be more likely to be top of mind when new opportunities arise. 

While your company is hopefully taking steps to address proximity bias already, you can help move your career forward by proactively seeking advice and mentorship from others at your company.

We often avoid reaching out to others for advice because we are afraid we might be bothering them or appear incompetent. 

However, studies show that asking for advice facilitates meaningful connections with our colleagues and also helps us make a positive impression on our mentors.

The secret to making hybrid work “work” is effective communication

Many of us have spent most of our professional careers working in an office space. It will take time to unlearn habits that no longer make sense and replace them with new ways of working.

Embracing asynchronous communication tools like Snagit will transform the way we work for the better.

Move work forward from anywhere with Snagit

From creating video messages to annotated screenshots, Snagit is an essential tool for hybrid teams.


How to Make a YouTube Video (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Make a YouTube Video

When it comes to posting video content, YouTube is the ultimate destination.

In fact, at this point, YouTube is almost synonymous with internet video.

YouTube has over 1.9 billion monthly active users and they watch a billion hours of video every day. To put that in perspective, that’s over 114,000 years of video consumed EVERY DAY.

Top YouTube content creators can make hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars a day. But ironically, being successful and making money on YouTube has little to do with making videos.

So how DO you become successful on YouTube?

Today I’m going to share with you techniques from some of the top YouTubers that show exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) do for YouTube content creation.

And, better yet, I’m going to share a FREE template to help you make YouTube videos faster!

With a few simple steps (and this awesome template), you’ll be creating content in no time!

Let’s go!

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

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Here’s everything, step-by-step, that you need to make a successful YouTube video:

Step 1. Create a YouTube video strategy

Step 2. Make sure your video is found on YouTube

Step 3. Find YouTube ideas and topics

Step 4. Understand YouTube equipment for beginners

Step 5. Learn the first YouTube video you should make

Step 6. Set up your video recording

Step 7. Record your desktop

Step 8. Edit your video

Step 9. Upload your video on YouTube

Step 10. Optimize your video for YouTube

Step 1. Create a YouTube Video Strategy

Choose the right topic (for the right audience)

Want to know the best-kept secret about being successful on YouTube (or any other content platform)?

It has very little with you as the creator.

You can be charismatic, funny, and smart — but if you don’t provide value, your videos are useless.

It’s not about you or what you can gain. If you show up to YouTube looking to get something out of it, you probably won’t be very successful.

You need to focus on your audience. Not yourself.

You need to focus on your audience. Not yourself.

Find your perfect audience for YouTube

Before you start working on your first script or storyboard, you must answer this question:

“Who is your audience?”

Knowing your audience will guide nearly every decision you make about your video.

Knowing general information is helpful, but think about your specific audience.

  • What are their problems?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What will they learn from your video?
  • How does your video benefit them?

If you can’t answer these basic questions you need to dig deeper. The answers to these questions will guide you as you plan out and create your video.

Experts’ Take

As you start looking at what your audience wants and needs, there are some things you can do to help you narrow your focus.

Here’s advice from YouTube experts who have learned (from a lot of practice and work) what you need to define your audience.

YouTube Marketing Consultant Owen Video says, “The very first thing we do is run our clients through a questionnaire that helps them to get the biggest topics that the audience would be interested in.”

Jeremy Vest, Director of Marketing for vidIQ, suggests that listening is critical because “if you don’t listen to your audience then…you’re not going to serve them very well.” However, it’s not all about just seeking what the viewer wants.

Once you have a sense of your audience, you need to create content that matches your persona. It doesn’t matter if your video doesn’t work for other groups or other personas.

When you’re just starting out you want your audience to be as specific as possible.

Niche is good. Broad is bad.

Focus your content on helping the viewer achieve their goals. If you’re selling software, you need to make sure your video helps the viewer learn exactly what they need to be successful.

Fernando Silva, Account Executive for Wistia, emphasizes this need and suggests that we must “[get] a sense to what your audience is actually interested in and what they want to keep watching or maybe what doesn’t interest them. It … helps you make better content in the future.”

If you work hard to understand your audience but aren’t sure of what you should create for them, Tyler Lessard, Vice President of Marketing at Vidyard, stresses that you should, “focus more on the quality of the content and how you deliver it. Making sure it’s relevant to your audience, and I think that’s a simple way to start.”

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Throw perfection out the window

Just start.

It’s really that simple.

I know it can be tempting to watch the big-name YouTubers and think you have to create videos just like that and engage a massive audience all at once, but all of those thoughts can be paralyzing.

“I personally believe that we’re all on the same plane, whether you’re a business or whether you’re an individual creator. Because we all start somewhere…”

Amy Landino, Co-founder of Aftermarq, and Best-Selling author of Vlog Like a Boss.

Too many people worry about getting things perfect from the beginning. We paralyze ourselves into not creating anything or releasing our content because we’re so concerned about whether we have all the right equipment, or if every part is perfect.

What should you do if you find yourself stuck on making it perfect?

Start by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Will my audience not clearly understand the purpose of the video if these changes aren’t made?
  • Will the video, as is, achieve your goal?
  • Does the video contain something incorrect that would seriously impact the viewer?
  • What is the worst that will happen if the current version is released as is?
  • Can the time that could be spent continuing to edit be put to better use on another project?

Once you answer these questions, give yourself permission to move on. If you focus too much on creating the perfect video you will limit yourself in the long run.

Step 2. Make sure your video is found on YouTube

A video can’t be successful if no one sees it! You must consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you start creating your video.

There is a lot to learn and figure out, but mainly you want to get your content found by the people who are searching.

Two key ways to rank your YouTube videos:

  1. Make content that is good for the users
  2. Make content that is good for search engines

At the end of the day, you want your content to be found. SEO can be a hugely complicated endeavor, but you don’t have to do everything at once. The creators we talked with made a few easy suggestions.

Andrew Kan, of TubeBuddy, recommends you make content focused on a specific topic and niches, which will help your content be more searchable. It also helps ensure that the right audience is finding your content.

“Many people spend time on broad terms that have so much competition they’re never going to show up for [in search],” he said. “If you show up on the race day, and you’re [not] a runner and you’ve practiced once, you can’t expect to win. So by practicing, by understanding that being more specific helps you be more discoverable, it helps you win.”

In addition to focusing your content on specific topics, Jeremy Vest recommends that you make sure your content is helpful and answers questions your potential audience is asking.

“Match that search intent with ‘how do I fix this blank’, and you sell that blank,” he said. “Instead of just talking about how good your widget is, be the answer to questions being asked … And being the answer to those is…one of the easiest ways for brands to start doing well in this environment and then from there beat that expectation. Provide things they’re not expecting. Have guests they wouldn’t expect to be on your program. And, give more value than they can even believe.”

To make your content helpful and findable, consider the questions being asked and where they’re being asked. Then you can create the right content and post it where it will be found.

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Step 3. Find YouTube ideas and topics

Now that you know your audience, you may be wondering “What should I make a YouTube video about?” The good news is that there are tons of ways to find YouTube video ideas that your audience is searching for.

Let’s say you run a home contracting business. You decide you are going to target your channel towards current homeowners looking to spruce up their house. Your initial video topics might include things like How to Remove Popcorn Ceilings or How to Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets.

That’s a great start, but for even more ideas than your initial list, here are some tips from Gord Isman of the best places you can use to get inspired and find highly-relevant topics for your specific audience.

1. YouTube search

YouTube search is one of the best ways to find what people are looking for. When you come up with a content idea, do a quick YouTube search and see what comes back.

Then look at the search results and decide if it’s a saturated area or there’s room to create a unique, valuable version.

You want to choose topics that you’re passionate about and that are relevant to your audience.

When you have a basic topic idea YouTube can help you narrow it down.

Search YouTube by typing some keywords into the search bar.

The auto-suggest/autocomplete feature will give you additional keywords that YouTube suggests.

Here’s an example where I typed “tutorial video” into the search bar, and a list of suggested topics appeared below.

Make sure your video is found on YouTube

You want to take those terms and write them down. You may find after all of your research that one video can cover a lot of the same topics, or that you can create a series of videos.

For a topic focusing on “video tutorial” I would want to focus on editing, video ideas, and background music as a good starting point.

2. Comments section

The comments section of videos and articles can be a great resource for YouTube video topics.

Viewers often suggest additional topics or ask questions that suggest areas of interest for creating additional content.

Find YouTube ideas and topics.

So start by looking at a competitor’s YouTube channel and start mining the comments.

3. Communities and groups

Whether it’s Twitter, a Facebook group, or a membership group, find like-minded people who will inspire you and help you out along the way.

Don’t discourage yourself by assuming you must go at it alone.

Find a group that you can bounce ideas off of and ask questions. You might even come away with some different (and better) video topics to start with.

4. Ask your audience

If you already have an audience (even a small one) it’s worth asking them what types of content they would like to see.

This is a surefire way to figure out what your audience wants to know, learn, and watch.

Step 4. Understand YouTube equipment for beginners

It can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you don’t have the right tools to create your video.

It’s fun to have high-end equipment and there is no question that better equipment can produce a better quality video.

Keep in mind, too, that highly specialized equipment that can be complex to run, and requires considerable time and training to master.

Especially as you’re starting out, try not to worry too much about equipment.

First, learn to get good at creating the content and worry about leveling up your gear later.

Tip: Check out TechSmith Academy courses about shooting, lighting, and audio for more information.

If you’re still worried about what gear you should use, Brian Fanzo, of iSocialFanz has some advice. He suggests baby steps, “…start with your phone, and then move to a web camera, then move to professional gear.”

A lot can be done with things like screen recording software, a simple video editor, or a smartphone and a little bit of creativity.

These tools can help you learn the basics of video creation, and help you to practice good techniques that will be beneficial no matter what gear you use.

“So many people focus on ‘I don’t have the right gear’ and ‘I don’t have the right camera,’ but they don’t really think about, well, what is my message? What am I trying to get across with my brand? They don’t want to just be told, buy my product. If you can make someone feel something, if you can make them relate to what you’re doing, that’s more important than any piece of gear.”

Andrew Kan, TubeBuddy

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Here is some of the basic gear (outside of your phone) you may want to consider if you are going to create high-quality YouTube videos:

1. Microphone

Whether for your mobile device, input directly into your camera, or even a digital recorder, a microphone will improve the overall quality of you your video. A decent mic doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is well worth it.

2. Screen recorder and video editor

When you choose screen recording software, pick a tool with built-in recording, editing, and sharing features. It will save you time and let you do all of your work in one tool.

Recording your screen is a great way to make a YouTube video without a camera. At TechSmith, we think Camtasia is the perfect video editing software for beginners. And, it has the power and versatility to level-up with you as you gain more skills.

If you want to learn more about Camtasia and it’s simple video editing functionality, check out this quick video from Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators.

3. Lighting

If you’re recording camera video or even a webcam, video lighting will make a big difference in how you look, and the overall quality.

Video lighting will make a big difference in how you look, and the overall quality.

Lights will even improve the look of mobile device videos and can be a great investment. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for lights when starting. Since lighting is a mixture of science and art, a basic set will help you create a professional-looking video.

4. Camera or webcam

Cameras can be large investments, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While DSLRs or other high-end cameras can drastically improve the look of your video, they also add a ton of settings and options that need to be managed, increasing the complexity of shooting your video.

An external webcam is a relatively inexpensive option to improve your video quality. Most built-in webcams are pretty low quality when compared to their external counterparts.

And don’t forget, you probably have a pretty nice camera in your pocket, backpack, or purse. Most of the latest smartphones can record video in full HD (1080p), and many can even do 4K.

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Step 5. Learn the first YouTube video you should make

There are all kinds of videos that people create on YouTube. The best video you can start with is an instructional video.

According to a recent TechSmith study, 53% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week (up 152% compared to 2013).

A simple tutorial or how-to video is a great way to get your feet wet.

A tutorial video simply answers a question someone asked. It could be How to Freeze Panes in Excel or How to Change Your Oil. Either way, you’re simply sharing your expert knowledge with others.

These types of videos are all over YouTube, and with good reason.

According to a Pew research study that surveyed over 4,500 Americans in 2018, 87 percent of users said that YouTube is important for helping them figure out how to do things they haven’t done before.

That means you have a great opportunity to take create helpful and valuable instructional videos for your audience.

Do you have dog training tips to share? Gather a list of all the questions a dog owner might have and create a series of how-to videos to give them answers.

Learn the first YouTube video you should make.

If you are an expert in Photoshop and want to help others get better, a tutorial video or training video would be a great place to start.

The best video you can start with is an instructional video.

And if you’re a business or entrepreneur, there’s no better place to start than a product demo video or explainer video.

These videos will help your potential customers see exactly what your product or service does without having to read a ton of material.

You have a great opportunity to take create helpful and valuable instructional videos for your audience.

People look for video help every day. Learning and educational content alone drives over a billion views a day on YouTube.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to make a high-quality YouTube video using screen recorded content, just like this one from TubeBuddy:

Step 6. Set up your video recording

Now that you know your audience, have you topics planned out, and know what video to make it’s time to get started making your video.

A script may seem pretty formal, but it’s a great tool to help you stay focused. Plan out the visuals (shots, angles, graphics, etc.) that go along with each line of dialogue.

If you already have a blog post for a topic, I’d suggest you write a script based off of the original post. It doesn’t have to be elaborate.

Write a script or outline

If a script seems like overkill, a simple outline will help you talk through your points, and is better than hitting record without a plan.

Write a script or outline for your Youtube video.

Clean up your desk (and desktop)

One of the top mistakes to avoid when you record yourself is to have too much clutter, both on and off the screen.

If you’re shooting a video at your desk, business, or home you want your environment to be clean and presentable.

Next, you’ll need to adjust your camera or webcam, and video lighting (if you have them). Use an external webcam mounted behind your laptop, or—even better—turn a DSLR camera into your webcam for superior video quality.

Here’s everything you need to know about setting up your workspace for a perfect video:

Clean up your mess

If you’re getting shots of yourself, make sure anything that can be seen on screen is clean and free from clutter. A blank, single-color wall is a great background, but if you don’t have access to that, just make sure that your setting is as free from distractions as possible.

You want your viewers focused on you, not the artwork on your wall.

If your video includes a screen capture or screen recording, clutter on your computer screen is just as 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.

Make sure to close any unnecessary programs and windows before you record your video.

Make sure to close any unnecessary programs and windows before you record.

Avoid recording in front of windows

If you record near a window, avoid recording in front of it. Position yourself next to the window or facing the window. This way, you won’t be washed out or become a silhouette. Pro tip: this is also a great way to enhance your lighting, though be careful, as it can be hard to control the amount of light.

If you record near a window, avoid recording in front of it.

Position your camera correctly

Tilt your webcam or camera so that it’s at eye level and your viewers don’t have to look up at you. Stick to the Rule of Thirds or position yourself in the center of the frame.

Tilt your webcam or camera so that it’s at eye level and your viewers don’t have to look up at you.

Step 7. Record your desktop

Pick your favorite screen recorder and walk through your script as you record your desktop.

Here at TechSmith, we use Camtasia for a lot of our YouTube videos.

It’s perfect for anyone who needs to make instructional videos on YouTube and we have a ton of help videos to get you started.

Your recording can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You can record webcam to give it some personality, create an intro, add music, or simply hit record and share it out.

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

1. Record your screen

To start a recording, click the Record button at the top of the tools panel. This opens the Camtasia recorder, which by default, is set to capture everything that happens on your screen.

Record your screen with Camtasia.

2. Customize your settings

First, you’ll want to choose to record the full screen or select a custom region to record.

Next, choose other inputs to record along with the screen. Options include webcam, microphone audio, and system audio. Select the down arrow or double arrows next to each to choose a specific microphone or webcam.

When you’re finished recording, click the Camtasia recorder icon in the taskbar, then the stop button.

Finally, click ‘Start Recording’ to begin.

3. Finish Recording


When you’re finished recording, click the Camtasia recorder icon in the taskbar, then the stop button. If you need to re-record, choose ‘delete’ to start over.

Quick Tip: Press “F10” to stop a recording, or “F9” to pause/resume a recording.


To finish the recording, click the Camtasia icon in the Apple menu bar, then click “Stop Recording.” Or, if you need to re-record, choose “Start Over.”

Quick Tip: Press “CMD+OPTION+2” to stop a recording, or “CMD+SHIFT+2” to pause/resume a recording.

Step 8. Edit your video

Editing your video can be the most fun and most time-consuming part of the creation process. And for a beginner, it can definitely be the most overwhelming.

Here a few simple edits you can use to get started:

1. Trim mistakes

Often we record a little extra at the beginning and end of a recording. To remove the extra content, drag the end of the clip “in.” This is called trimming. If you trim too much, drag the video clip back to restore your video.

It’s good to note that any edits you make on the timeline, won’t affect your original recording in the media bin.

2. Use cuts

Drag the red or green handle on the playhead to select the area to remove, then click the cut button to remove the section. A stitched line appears, showing you where the cut was made.

If you make a selection and want to bring the playhead back together, double click the playhead.

3. Add titles, transitions, annotations, and more

Add a level of polish and professionalism to your videos with eye-catching titles, annotations, effects and more. Click and drag them from the tools panel to the timeline or canvas.

Video editing tips

There are endless resources across the web that can show you the intricate details of video editing. But there are a few video editing tips you’ll need to make a high-quality video without overcomplicating it.

Let’s go over some other common enhancements that can really make your video stand out.

Add a simple intro

A video intro leads your viewers into your content. Keep your intro simple and to the point. Viewers want to get to the meat of your content. They don’t care about anything other than what you promised to teach them.

A video intro leads your viewers into your content.

An intro can be used throughout all the videos on your YouTube channel, a playlist, or just a single video.

Create lower-thirds

A lower-third (also called a chyron) is placed on the lower third portion (usually to the right or left) of the screen and is a simple way to provide your audience with information. Usually, they display a name, place, or other useful information.

They shouldn’t cover up your visual and are meant to be complementary to your primary subject.

Add music

Finally, you’ll want to add music to your video. It will probably take you more time to choose the music you want to use than it will to actually add it to your video.

For most purposes, your best bet is to use music from a premium royalty-free music site. While the music won’t be free, it’s typically inexpensive, and you’ll have a wider range of high-quality music to choose from.

Where can you find music for videos? You can access a huge library of free and premium music tracks from TechSmith Assets.

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Focus on good audio and voice over

Poor audio can sink your video.

For recording voice over, you can use Camtasia. However, for the easiest voice over experience, I highly recommend TechSmith Audiate.

Audiate transcribes your voice over as you speak. You can then edit your audio just like editing text. No more searching through the wave form to find your mistakes.

And, Audiate even lets you quickly find and delete your “ums,” “uhs,” and other mumbles and hesitations.

If you have music in your video, make sure it doesn’t overpower your with your voice over. Don’t be afraid to add those phat beats, but remember that your audience is here to learn from what you’re saying.

Pay special attention to your final edit by focusing on the sound. Close your eyes and just listen to your video. If it sounds off, you should adjust it, regardless of how amazing your footage or screen content is.

“My editing style has always been to keep our content as concise as possible. I want people to get what they need from my videos as fast as possible. And to keep our videos on brand, we always use the same font, brand colors, and tone of music – which creates consistency and familiarity.”

Sunny Lenarduzzi, Founder of YouTube for Bosses

Create a compelling outro

A YouTube outro is where you can add specific calls to action to your video. This can also be referred to as the end screen, and it is the last part of your video.

There are four different content types available for use in your end screens on YouTube, called elements. These four elements are:

  • Video or playlist: This allows you to link to a different individual video or a YouTube playlist of multiple videos.
  • Subscribe: This allows you to link to your own channel where a viewer can click to subscribe.
  • Channel: This allows you to link to a different YouTube channel.
  • Link to approved website: This allows you to link to a website outside of YouTube.

Step 9. Upload your video to YouTube

Uploading to YouTube is simple. If you use Camtasia to create your YouTube video you’ll have the option to share directly to YouTube from within the product. You’ll simply have to log into YouTube and connect your YouTube account to Camtasia.

Upload your video to YouTube.

Or you can upload videos with the YouTube platform.

Step 10. Optimize your video for YouTube

As you start making your video there are few key areas you’ll want to focus in on to make sure your video performs well in YouTube. By being strategic while you make your video you’ll give yourself a better shot at ranking on YouTube.

Video Production Optimization

Target keywords that list videos on Google

Have you noticed more videos popping up in your search results?

Optimize your video for YouTube.

Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, and many how-to based searches now include YouTube videos directly in the Google search engine result.

These online videos show up for all sorts of searches. Simply type in “how to fix my fridge” or “how to change spark plugs” and Google will give you the top YouTube videos based on your search.

Make longer videos

Longer videos generally rank higher than shorter ones.

Backlinko analyzed 1.3 Million YouTube Videos and found that the average length of a video on the first page of YouTube is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

YouTube will push longer videos higher in search results.

Longer videos Youtube generally rank higher than shorter ones.

This has to do with two key ranking factors: Total Watch Time and Total Session Time.

Essentially YouTube will push videos higher in the ranking if they provide value and keep people on the site as long as possible.

So as you plan your videos, think about how you can expand them. And rather than just adding filler content, think about how you can dive deeper into your topic to create an even more useful video.

The Marketer’s Ultimate Guide to Video

In our FREE ebook, we’ve put together practical strategies to get out of the woods and create engaging, powerful video content on your own that reaches your audience.

Download now!

Make sure your keyword is spoken in your video

YouTube transcribes your content, so try and say your main keyword 1-2 times in the script.

Make sure your keyword is spoken in your video Youtube.

Make a unique introduction

Retention is everything on
 YouTube. Incentivize users to
 watch as long as possible in 
your first 10 seconds. Tease out what you’re going to talk about and give them a reason to stay and watch your video.

Tell users to…

Comment, like, subscribe, and visit your site at the end of the video. If you don’t tell them to do it, they probably never will. And if you are creating supportive, helpful content they will be more likely to interact with your YouTube channel.

Comment, like, subscribe, and visit your site at the end of the video.
Screenshot via AmyTV

YouTube Ranking Optimization

Now that you’ve created an optimized video, it’s time to optimize within the YouTube platform. You don’t want to overcomplicate this. It isn’t about stuffing keywords into places and trying to trick YouTube into ranking your video.

You want to be strategic in what you do, and above all else, provide value to your audience.

Title, description, and thumbnail

Get the keyword in the title and description, preferably at the front, but don’t forget to make it compelling and click-worthy. It’s less about trying to stuff keywords in and more about letting viewers know that your video will help solve what they are looking for.

Pro tip: Be honest in your title and description. People stop watching videos that don’t deliver on their promises.

Get the keyword in the title and description, preferably at the front.

According to YouTube, 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube use a custom thumbnail. Try to make your YouTube thumbnail interesting and different than everything else in the search results.

Try to make your YouTube thumbnail interesting and different than everything else in the search results.

Make your video worthy of a click.

Leverage your current audience to build video velocity

The first 48 hours your video goes live are critical. This is where leveraging your current audience plays a big part.

You can create a stronger buzz and your views begin to climb through your existing base. Owen Video likes to create video velocity by acquiring views before a video is public and rewarding his followers with exclusive content.

As a result, YouTube sees the video as more valuable and it becomes more likely to appear high in the search results.

Here is one of Owen Video’s most successful strategies for YouTube video promotion. Mirroring his strategy with your own videos will help you improve their performance early on:

Owen Video’s video promotion strategy example:

  • The first day he publishes a video, he leaves it unlisted (the video can’t be searched or found by the public without a link).
  • The link to the unlisted video is distributed on social media channels.
  • The link to the unlisted video is emailed to applicable mailing lists.
  • The audience gets early access to a new piece of content and feels rewarded for maintaining a relationship with Owen Video.
  • Then he makes the video public. When the video goes live, there are already views which help build traction for the video.

This is video velocity, and essentially, you’re getting a head start on YouTube.

“So what happens is, you create velocity with your video…people are watching it before it’s even public, yet. Having that distribution, or pre-promotion plan is going to set [you] apart from your competitors who are just figuring this stuff out.” – Owen Video

What’s next?

We’ve covered a lot in this guide. And whether you’re just getting started, or you’re a video veteran, you’ve learned some of the key tools and strategies to create successful YouTube videos.

Make your own YouTube video today!

Download Camtasia to quickly and easily make your own YouTube videos.

Download a free trial

Camtasia is built for anyone who needs to make any kind of instructional video. We offer a ton of helpful tutorials to get you started. And, for the record, we make 100% of our tutorials and other screencasts using Camtasia.

Frequently asked questions

How do you make your own videos on YouTube?

To make your first YouTube video, start by getting a simple video editor like Camtasia and just try making a few videos on topics you’re an expert on.

If you know a lot about a particular product or service, try putting together a quick tutorial. There is no shortage of people searching for help across YouTube, and you could be their answer.

What should I make a YouTube video about?

There are tons of ways to find YouTube video ideas that your audience is searching for. Three of my favorites are YouTube searches, comments sections, and communities.

Which type of YouTube video is most watched?

There are all kinds of videos that people create on YouTube.

Over half of the most common types of videos that marketers are investing in are a type of instructional video. That gives you a lot of good videos to start with.

What do you YouTubers use to edit their videos?

YouTubers use all sorts of different programs to edit their videos, but at TechSmith, we think Camtasia is the perfect video editing software for beginners.

If you want to learn more about Camtasia and it’s simple video editing functionality, check out this quick video from Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators

How to make a YouTube video without a camera?

Recording your screen is a great way to make a YouTube video without a camera.

When you choose screen recording software, pick a tool with built-in recording, editing, and sharing features. It will save you time and let you do all of your work in one tool.

What equipment do you need for YouTube?

It can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you don’t have the right tools to create your video. Start with your phone or screen recorder and a simple video editor. Then move to professional gear.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Justin Simon

Global Content Strategy Manager at TechSmith. I play a lot of golf and watch a lot of football.

The best video recording mobile apps on the market right now

The best video recording mobile apps on the market right now

It’s very common nowadays for videos to be recorded on mobile phones. While this approach used to be regarded as only for amateurs, delivering low-quality results, that is really not the case anymore. Capturing video on a mobile phone is seen as being very normal nowadays and is the norm in a lot of industries. A lot of content creators exclusively use their phones to create their videos! 

This article will help you discover the best apps and some helpful tips to use when recording so you can get great videos from your mobile phone!

Edit your own videos with Camtasia

Download a free trial of Camtasia to quickly and easily edit your own videos.

Download a free trial

How to Record a Video on Mobile – 7 Mobile Video Recording Tips

With most people being virtually inseparable from their phones, and phones being capable of producing high-quality video content, it is becoming increasingly simple for entrepreneurs to use video as part of their communications strategies. 

Whether you use an Apple or an Android device there are apps available to help with editing and special effects, meaning that your phone isn’t only an effective video camera but can operate as an editing studio as well! Video has never been easier or more economical to produce. 

Quality expectations from content consumers are increasing just as quickly as the ability to record videos on mobile is – so here are some helpful tips to make sure you know how to record a video on mobile that is top quality!

Try to have quality audio 

The quality of your audio is just as important as the quality of the video itself.  You can have the best imagery recorded but if the accompanying audio is difficult to hear or clouded by ambient noise, people will be too distracted and frustrated to enjoy the visuals. 

Unfortunately, the capacity of built-in mics on mobile devices hasn’t kept pace with their capacity for video capture. The mics used are typically low quality and their placement is sub-optimal for sound capture. They are also excellent at picking up wind and other ambient sounds that add nothing but a distraction. 

For great audio, it is a good idea to use an external recording device or a directional mic. If these tools aren’t an option for you, make the most of your built-in mic by making sure your recording space is as free of background noise as possible.

Listen carefully for buzzing lights, ticking clocks, and anything else that can interfere with your audio. Getting as close as you can to your subject can also help your device’s built-in mic do its best possible work. 

Also read: the guide to cropping a video

Avoid dark areas

You don’t want your videos to be too dark, and when you’re recording video on mobile you need to be extra attentive to your lighting. Because smartphone cameras have smaller lenses and smaller light sensors than traditional video cameras, you need to shoot in areas that are as well-lit as possible. Filming in areas with sufficient lighting helps make sure that your video won’t have shadows or grainy-looking spots.

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Avoid bright lights

While it’s important to have enough light for filming, the wrong kind of lighting can give you less-than-optimal results.  Filming with windows streaming light directly into the shot, or bright overhead lights can cause your footage to be unusable; full of lens flares and improper exposure. 

Soft lighting directed at the subject of your video will give much better results for your mobile video recordings. 

Avoid zooming 

While digital zoom is available on smartphones, it is not even remotely similar to the quality of a proper zoom lens. Footage captured using digital zoom when recording a video on mobile, will show a lot of distracting pixelation.  

It is best, instead, to physically move closer to your subject whenever possible. Your frame should be filled as much as possible by moving your camera (and yourself!) forward, back, or side to side. Using the zoom function should be avoided whenever possible.

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Stabilize your shots

Shaky footage is no one’s favorite! It’s a dead giveaway of amateur filming and is easy to avoid. 

Stabilizing your shot can be done in a few ways. You can lean up against something to steady yourself, use a nearby flat surface to rest your phone or your elbows on, or you can add a tripod to your toolkit and use that to maintain stability in your shots.

Record horizontally, except for social media

Unless you are filming for social media, record with your mobile device in a horizontal position. Recording in landscape orientation makes sure that your footage is formatted in the same ratio as television and computer screens. It means that you won’t be watching a thin strip of video with black lines down each side when your video is shown on a standard screen! 

Use video recording mobile apps

Smartphone cameras do an excellent job but they don’t allow for all of the functionality required for professional quality video creation. Once you have completed filming you can move on to the editing process right on your mobile device by downloading one of the many apps for iOs or Android systems that support video editing.

You will be able to add titles and transitions between shots, trim your clips, add personalization, and more by downloading the right apps.

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Best Mobile Apps for Personalized Video Recording

There are many apps available to help bring your mobile video production to the next level. Whether you work on iOS or Android, or even if you prefer to edit on your desktop – there are lots of options to choose from. Let’s look at some of the best video recording mobile apps on the market right now so you can choose what will work best for you!



Camera+ is an app for the iOS platform that has been one of the most popular photography and video capture apps for over a decade. It recently got a thorough upgrade to Camera+ 2.


Sharing to social platforms is very easy with this app.  

There are many modes available for video recording including time-lapse, timers, and exposure control. 

This app allows you to save your editing steps to create custom filters, and uses machine learning to improve the videos you capture with just one touch during shooting and in the editing process.  


Camera+ is only available on iOS devices.

This app only allows for video trimming from the beginning of a clip.

Filters can be used while filming video but the quality is reduced when using this feature. 

The zoom function does not create smooth transitions, but rather jumps from one level to the next. 


Camera+ costs $4.99 


iOS  | Android  | Windows (Beta)

Instagram is a photo and video sharing app that allows for capturing and performing minor edits to photos and videos within the app itself.  


Videos can quickly and easily be shared with followers.

The app offers a timer function, transitions, and tools to create a smooth progression through shots. 


Video editing is restricted to effects, filters, and trimming the beginning and end of clips. 

There is no way to adjust audio and video components to sync the two if they do not sync properly on recording.

Unless a third party app is used, all videos exported will have a watermark.


Instagram is a free app

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FiLMic Pro

iOS  | Android

FiLMic Pro is a professional app for recording videos on mobile that brings many features over from professional video cameras.  


The video output is compatible with professional-grade camcorders.

FiLMic Pro’s user interface is top-notch.

This app offers a full range of professional features.


The app is so robust and full of features that less experienced videographers will find themselves overwhelmed. 

FiLMic Pro is not an app that compensates for the unskilled – if you don’t have good videography skills yourself, you will not get great results. 


FiLMic Pro is free to download but offers subscription-based pricing in app.  Subscription pricing is offered on a weekly ($2.99) or annual (39.99)basis. 



iMovie is Apple’s own video recording mobile app and comes already downloaded on Apple devices. 


This app continuously saves and syncs your work as you go and allows you to insert new clips after you have started the editing process.

iMovie offers seamless integration with all other Apple services.

Magic Movie can create an edit using only the best parts of your footage, complete with transitions and sound. 


iMovie uses a lot of storage space within your device.

This app does not allow for direct voiceover recording during the editing process.

There is a limited number of output options to choose from with this app compared to others.  


iMovie is a free app.

Movie Pro


MoviePro is a video recording app with a solid stack of features and a lower entry point than Filmic Pro. 


This app requires a lower investment than Filmic Pro.

MoviePro is not so full of features that it overwhelms beginners.


Some of the advanced features available on higher-level apps like Filmic are not available on MoviePro. They may be missed by more advanced users. 


MoviePro carries a $10 one-time fee.

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Open Camera


Open Camera is an Android app that prioritizes still images but confidently replaces the built-in Android camera app for mobile video recording as well.


Open Camera is very accessible based on price point and experience required for optimal use.

This app is an easy-to-use significant improvement on the native Android camera app. 


Functionality within the app is limited to the Camera 2 API.

Open Camera’s user interface isn’t an attractive one and lacks a sense of quality.


Open Camera is a free app and contains no in-app purchases. It is an open-source software.



Mavis is a mobile video recording app with a wide range of professional features. Some are even broadcast-level quality! It is exclusively available for iOS devices.


Mavis has the broadest set of audio recording features available for iOS devices.

This app includes dozens of professional and broadcast-level features.


Mavis is not available for Android or Windows devices. It is exclusively an iOS app. 


This is a free app.

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How to Convert Mobile Phones Video Recordings into GIFs

The GIF is a quick, digestible, auto-playing snippet of video, whose beauty is in its simplicity.

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 the video you’ve captured on your mobile phone in four easy steps using TechSmith’s Snagit + mobile app Fuse.

Also read: How to fix a blurred video

Step 1: 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.

How to Record a Video on Mobile

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.

Capturing video on a mobile phone is seen as being very normal nowadays and is the norm in a lot of industries.

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 to the Snagit editor.

There are many apps available to help bring your mobile video production to the next level.

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.

How to Convert Mobile Phones Video Recordings into GIFs

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.

The best video recording mobile apps on the market right now

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FAQs about Mobile Video Recording Apps

How to download recorded video from Microsoft Teams/Google Meet on mobile?

To download recorded video from Microsoft Teams / Google Meet on mobile you simply locate your downloaded file and import it into your video recording app. Some of the best mobile apps for video recording are shared in the article above. 

How to record video from a mobile screen?

You can use the “Connect Device” function in your Camtasia or Snagit settings to record video from your mobile screen. 

How to record video without audio on mobile?

Using a screen recorder is a great way to record video without sound that you are not shooting live. Other ways to record video without sound exist in the settings menus of most mobile video recording apps. 

Daniel Foster

Daniel Foster is currently strategy lead for Snagit, helping define the future direction for the product. He has been doing tech marketing, communication, and blogging since 2002 and has worked on product since 2015. Tweet him up @fosteronomo or grab some time on his calendar to chat. Secret talent: spinning a yo-yo Preferred mode of transportation: Motorcycle (Honda Shadow) Last country visited: China

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication: How to Use Both to Dominate Remote Work

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication

As the norm for workplaces continues to shift and change, teams oriented around one shared space have become less “the standard” and more “one of the recognized options” for a successful workplace setup. More and more, companies have begun to employ remote workers, offer hybrid working situations, and lead teams that are distributed in countless ways.

These developments have reinvented the way we think about work and as they have continued to evolve, some unprecedented communication challenges have reared their heads. “The office” has evolved from a common space between 4 walls with easy access to all employees simultaneously, to an uncontained global space spanning multiple timezones and complicated availability differences.

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Having a team distributed in this way can make it difficult to arrange meetings and opportunities for collaboration, but it also holds the benefits of extended operating hours and daily coverage. With those advantages to a remote workforce, mandatory meetings might suddenly seem less necessary than they once did.

For effective communication and collaboration with a distributed team, leaders will need to weigh various communication options and consider both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods.  

You may be wondering what asynchronous and synchronous communication even means and how you can best incorporate each of them to lead your remote team well. If that’s the case, you’re in the right place – in this article, you will find an overview of each type of communication, as well as helpful examples and best practices so you can figure out which could work best for your team in different scenarios.

What is synchronous communication?

Let’s start with synchronous communication. What are its pros and cons? What does it look like in action? What exactly is synchronous communication and what are the best practices to use when engaging in it? Let’s dive in. 

Synchronous communication, a definition

Synchronous communication is the exchange of information between 2 or more people in real-time. It may be in person but it certainly doesn’t have to be. In addition to in-person conversations or meetings, phone calls and video meetings are also examples of synchronous communication.   

There are many situations in which synchronous communication will be your best choice – these include, but are not limited to

  • Discussions of sensitive projects or issues
  • Providing critical feedback
  • Brainstorming or conversations with a lot of unknowns
  • Project kickoffs or other instances where everyone needs to be quickly brought up to speed or a lot of dynamic variables need to be shared
  • Rapport needs to be built 
  • A crisis has happened and immediate attention is required

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Examples of synchronous communication

In-person meeting

In-person meetings are great opportunities to churn up new ideas and solutions to complex problems.

Phone call

A phone call can get a decision made quickly and doesn’t necessarily need to be scheduled ahead of time. 

Video conference (i.e., via Zoom, WebEx, Slack, etc)

When the team works remotely but the benefit of reading facial expressions and body language is required, a video conference is a great choice.

Asking the teammate across your desk a quick question 

Walking over to a teammate to get an answer can be much faster than scrolling through a process document.

Coffee break conversations

Conversations at break time can generate innovative ideas without the pressure of being in a formal meeting.

Common Types of Remote Synchronous Communication.

Advantages of synchronous communication

Synchronous communication is a natural way of communicating for humans. Because of this, it can have some significant benefits and advantages in the workplace and has been the default form of communication historically.  

Deeper interactions

Synchronous communication gives the opportunity to have deeper interactions with your team. Activities like brainstorming and solving in-depth problems collaboratively benefit from the ability to speak together, read body language, and give and receive real-time feedback.

Get resolutions in real time

With synchronous communication there is no need to wait in order to get a problem solved. Unlike with asynchronous communication, where projects can sometimes come to a halt while awaiting answers, production time can be maximized by this advantage of synchronous communication.

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Disadvantages of synchronous communication

Of course along with the advantages come a few disadvantages as well.

Focus is disrupted

Although it does feel easier to talk in real time most often, it can be quite disruptive to your focus. When someone pops by your desk or pings you on Slack for a quick response, the task you were in the middle of can suffer – not to mention you may not be giving 100% of your focus to the conversation that’s been entered into.

Difficult for people in different timezones

Depending on how spread-out your team is, synchronous communication can cause problems with work-life balance and result in burnout because of timezone differences. The optimal time for one person may be the middle of the night for another and if synchronous communication is the expectation that won’t be overly effective.

With synchronous communication there is no need to wait in order to get a problem solved.

Synchronous communication best practices for remote teams

In order for your team to work together efficiently, they need to understand how synchronous communication can best be used to reach their desired outcomes. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when you and your team need to use synchronous communication in your work together so that it can be as positively impactful as possible.

1. Keep a small number of participants

Whether you are engaging in synchronous communication in person or using phone or video calling, the conversation should be kept to a small group. With too many participants, the discussion can become confusing and unfocused. Inviting fewer participants and ensuring each understands their role can reduce the confusion and help maintain focus.  

2. Always record the meeting

Recording your meeting can be an effective way to ensure content doesn’t get misremembered and talking points can be clarified. Many calling and video calling platforms have built-in recording functions which makes this an easy task to take on.

Some other benefits are a reduced need for note-taking and the ability to share the meeting’s content with team members who could not attend. Just be sure to advise all attendees that the meeting is being recorded prior to getting started.

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3. Create an agenda and stick to it

Whether you’re running a meeting virtually or in person an important task to complete before the meeting even starts is to draft an agenda. In the agenda, make sure to identify the goals of the meeting and any questions that will need to be answered.

It is important as well to consult with other team members about the agenda so that their needs related to the project/task in question can be considered as well – the goal here is a productive meeting for everyone. You’ll want to make sure everyone has a copy of the agenda and that it is strictly adhered to for maximum efficiency. 

4. Get familiar with the tools

Constant changes and developments in technology have led to a video conferencing market that has a variety of options available. Each of these has a unique set of features which may include polls, screen sharing, chat functions, and various audio and video permission settings.

Your team members should be encouraged to get to know these features for the system you use in order to make synchronous virtual communication most efficient.  

5. Always send follow-ups afterward

Following all meetings or phone conversations it is important to send a quick follow-up message to everyone who was in attendance. The message should thank them for attending and note any key takeaways, decisions, or outcomes of the meeting. You can send this by email, direct group message, or via an update in your project management system. 

What is asynchronous communication?

Now that we’ve covered synchronous communication, let’s dig into the pros and cons of asynchronous communication, and look at some examples and best practices.  

Asynchronous communication, a definition

Asynchronous communication refers to any kind of communication where there is a delay between when a message is sent and when the person on the other end receives and interprets it. It is usually not an in-person type of communication and is rarely scheduled. 

Asynchronous communication works best when:

  • An immediate answer isn’t necessary
  • Collaboration needs to happen with teammates across different time zones 
  • You want to offer context before or after a real-time event
  • A complex concept or task needs to be explained and documented for later reference
  • Communication flexibility is beneficial or important to your teammates
  • Message storage could act as a resource for other team members

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Examples of asynchronous communication


Emails can help you advise or seek input from individuals or groups without interrupting their flow of work.

Letters or direct mail 

For those who resist digitization, direct mail can be a great communication option

Project management tools 

Project Management tools like Trello and Asana can keep communication closely tied to the project it relates to.

Text messaging 

Quick and informal communication can be easily shared using a text message.

Direct messaging

Tools like Teams and Slack can keep work communication compartmentalized in a way that is customized to your team.

Video recordings 

Snagit and Camtasia are incredible tools for creating and sharing highly effective and easily created video recordings to communicate with your team.  And they each have a free trial offer!

Asynchronous meetings

In an asynchronous meeting, individuals add talking points and comments in a shared digital space when it is convenient for their schedules.

Common Types of Remote Asynchronous Communication

Advantages of asynchronous communication

Similar to synchronous communication, there are pros and cons to asynchronous methods of communication as well. Let’s check them out: 

More flexibility

One key advantage to asynchronous communication is the flexibility it offers. The reduction in pressure to respond immediately often results in better responses and happier, less stressed team members.

Better for timezones

Asynchronous communication works really well for remote teams that cross various timezones. Messages can be delivered and received at the ideal times for each individual involved.

Asynchronous communication doesn’t try to replicate the experience of face-to-face communication.

Disadvantages of asynchronous communication

As you may expect, there are also some disadvantages to asynchronous communication. 

No sense of immediacy

Most managers appreciate a sense of urgency to the work of their team and asynchronous communication can get in the way of this. Because of the lag in response times, there can be delays in progress and inefficient use of time.

People feel disconnected

Asynchronous communication needs to be very clear and detailed, and it moves at a much slower pace. This can create feelings of disconnection because of the dissimilarity to a natural flow of conversation.

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Asynchronous communication best practices for remote teams

When working on a remote, distributed team, the use of asynchronous communication methods like email and collaborative project management tools can make it easy to connect despite differences in time and availability across the organization. 

1. Take inventory of how your team members spend their time

With a reported 252% increase in meetings since early 2020, there is a notable reduction in the amount of time spent actually completing tasks. With that knowledge under your belt, it’s clear to see that efficiencies and increased opportunities for focused time need to be a priority. Performing an audit on how time is being spent can provide insight into where asynchronous methods of communication, like emails and providing updates using a project management tool, may benefit your team. 

2. Set clear deadlines on all platforms

Setting clear deadlines is essential for success in asynchronous communication. Recipients of asynchronous communication should be made aware of when you want to hear back from them as well as any internal deadlines and the target completion date for the project as a whole. Most project management tools have features that support deadline tracking. Making deadlines clear can go a long way in keeping projects on track even with the flexibility made available with remote work.

3.  Write clear, concise messages on all platforms

Clarity is a vital ingredient in successful asynchronous communication. Any confusion created will likely cause a series of back-and-forth communications which will delay progress. When thinking about clarity, it might be helpful to imagine what follow-up questions the receiver may have and answer them proactively to maintain forward motion. 

4. Craft detailed responses

When you receive questions from your team via asynchronous communication methods, be sure to spend the time required to give a full and detailed response. A quick response may seem like the most efficient use of time, however, that is a misguided thought. Any details missed because of a haphazard response can launch a series of back-and-forth communications which can hold up projects. Asynchronous communication thrives when details are plentiful.

5. Don’t schedule meetings if you don’t need to

One of the benefits of asynchronous communication is the ability to make progress without having to schedule and attend meetings. Emails and comments in shared documents can be very effective and can be used in place of virtual or in-person meetings. It is crucial though to know when a meeting should be called.

5 Easy Ways to Use Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication versus synchronous communication, which one is right for your business?

The long and short of it is that there is no simple, all-encompassing answer to this question. It’s almost always a carefully curated combination of asynchronous communication and synchronous communication that will best serve a business. There are very few workplaces that can effectively rely solely on one or the other of these approaches to communication.  

It is important then, for all of the leaders within your workforce to understand how to weigh both options and select the optimal method for communication in any given situation. It isn’t as black and white as some people believe it to be, and rules like “asynchronous communication is for remote work” and “synchronous communication is for on site work” leave an awful lot to be desired in their attempts at guidance.

Putting policies and processes in place can be very effective to guide the decision making and create uniformity to the approach across your organization, but with a “shades of grey” situation like this, what should be considered as those are written?

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Who are you communicating with?

Well, like all communication efforts, one of the most important details to consider is who you are communicating with. For this component, considering factors like what generations your team belongs to, the concentration of introverts vs extroverts and personality types as well as the sheer size of the audience and their demonstrated past behaviour can help you make a great decision about using synchronous or asynchronous communication.  

Gen X team members might prefer a synchronous meeting whereas Millennial and Gen Z staff might respond more positively to a recorded video message. A heavily introverted staff might be more effectively engaged in a brainstorm completed using asynchronous communication, while an extrovert leaning group likely prefers the energy involved with synchronous brainstorm sessions. 

How Urgent Is Your Communication? 

Another important consideration in the synchronous vs asynchronous communication debate is related to timing. As the primary difference between the two approaches is in the time between message delivery and response, this could easily be the variable that tips the scales in one direction or the other.  

For example, if you are on hold with a client and realize you are missing a key piece of information, you should probably get the colleague who has that info on the phone – you’re not likely to get a response to a text or slack message before the hold music stops! 

Conversely, having a document passed back and forth with edits via email, a classic asynchronous approach, may be less desirable when you’re on a tight deadline than using a live document to edit and revise in real time with your collaborators.  Asynchronous communication is not usually your best bet for having time sensitive communication needs met.

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Is Complexity a Factor?

One more important variable to consider is the complexity of the communication required and both your ability to effectively pass along all of the nuances and complexities and the receiver’s ability to pick  them up using one form or the other, synchronous or asynchronous communication. 

This area is one where we tend to believe one approach is overall superior to the other, specifically, that if you have to deliver a complex message you need to do it sychronously. However, there are so many excellent tools available to support asynchronous communication that even if that sentiment ever were true, it is now blown out of the water.

Tools like Camtasia and Snagit make it simple and streamlined to communicate layers of complex information effectively using video and image based methods.

All in all, each of these areas and likely other situation specific factors need to be carefully considered when deciding on synchronous or asynchronous communication in the workplace. There in no one answer that will always be right, and there may be some trial and error involved while you learn to navigate this.

Having a strong understanding of the individuals your team is comprised of, as well as an excellent handle on the details of each project you are working on together, will help you make the best choices for your team’s communication.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

How to Get the Perfect Video Lighting

There are many ways to set up the studio lighting for your video.

There are many elements that contribute to or detract from a great video and lighting is one element that can make or break it. Because cameras don’t capture light in the same way that the human eye does, it is crucial to learn how to get the best lighting for video recording. 

In order to have the image on the screen appear natural your set will need a lot of lighting. But not just any lighting will do – there are specific ways to manipulate the light for optimal results and bad lighting can be very distracting. So distracting in fact that it can cause your message to get lost, or worse yet, it can make people stop watching altogether. 

Whether your goal is to look great on your next Zoom call or shoot a new video, the tips and tricks we’ll share in this guide will give you all you need to improve your video lighting.

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Step 1: Optimize the lighting in the room for a video shoot

The best shooting environment is one where you have as much control over lighting as possible.

Get rid of clutter

A clear, distraction-free space is ideal for filming. When shooting in an indoor space like an office or home, be sure to complete a thorough decluttering of the space that will be seen on camera. 

Anything that takes away from the message of your video should be removed. The goal is to create a crisp clean canvas that will help to keep your audience focused and engaged. Having photos and decorative objects in the frame can easily distract your audience and reduce the effectiveness of your video, so removing them is an easy way to set your video out on the right foot. 

Pro tip: Take a photo before you start moving items so that you have a reference point for putting them back properly when filming is complete. 

Clean the space

Anything that is selected to remain in your filming space should be given a thorough cleaning. Dust and smudges on frames or furniture can be distracting. Even the floor should get a thorough cleaning if it will be visible on camera. 

Add props

This may seem odd after the decluttering step, but hear us out. The props used should fulfill a function and not distract from the message of your video. Here are a few ideas for props and how and why they should be used as part of your set. 

  • Blankets and throw pillows can be used in a living room or rec room setting to add some texture or a pop of color to a solid-colored sofa or chair
  • Fresh flowers are a very popular addition to a set. Arranged nicely and placed in a vase they can add color and perspective to a neutral space.
  • Shelves and tables should be styled, minimally and authentically, with books, plants, lamps, and other generic items. Always be careful not to use easily recognizable books or representations of licensed characters on your set. 
  • Any artwork used as part of the staging should be carefully curated. Only use pieces of art and photos that you have the right to capture and distribute on film. If you’re unsure about any of the pieces in your frame, check into the usage rights, consider other backdrop options or contact the artist directly to ask for usage rights.

Be considerate of mirrors

 Filming in locations with mirrors can be difficult, not only from a lighting perspective but also because it can be tricky to ensure that no reflections of equipment or crew members get captured in them.

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Step 2: Choose your video lighting type 

There are several options to choose from when searching for the best lighting for a video. It’s a good idea to try a few different setups and learn which one works best for you. Some will work more effectively for face lighting and others for creative or dramatic effects. The best way to learn about how to get good lighting for videos is to practice!

Key light

Description: The key light is the brightest and most powerful light for your shot. It is your main light source.

Pros: Illuminates the subject of your video

Cons: LED options can be pricey, and must be used in conjunction with a fill or backlight 

Who should use it: Live Streamers, and individuals using three-point light, two lights or four lights lighting schemes 

Fill light

Description: Fill lights are used to eliminate any shadows caused by the key light.

Pros: Eliminates shadows

Cons: Must be used in conjunction with a key light and/or backlight

Who should use it: Individuals using a three-point light, four-light, or loop lighting scheme


Description: A backlight shines on the subject from behind.It can be hung from above or placed directly behind or to the side of the video’s subject. 

Pros: Creates separation between the subject and the background

Cons: Must be used in conjunction with other light sources

Who should use it: Anyone filming without a ring light

Ring light

Description: A ring of light, usually LEDs, which often comes equipped with a tripod and mechanism to hold your phone or camera in its center.

Pros: Can be used alone

Cons: Can be harsh to look directly into

Who should use it: Beginners or makeup tutorial creators

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Step 3: Choose a video lighting scheme 

There are many ways to set up the studio lighting for your video. Three-point lighting is a popular lighting choice for video, but two lights, four lights, and loop lighting setups can be used effectively for video lighting as well. 

Each of these options creates a slightly different result, so read below to learn more about which scheme you should use to get the best lighting for your videos.  While you can, of course, find great lighting for video recording outside, we will be focussing on lighting schemes for videos filmed indoors.  

Three-point lighting

Description: Three-point lighting uses three lights; a key light, a fill light, and a backlight. In this video lighting setup, the key light and fill light are positioned on either side of the camera, pointing toward the subject. The backlight is positioned either above or to the side of the subject. 

Pros: Separates the subject from the background and creates nice highlights around the subject

Cons: Many pieces of equipment required

Who should use it: Youtubers and Streamers or any videos with one person speaking to the camera will benefit from this video lighting scheme. 

Two lights

Description: The two lights scheme for video lighting uses a key light and a fill light. With the addition of a bounce card, this scheme can be amplified. Whether it is used alongside a natural light source or with your key light pointed at it, it will help to improve the video’s face lighting. The lights should be positioned above your subject’s height for the best lighting results. 

Pros: Flexibility within a filming location

Cons: Reliance on natural light can limit the filming timeframe

Who should use it: This type of video lighting is good for use with subjects who may want to get up and move around. 

Four lights

Description: This is an expansion of the three-point lighting system for video and introduces a background light. The background light is positioned at waist height behind the subject, pointing at the wall or backdrop they are in front of. 

Pros: Brightens the wall behind the subject, offers a more creative exploration of the use of light in video

Cons: Longer setup and teardown, more equipment required

Who should use it: Video creators looking for more creative opportunities

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Loop lighting

Description: Loop lighting, another excellent option in lighting for video recording, uses two light sources, a key light positioned next to the camera and a backlight on the other side of the camera behind the subject. 

Pros: Minimal equipment required

Cons: Movement is restricted with this lighting scheme

Who should use it: Those creating professional videos

One light

Description: A video lighting system requiring only one light. A ring light is the best choice for a one-light studio lighting setup. 

Pros: Minimal equipment required

Cons: Less depth is created with this scheme than with multi-light options

Who should use it: Video creators who use their cell phones for filming

Step 4: Choose your light color temperature for video shoots

Not all lights are created equal. Based on the type of bulb, lights can appear “cooler” or “warmer” on camera. The human eye perceives this difference too.

Consider how a doctor’s office looks (cool fluorescent light) compared to a comfortable living room setting. Warmer light typically has a more yellow color, while cooler light has more white or light blue tones.

This concept is called color temperature, and can be measured on a scale of kelvin (see image below.)

As we stated earlier, it’s best not to mix lights of different color temperatures. I suggest finding daylight color bulbs, which are around 5000K. 

For LED, it’s helpful to be able to adjust the color by temperature to ensure even coloration. Mixed temperatures can lead to improper color balance, which can lead to unnatural-looking footage.

Mixed temperatures can lead to improper color balance.
Color temperature on a kelvin scale

Step 5: Fix glare, the enemy of video lighting

Glare on glasses can be a big issue, especially with fixtures that have harder, more direct light.

You can often fix it by raising your lights higher on their stands. If you have someone who can assist, have them raise the lights while you look through the camera viewfinder until the light is no longer visible in the glasses lens. 

If raising the lights doesn’t help, try moving your key and filling the lights farther out, while keeping them relatively equal to one another.

In the three-point lighting image above, your key would be closer to 3:15, and your fill would be 8:45.

If your subject is comfortable with removing their glasses, that’s always a good last resort, but certainly not always an option — especially if they’re reading from a teleprompter.

It’s best to accommodate your shooting subject as best you can before asking them to adjust their appearance for a technical reason.

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Video lighting FAQs

How much does video lighting cost?

Video lighting can range widely in cost. It can be free if you have the option of using a window, or you can find bundles including a full studio lighting setup for around $200 USD. 

What color bulb should I choose for video lighting?

The color of the bulb itself is up to you and what best serves the lighting needs of what you are filming. The important detail to remember is not to mix different colors of light, as that will create a low-quality video. 

How do I avoid glare in video lighting?

Repositioning your lights is the key to avoiding glare in your videos. If you notice a glare, you can either raise the lights until the glare disappears or try moving your key light and fill light further out. 

Can you have too much light when filming videos?

Yes, you can! Too much light in the wrong places can cause undesirable shadows to appear.

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

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

How to Run More Effective Meetings with Async Video

How to run more effective meetings with async video

Do you spend an alarming amount of time in meetings?

You’re not alone! According to this survey, we spend about a third of our work week in meetings. 

Unfortunately, most of that time isn’t making us any better at our jobs:

The good news is that meetings don’t have to be a waste of time!

Rethinking your approach to meetings and adopting an “async-first” mindset will help you take back your calendar and give yourself more time for focused, deep work.

In this post, we’ll cover:

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How meetings disrupt productivity

It seems simple: the more time you spend in meetings, the less time you actually have to get stuff done. But it’s worse than that. 

Meetings lead to context switching

Multiple meetings on our calendars can lead to more context switching throughout our day, which hurts our ability to focus. 

Let’s say you’re working on a presentation for a project about apples and have to pause to attend a meeting about oranges. 

Since it takes time and energy for your brain to switch between tasks, oranges won’t get your full attention because you’re still partially focused on apples. Then, when you need to get back to work on your project about apples, you’re still thinking about oranges for a while.

Meetings leave less time for deep work

Meetings can chop up our work day, leaving us with an hour or two here or 20 minutes there to complete our tasks. 

It takes time for our brains to gain the momentum they need to handle cognitively challenging tasks like creative work and problem-solving. We need stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on our most important work. 

Without time for deep work, we are less creative and make poorer decisions. 

What are the qualities of a good meeting?

Meetings aren’t going anywhere. Sometimes, being able to talk through ideas and make decisions as a group in a synchronous meeting is the best way to move work forward.

Being intentional about when, why, and how you are having meetings will help make your meetings more effective. Good meetings tend to:

  • Have a clear goal and expected outcomes. If you can’t come up with why you’re having a meeting in the first place, it’s best not to schedule it all. 
  • Be as short as possible. Not every meeting needs to be an hour. Schedule only the time you think you need to reach your expected outcome. 
  • Have the right people in the room. Too many attendees can derail your meeting with side conversations or distractions or, worse, waste someone’s time if they don’t find the discussion valuable.

Use async video to make your meetings shorter and more effective

There’s no way around it. Running an effective meeting takes planning, but it’s worth it. 

Leveraging asynchronous forms of communication like video messages can help you make the most of the synchronous time you have with your team. 

When you’re meeting with a group to brainstorm or make a decision, there’s usually some context, history, or essential information that will help inform the discussion.

Don’t wait until your meeting starts to share that information! 

If you have slides, data, or examples you want to share with your attendees, fire up a screen capture app like Snagit and walk through the information just as you would during your meeting. 

You don’t need professional video experience, either. With Snagit, you can record your camera, microphone, and screen at the same time to create shareable videos in minutes.

Pro tip: Use Snagit’s Screen Draw feature to highlight areas of your screen while you record your videos to emphasize important information.

Your attendees will have more time to digest the information and form opinions or questions, encouraging them to participate in the discussion. 

Plus, you’re saving the time you would have spent presenting this information at the top of the meeting.

A flow chart to help you decide if you should schedule a meeting. If you need input from others to make a decision and expect many questions or discussions, you should schedule a meeting. Do not schedule a meeting if you're only sharing background or updating someone on your decision.

Types of meetings you can replace with async video

Sometimes, the most productive way to run a meeting is not to schedule one at all. 

That’s right! Many of the meetings we attend are scheduled out of habit, and it’s a pattern we need to break.

Informational meetings

Any meeting that is a one-way share of information like a status update, data shareout, or project demo is usually more productive in an asynchronous format.

Record a video with Snagit to share your updates or demo your project, just as you would over Zoom call or in-person meeting.


Use Snagit’s Picture-in-Picture feature to include your camera video with your screen recording. It will help connect your face and name to your work, which can be especially difficult when working remotely.

Answering “how do I?” questions

Let’s say you need to show a coworker how to update a page on your company’s website. You could walk over to their desk and guide them through the process. Or, if you’re remote, set up a video call and share your screen.

But whether you’re in an office, remote, or hybrid, there’s a better way to demonstrate a process: asynchronous video. 

You guessed it; fire up Snagit and hit record. Walk them through the steps as you would in a meeting. When you’re ready, click “Share Link,” and you instantly have a link to your video copied to your clipboard. 

Not only will you save time, but your coworker will also be able to reference the information whenever they need to (instead of pinging you on chat with repeat questions.)

Plus, you can re-use the video anytime you need to walk someone else through that process. Even better, if you share your videos via Screencast, you can organize your how-to’s into Collections, so they’re easy to find.  

Providing feedback

You don’t need to schedule hours of meetings or write mile-long emails to provide feedback on a project or review someone’s work. 

Use Snagit to record your screen and share your ideas with a video!

You can record anything on your screen and include your webcam video, making it simple to explain complex ideas and get your point across.

If you’re providing feedback that might be difficult to hear, record your screen and webcam at the same time with Snagit’s Picture-in-Picture feature. Your viewer will be able to pick up on nonverbal cues that can help communicate empathy or enthusiasm. 

The benefits of replacing meetings with async video

At TechSmith, we have been using async video to enhance or replace our synchronous meetings for years. Here are some of the benefits we’ve seen so far.

Work doesn’t get stuck in limbo

Taking an “async-first” approach to meetings means we’re not limited by busy schedules when sharing ideas, providing updates, or making decisions. Especially for distributed teams, time zones can make scheduling a synchronous meeting even more difficult.

When you share your Snagit videos to Screencast, viewers can ask questions or leave feedback in time-stamped comments that keep the conversation going without disrupting everyone’s day. 

Work moves forward faster when you don’t have to rely on finding a time that works for everyone to share critical information. 

Plus, when we’re not overwhelmed with unnecessary meetings, it’s easier to find time to connect when it’s genuinely needed.

More people have an opportunity to contribute

Even if you can quickly get everyone in the same room at the same time, not everyone is comfortable speaking up or providing immediate feedback during a meeting. 

Allowing your team to absorb information in their own time can help encourage participation, reduce knee-jerk reactions and lead to more thoughtful communication overall. 

Information can be archived or referenced later

According to research from the Harvard Business Review, reducing meetings can lead to fewer misunderstandings. 

Synchronous meetings have a lot of variables. From side conversations to technical issues, information can get lost in translation, even if you’re taking the best notes. 

When you share a video with your team, that information lives permanently in an easily accessible format. Someone who needs clarity on a related task can reference that video anytime for help. 

Simplify your work life and ditch unnecessary meetings

Meetings aren’t inherently evil, but we tend to schedule them more often than we need to. We don’t have time to do our actual work when we’re in back-to-back meetings all day. 

Unfortunately, many of us steal from our nights and weekends to catch up, which can lead to burnout and hurt employee engagement. 
It doesn’t have to be that way! Screen capture and recording tools like Snagit can help you leverage asynchronous communication to take back your calendar.

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The guide to using GIFs in the workplace

The prevalence of remote work has really changed the way we interact in the modern world. It requires us to think very differently about how we communicate in the workplace – to consider the culture we want to create and think less traditionally about how we can make that a reality.

In years past, the idea of using visual methods of communication like emojis, memes, and GIFs at work would have seemed absurd and unprofessional. However, in the quest to create connection while using communication tools that can’t translate tone or nuance, these visuals have become invaluable tools.

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When we are limited to only letters, numbers, and proper punctuation, it is nearly impossible to add personality or humor into a conversation without the risk of being misunderstood.  

With remote work and globally distributed teams continuing to dominate the workforce, it is important to properly incorporate new ways of communicating that can help us better get to know one another and understand the unique personalities that we are working with – this is one very important way to continue the development of strong teams despite the distance spanned between coworkers. 

We’re all familiar by now with emojis and how they can be used to add flavor to a conversation, and you may have even tried your hand at incorporating a meme or two, but the player that you need to take off the bench to really punch up your workplace communication now? That would be the GIF. Let’s take a look at how best to use GIFs effectively for work.

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Are GIFs work-appropriate?

You know the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? It might not feel like that has always been the perspective in the professional sphere but that is changing quickly. 

Visual communication has worked its way into professional communications and GIFs are an effective medium to incorporate. Using GIFs at work helps to convey meaning and nuance outside of the confines of conventional language. 

GIFs can even help you to build stronger relationships across your team and make freelancers and remote workers feel like they are a part of the team. It doesn’t hurt that they can earn you a few laughs along the way too!  

One of the primary strong points in favor of using GIFs at work is their ability to save time. 

You can literally encapsulate an entire sentence or even paragraph with the right GIF.  

And they leave very little room for interpretation – the nuances that can get lost or cause problems with conventional language in written form are nearly eliminated with the use of GIFs. 

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Emotions and humor are much more easily shared via GIF format than through almost any other non-verbal form of communication. Time is money, so they say, and streamlining your communication by using GIFs at work is an easy way to boost productivity. 

Another important benefit to the GIF in the workplace is that stronger bonds are able to be forged using this tool than using standard written tools. And it is an accessible form no matter where in the world your colleagues are! 

There is a significant difference, as the receiver, between a “good job” note and a funny “good job” GIF. Any time you have the ability to make your team laugh at the same time as effectively communicating a message, you win modern workplace communications.  

It is essential, however, to approach the use of GIFs at work with caution. Any use of a GIF at work should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

If ever you find yourself wondering about the appropriateness of a GIF in any specific situation, it’s a good idea to check with the HR department to be sure you are on the right side of the policy.

Also read: Everything you wanted to know about mobile video recording

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What are the advantages of using GIFs at work?

We’ve seen a lot of new forms of communication come and go from year to year and decade to decade. Still, the GIF file format has been in use since 1987.  

The animation that makes the format so enticing didn’t enter the picture until 1995 but, in one way or another, the GIF has been a part of the workplace for over 30 years. It continues to be a useful and relevant way to communicate feelings, ideas, and information in an efficient and effective way.  

The GIF remains a powerful format in today’s workplace landscape, perhaps more than ever before. Here are some of the top reasons that you should be using GIFs at work. 

1. Messages will be More Memorable

On average, only 20% of a message delivered in a text-only format is remembered by its recipient. But when paired with a visual the message becomes much more memorable. 

The ability to use a GIF well at work in a way that draws out emotion or uses humor can help your team connect to a message in a deep way and make what you’re trying to communicate simply unforgettable.

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2. Relationships will improve

With the uptick in remote work we’ve lost some of the opportunities that have traditionally helped us to build strong relationships with our colleagues and teams. The water cooler and coffee break conversations that used to be the norm are now much less accessible. 

The opportunities for sharing hobbies, experiences, and favorite shows, things that used to help us find “our people” and build great relationships, are fewer now but not exhausted! 

The use of GIFs in the workplace can fill in this gap. Sending a message to your team that is punctuated by a funny GIF (appropriate for work) that references a show you love or something nostalgic can really help you to strengthen the feelings of connectedness within your team regardless of the geographical distance between you. 

3. Communication will be more effective

None of us at this point are strangers to the anxiety of being misunderstood or accidentally causing a problem because of a poorly constructed message. And, in all likelihood, many of us are guilty of jumping to conclusions or taking something the wrong way when reading workplace communication. 

If you’ve been a part of one of these misunderstandings, regardless of whether you were the communicator or the receiver, you know one thing for sure – the communication was not effective! 

Adding a GIF to your communication can be a great way to ensure the effective delivery of your message. A well-placed GIF in the workplace can go a long way in communicating the nuance and context that can so easily be lost, causing misunderstandings. 

It’s hard to think your team leader is mad about something if their message is accompanied by a funny GIF or a “good work team” GIF, right? 

Also read: The guide to make Youtube videos

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4. Work will be more fun

Remote work has a lot of advantages but one of the disadvantages is the absence of energy and fun that can come from working closely with other people. 

A joke levied from a few desks away, and shared horror at the office’s favorite show’s season finale around the water cooler can really break up the monotony of the day – but those things don’t happen when you’re sitting alone in your home office. 

GIFs at work are a great solution to this gap!  Anything you can say a GIF can say funnier, and using them in your workplace communications can really add fun back into the workday. 
With tools like Snagit and Camtasia, you can even customize GIFs specifically for your team! Sending a “great work team!” GIF is way more fun when it features the actual people on your team!

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10 ways to use GIFs at work

1. Show a series of steps in a process

Sometimes a seemingly simple process has a lot of steps. GIFs are the perfect way to explain an onscreen process quickly, without having to list all the steps in text form.

GIFs are the perfect way to explain an onscreen process quickly.

2. Show cause and effect

Illustrate how one thing changes another. GIFs clearly demonstrate cause and effect in a way a static image simply can’t. A GIF that isolates essential elements makes it easy to focus and see the impact of an action.

GIFs clearly demonstrate cause and effect in a way a static image simply can’t.

3. Show before and after

When the amount of space on your screen is an important consideration, a GIF can really be a lifesaver. In a world with screens of every size, conveying all the necessary information efficiently in a small space can be difficult.

Before GIF, you had to use two pictures: a before picture and an after picture. Now, you can show them both in the same space.

Before GIF, you had to use two pictures: a before picture and an after picture.

4. Make comparisons

Similar to a before and after GIF, a comparison GIF is a powerful communication tool. By taking two (or more) seemingly separate images and mashing them together in GIF form, you recontextualize the meanings of both.

It’s difficult to find another universally recognized file format that packs so much power.

A comparison GIF is a powerful communication tool.

5. Onboarding and walkthroughs

We love this one. In fact, there’s this handy dandy screen capture program called Snagit that uses GIFs for an introductory tutorial.

The GIF exposes functionality with animated loops and a simplified user interface. Perfect for showcasing macro-level functionality without getting into the nitty-gritty.

The GIF exposes functionality with animated loops and a simplified user interface.

6. Mini-demos

The GIF can serve as a “mini-demo.” They’re perfect to show off a new feature or process and can easily replace still images for dropdown menus and checklist UIs.

The GIF can serve as a “mini-demo.”

7. Social media teasers

Want to tease a concept or solicit feedback on social media? Post a GIF and test how your engagement increases. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn support the posting and viewing of GIFs in the feed.

Motion-heavy GIFs help stop the scroll and draw attention to your post.

Post a GIF and test how your engagement increases.

8. Concept illustrations

Animated illustrations can show concepts and introduce new features rather than teach steps. GIF motion draws attention, and it encourages a second look at a seemingly boring topic.

GIF motion draws attention, and it encourages a second look at a seemingly boring topic.

9. Help desk ticket

GIFs are perfect for your IT help desk. If someone in your organization is asking for computer help, it’s likely that someone else may have the same issue.

By creating a simple, helpful GIF and keeping it on file, you will be ready to help everyone who asks about that particular topic again.

GIFs are perfect for your IT help desk.

10. Quick tips or answering questions

Has someone ever asked you a question on how to do a seemingly simple task, and you find yourself writing them a novel in email form? It’s actually faster to just make them a quick GIF. Plus, then you’ll have it on hand if that same question is emailed to you again.

It’s also easier for the person to follow along. Perfect for the workplace social platform, such as Slack, Teams, or Flowdock.

Let’s take a look at how best to use GIFs effectively for work.

Bonus! GIF reactions

Did someone on your team close a big sale? Squash that pesky computer bug? Nail that latest presentation? Consider emailing them a congratulatory GIF!

Want to really celebrate? CC the entire team on your email. Nothing blows up your inbox quicker than a well-placed GIF. Your co-workers might even respond with a GIF or meme of their own.

Here at TechSmith, when someone sends out a funny GIF or meme, we all pile on and try to outdo each other. Sure, it’s a bit of a distraction, but we’re all laughing as a team and having a bit of fun at work. I am constantly amazed by the GIF mastery and meme brilliance of my colleagues.

Consider emailing your team a congratulatory GIF!

GIFs at work FAQs

Is that OK to use GIFS at work?

Yes! It is OK to see GIFS at work. They can support connection and fun but they can also make communication more effective. Just make sure the GIFs you choose are appropriate for the workplace. 

How do businesses use gifs?

Businesses use GIFs to make their communication more memorable and effective. They can be used for both internal and external business communications. 

Understanding Video File Formats, Codecs and Containers

Video file formats are so plentiful these days.

Video file formats are so plentiful these days. It can be overwhelming to choose which file format is best suited to your project.

This quick, down and dirty guide will help you gain a core understanding of how video files differ from one another and what formats you should be using in various stages of your workflow.

What is a video format?

Let’s start with the basics – what does “video format” even mean? 

Video formats refer to the way in which the video’s information is stored on digital devices or servers. 

There are two main components to each video format; the Codec and the Container.  


Codec is actually an acronym; it stands for compressor/decompressor. Think about all of the information contained in a video file – there are combinations of data related to images, audio, video, and meta data among others. 

The amount of data held in a video file takes up a lot of space and the codec helps to reduce the amount of storage required to house each file. While in storage, the video codec will reduce the file size by merging like data, minimizing the number of colors in a video and reducing the resolution. 

When the video is opened for viewing or editing the same codec will decompress the data.  

It is important to explain that Codecs can be “lossy” or “lossless” in their compression methods. If the codec’s method of compression involves removing or merging files, this is what would be described as lossy. It can result in the quality of your file diminishing after each edit.

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Lossless Codecs will store your data in a way that preserves all of the information from the original file, which is great, but there is a tradeoff for that benefit – a larger file size.  


Now we’ve explained a video Codec, one of the two components of a video format, but you may still be wondering what a video container is.  

Funny enough, the image that came to mind when you first read the word “container” is probably pretty close to what it is!  A video container is used to keep all the elements of a file together so that they can be played back synchonously. So if you pictured a box or jar when you first read the word “container” in this article – you weren’t far off! 

All video containers can hold data related to audio and video but they can differ from one another in their abilities to hold elements outside of those.  

Some video containers can hold metadata and subtitles among other things, but some can only hold audio and video elements.

Video containers can be identified by their file extension. Some common video file extensions are .mp4, .mov, and .avi, among others.     

Formats vs. codecs, what’s the difference?

Container vs Codec is a consistent point of confusion  – they do both play important roles in video file creation and management so it’s not unreasonable that people sometimes believe them to be synonymous.  

Containers and Codecs, though, are very different from one another and serve two important and unique purposes. 

The Codec encodes and compresses, then decodes and decompresses the data that makes up your video. It is about what comes out of the camera; the filming and recording process. 

An example of a Codec is H.264

The Format or Container, stores the audio, video, subtitles, and other elements that make up your video.  It’s about the end product.   MP4 and MOV are examples of video formats.  

The most common video formats

There are many different types of video file formats. We’ve gathered the details on some of the most common to help you better understand when to use which one. 

Video format 1: MP4

What is it? 

MP4 is the most common and most popular video format. It is the most universally compatible and is capable of storing audio, video, subtitles, text and still images. It is the best option for use on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and twitter. 


This file format is universally supported by most digital devices and media players. It is compatible with both Windows and iOs and can be used on popular devices like Xbox 360, television sets and DVD players. MP4 files are relatively small in size but the video quality is high. Compression of these files only causes a very slight loss of quality.   


The MP4 file format is still being developed but its popularity and ease of access has resulted in an ease of piracy that could be concerning to some creators. This video format can be challenging to edit. Though it is uncommon, MP4s can experience issues with audio syncing due to Codec issues.  

Video format 1: MOV

What is it?

The MOV file format is quite similar to the MP4 format but was developed specifically by Apple for use with Quicktime Player. It is the best video format for use on Apple devices. 


This video format holds audio, text, and video effects and is highly regarded in the film industry because of the ability to be separated into multiple tracks. MOV files are very high quality and easy to edit. They are playable on Apple devices as well as programs in Windows and most usb-compatible televisions. MOV files are the professional standard in video editing. 


This video file format is not widely playable across devices, and the tradeoff for the high quality is a very large file size. The compression of this video file format causes some data loss which reduces the video quality. 

Video format 1: AVI

What is it?

The AVI video file format was Microsoft’s answer to the MOV. Developed in 1995, it is the one of the oldest video file formats in existence. It is an ideal format for short videos and television but is less suited to streaming and sharing because of the large file size.


AVI files are compatible with most major operating systems and web browsers in addition to being adaptable and versatile in terms of working with other video file formats as well. This video file format creates excellent audio and video quality and is even suitable for DVD recording. 


The AVI video file format is somewhat outdated and is not ideal for streaming or sharing, making it less than practical for many modern video uses. Its very large file size is coupled with some quality loss during compression. This video file format does not hold the data required to generate subtitles which, with today’s focus on accessibility, is not helping its case.

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Video format 1: WMV

What is it?

As AVI’s successor, WMV files are supported across Windows devices and on Apple as well, as long as Windows Media Player has been downloaded. The WMW is one of the only video file types that beats the MP4 in terms of compression capability.


WMV video files have a licensing and copyright function that makes them ideal for the sale of digital video products. They also have 1080p video support and a file size so small that it can serve many different purposes – even holding the capability to be played via Google Drive. 


The WMV is one of the least accepted video file formats by video players. Video files saved in this format can lose image quality during the compression process and there is also a lack of ability to manually select compression proportions for them.  

Video format 1: MKV

What is it?

The MKV video file format is becoming increasingly popular. It uses open-source code and holds multiple Codecs simultaneously.


This video file type supports the inclusion of audio, video, subtitles, metadata and menus. Multiple Codecs can be supported within this one file type, and there is no loss of data during compression. These video files result in an excellent quality end product.    


The tradeoff for the excellent quality is a large file size, so this video file format requires more storage than some others. MKV files also use a more complicated compression process than most video file types so there is not support across all devices, though compatibility does seem to be increasing.

Video format 1: AVCHD

What is it?

This video file type was co-created by Sony and Panasonic and was designed for use with Camcorders.  It is the highest quality video format for those shooting high end video footage. 


The H.264/MPEG-4 compression technology used by this video file format results in very small file sizes without a loss in data quality. The AVCHD can store audio, video, subtitles, menu navigation, and even a slideshow! Its newest format also supports 3D video.  


The AVCHD video file format is very limited in compatibility, having been specifically developed for use with Panasonic and Sony products.  

Video format 1: WEBM

What is it?

Another open source video file type, WEBM was developed by Google for HTML5.  It plays directly in the browser, without the need for Flash Player or another plugin. 


Because it plays in the browser itself, this video format takes less time to load than others. It is supported by the major browsers, like Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera. The WEBM video file type easly compresses and decompresses data, resulting in high quality video playback with a very small file size. Videos using this file type can also be embedded directly into the background of a website.


This video file format’s requirement for HTML to enable playback means that its compatibility with mobile devices is quite weak.

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How to Choose a Video File Format?

The video file format you choose should be based heavily on the video quality requirements for your specific project. Some other things to consider include the length of your video, how you want to share it and how you plan to edit your work. 

For online videos

When creating a video for online playback, make sure you choose a file format that will be supported by most web browsers. This way, your video will be played natively on the browser. MP4 and WEBM are the best choices for videos that need to be web compatible. .

For home video recordings

If you are making home videos, chances are pretty good that you want them to stand the test of time. Because of that, it’s best to choose a format with high video quality and a good chance of being usable in the future. Open-source file formats would be the best bet for this, as they are more future-proof than formats that are owned by or specific to one platform. MP4 or AVI formats are good choices for this.

For Windows applications

Of course if your video needs to be compatible with a Windows application you need to choose a format that is compatible with Windows. If this is your goal, WMV is a good choice for your project.

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Best video formats for Youtube

While many video formats can be used effectively with Youtube, it’s important to consider details like time required to upload, process and play the video – this is tightly tied to the file size associated with your video. To maximize effectiveness, Youtube itself recommends the MP4 video file format with AAC-LC audio Codec and H.264 video Codec.   

Best video formats for Instagram

There are two formats that are accepted by Instagram, MP4 and MOV, however, due to the smaller file size and lower data loss during compression the MP4 file format is preferable.  The MP4 format should be paired with an H.264 Codec for optimal results on this platform.

Best video formats for Facebook

While many video file formats will work for Facebook, MP4 and MOV are the most highly recommended, with MP4 coming out on top once again due to its smaller file size and fewer losses during compression.

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Video formats FAQs

How to change a video format?

There are specialized video converters that can change videos from one format to another. Some examples are Wondershare Uniconverter, and Any Video Converter.

What format are iPhone videos?

iPhone videos are usually recorded in the MOV video file format. 

What format are Tiktok videos?

The MP4 file format is best for Tiktok.

What is the best video format for Youtube?

For Youtube, the best choice for video file type is the MP4 video file format with AAC-LC audio Codec and H.264 video Codec.

What’s the difference between an MP3 and an MP4?

The MP3 file type is a single media supporting file – it hold audio exclusively. The MP4 file type can hold both audio and video files. 

What’s the difference between a MOV and an MP4?

The MP4 is the most universally compatible video file format and can store audio, video, subtitles, text and still images.  It is the best option for use on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and twitter. The MOV file format is very similar to the MP4 format but was developed specifically by Apple for use with Quicktime Player. It is the best video format for use on Apple devices. 

Andy Owen

Andy Owen is the Video Production Specialist at TechSmith. Most Proud of: being a husband to Chandra, father to Elle & Kai Favorites: The Muppets, Hanna-Barbera, Friends & Firefly Dislikes: Writing in the third person...

How to Create Process Documentation in Just a Few Clicks

How to Create Process Documentation in Just a Few Clicks

Have you ever been asked to train a colleague or even just teach them something new?

Whether there’s a new hire at your organization or a coworker who is unfamiliar with a particular task, you’ve likely needed to share your knowledge at some point.

If you’re a process owner, creating and maintaining process documentation is helpful for a variety of reasons.

Not only can documenting a process save time, but it also helps ensure that tasks get done correctly by outlining a consistent set of directions. It can also help prevent bottlenecks in day-to-day operations by spreading knowledge throughout a team instead of funneling all tasks through one person.  

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of process documentation, provide some best practices, and share a step-by-step guide that will help you document a process in just a few clicks!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

What is process documentation?

Process documentation is the ongoing, internal, real-time act of ensuring all steps within any given process are written down and made available for others to reference. 

Process documents are the outcome of process documentation and serve to keep tasks flowing as smoothly as possible by providing clear and accurate instructions on how a process should be completed. 

Businesses need to have documentation like this in order to maximize effectiveness and efficiency in their day-to-day operations. 

Process documents can come in many forms, including process maps, checklists, policies, tutorials, screenshots, and forms. Process documentation frequently included links as well, sometimes to another program necessary for the process to be completed and sometimes to an excellent reference video or other such resources.  

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Why is process documentation so important for businesses?

Eliminate errors

Process documentation is an excellent way to reduce errors in the ongoing tasks completed within a business. 

Without process documentation, it can be quite easy to miss a step within a process. 

Sometimes this won’t have a significant impact but at other times it could completely change the outcome. Having process documents available helps ensure that a process will happen exactly the same way every time, regardless of who is completing the process and how great their memory is. 

Having process documents available and in use also helps to negate the all too common errors caused by miscommunication or altogether lack of communication. 

Not all managers will communicate the purpose of or steps in a process the same way, and process documentation is an effective workaround for this. 

Regardless of who is assigning a task and how well they explain it, having access to a process document means that the person carrying out the task has a reference for how exactly to make it happen. 

Improve efficiency

Unnecessary meetings, duplicated work, and revisions are all inefficiencies that can be reduced by documenting processes. 

With all of the details documented, there is no need for a meeting (or meetings!) to review what needs to happen during a process.  

Duplicate work is reduced because, if everyone is following a well-crafted suite of documentation, redundancies should have been eliminated and revisions become less frequent as a result of clearly laid out steps and a well-articulated outcome.  

Also read: Quick reference guide

Lower costs

Almost any time we see improvements to efficiency we can find cost reduction as well. 

Less time spent in meetings and fewer iterations of a task reduces the human cost of the process while laying out exactly what resources should be in use for each step allows a business to see whether there are systems, platforms, or programs that have become redundant and can be eliminated, thereby reducing the costs associated with them.

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Decrease resources associated with tasks

As mentioned above, process documentation allows for evaluation and potential reduction of the resources a business makes available. 

When the process documents clearly assign specific resources to particular points in the process the common traps of trial and error and “I wasn’t sure what to use” are removed from the equation and only what is meant to be used is used. 

Improve work quality

With nothing left up to assumption, guessing, or personal preference, process documentation can take the quality level up a notch or two for your deliverables. 

By following a well-documented process, your team will achieve a level of consistency that speaks to quality and know-how. 

And the very nature of product documentation is that of an evolving creation, so whenever efficiencies or improvements are found they can easily be integrated and operationalized. 


Increase customer satisfaction

Whether the process documents in question outline the development of a particular deliverable or the established manner in which customer service is provided, using them well will help boost customer satisfaction.  

People like quality and they like to know what to expect. Product documents help your team deliver the consistent quality service that your customers desire and deserve.

Increase employee satisfaction

No one likes to fumble their way through a process. This is especially true of employees who care about their work and strive for great results – not to mention the fact that they will typically receive feedback on their efficiency and effectiveness and likely prefer that feedback to be positive. 

By providing high-quality process documentation, you can remove any uncertainty about how a task should be executed. 

This helps give employees confidence and lets them know you are setting them up for success. That is an excellent combination for increasing employee satisfaction.

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Create process documentation easily 

With all the benefits you’ve just learned, you may be wondering, “but how exactly do I document a process?” If that’s you, keep reading – we have broken it down into easy steps so you can create effective process documentation with no trouble. 

Step 1: Create a brief description of the process

The best process documents include a brief thorough description of the broader sense of the process. 

When done well, this can help the end user really understand the scope and impact of the work they are about to do, and where it falls against other tasks they hold responsibility for from the perspective of priority.  

Your description should include details like the goals and timeline for process completion, as well as a method of determining priority level. 

These components will let the user know how the process completion will impact and dovetail with their other work. It is also important to share the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the process, as well as what other stakeholders might be involved with the process completion. 

Step 2: Define specific boundaries for the process

Once you have the description complete, the next step is to lay down the boundaries. This will let your process documentation provide clear instructions as to which teams and individuals hold responsibility for and/or are tasked with completing specific pieces of the process. 

It’s not uncommon for multiple departments to hold a piece of the process, so the documentation clearly explaining who makes what decisions and who performs which tasks can save an incredible amount of time on back-and-forth clarifying conversations. 

Step 3: Determine inputs and outputs

Next, you will need to determine and document what resources will be required to complete the process (inputs) and what the objectives are that you want to see achieved on process completion (outputs). 

When determining outputs, make sure to revisit the goals you documented in your process document’s description to make sure your outputs will see those goals achieved. 

You will use these inputs and outputs to help break everything down into smaller steps in the next stage of creating your process documentation. 

Step 4: Decide process steps

This step in creating your process documentation is one where you may find it beneficial to bring in some other individuals for a brainstorming session to make sure that you think of all the details.

Whether working with a group or solo, you’ll want to start by defining the start and end points of the process. With those identified, you can start filling in the steps required to get from point a to point b.  

Try to be as thorough as you can here, to avoid any confusion or the need for employees to guess how to bridge the gap between one step and the next. Be mindful of multiplying steps, for example, if one of the steps is a meeting, you will need to add steps to reflect booking the meeting, drafting an agenda, and sending the minutes or a follow-up email to the attendees. 

It can also be quite impactful to incorporate screenshots or screen recordings (if your process documentation will be exclusively digital) at various points as you document the steps in a process. 
These additions can add an exceptional amount of clarity to your documentation and help the team feel confident that they are on the right track. Get your free trial of Snagit to make this part quick and easy!

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Step 5: Communicate with your team

When you are creating a new piece of process documentation, once you have the description, boundaries, and steps laid out it is a good idea to bring in some perspectives outside of your own. 

Gather individuals from the teams or departments that will be involved in completing the process you are documenting to make sure what you have created is clear to them. 

Are there any steps missing?  Inefficiently allocated resources?  Multiple perspectives can be quite beneficial in uncovering these and ensuring your process documentation is clear and easy to follow. 

Step 6: Prepare a process flowchart

Our research has shown us quite clearly that adding visuals to your communication is a great way to ensure its effectiveness and retention. 

Some of your staff and colleagues may also just be visual learners, so adding a highly visual process flow document or flowchart to your process documentation is a step worth taking.  

To do this, simply pull your inputs, tasks, and outputs from the process document and organize them into a flowchart. It is a good idea to pass this visual representation of the workflow by your team or direct reports to make sure it is as clear to them as it is to you.

Step 7: Take note of process exceptions

Like anything else, a process won’t look the same every time it gets completed.  Some steps may only be necessary for certain situations, and irrelevant in others.  

For example, your project documentation might indicate meetings at 3 points throughout the process, but with less complex versions of the desired outcome you may only actually need 2 meetings.  

These exceptions should be clearly noted in your process documents so that there is no question or misperception about when exemptions apply and when the process must be completed exactly as documented. 

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Step 8: Test your process

Now that you have spent the time and energy to create thorough and accurate process documents, you need to take them for a spin. 

Things tend to work much differently in practice than they do in theory, so you will need to allow space for your team to test out the documentation and provide feedback. This is an iterative process, after all, and your outcomes can only be as good as the processes in place to reach them.  Your process documents should be tested and refined as many times as needed to achieve optimal results.  

Extra tips for effective process documentation

Make it visual

Research shows that 67% of people understand information better when it’s communicated visually.

Process documents are the outcome of process documentation

Including screenshots in your documentation is one of the fastest, most effective ways to show colleagues how to do something. Our favorite tool to use for process documentation is Snagit.

Snagit allows you to easily capture screenshots and add text callouts, numbered steps, and other customizable annotations to draw attention to a particular area to convey information. 

Keep it simple

Be mindful of your audience’s cognitive load – eliminate unnecessary distractions from your content so that your audience can focus on what is important. There are several ways to do this, but in general, your guiding principle should be to boil down the communication to the essentials.

Including screenshots in your documentation is one of the fastest, most effective ways to show colleagues how to do something.

This image shows an example of a screenshot of the PowerPoint interface that has been updated to a simplified user interface graphic, showing where to click to insert a picture.

Aim for evergreen 

As you plan and work through documenting a process, try to avoid examples and text which will quickly become outdated. 

For example, try not to use version numbers in software, dates, or references that could quickly become irrelevant. Being mindful of your approach can help you keep your content up-to-date longer. 

Simplified User Interface graphics are great for this application as well. They allow you to avoid frequent updates to your content, such as cases when buttons move around in software applications.

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Don’t forget about routine maintenance

While we want our content to be evergreen, even the best content will eventually require updates. 

When this happens, try to edit your existing screenshots instead of a total re-do. Snagit’s library keeps a handy record of past screenshots, which means you can open and edit them as necessary. 

Don’t have your original files? No problem! Just take a screenshot of your screenshot! Snagit has some great options for editing screenshots, such as Smart Move and Replace Text, that will save valuable time. 

Schedule regular check-ins, even if they are only once a year. This will ensure that your content stays up-to-date and has all the necessary steps, even as systems and other variables change. Be sure to get feedback from relevant people in your organization. Others may have valuable insights to share.

You can create effective process documentation with no trouble.
Schedule regular audits of process documentation to ensure they get updated, even if only once a year.

How to Create Job Aids that Skyrocket Your Team’s Performance

Job aids are simple, clear instructions on how to do something at work.

Could a job aid be the learning solution that helps your business? 

Empowering your employees with the information they need to level-up is an integral part of managing staff and running a successful business. When you identify problem areas or gaps in knowledge, it only takes a quick Google search to discover the variety of options available to educate your employees.

Online courses and eLearning are popular ways of training. But are they the most suitable for teaching the information you need your employees to know?


Training courses and eLearning solutions aren’t always the silver bullet. These are often costly, time-consuming answers to a problem, and depending on what your employees need to know, it could be a waste of time and money.

Before you invest in any learning solution, consider what your employees need to know. Could it be taught with some illustrative material? Do users need frequent access to easy-to-read materials rather than something they need to commit to memory?

If the answer to any of these is yes, what you might need is a job aid.

Job aids can be instrumental in helping people learn how to complete tasks. In this post, we will share our advice for creating job aids that will work best for your business. 

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

What are job aids, exactly? 

A job aid, otherwise known as a “cheat sheet”, is any material that helps you complete a task.

Job aids are essential tools to empower people with useable information to perform tasks independently. They don’t have to be formal or created on any special software. They just have to help the user through a process successfully and in the simplest way possible.

You’re probably already using job aids and don’t even know it. 

A job aid can come in the form of a virtual sticky note on your computer screen, reminding you what your computer login password is. It could be the paper assembly instructions detailing how to build that new desk for your home office. It could be a checklist, an infographic, an app, a print-out, a note scribbled onto a piece of paper – all these have the potential to function as an effective job aid.

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Job aids are used over and over again and provide value to a returning user. Designed to be deliberately easy to understand and quick to use. Most importantly, job aids should be convenient to access when needed.

Common examples of job aids include:

  • One-pagers
  • Cheat sheets
  • Paper handouts
  • Instructional lists
  • Printouts
  • Performance support collateral
  • Checklists
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • User manuals

What job aids are NOT

The key word here is “aid”. As in, assist or support. A job aid serves to assist or support staff in completing their assigned tasks by providing a quick reminder of how to do them. Anything that teaches someone how to do something new is a training tool not a job aid.   

A job aid is not a training solution, but rather a reminder of something the employee has been trained on previously and may need a slight memory jog for in order to perform well.   

Job aids are not tools either. Additions to an office that are meant to enhance comfort or efficiency are not job aids. An ergonomic mouse, state of the art lumbar support in an office chair and a standing desk are excellent supports in the workplace but they are not job aids.   

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How is a job aid different from job training?

Job aids and job training are both very important components of supporting employee success but the two serve very different purposes. Using a job aid for training is not going to give you the outcome you are hoping for. And using a training tool when what is called for is a job aid will prove ineffcient.

While job training is focused on guiding employees through policies, procedures, software overviews, and other lengthy procedures required to fulfill their job descriptions, job aids act more like refreshers for when an employee needs to complete a very specific task like performing a single operation within a software or having a particularly targeted conversation. 

Job training sets the expectations for success in a role. Job aids help individuals complete specific tasks within their established role. 

How do job aids improve performance?

Training only goes so far, and it only stays in a person’s memory for a short time. When the face-to-face coaching session from a few weeks ago is already growing stale and you hear, “How do I do that task again?”, that’s when job aids shine. They’re available on demand with exactly the information employees need, whenever they need it. 

Both employers and employees have better days when answers are available right away. Instead of having to chase someone down for help, employees have a job aid that shows them the steps required to complete a process. No need to page through layers of documentation to find the exact instructions — a job aid is right next to their workstation so employees can complete the task correctly the first time.

Not only are job aids great at helping employees remember what they’ve learned from a training (such as processes they only need to do occasionally, and don’t need to memorize), they’re also helpful when something changes — for troubleshooting, for example, or to walk through steps of a slightly different workflow of new software versions. 

These efficiencies add up. According to Peregrine Performance Group, companies they work with have replaced a one-week training course with one day of training plus a job aid. Not only is less training needed, proficiency increased by 50%. When you take the time to write an effective job aid, you can expect these types of benefits:

  • Save time by getting work tasks done more quickly
  • Avoid making mistakes, thanks to having clear directions
  • Less employee stress
  • Reduce unnecessary back-and-forth help requests
  • Better process/standards control by sharing the same knowledge with everyone all at once
  • Less training and re-training
  • Better employee and customer experience

Plus, they’re quick — job aides can be deployed 75% faster than traditional training, and at a much lower cost, for much better ROI. 

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Why your team needs job aids

If you’ve worked on a team before, you know that at some point, without a doubt, tasks come up that are outside of the norm, or that need to be completed by someone who doesn’t normally do them. In these situations job aids make everyone’s life easier. They ensure productivity by taking the guesswork out of the task at hand and freeing up mental space for more pressing responsibilities. 

Avoid communication problems

Communication challenges are a major factor impacting productivity. Whether it’s waiting for questions to be answered or looking up missing information, the impact that communication limbo has on productivity is very real. 

Having a job aid to refer to means that employees can move forward with new or unfamiliar tasks without having to wait for responses or specific verbal instruction. 

Creating job aids helps to reduce the development of silos and dependencies, and increase productivity and effectiveness.

Make knowledge-sharing faster

It happens on an ongoing basis. A new procedure is developed, a task gets passed from one staff member to the next, a new workflow comes into play or some other event requires a quick way to bring everyone up to speed. 

Well, no one wants to spend their time (or their money) in a long training or watching over someone else’s shoulder to learn what to do. If a new policy gets rolled out, everyone needs to know about it of course, but it doesn’t have to take a large investment of time to make that happen. 

Simply creating and sharing a job aid can make the knowledge sharing process so much more efficient and in many cases, it is also more effective 

Spend less time on training programs

Job aids, of course, cannot and should not replace training programs but they can serve as helpful resources that reduce the amount of time spent on those programs. 

Creating job aids can serve as a supplement to your training programs, providing the necessary information for completing specific tasks or processes without having to book time within your training curriculum to cover them.


How to create effective job aids (step-by-step guide)

Just as you would when creating training material, creating job aids needs to be done with a clear goal in mind. It’s also helpful if you follow a structured process – this will create efficiency and consistency which are both very important variables for you and your team.  When you have the right process in place, and you follow it carefully, you will be able to easily create effective aids that your team will be happy to put to use. The job aid creation process should look something like this:

  • Define the end user of your job aid
  • Gather the required information about the task you’re creating a job aid for
  • Decide on the best format to use
  • Draft your job aid 
  • Test your job aid and gather feedback
  • Finalize and implement your job aid

Define your audience

Like any effective communication tool, you need to begin the job aid creation process by clearly identifying who the aid is for.  People with different roles, levels of responsibility and innate skill sets will require different approaches, for example you would take a much different approach to a job aid meant to serve a C-Suite executive than you would one for use in the mail room.

Consider interviewing or surveying the audience in order to get a very clear picture of what they need in order to be successful. Consider how they might best take in information, what the standard tools of their job are, and the level of education they will most likely have achieved. 

Knowing your audience is a key factor in creating job aids that will actually be effective and well utilized.

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Gather information

To create a job aid that is effective in reaching its goal, you have to become very familiar with the task you are creating the aid for. You will need to be sure to include all of the inputs needed to complete the task, but you can take it a step further as well. 

Consult with people who do the task you are writing the job aid for. They will be able to provide valuable insight into any common pitfalls, tricky navigation or alternative methods, and potentially even share helpful tips and tricks to assist the end user of the job aid you are writing. 

While gathering as much information as possible will help make sure your end result meets your goal, it’s equally as important to know what not to include in your job aid. Think about what information is needed for the task to be completed and resist the urge to add in any “fluff”.  

Select a format 

Your job aid is only as effective as its presentation allows. There are many job aid formats to choose from and selecting the right one will go a long way in making sure the aid actually gets used. 

If the content and visual presentation of your job aid are not spot on, your audience simply won’t use it. To avoid this, be sure to consider how the aid will be distributed and used, in addition to whether the information can be conveyed better in graphic form than simple text. 

Here are a few examples of common job aid formats to consider:

Step-by-step instructions

Also referred to as the “cookbook” method, this job aid format breaks down each step and presents them in chronological order. This format is great for tasks that don’t lead to multiple outcomes, like how to access a shared network drive.

Job aid example that shows employees the proper way to wash hands before returning to work.
This familiar job aid from the World Health Organization shows employees how to properly wash their hands before and after handling food.


Flow charts are an ideal format to use when creating a job aid for a task that has many possible outcomes depending on variables within the process. Users are guided through how to proceed by following steps prescribed based on the preceeding result. Visually, these aids often use arrows or boxes to represent the different paths available. Flow charts work well for tasks like responding to a customer service request.

Reference guides

Reference guides can effectively be used to support more than one process or task.  They serve as a collection of reminders or tips to help employees who are already familiar with the task at hand but who may need a resource to turn to for quick reference. This job aid format is a good choice for things like health and safety reminders. 

Decision tables

Decision tables present the user with a grid to help guide their decision making in processes influenced by multiple variables. Information is clearly compartmentalized and shared using very concise text so that decisions can be made without confusion. These types of job aids are excellent for use in quality control processes. 


When writing a job aid for a task with lots of action items or requirements that don’t need to be completed in a particular order, a checklist can be very effective. This format presents all of the associated actions in a list format and users can check them off as they are completed. Checklists are good for use with tasks that need to be completed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis like closing procedures for a retail store, or month end processes for bookkeeping.

Job aid example - flight pre-takeoff checklist
Job aids can help ensure safety measures even when employees already have them memorized.

Draft your job aid

Now that you have all the necessary information gathered and you have decided on the perfect format, you can begin to write your job aid! 

It can be very helpful to begin with an outline, so that you make sure the information is organized well and you have the correct order in place. 

Take your screenshots

Job aids that use more visuals than plain text are the most effective. This can feel intimidating but we’ve got an excellent solution. If you haven’t already, download your free trial of Snagit here.  

All you have to do after downloading is push the big red button and select the area on your screen that you want to capture. If the task for which you are creating a job aid is more physical than digital in nature, you can take photos instead.

Create amazing job aids with Snagit!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking job aids. Save time, increase accuracy, and improve job performance in minutes.

Download for free


Once you have your screenshots captured, add text, arrows, numbering, or highlights to help make the steps as clear as possible and draw attention to specific portions of the process. Snagit can help you do all of this, and even combine your various screenshots into one document easily. With tools like automated numbering you won’t believe how simple it can be to make clear and effective visual aids with Snagit.

A job aid example about how to login and pull up customer reports.
With clear step numbers, this job aid walks through screenshots on how to pull customer reports in an account record system.
Pro tip: Use action verbs to describe procedures. They’re easier to follow, instill more user confidence, and encourage momentum. For example, you’d say “Open the latch. Remove the inner liner,” as opposed to “Once the latch is opened, the liner must be removed.” 

If directions span multiple screens or photos, combine them into one document and add any text around or on top of the visuals.

Job aids are used over and over again and provide value to a returning user.
Snagit lets you combine multiple images into one document, and drag-and-drop to move images around.  

Have a consistent look 

Be sure to use a consistent style for your job aids. Fonts, colors, and sizes should be consistent and any company branding should be incorporated whenever possible. You can easily create templates for job aids within editing programs to make your process as efficient as possible. If you keep reading you’ll find a free template we have created to help you easily make job aids with a consistent look.

Make it multilingual

Your job aid isn’t going to be effective if people can’t read it. Make sure to consider the languages spoken by the staff you are looking to serve with your job aid and have the resource translated into as many languages as necessary to serve effectively.

Your job aid isn’t going to be effective if people can’t read it.
Job aids can give important reminders to staff across languages, as seen in the inspection reminder card for brewery equipment. Job aids that use pictures without any text can be even easier to use. 

Test your job aid and gather feedback

Now that you have created your job aid, there is one more step to complete in order to make sure it is effective. You need to test it!

Send your job aid to a few seasoned employees in the department that wil be using the aid and have them try it out. They will be able to identify whether any steps have been missed or a shorter path through the process is possible. Make any edits that are necessary based on testing before sending the job aid to your team. 

Finalize and implement

Your job aid is ready to be put to use! Distribute it to the team for use and provide clear instruction on when and how to use it.

Ask for feedback once it has been in use for a short time and make edits related to any valuable feedback you receive. 

It’s also important to evaluate the aid’s effectivenes. Check in with managers to see if they are receiving less repetitive questioning, or if customer satisfaction rankings have increased – whatever metric makes most sense for the goal assigned to the job aid.

Create amazing job aids with Snagit!

Snagit’s templates are the fastest way to create professional-looking job aids. Save time, increase accuracy, and improve job performance in minutes.

Download for free

Bonus: Snagit templates

Still unsure of how to get started with job aids? Let Snagit templates do the work for you!

First, click the Create button and choose Image from Template or select images from the Recent Captures tray, then right click and choose combine in template. You can select whichever templates best suit the needs of your job aid. 

Then, simply drag and drop your images and adjust them within the template. It’s that easy! For a full tutorial on making a job aid with Snagit, watch this great video below:

Job aids FAQ

What software can I use to create job aids?

The simplest of tools can be the most useful!  Powerpoint, Word, Docs, and Slides are great software options for creating job aids. Programs like Cava, Photoshop or Illustrator can also be used to create graphics.  Of course, Snagit and Camtasia are also very useful tools in creating job aids. 

How do employees use job aids?

Job aids are used by employees either to learn a new task or to access reminders about how to complete a task.

What is the difference between a job aid and a procedure?

Procedures are documents that follow a linear pattern to describ the step by step process of completing a task. A job aid presents information and instructions related to the completion of a task. A job aid, in fact, could be used to illustrate a procedure.