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.

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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.

Dayna Christians

Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith. I love photography, web design, and baby giraffes, not in that order.

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.

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.

A Guide to Using the Rule of Thirds in Video Editing

rule of thirds

Visual arts don’t follow any rules. They are groundbreaking and wild…right? While creativity is certainly valued, there are certain photographic composition techniques videographers follow to ensure an image is pleasing to the eye, and one of them is the rule of thirds.

In this post, we’ll show you how to use the rule of thirds when editing a video to create a better viewing experience (and when to break it.)

What is the rule of thirds

When looking at your video screen, imagine it’s overlayed with a grid with nine squares, complete with horizontal lines and vertical lines. When applying the rule, place the most important visual elements of the image along the lines or at the points where the lines intersect. The goal is to draw the viewer’s eye to a focal point that is more interesting than dead center.

Rule of thirds with percentages.

History of the rule of thirds

This rule of thirds grid isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s steeped in history. 

The technique with negative space and intersection points was used by 18th century painters, and John Thomas Smith is credited for the term in his 1979 book ‘Remarks on Rural Scenery.’ In it, he writes how artists should divide their canvas into thirds vertically and horizontally to create balance and interest in compositional elements.

The rule became even more popular due to its effectiveness in drawing the viewer’s eye naturally through the image. Painters, then photographers, and later filmmakers saw how the rule creates visual breathing room and emphasizes the important elements.

How to use the rule of thirds in video creation

First, decide what you are trying to emphasize with your video clip. Are you looking to point out a key detail where you want to draw the viewer’s eye?

The element that’s the most interesting should get more space. For example, if the person is more interesting, then place the surroundings on the bottom third of the grid. If the foreground is more interesting, position the horizon in the top third.

·            Picture the grid – Most cameras and video editors offer this option.

·   Place key elements – Position the most important subject on the lines and intersections of the grid.

·   Balance and use leading lines – Draw the eyes of the audience to different parts of the screen.

·   Maintain proportions – Position the horizon line of your shots either in the top third or the bottom third of the frame. When filming people, keep their eyeline in the top third of the frame, leaving open space in the direction they’re looking.

·   Experiment – Edit in multiple ways to see how to make your film the most interesting.

All of this is made easy with Camtasia, the all-in-one screen recorder and video editing tool. You can capture everything happening on your screen with just a few clicks, then transform your footage into polished videos.

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With Camtasia, you don’t even have to imagine the grid lines. They’re ready and visible.

While editing, choose View > Show Canvas Ruler. 

Camtasia's show canvas ruler option

Now you’ll see rulers above and to the left of the canvas. To create guides for the rule of thirds, you’ll want to divide the width and height of your video by three to determine where to place your rulers. 

Let’s say your video is 1920px by 1080px. In Camtasia, you’ll see a 0 on each ruler in the middle of the Canvas. So, to figure out where to place your canvas rulers, take the width and height of your video and divide it by two, then divide that amount by three. 

For the horizontal lines: 1080 ÷ 2 = 540, then 540 ÷ 3 = 180

For the vertical lines: 1920 ÷ 2 = 960, then 960 ÷ 3 = 320 

Click on the top ruler, and you can drag the line onto the screen. 

Drag the first horizontal line to 180. Repeat the action and drag the second line to -180 You now have two horizontal lines across the screen, separating your video into three columns.

On the left-hand side of the screen, you can do this again to create vertical lines. Click on the ruler and drag one line to -320 and one to 320. Now you have two vertical lines, dividing your video into three rows.

There – you’ve made it! A box of nine squares, perfect for this frame filling technique.

Canvas rulers in action in Camtasia

For Camtasia, this is particularly helpful as you can also snap media on the canvas to rulers, to make it easy to comply to the measurements. For interviewing subject matter experts and creating training videos, the rule of three is an easy and effective way to draw the viewer’s attention where it’s needed. 

Examples of the rule of thirds

This type of composition has been used successfully in many popular films. 

The opening scene of the classic movie ‘The Godfather’ uses the rule of thirds in its composition. Don Corleone, as the central figure, is seated in the middle third of the frame. Meanwhile, his family surrounds him on either side. The viewer is drawn to his character and the entire scene is visually balanced. 

How can you use it within Camtasia? Easy. In Video Editing Basics – Composition, learn how to get better video composition, from the rule of thirds to headroom, talkspace to foreground/background, and more. (Rule of thirds discussion at 14:11!)

Block quote: “Your eyes should basically be in those places where the lines meet. It just doesn’t look right, having me dead center. It’s not just the face, it’s the eyes. The eyes are where we’re looking.” – Andy Owen, Video Producer, TechSmith -Andy Owen from Visual Lounge

When to break the rule of thirds

Just like all rules, they can be broken. Sometimes, video editors may want to direct the audience’s attention in a different way, increase the dramatic effect, or change up the imagery with a different shot. Then, it’s time for breaking the rule.

For instance, director Wes Anderson breaks the rule of thirds so much, it’s considered his trademark. His technique of photographic composition using symmetry within the frame has even inspired playful TikToks copying his style.

Of course, it’s fine to center if you want to center. YouTube videos are often center-framing, because it is the current style. If you’re not doing news, or using a lot of the space for fly-ins or graphics, center-framing is a common way to format. 

Rule of thirds grid line over Andy Owen

For a video use that might feel even more familiar, this TechSmith tutorial uses the rule of thirds to demonstrate the AI-assisted workflow in Camtasia. In this snippet, you can see how the editor uses an image of the screen and his own image to draw attention to different parts of the video.

Impact of the rule of thirds

By placing elements – the subject, horizon line, or leading lines – at the grid lines or intersection points, you elevate their importance. A character gazing from an intersection point draws the viewer into their emotional state, while a landscape with the horizon on the lower third emphasizes feelings of serenity.

Psychological studies support the idea that off-center placements can invoke stronger emotional responses. In the study Peripheral vision and preferential emotion processing, researchers explore how our peripheral vision plays a role in detecting emotionally charged stimuli. This is a potential reason why off-center placements – which might first enter our peripheral vision – could create more intensity when our focus shifts.

Likewise, in this 2022 study, psychologists explored the connection between the Golden Ratio (the mathematical principle related to the rule of thirds) and perceived pleasantness in landscape images, as placement influences positive emotions.

Peaceful landscape with waterfall and grid lines over it.

Applying the rule of thirds to screen recordings

The rule of thirds doesn’t just apply to feature films and psychological studies. When people use Camtasia to create screen-recorded content, it is an effective way to engage viewers and show them where to focus. 

You can strategically place the focus on the specific tool or menu you’re demonstrating. During recording, you can place a menu along vertical grid lines, keeping it visually distinct from the other images, so viewers can follow instructions without visual clutter. 

When adjusting sliders or using selective tools, position the cursor or adjustment bar along the horizontal grid lines to emphasize the specific changes you’re making.

Time to experiment

The rule of thirds is just a guideline for a scientifically-proven way to help engage people in your videos. With Camtasia’s built-in composition guides and resources, you can easily learn and master this technique – and then start bending the rules for yourself.

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How to Create Process Documentation in Just a Few Clicks

How to Create Process Documentation in Just a Few Clicks

At some point, we’ve all had to share knowledge to a coworker or new hire. So, 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.  

With the rise of remote work, documenting processes has never been more important. According to a study, 75% of companies have not adopted best practices for how they work across distances. 

It’s time to nudge that process along with helpful documentation that can be used across an organization.

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!

What is process documentation?

Process documentation is the ongoing, internal, real-time act of ensuring all steps within any given process are written 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. 

Business process documentation maximizes 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.

Create process documentation easily 

With all the benefits of process documentation 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.

For an easy process, use Snagit’s process documentation templates. Instead of spending time creating a new document, templates will make the process smoother.

A process document examples using a Snagit template about how to set up a new project on Asana.

Step 1: Create a brief description of the process

The best process document starting point includes a brief thorough description of the broader sense of the process. 

When done well, this can help the end user 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. Share the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the process, and what other stakeholders might be involved with the process completion. 

Step 2: Define specific process boundaries

Once you have the description complete, the next step is to lay down the boundaries. This will let your process documentation provide clear instructions to your team members.

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. 

For extra clarity, Snagit has easy-to-understand markup tools like the Step Tool and Arrow Tool that can transform your process documentation!

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 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. 

Multiple perspectives can be quite beneficial in uncovering inconsistencies and ensuring your process documentation is clear and easy to follow. 

Step 6: Prepare a process flowchart

Our research shows 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.

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An image of a computer interface showing a dialog box with a pink speech bubble saying 'Look at this!' pointing to a bar chart, illustrating the use of annotations in screen recording software.

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. 

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.  

A flowchart showing how to create process documentation.

Tips for effective process documentation

Make it visual

Visual communication is the future. According to a study, 70% of workers use video messaging sometimes or often. That’s right, process documentation can be a video too!

Nearly 7 in 10 respondents use video messaging sometimes or often. Another 22% are interested in trying it.

One easy way to create visual documentation is to make a quick screen recording of the process, which you can then share with your team members. 

Including screenshots in your documentation is one of the fastest, most effective ways to show colleagues how to do something. 

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. Plus, Snagit is a screen recorder too!

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An image of a computer interface showing a dialog box with a pink speech bubble saying 'Look at this!' pointing to a bar chart, illustrating the use of annotations in screen recording software.

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. Your guiding principle should be to boil down the communication to the essentials.

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 that 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.

Routine maintenance of process improvements

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? 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.

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 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.  

Add visuals to your process documents today

Easily create the perfect visuals with Snagit.

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Example of taking a screenshot on mac with Snagit

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.

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. 

The 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 value 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 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.

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

The Best Way to Quickly Take a Scrolling Screenshot

Most basic screen capture tools allow you to capture all or part of your screen, but what if you need to capture more than what’s visible on your screen at any time? If you’ve ever needed to screenshot an entire web page, you probably know how annoying it is to take multiple screenshots and stitch them together.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

The scrolling capture tool on TechSmith’s Snagit allows you to take screenshots of content that doesn’t fit within the dimensions of your screen. They’re great for capturing:

  • Long website pages and documents
  • Spreadsheets with lots of rows or columns
  • Lengthy email, chat, and social media threads

In this post, we’ll show how to take a scrolling screenshot in the best and easiest way, using Snagit.

Easily capture scrolling screenshots with Snagit

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Image with Snagit Scrolling capture UI

What is a scrolling capture?

Put simply, a scrolling capture (formerly panoramic capture) is a screenshot that allows you to scroll to capture content that may not be visible on your screen. You can scroll vertically to capture things like web pages or documents or horizontally for spreadsheets and large graphics.

How to take a scrolling capture (Windows or Mac)

There are many ways to take screenshots on Windows or Mac, but the built-in screen capture tools on both operating systems lack a scrolling screenshot feature. This means they can only capture the visible areas of your screen.

Unless you want to spend lots of time piecing multiple screen grabs together, you’ll need advanced screen capture software to take a scrolling screenshot. 

We’ll use Snagit to show you how to take a scrolling screenshot on Mac and Windows. Unlike browser extensions, which limit your captures to web pages, Snagit can capture anything on your screen. 

If you don’t already have Snagit, then don’t worry you can try it for free without needing a credit card.

Capture a scrolling area with a scrolling capture

With Snagit, there are two screenshot options to take a scrolling capture: manually and automatically. 

While the automatic scrolling makes it super quick and easy to take a long screenshot, doing it manually gives you greater control of the area you want to capture. For example, if you’ve got an Excel spreadsheet with lots of rows and columns, you might want to scroll both vertically and horizontally, which is easier to do manually. 

How to take an automatic scrolling capture

Here’s how to take a full-page screenshot automatically using Snagit’s Automatic Scrolling capture tool: 

  • Select the all-in-one tab within Snagit’s capture window and click Capture.
Snagit's capture menu.
  • When the orange crosshairs appear, click the window you want to capture, and Snagit will snap to that window.
  • Next, click on one of the orange side buttons to select the direction you want your screenshot to scroll.

    (Don’t worry if you can’t see all the arrows. If the web page or program you’re using can only scroll in one direction, then only one arrow will appear.)
Automatic scrolling capture with arrows.
  • Once you’ve clicked an arrow, Snagit will take the scrolling capture and open it up in the Snagit Editor when it’s ready. 

How to manually take a scrolling capture

If you’re looking for more control over the area that your scrolling capture actually captures, then you’ll need to take your Scrolling Capture manually. Here’s how: 

  • Select the all-in-one tab within Snagit’s capture window and click capture.
  • When the orange crosshairs appear, you can either click on the window you wish to capture or drag a custom area across your screen.
  • Next, click on the icon with the camera and arrows. This will start the scrolling capture process.
Manual scrolling capture menu.
  • Next, scroll through the content you want to capture, then click Done. We’d suggest you scroll slowly to get the best results. 

Once you’ve captured your screenshot, it will automatically open in the Snagit Editor, where you can preview, edit, add markup or callouts, and quickly share it. It’s that easy!

Three ways to make your full-page screenshots even better

Screenshots on their own are useful, but when you add a little context, they can be downright magical in helping explain ideas and convey information. There are different ways to use the Snagit Editor and bring the magic out in your screenshots and Scrolling Captures.

1. Crop your screenshot

Did you capture too much? No worries, just crop your screenshot so you only include the information you want. 

2. Annotate your screenshot

Don’t let important information go unnoticed. Use arrows and callouts to highlight specific areas of your screenshot or add more context. Choose from different color themes, or create your own to keep your images on-brand.

3. Rearrange objects within your screenshot

Snagit automatically makes the objects in your screen capture movable, which means you can rearrange buttons, delete text, and edit other elements in your screenshots.

So, if your cursor blocking something, delete it! If you’d prefer that button was on the right and not the left, move it! With Snagit, it is that easy. You can even magically mock up websites with screenshots.

4. Edit the text in your screenshot

Snagit recognizes the text in your screenshots for quick editing, which means you can change the text’s color, font, and size — as well as the actual words —without redesigning the entire image. 

With Snagit, you can even extract text from an image, which is something that no built-in screenshot tool on the planet can do!

Once you’re done with your edits, save the screenshot to your computer and share it with you team using Screencast! Screencast is the best way to share your Snagit captures.

The best way to capture scrolling screenshots

Scrolling captures is a lifesaver when you need to screenshot an entire webpage, extensive spreadsheet, or long chat thread. And as you can’t take scrolling screenshots with native apps like Snip & Sketch, investing in a more powerful screenshotting tool is well worth it.

As well as being the best tool for taking full-page screenshots, Snagit lets you quickly capture your screen, add additional context, and share images, GIFS, and videos to your favorite apps in just a few clicks.

Easily capture scrolling screenshots with Snagit

Quickly grab infinitely scrolling pages, long chat threads, and everything in between.

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Image with Snagit Scrolling capture UI

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

How to Use Snipping Tool Shortcuts

A stylized illustration depicting a user interface element with sliders and a large clickable button, highlighted by a cursor icon. The background features a gradient of blue tones with dashed lines and a crosshair, symbolizing selection or focus.

You’re in a crunch and your boss needs crucial information from you. Cool. I’ll just screenshot. Wait… How do you do that again?

We’ve all been there. Luckily, you are in the right spot. In this article, you will learn how to efficiently and effectively open and use the Snipping Tool shortcut to take a screenshot. We will also cover a better way to to take and edit screenshots. 

Capture your screen today!

Download a free trial of Snagit to quickly and easily take screenshots of your computer screen, mark them up, and share them.

Download now!
A screenshot of screen recording software with various controls and an 'All-in-One' tab selected, displaying options for image or video capture, including a red 'Capture' button and settings for delays and cursor capture.

Why are shortcut keys magical?

The most common keyboard shortcuts are copy and paste. Let’s assume these keyboard shortcuts are part of your everyday workflow. 

Now imagine you have to revert back to the days when you didn’t know shortcuts. Ah yes… the old right click and scroll method. How many extra seconds did that add? Multiply that by the amount of times you copy and paste a day, multiply by 365 and you’ll see the numbers add up year over year.

 Our time is priceless, and those seconds add up. 

The primary benefit of keyboard shortcuts is saving time, so why not invest the time to learn them? Since you are reading this article, you are on the right track. 

Fun Fact: The first screenshot ever taken was back in 1960, over 60 years ago! Us humans have always sought ways to share visual information.

Open the Snipping Tool with Shortcut

To open the Windows Snipping Tool, you will need to use one of the many keyboard shortcuts. Press the Windows + Shift + S keys to open. The full screen will dim. From there, you have 4 different snipping opinions that can be located at the top of your screen:

Rectangular Snip 

With this option, you can screen snip rectangular shapes. This is generally used for most captures.

Freeform Snip

This option gives you the ability to capture screenshots in any shape your free hand can make. This tool is used out of preference over the rectangular snip.

Window Snip

 If you want to capture the full screen of your browser, use this option. This can be helpful for when you need to provide a POV of your screen for a coworker. 

Full Screen Snip

This option will capture all of your monitors simultaneously. If the information is across multiple screens, this is an effective way to capture all of it.

The Windows Snip & Sketch window will pop up. Click on this to retrieve your screenshot. You can also find this on the bottom of the screen next to the start menu.

Capture your screen faster with Snagit

The Snipping Tool has a bit of a clunky shortcut key. What if you want an easy-to-remember shortcut key that makes sense to you? Snagit, the leading screen capture tool, gives you the opportunity to create shortcut keys that are unique to you! If you haven’t already, give Snagit a try here. Open up Snagit Capture. Under the big red “Capture” button click the phrase below. Here you can change your shortcut to whatever you like!

You might find that the Snipping Tool is limited in the editor department. Instead of dragging a screenshot from platform to platform to edit, you can do everything in Snagit. Once you capture your screenshot, it will go straight to Snagit’s Editor where you can add arrows, call outs, annotations and more! You can share your finished product by clicking “Screencast” in the upper right corner. You will receive a unique link to your video that you can share with anyone. If you are interested in enhancing your screenshot editing abilities, give this blog a read.

Snagit vs Snipping Tool

The Snipping Tool is a great built in tool for quick screen grabs, but you may want a tool that goes beyond just a simple screenshot. Snagit, for example, has a variety of features that can spruce up a simple screenshot into a concise informational piece. 

What tool is right for me?

If you take an occasional screenshot, the Snipping Tool is fine, but if you rely on screen capture every day, it’s worth the investment to get Snagit. 

Snipping Tool benefits

  • Free with the Windows computer
  • Easy to use
  • Basic editor 

Snagit benefits

  • Scrolling capture 
  • Grab text
  • Screen-recording
  • Multi-faceted editor
  • Cloud storage
  • Easy to use
  • Time savor

Want to learn more about what tool is right for you? Please check out this article where we compare these tools: https://www.techsmith.com/blog/snagit-vs-snipping-tool/

Capture your screen today!

Download a free trial of Snagit to quickly and easily take screenshots of your computer screen, mark them up, and share them.

Download now!
A screenshot featuring a software interface with a prominent pink arrow pointing to a bar chart on a screen, indicating a feature or data point. A video call window showing a smiling person is also visible, suggesting a screen recording or tutorial scenario.

FAQ

How do I overwrite the Snipping Tool hotkey?

You can change the key to the print screen shortcut.
Go into settings (W + I)
Click on “Ease of Access”
On the left hand side of the screen, scroll down to “Keyboard” and click
Scroll down and you will see “Print Screen Shortcut” slide this on

Can I edit in the Snipping Tool?

Yes, the Snipping Tool has some editing options. You can use the highlighter, pencil, or pen tool.

Is there a better Snipping Tool?

If you are looking for more advanced capturing and editing options then it is worth giving Snagit a try.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication: A Guide

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication

As the norm for workplaces continues to shift, teams oriented around one shared space have become less standard. Workplaces have significantly shifted to hybrid models. According to a TechSmith study, 58% of people work hybrid, 31% are always in-office, and 7% are always remote.

The office has evolved from a common space between four walls with easy access to all employees simultaneously, to an uncontained global space spanning multiple timezones.

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.

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.

So, if you’ve ever asked yourself: “What does asynchronous mean,” we’re here to help. And much more.

What is synchronous communication?

Synchronous definition: Synchronous communication is the exchange of information between two or more people in real-time. It certainly must not be in person.

In some situations, real-time communication will be your best choice. For example:

  • Discussions of sensitive projects or issues
  • Providing critical feedback
  • Brainstorming or decision-making meetings
  • 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

Synchronous communication can be valuable. A recent study found that 70% of respondents find it valuable to have decision-making meetings in real-time. 

Synchronous communication occurs in different ways. For example, face-to-face meetings, phone or video calls, instant messaging, and even coffee break conversations are all synchronous communication methods.

Types of sync communication: Phone calls, meetings, lunch chats, and video calls.

Synchronous communication advantages and disadvantages

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.

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. Similarly, project production time can be maximized.

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 the task you were in the middle of can suffer. Unwanted interruptions cost large companies $1 million yearly in lost productivity.

Infographic of the statistic: Loss of $1M/year. Six unwanted interruptions a day costs a company with 1,000 employees over $1M/year in lost productivity.

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 key is for your team to find a balance between synchronous and asynchronous communication. So let’s explore the facets of async communication.

What is asynchronous communication?

Asynchronous 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’s need to be stored for future reference

Examples of asynchronous communication include emails, project management systems, messaging platforms, and video recordings. 

Different types of async communication: screenshots, Sharepoint, PM apps, and info videos.

Video messages can come in handy for meetings. Screen recorders like Snagit  is a great option for creating quick, effective videos that share an idea or demonstrate a process.

Video messaging is the communication method of the future! According to a TechSmith study, nearly seven in ten respondents use video messaging sometimes or often. Another 22% are open to trying it.

Collaborate with Your Team from Anywhere with Snagit

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illustration of snagit's screen recording interface

Asynchronous communication advantages and disadvantages

Similar to synchronous communication, there are benefits of asynchronous communication methods.

One key advantage of 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.

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

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16.4% of companies have employees working remotely at least some of the time. That means asynchronous communication is a must!

On the flip side, since there is not an immediate response, it’s not an ideal communication method for quick feedback or if your work is blocked until you get a response. Because of the lag in response times, there can be delays in progress and inefficient use of time.

Asynchronous communication versus synchronous communication, which one is right for your business?

No simple, all-encompassing answer can solve this question. A carefully curated combination of asynchronous communication and synchronous communication will best serve a business. Few workplaces can rely solely on one or the other of these approaches to communication.  

Leaders in your workforce need 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 effective in guiding the decision-making process and creating a higher-quality, cohesive work environment.

Decision tree to show off the thought process behind synchronous and asynchronous meetings.

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 the size of the audience can help you make a great decision.

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 session completed using asynchronous communication, while an extrovert-leaning group likely prefers the energy involved with synchronous brainstorming 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.  

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, like a Google doc, to edit and revise in real time with your collaborators.

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 the nuances and complexities and the receiver’s ability to pick them up using one form or the other, synchronous or asynchronous communication.

For these instances, and many others, there are many excellent tools available to support asynchronous communication.

Video communication is groundbreaking. A recent TechSmith study found that 98% of respondents who use video at work believe it improves the effectiveness of their message.

Tools like Snagit make it simple and streamlined to communicate layers of complex information effectively using visual methods.

Collaborate with your team from anywhere with Snagit

It’s the easiest way to create and share videos messages that keep your team in the loop without another meeting.

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illustration of snagit's screen recording interface

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. No one answer 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, and 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.

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

Write and Execute The Perfect Out-of-Office Message

How to set up an out of office message

If you’re here, it means you’re going on an adventure (we hope), and you need to set a perfect automatic out-of-office message for your email.

Although simple in principle, auto reply messages can be tricky to deliver. You don’t want to sound too harsh, too relaxed, or too removed from the receiver. 

Plus, different reasons call for different types of messages. 

It’s a fine line.

Luckily, we created this guide so you can set the perfect out-of-office message, no matter the occasion.

Understanding out-of-office messages

An out-of-office message is an automatic email response that will be sent out to anyone who attempts to contact you while you are unavailable. Of course, you can set up a specific start and end time of that email so you can return emails once you are back in the office.

It can be set up in any inbox. In this guide we will cover how to set up automatic response emails in Outlook and Gmail. The process is quite similar for other email services as well.

Instead of leaving the sender in the dark, automatic email responses allow you to communicate the fact that you will not be accessible at the moment. 

As you prepare to leave for vacation, it’s important to delegate any tasks to someone else on your team. Making sure your team is prepared with easy-to-follow how-to’s will allow you to enjoy your well-deserved time off. 

Create the perfect handover process

Snagit makes it easy to ensure a smooth transition

Read the blog
Snagit vacation handover blog

Part of that process is to appoint someone to be next in line to you for important email communication. With permission, include that person’s email and phone number.

These types of messages not only help communication, but can strengthen the relationship between you, your company, and clients.

The key to effective communication is keeping it professional and informative at once. Some automatic messages are curt and can seem abrasive to the sender. You wouldn’t want a poorly written email to reflect negatively on you while you’re relaxing at the beach!

Including information on your absence and providing your sender with options to pursue their inquiry is impotant. Sometimes customizing your email message with little details and funny comments is even more impactful.

How to set up your message

Let’s go through the step-by-step instructions on how to turn on automatic replies. 

Out-of-office message in Outlook

  • Open Outlook
  • Go to “Settings”, then “Automatic Replies”
  • Turn on the toggle
  • Set the duration of your absence
  • Write out your personalized message (more on that later)
  •  Save and done!
The UI to set up Outlook messages.

Pro tip: you can choose to send replies only to people within your organization, or customize another message for others!

Out-of-office message in Gmail

  • Open Gmail
  • Go to “Settings”, then “See All Settings”
  • Click on “Advanced”
  • Enable the Template option
  • Access templates through the “More options” menu
  • Write out your message (more on that later)
  • Save!
The UI to set up Gmail messages

Writing a professional out-of-office email

As with writing anything, there are a few guidelines you should follow to keep your message to a high standard. 

Keep it clear and concise

Don’t waste the sender’s time while they dredge through a long, awkward message. Just keep it simple and informative!

Include essential information

You received an email most likely because someone needs something, so make sure you can help them as much as possible! Include some resources that others usually reach out to you for, or add in someone else’s email address who they can reach out to instead.

Proofread your email

We all know this one, and we swear we proofread, but typos sneak through anyway. Take your time and make sure the message is well-crafted. After all, it might be sent to a lot of people during your absence!

OOO message examples

We’ve gone over the basics, but let’s see how it’s done.

Vacation, holidays, or short-term no contact

[Greeting]

Thank you for reaching out! I am currently on vacation and enjoying the sunshine until [End Date]. I will not be reachable until then.

I will reach back out to you as soon as I can! For urgent matters please feel free to contact [Colleague’s name, email address]. Thank you.

Kind Regards,
 
[Your Name]

Business travel, or short-term moderate contact

[Greeting]

Thank you for your email. I am currently traveling for business and will be out of touch with my inbox. 

I will try to get back to you after a few days, and I apologize for any inconvenience. For immediate inquiries please reach out to [Colleague’s name, email address]. I appreciate your patience while I travel. 

Thank you, 

[Your Name]

Leave of absence, or long-term no contact

[Greeting]

Thank you for your message. I am currently out of office because of [reason for absence]. For assistance please contact by manager [Name, email address] until further notice. I appreciate your understanding.

I look forward upon connecting after my return.

Kind Regards,

[Your Name]

Unexpected changes, or long-term moderate contact

[Greeting]

Thank you for reaching out. I am currently [explain situation] and will be checking in on my email periodically. I appreciate your patience and understanding for any delays in communication.

King regards, 

[Your Name]

Execute the perfect handover process

Enjoy a stress-free vacation with this free guide!

Read the blog
Snagit vacation handover blog

Make it your own

Out-of-office messages are pretty simple, but feel free to have fun with them! Adding some humor and personality in your messages is always a nice way to bring a smile to someone’s face.

So make it your own and good luck crafting the perfect out-of-office message!

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

How to Create a Video Storyboard

how to make a video storyboard

A storyboard is an essential part of the video creation process that helps you visualize the scenes of your video before recording starts. Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, learning how to create a storyboard can save time and enhance the quality of your videos. Here’s everything you need to know!

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a visual outline, like a comic strip, that showcases what each shot in a video will look like. You don’t need fancy software to create one; simple stick figures and sketches on paper are enough. 

It includes subjects, shot types, and the intended movement, helping anyone involved in the video’s creation understand the director’s vision.

If you have a longer, more complex video, you should also consider creating a basic shot list for your video. This acts like a blueprint for your entire video project! 

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So, how much should you storyboard? It depends on the video. More complex videos may require pages of storyboards. Simple videos, on the other hand — even if they’re long might — only need one page. The key is to capture the visual changes that will happen as your video plays. The amount of detail you add is really up to your needs.

Benefits of a storyboard

Storyboarding allows you to plan your video’s visual sequences without the immediate need for a camera. It’s a tool for pre-visualization that can communicate your ideas to others—colleagues, stakeholders, or even clients—ensuring alignment before production begins. 

It also guides the editing process, helping you decide how to cut clips and sequence scenes. 

How to create a storyboard

Storyboards can be as simple or detailed as you need! You can start by sketching the basic structure of your video across several panels, each representing a key scene or moment. In each panel, draw rough illustrations or use stick figures to depict the main actions, and add brief descriptions to explain what’s happening or any important dialogue. 

  1. Start with a Script: Draft a basic script to guide the visual planning. Break the script into scenes and shots to organize your storyboard effectively.
  2. Visualize Each Shot: Imagine the camera’s perspective for each scene and sketch it out. Include key details like the focus of the shot, background elements, and any movement.
  3. Add Details: Note the subject’s position, background, and any dynamic elements like camera pans or character movements. These details will dictate how each scene is filmed and edited.

This “visual script” of your video will guide the filming process, ensuring every essential element is captured and the story flows smoothly from one scene to the next. Simple storyboards are particularly useful for organizing thoughts and visualizing the sequence before actual production begins, making the entire process more efficient and coherent.

A simple storyboard is still helpful!

Storyboard example. The first frame shows a woman sitting behind a desk. She second frame shows her behind the desk and speaking. The third frame shows her in close-up and speaking.

The example above is a really simple storyboard. In three frames it shows the subject, where she is in the shot, the depth of the shot (how close she is to the camera), the fact that in the first two frames she’s sitting behind a desk, there’s a window behind her to her left, and whether she’ll be talking. While your storyboard may require far more information or may need to be more extensive, even a simple storyboard like this one can be helpful.

Simple tools for storyboarding

You don’t have to be an artist! Simple drawings or digital slides can effectively convey your video plan. Tools like storyboard templates or slide decks can replace traditional sketching, making the process accessible to everyone. 

Check out how one creator uses Google Slides to create storyboards! Each slide is the equivalent to a frame. Instead of drawing each frame you can use pictures or clip art, or any other type of image to convey what you want to see on the screen. You might lose a little bit of detail but you can still effectively convey all of the needed information. 

When to use a storyboard

For videos targeting a wide and diverse audience, a storyboard becomes essential. It aids in structuring content in a way that is universally appealing and understandable. This planning tool ensures that every scene contributes effectively to the overarching message, preventing any miscommunication or content misalignment that could alienate parts of the audience.

On the other hand, even simpler projects, such as quick tutorial videos, can benefit from a rudimentary storyboard. In these cases, a basic storyboard can serve as a checklist to guarantee clarity and consistency throughout the video. This minimal planning effort helps in achieving a polished final product that clearly communicates its intended instructions or insights. There are a lot of templates out there to help you out!

However, not every video project necessitates a storyboard. For instance, spontaneous or informal content, such as impromptu vlogs or live streams, do not require the detailed planning that a storyboard involves. In these genres, spontaneity often contributes to authentic reactions and appeal. A storyboard might restrict your natural flow! A good rule of thumb is if your video is built from a script, a storyboard will help as well.

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Learn more about video creation

Remember, your storyboard exists to help you with the recording and the editing of your video. The process of thinking through each shot and how you’ll eventually edit your video can reduce the amount of time it takes to create your videos. Whether you’re drawing, using presentation slides, or sketching on the back of a napkin, storyboards are a useful tool.

For more insights on creating effective video storyboards and enhancing your video production skills, check out the free resources available at TechSmith Academy. We even have a whole video course dedicated to video storyboards!

Ryan Knott

Ryan Knott is a Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith, where he creates content about easy, effective, and efficient video creation, editing, and tips and tricks, as well as audio editing for creators of all kinds. He/him.

How to Recall an Email in Outlook

how to recall email in outlook

We’ve all been there: the moment you hit “Send” on an email and instantly realize you’ve made a mistake and need to recall the email in Outlook. Maybe you sent it to the wrong person, forgot an attachment, or spotted a typo. 

Fortunately, if you’re an Outlook user, you may have the option to recall that email and save yourself from potential embarrassment or professional mishaps. But how exactly does the recall function work in Outlook, and what are the limitations?

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the steps to successfully recall an email in Outlook and offer some tips to ensure you’ll never need to do it again!

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What is email recall?

Email recall is a feature available in Microsoft Outlook that allows you to retrieve an email you’ve already sent before the recipient opens it. It can be a life-saving feature in many situations, especially if you’ve made a mistake in a professional email and need to rectify it.

You’re not alone. Actually, miscommunication happens quite often. According to a TechSmith survey, 67% of the respondents experience misunderstandings due to unclear communication at least some of the time. Unclear communication is everywhere, so let’s learn how to improve it.

Limitation of email recall

While email recall sounds like a dream come true (it is), it does have its limitations:

  • Both sender and receiver must be using Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft 365.
  • The recipient’s mailbox must be open.
  • If the recipient already opened the email, you cannot recall it. You can only delete unread copies of your email.
  • The feature does not work if the email is sent to a public folder or an address outside the organization’s Exchange server.

That’s about it, now, let’s look at how you can recall a message in Outlook!

How to recall an email

Let’s go through how to email recall in Outlook step by step. 

Open the sent items folder

First, navigate to your “Sent Items” folder in Outlook and find the original email you want to recall.

Open the email

Open the email either in the reading pane. Or, you can open the email in its own window rather than just previewing it in the reading pane. The latter is the process outlined in the following images.

Access the recall function 

In the toolbar above your email, click on the three dots. Then, select “Recall message.” 

A mistaken email sent with the recall option open in the sidebar menu.

When prompted, click the “OK” button. Outlook will attempt to recall the email. 

The message from Outlook to make sure you want to recall the message.

Wait for the recall to process

You will receive a message indicating whether the recalling of your original message was successful or not with each attempt.

Microsoft Outlook recall report message that report either success or failure to recall.

That’s it!

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Tips for successful email recall–and how to avoid it

Even if you follow the steps correctly, the recall may be rejected because of the limitations mentioned at the beginning of this guide. However, there are some tips you can keep in mind that will increase the likelihood of a successful recall. 

Act quickly

The sooner you attempt to recall your message, the better chances it will work. After all, you need to do it before the recipient has had a chance to open the message.

Consider your organization’s settings

Some organizations may have settings that affect this feature. For example, some IT departments disable the recall function entirely. Check with IT to understand if recall is a possibility for you.

Use delayed sending

If you often find yourself in situations where you need to recall an email, consider using the delayed sending feature. This gives you a buffer period after clicking “Send” during which you can review your email etiquette and grammar. After all, knowing how to write an email isn’t always easy.

How Snagit can avoid email recall

You can’t avoid emails, those are here to stay, but you can avoid the need to recall them. People use email recall for a variety of reasons, one of the main ones being typos and accidentally including incorrect or sensitive information.

Visual communication to the rescue

Instead of typing out long, wordy emails with high chances for typos, try to send a video message or screenshot instead. After all, research shows that people prefer receiving emails with an image or video instead of text alone.

With Snagit’s easy-to-use screen recording functionality you can capture and edit your screen recordings without worrying about errors. 

A would you rather graphic with an email using visual communication and an email using only text.

Just capture the information you want to share in a screenshot or recording and edit out any unwanted parts like sensitive information or visual noise with easy-to-use features. 

With the Blur Tool, you can blur out unwanted information, and with the Selection Tool, you can completely delete, move, or edit areas of your screenshot. These features, along with many others, ensure that your screenshots always turn out.

GIF of the Share Link button in Snagit

For screen recordings, you can edit out footage and even stitch together a few clips to make a video everyone will want to watch!

Share with ease

You may need to recall an email because you forgot to attach a crucial document. With Snagit, you no longer have to worry about that. Ever.

Snagit’s integration with Screencast makes it easy to share your screenshots and recordings with anyone. Just click the Share Link button and a unique link will be automatically copied to your clipboard. Then, paste it into the messaging platform of your choice. 

You can include this link in emails instead of worrying about forgotten attachments! Never worry about sending large videos through email again. 

You can also upload pre-existing screenshots and videos to Screencast so all of your media is just one link away. 

Visual communication is a convenient and easy way to share information, plus you’ll never accidentally forget an attachment.

Take your emails from wordy to worthy

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What if recall fails?

If the recall doesn’t work, there are a few actions you can take. 

Send a follow-up email

Sometimes, a quick follow-up email with an apology for the mistake is all you need to do. Just provide the correct information, missing context, or forgotten attachments in your follow-up. Everyone makes mistakes after all. 

Learn from the mistake

Use this experience as a learning opportunity. Take a moment to review why the error occurred in the first place and consider implementing measures to prevent similar from happening in the future. 

Use visual communication instead

One measure that can reduce errors is visual communication. Instead of agonizing over every word, use visuals like screenshots to get your message across faster and more effectively. Screenshots and quick videos make a huge difference in communication practices. Try it out sometime!

We all make mistakes. Don’t let one mistaken email get to your head and affect the future of your email communication.

Take measures to rectify your mistake, like email recall, and some to prevent any future mishaps, like implementing visual communication.

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

How to Make a YouTube Video (Intermediate Guide)

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Creating a successful YouTube video is part art, part science. As a YouTuber or content creator, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of video production to captivate your audience and make an impact. This intermediate guide takes your video-making skills to the next level, focusing on the finer details that can elevate your content and optimize it for greater reach on YouTube.

Whether you’re a seasoned YouTube video game reviewer looking to enhance your production quality or an intermediate content creator aspiring to craft more engaging vlogs, the following steps will equip you with the knowledge to create high-quality videos that shine on the world’s largest video platform.

In this guide, we’ll cover pre-production, production, post-production, and optimizing your video for YouTube. Additionally, we’ll explore how using Camtasia, our robust all-in-one screen recorder and video editing software, can streamline the video creation process and unlock innovative features to enhance your content.

Are you a new content creator working toward your first YouTube video? Before reading through this step-by-step guide, look through our first guide in this series, “How to Make a YouTube Video (Beginner’s Guide),” to get all the beginner tips and tricks you need to succeed.

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Pre-Production phase

Before you hit record, it’s essential to focus on preparation. Thorough preparation sets your foundation for an A+ YouTube video. The pre-production phase involves planning and setting the stage for seamless video execution.

Selecting a topic and audience

Know Your Niche: Are your videos flatlining or not getting as much engagement as they used to? Think about what you’re an expert on that others may not be. Find that specific area of interest you are knowledgeable and passionate about and capitalize on it. Niche topics often attract more dedicated audiences.

Understand Your Viewers: Who are your viewers? Defining your target audience is an important step for any content creator. The more precise you can be, the better. This clarity will inform every aspect of your video, from content to style. Head to your YouTube Analytics dashboard for information pertaining to demographics, location, and more. 

Scripting

Craft a Detailed Plan: Are you improvising when recording your videos? Take a step back and think about developing a script or a detailed outline to provide a sense of structure to your video. This script should include your video’s dialogue and description of the visual content whenever possible

Want to know more? Check out this blog on How to Write a Script for Video.

Explore Storytelling: What’s the story? Tutorials and reviews can sometimes drag along. Spice up your content by incorporating a narrative arc into your video. Whether recording a podcast or editing a video game live-streaming event, adding storytelling can significantly enhance viewer engagement.

Gathering equipment and setting up

Essential Gear: Is it time to level up your tech equipment? Ensuring you have the right camera, microphone, and lighting for your filming environment can lead to higher-quality content. You don’t need a top-of-the-line DSLR camera either — you can create inventive content from your smartphone or computer just as well. 

Choose which recording equipment is right for you!

Remember, too, that not all videos have to use only camera video. If your video will include screen content, you’ll want to have screen recording software that captures crystal-clear recordings. I use Camtasia. And yes, I was a Camtasia fan long before I started working at TechSmith!

Create a Shooting Schedule: Do you make scheduled time out of your busy day for recording videos? Consider planning your filming around your best content-creating hours and account for the quantity and complexity of the footage. Setting yourself up on a straightforward schedule will make your videos more consistent, and your audience will enjoy knowing when you upload!

Intermediate tips you might not know

Mind Mapping for Outlining: A mind map is a diagram for representing tasks, words, concepts, or items linked to and arranged around a central concept. Try using this system to brainstorm and organize YouTube video ideas. This will help create a visual representation of your narrative for you to follow along.

Use mind mapping for outlining new video ideas.

Incorporating User Feedback: Are you reading the comments section on your past videos?  Viewer feedback can be a rich source of ideas and a way to tailor your content to audience preferences. Not every comment will be a gold mine of information, but pay attention to the followers with some excellent ideas for your next video series!

Production phase

You’ve brainstormed, mapped out, and created a plan for your video schedule. Now, it’s time to move into the production phase. The magic happens behind the camera as you bring your planned video to life.

Filming techniques and tips

Capture Key Moments: Ensure your video captures the most critical topics and adds value for your viewers. A viewer might not care about the behind-the-scenes technical details on a subject, but they will care about the action-packed result. 

Authenticity Over Perfection: While visual quality is essential, genuineness in your delivery will resonate more with your audience. The saying is true: “Just be you!”

Camera Angles and Shots: Try to vary your shots with close-ups, wide angles, and over-the-shoulder perspectives. Ensure your green screen talking heads and B-roll move seamlessly with your screen-recorded content. 

Lighting and sound considerations

Find the Right Light: You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on lighting equipment. Even simple lighting setups can make a significant difference in the quality of your video. Explore different lighting angles to achieve the look you want, and don’t be afraid to work in different colors when experimenting with what works. 

For more information, check out How to Get Perfect Lighting for Videos.

Quality Audio: No one wants to hear muffled or unleveled audio throughout a YouTube video. Invest in a quality microphone (we recommend Rode and Shure microphones for expert audio results) or use sound-dampening environments, such as foam panels, to ensure your audience hears your message loud and clear.

Learn more: How to Easily Get Perfect Audio for Your Videos.

Intermediate tips you might not know

Using Natural Lighting: Back to your lighting; take advantage of your surroundings! If you’re filming indoors, try to position your setup near a window to get that sweet, sweet natural light. Soft, diffused light can make for flattering shots you might not expect.

Filming with natural light

The ‘Rule of Thirds’ in Filming: Our eyes naturally follow the Rule of Thirds, which means mentally creating equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines on a potential shot or image, then placing points of interest on this grid’s lines and intersection points. Try to position essential elements or subjects in your videos along the lines and intersections of the Rule of Thirds for a more balanced composition.

Most modern cameras and smartphones have these dividers built right in, allowing you to shoot pleasing content more easily.

Shot-Reverse-Shot Technique: When shooting conversations or interviews for your YouTube videos, think about the Shot-Reverse-Shot technique. Start with a shot of a character, cut to a shot of what or who that character is looking at (the reverse of the angle from the first shot), and finally cut back to the initial shot to show the character’s reaction. Using these varying perspectives will add much-needed dynamics to your interactions.

Shot-Reverse-Shot Technique

Post-Production phase

With your screen-recorded content and other video content, it’s time to edit and polish the footage during the post-production phase. This phase often involves extensive video editing and enhancement techniques to create a seamless, engaging final product.

Editing software and tools

Choose an Intuitive Tool: Your finished product is only as good as the tools you use to create it. That’s why selecting a video editing software that matches your skill level is crucial. Camtasia offers a user-friendly interface with powerful features suitable for professionals and novices. In addition to high-resolution screen capture, Camtasia records your microphone, system audio, camera, and cursor so you can edit them separately or all at once.

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Camtasia user interface

Timeline Organization: As you begin the post-production phase, maintain the same organization you had during pre-production. Use layers and labels to quickly identify different parts of your online video and audio so you don’t get confused while editing. Make notes and try new things as you work on crafting your latest video!

Adding transitions and effects

Add Transitions with Purpose: Transitions should serve a purpose, such as marking a change in topic or enhancing the visual story. Don’t forget to include a YouTube intro and YouTube outro to introduce and conclude each video on your channel. 

Impactful Effects: Did you know your text can dance? Titles, animations, and callouts can significantly boost viewer interest. Use effects wisely, though, as overuse can detract from the video’s message. Camtasia’s Behaviors feature makes it easy to animate text for that extra kick you might want.

Enhancing audio

Audio Enhancement: Always remember to think about your audio quality! Use equalization and compression to balance and enhance your audio tracks. TechSmith Audiate can help enhance your video creation by improving audio, generating captions, or creating new audio with the click of a button.

Intermediate tips you might not know

Multi-Track Video Editing: To maintain precision and flexibility, edit each video element on a separate track. This allows you to mix multiple audio tracks to create layered video soundtracks, including music, sound effects, and voice overs.

Using multiple tracks allows for easy editing

Create Captions and Subtitles: Accessibility is the name of the game. YouTube has a diverse global audience, so providing captions can improve accessibility for viewers. Camtasia offers various caption methods, and Audiate can also help streamline this.

Save Your Project Often: Crashes can always happen when working with large video files in your video editing software. Don’t forget to save your work frequently to ensure your own video progress stays on track.

Optimizing for YouTube

You’ve created the perfect YouTube video with transitions, effects, eye-catching video and audio, captions, and more. To make your YouTube channel a booming success on YouTube, you’re going to need people to be able to find it and interact with it. That’s where optimization comes in!

Uploading and metadata

Optimize Your Title and Description: A video’s two most important and most overlooked things can make or break its success. Try to include relevant keywords — words or phrases people would search for online to come across your content — in your video title and description. This information also helps YouTube better understand what your video is about and serve it to the appropriate audience.

Use Tags and Categories Wisely: Categories allow you to broadly group topics to your video, while you can use tags to describe your video in more detail. Select tags and categories related to your type of content and anticipate search engine terms your audience might use. Accurately categorizing your video helps YouTube suggest it to the right users.

Thumbnails and descriptions

Thumbnail Best Practices: Your YouTube thumbnail is a snapshot of your video. Use an attention-grabbing custom thumbnail that accurately represents your kind of video content, and size it appropriately! Google recommends that your custom YouTube video thumbnail size be 1280 x 720 pixels under 2MB. Using best practices for your thumbnail ensures it looks the same to someone viewing from their iPhone, Android, Mac, or PC. 

Engaging Video Descriptions: Before diving into your YouTube description, do your SEO keyword research! Write detailed and engaging descriptions that provide value and encourage viewer engagement while adding in those key phrases your viewers would search for.

Engagement strategies

CTA Overlays: Call-to-action overlays can direct viewers to your website or prompt them to subscribe to your channel. Don’t leave these out if you want higher engagement and follower counts!

CTA overlays inspire viewers to take action.

Interactive End Screens: Create end screens with recommended videos, playlists, subscribe links, and more to keep viewers engaged. YouTube has an easy way to add these to any type of video, and you can use the Camtasia Assets feature to create a compelling video outro that allows a section for this at the end.

Intermediate tips you might not know

Utilize Cards for Interactivity: YouTube cards are preformatted notifications that appear on desktop and mobile devices, which you can set up to promote your brand and other videos on your channel. These can look like small screens that appear and motion to the viewer to subscribe or like your video (and they can appear whenever or wherever you would like on your frame).

Use the Default Upload Method: When uploading your video, use the default method suggested by YouTube to ensure all metadata is included and synced correctly. You can upload videos directly from the Camtasia platform to make this easy.

Share Your New Video on Social Media: If you have a solid following on other social media platforms, announce your latest creation to your followers! Create bite-sized video clips to share on Instagram Reels or TikTok to promote to your subscribers to watch the full video for more. Play with YouTube Shorts to access a new audience. 

Unique features of Camtasia

Camtasia is not just a video editor and screen recorder; it’s a powerful ally in creating stunning YouTube videos. Here are some features you can use to elevate your content.

Library of Assets: Camtasia offers pre-built video templates, animated backgrounds, music tracks, icons, and more to add production value to your videos. Check out Techsmith Assets for Camtasia on our website to learn more.

Behavioral Effects: Behaviors are a powerful way to make your elements on the screen move, rotate, and grow. These effects add a layer of dynamic storytelling to your videos.

Add behaviors to make elements on the screen move

Cursor Effects: Enhance the visual clarity of screen recordings with spotlight or magnifying lens effects on the mouse cursor. Using this tool can help viewers follow along visually with the content of your video.

[GIF EXAMPLE]

Animated Video Creator: Camtasia has an animated video creator feature that allows you to create custom animations of your company logo or any image.

Create More Successful YouTube Videos Today!

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Camtasia user interface

Start creating more successful YouTube videos today!

Mastering the art of creating YouTube videos takes time, practice, and a willingness to improve continuously. Each video you create is an opportunity to learn and grow. By implementing the strategies and tips shared in this intermediate guide, you’ll be on your way to crafting technically impressive and engaging videos. 

And remember, the more you learn and experiment, the better your videos will become. Ready to take your YouTube account to the next level? Start creating with Camtasia today!But your video-making journey doesn’t end here. Ready to tackle even more advanced techniques? Check out our upcoming guide, “How to Make a YouTube Video (Advanced Guide),” for tips that take your good videos and make them great videos.

Ryan Knott

Ryan Knott is a Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith, where he creates content about easy, effective, and efficient video creation, editing, and tips and tricks, as well as audio editing for creators of all kinds. He/him.

How to Make a YouTube Channel: Step-by-Step Guide

Abstract illustration of a web browser interface with a predominant green color scheme, featuring elements of a youtube channel.

YouTube is a platform where videos aren’t just watched—they inspire, inform, and entertain viewers around the world. Starting a YouTube channel and creating professional-looking content may seem challenging, especially for beginners. But with the right approach and tools, this task becomes more accessible and opens up a fulfilling journey into the creative world of video production.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know on how to create a new YouTube channel easily and seamlessly.

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Understanding YouTube and the creative journey

YouTube is more than just a video-sharing medium; it caters to an audience eager for diverse content experiences. As a content creator, your YouTube channel is a social media platform where you can express yourself and connect with viewers from across the globe. First, you need to build a YouTube channel that reflects your vision and delivers high-quality videos consistently.

Step 1: Set up your YouTube channel

Create a Google account

As YouTube is a part of Google, you first need to create a Google account or use an existing one to set up your channel. It will ask for basic information—your name, birthday, email address, etc. After, you can set up your YouTube account to represent your brand and persona. 

Create a YouTube channel

Next, tap your profile picture at the top-right corner of your channel page and select “Create Channel.” Here, you’ll name your channel and set up some other basic info.

Optimize channel settings

Now, it’s time to optimize your channel settings. Customize your channel name, add a compelling channel description, change your profile picture to at least 98 x 98 pixels, and select a relevant channel banner image at least 2560 x 1440 pixels. A YouTube banner is an image that stretches horizontally across the top of your YouTube channel page. These elements create the first impression and should align with your niche and branding strategy. 

Set up your channel to align with your brand!

Customize your YouTube channel

Further refine your homepage by organizing content into playlists, adding channel keywords for search engine optimization (SEO), and setting up an intro channel trailer to welcome visitors. For example, if you wanted to create a channel focused on keeping houseplants healthy, you might choose keywords like, “house plants,” plant care,” indoor gardening,” and “plant mom,” to name a few. 

Consistency is critical; align your channel art elements, such as logos and color schemes, to create a cohesive and eye-catching channel identity.

Congrats! You’ve created your own YouTube channel. Now, it’s time to plan. 

Step 2: Plan your content

Identify your target audience

Your audience shapes the type of content you create, your brand’s voice, and even the time and day you upload videos. Use analytics tools, like Ahrefs, Google Trends, and Semrush, to gain valuable insights into your viewer demographics, interests, and watching behaviors.

Brainstorm your video ideas

Generate a list of video concepts that resonate with your target audience and desired niche. Look for gaps in the latest and most popular YouTube content and see how you can provide a unique perspective or add value to current conversations. 

Again, using the plant care example, there are likely dozens if not hundreds of channels focused on general plant care, so to stand out, you might choose to focus on one type of plant or one aspect of plant care, such as watering schedules or light exposure.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of ideas to start with so you don’t have to feel pressure later on. Keep that list going, so you can always have a ready-to-go bank of ideas to pull from, making it easier to maintain a consistent schedule. 

Create a content schedule for your YouTube Channel

Consistency is paramount in YouTube’s algorithm. Channels that regularly release content are more likely to be served as recommended content for people who may not already be subscribed to your channel. Plus, it helps keep your viewers engaged and coming back for more.

Plan your video releases around your schedule to realistically maintain a healthy cadence of new content, whether one new video a week or twice a month.

You’ve planned everything out. Now it’s time to record!

Step 3: Record your videos

Equipment and setup essentials

While you don’t need the latest high-end video equipment to start, investing in fundamental gear such as a good camera, microphone, and lighting can significantly improve the quality of your videos.

First, you can use your phone as your camera when possible. Most modern smartphones have very good video cameras, sometimes up to 4K resolution or better. You’ll likely want a tripod for times when you want to have a steady, non-moving shot, but for more casual videos — such as YouTube Shorts — you can hold it right in your hand.

For microphones, we highly recommend NOT using the mic on your computer or phone. Even a low-cost USB microphone will likely sound better, and your audience will appreciate it. 

For lighting, you truly don’t need anything fancy. A couple of well-placed lamps or a ring light will help a lot. For more information about lighting, check out our post on how to get great lighting for video.

a DSLR camera and a smartphone camera

As your channel grows and your needs become clearer, you can always upgrade your gear later. But don’t let your equipment be the barrier that stops you from creating!

Effective video recording

Learn about the rule of thirds and the importance of good framing and eye contact with your camera or audience. Also, practice your delivery style and avoid overusing fillers, such as ‘um’ and ‘uh.’ Camtasia makes it easy to record YouTube content directly through the video editor. 

Start Your YouTube Channel Today!

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Camtasia user interface

Audio and lighting considerations

Audio quality is often more important than video quality. Ensure you record in a quiet space and use a dedicated microphone. Lighting can alter the entire mood of your video, so natural light or softbox lights can create a professional look.

Screen recording with Camtasia

Screen recording is a must for software demonstration or tutorial content. Camtasia offers a robust screen recording feature. You can select an area of your screen and start recording, along with your system audio and microphone input.

With screen recording under your belt, the next step is to edit! 

Step 4: Editing videos with Camtasia

Importing and organizing your footage

To begin video editing, import your video, audio, and image files in the Camtasia editing software and organize them into a logical structure. This organization will save you time and streamline the editing process.

We won’t go into the full editing process here, but check out this awesome post on how to edit video.

Cutting, trimming, and rearranging Clips

Use Camtasia’s easy-to-use timeline to cut out unwanted portions, trim clips for better pacing, and arrange your content in a way that tells a clear and engaging story.

Adding transitions, effects, and annotations

Camtasia provides a wide array of transition effects to move from one scene to another and annotations such as callouts, shapes, and arrows to emphasize points in your videos. Play around with different formats to see what feels right! 

Incorporating music and sound effects

Sound adds depth to your videos. Camtasia includes a library of royalty-free music and sound effects, or you can import your own to match the mood of your content perfectly. Subtlety is key—ensure that audio enhances your video without overpowering it.

Adding overlays, graphics, and branding

Consistent branding elevates the professional look of your channel. Use overlays, lower thirds, and watermarks to reinforce your brand identity and increase viewer recognition. Make sure to add a YouTube intro and a YouTube outro that sets the tone for your YouTube channel. Camtasia offers free intro and outro templates to take this off your plate! 

>> Discover how to make a YouTube intro with our step-by-step tutorial. 

Step 5: Exporting and publishing your videos to your YouTube channel

Exporting your video from Camtasia

When your video is ready, it’s time to export. Camtasia allows you to choose from various presets for different resolutions and platforms. Select the one that best suits your content and audience.

Uploading your first video to YouTube

Once exported, upload your video to YouTube. Use YouTube Studio to include keywords in your video title, description, and tags to optimize your video for search. Your custom thumbnail is vital to your video’s first impression, so design a compelling visual representative of your content. If you create playlists, make sure they also have relevant thumbnails!

Step 6: Optimizing your YouTube presence

Comments and subscribers

YouTube is a community, so engage with your audience. Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and encourage viewers to subscribe. Consistent engagement not only strengthens your community but also increases viewer retention.

YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics provides insights into your video performance and overall channel performance. This dashboard shows key metrics, such as watch time, viewer demographics, and engagement rates. Regularly looking at your analytics can help optimize your video strategies for better reach and monetization. Remember: YouTube SEO can help you propel your views and increase your YouTube search rankings. 

Monetization

Beyond traditional ad revenue, people often wonder how to make money on YouTube. Luckily, several other options include Super Chats and Super Stickers — when a viewer buys a Super Chat or Super Sticker so their profile picture can stay on top of the live chat feed during live streaming — channel memberships, and incorporating branded content. 

There’s also the YouTube Partner Program, which grants access to additional money-making features once you meet the eligibility criteria. In the past few years, the addition of YouTube Shorts has introduced a new avenue for YouTube creators to earn through these short-form videos, similar to what you’d see on your TikTok or Instagram feed.

So what are you waiting for?

With Camtasia’s versatile tools, creating professional YouTube videos is well within reach. The possibilities are endless, whether you share tutorials, vlogs, podcasts, gaming videos, or product reviews. 

Now that you know how to create a YouTube channel, get started today and let your creativity take center stage on one of the world’s most interactive platforms!

Start Your YouTube Channel Today!

Discover why Camtasia is the best way for YouTube creators to record, edit, and upload videos to your YouTube channel.

Try Camtasia Free!
Camtasia user interface

Ryan Knott

Ryan Knott is a Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith, where he creates content about easy, effective, and efficient video creation, editing, and tips and tricks, as well as audio editing for creators of all kinds. He/him.

How to Record a Webinar

How to Record a Webinar

Have you ever felt you needed to record a webinar to share with your coworkers? Or do you have your own webinar to record?

Whether you want to learn how to record a webinar for your reference later or share your own webinar with others, this tutorial will show you how it’s done. We’ll go through how to use Snagit and Camtasia so you can record any webinar you want.

This process allows you to record a webinar on a Mac or Windows machine.

So join us, and let’s record!

Record your webinar with Snagit

Snagit is a fantastic screen recording tool with easy-to-use features for every skill level. The low learning curve for this tool makes it a winner for every screen recording journey!

Step 1. Download Snagit

Snagit is our favorite screen recorder because of its versatility as an image and video capture software. Plus, basic editing like making cuts, combining videos, and adding effects can come in handy. 

Record a Webinar with Snagit

It’s easy to record a webinar with Snagit’s screen recording options.

Download Now
A screenshot featuring a software interface with a prominent pink arrow pointing to a bar chart on a screen, indicating a feature or data point. A video call window showing a smiling person is also visible, suggesting a screen recording or tutorial scenario.

However, if you’re looking for more video editing power, you can also use Camtasia. Then you can make more substantial edits after you’re done recording your webinar. 

This guide will help you no matter which tool you choose to use. The recording process is super easy, so let’s dive in!

Step 2. Set up your recording

When you’re ready to start recording, open a browser and navigate to the webinar you’d like to record. Then, in Snagit, select the Video tab.

Snagit capture menu with important features highlighted.

Next, press the red Capture button and use the crosshairs to select the area of your screen you want to record. You can adjust the capture area after drawing your selection using the handles on the edge of the selected area. 

Make sure you select everything you want your audience to see. Anything outside the crosshairs will not be visible once you start recording.

To launch the webinar full screen, select your entire screen!

In the video toolbar, make sure that the system audio icon is green, as this means the video will capture the sound from your computer. If it is not green, click the icon to turn the system audio on. (You can also hover your cursor over the button and the tooltip will tell you if system audio is on or off.)

In case you also want to record your voice, make sure the microphone icon is green (enabled) as well. Once both buttons are green, you’re good to go!

Step 3. Record your webinar

Recording of a webinar with Snagit

When the webinar starts, click the Record button and Snagit will start recording after a three  second countdown. While the webinar is running, be careful not to move your browser window or tab between applications. Snagit is recording everything that happens inside the selected area, no matter what is on your screen.

To finish recording when the webinar ends, hit Stop. You can also use hotkeys to control the recorder.

  • If you’re a Windows user, press Shift + F10 to stop the recording, and Shift + F9 to pause/resume.
  • If you’re a Mac user, press Control-Shift-V to stop the recording and Control-Shift-space to pause/resume.

When you end your recording, it will open in Snagit Editor.

Step 4. Edit and Save

From Snagit Editor, you can preview your entire video recording, cut out unwanted sections, and pull screenshots from the recording.

If you recorded your video in a few separate clips, you can stitch those together using the Combine Videos feature to make a full-length video of all the content.

Editing a video with Snagit
  • To cut out unwanted sections, move the playhead to the beginning of section you want to remove, then move the red handle to the end of the unwanted section and click Cut. 
Snagit cutout feature
  • To save a frame from your video recording, move the playhead to the frame you want to capture, and then click the PNG button. The image will appear in your Recent Captures Tray. 

With this feature, you can save interesting information or anecdotes to keep for later. Saving a frame is super convenient when you’re shown large amounts of data at once.Snagit save frame as image feature

  • To combine multiple videos into one, click the Add Videos button and select your clips from your library. You can then reorder your clips to fit the narrative. 

Then, edit your video like any other Snagit video. You can trim and edit until it’s perfect for you!

Snagit combine videos feature

To save your webinar recording, click Share and then choose from popular social media and sharing destinations like YouTube, Dropbox, and Google Drive. 

You can share your recording with anyone by using Screencast. Screencast makes it easy to share long-form videos without clogging up inboxes or taking up any space on your computer.

To save your video files as MP4s to your computer, choose the Share to File option. Then select where you’d like to save the video, and you’re done!

Snagit's share options

Of course, you can also use Snagit to record a high-quality pre-recorded webinar. Just follow the same steps above after you press play on your video.

Record a webinar with Camtasia

For more substantial webinar recordings, Camtasia is a great tool. Although similar to Snagit, Camtasia has more features and boasts more video-editing capabilities. 

This makes it a perfect tool to record a webinar you’re putting on. You can easily source clips for websites and social media, make edits, and repurpose the content for other use. 

Plus, Audiate is Camtasia’s perfect partner for text-based editing, which is 40% faster than regular video editing, and for adding captions to social media clips.

We’ll also cover how to set up your zoom to record your webinar so you can import the file directly into Camtasia for quick edits.

Let’s see how you can use Camtasia and Audiate to record and edit your webinar so your audience gets the most out of your hard work!

Step 1: Download Camtasia

Just like Snagit, Camtasia offers a free trial for users who’d like to try it out first.

Record your webinar with Camtasia

Record a great webinar with Camtasia’s easy-to-use screen recording features!

Download Now
Camtasia icon

Once you’ve downloaded Camtasia, you’re ready to start recording.

Step 2: Set up your recording

Open Camtasia and enable the Screen Record option. To present your webinar, enable the Microphone and System Audio options. This way, your viewers can hear you talk and hear any sounds from your computer.

Then, decide whether or not you’d like to record your camera. This is optional and depends on whether or not you want your face to be recorded.

Camtasia recorder menu

Keep in mind that Camtasia records your entire screen, so it is worthwhile to adjust your display to only show what you want your audience to see. However, it’s also super easy to edit and crop out any unwanted portions of your recording, so don’t sweat it too much.

Step 3: Record your webinar

Press the red rec button to start your recording. A pop-up bar will show up allowing you to pause, restart, and end your recording at any time. This gives you the flexibility to pause your webinar for a second and readjust so you get the perfect recording every time. 

Webinar being recorded with Camtasia

When you’re done recording, your webinar will open in Camtasia Rev. From there choose your favorite layout, background, and effects. The possibilities are truly endless.

Bonus: Uploading your Zoom recording to Camtasia

Now, you’re ready for any additional edits. This is especially important if you upload a pre-recorded zoom webinar into Camtasia. Let’s go over that process.

First, make sure you turn on the zoom recording option while you go through your webinar. To do that, press the record button on the toolbar

Zoom menu bar with the record option highlighted

Press the buttons to pause or stop the recording once you’re done.

Zoom menu bar with the pause/recording option highlighted.

From there, just save your recording to your preferred location and import to Camtasia to start your editing process.

Step 4: Edit and save

Editing a video with Camtasia will enhance your video however you need it to. Especially when you use Audiate with it. Audiate offers text-based editing functionalities that let you edit out any unwanted parts of your video simply by deleting words!

GRAPHIC

This will ensure that your video only includes the exact information that you need and minimizes the amount of cutting and trimming of actual video footage. Plus, you can edit out any hesitations and awkward “ums and ahs” that you don’t want your audience to hear with a simple press of your backspace key.

Text-based editing with Audiate.

Once your recording is completely edited to your liking, sync the text-based edits with Camtasia and watch as any unwanted video clips disappear! It’s a convenient way to edit videos without wasting time on small details. 

To save your webinar recording, click the Export button and choose to download as an MP4 file or to share via Screencast. 

Camtasia share options

Screencast allows your viewers to not only watch your video whenever, but also comment and react to it with others. Your viewers can exchange their ideas and collaborate on the information from your webinar!

Screencast is an easy sharing option for a collaborative audience. Plus, anyone can watch your video even if they do not have a Screencast account themselves. 

And you’re done! Using Camtasia and Audiate, you can record, edit, and share your webinar with anyone you need. 

Final Tips

Recording your screen can reduce the performance of your computer. To reduce the possibility of screen lag or jumpy video, close applications you’re not using and consider lowering the resolution of your computer screen temporarily.

Double-check your audio and camera settings before you record! It’s easy to miss and can make a huge difference. You don’t want to present a webinar and afterward realize you weren’t capturing your audio the whole time! 

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

Snagit vs. Camtasia: Which Screen Recorder is Right for You?

Which one is right for you – Snagit vs Camtasia – depends a lot on if you want to create images or videos.

Are you looking for the best tool to capture your screen, but aren’t sure which one to choose? TechSmith makes two software products that are perfect for capturing what you see on your computer. Which one is right for you – Snagit vs Camtasia – depends a lot on if you want to create images or videos.

Snagit lets you take screenshots, edit your images, and record lightweight screen recordings. It’s perfect for giving feedback, creating clear documentation and training materials, and showing others exactly how to do something.

Camtasia, on the other hand, doesn’t let you take screenshots but has a powerful screen recorder and built-in video editor. This makes it great for training and tutorial videos, product demos, and presentation recordings.

In this post, learn the difference between Snagit and Camtasia, what they can do, and how to decide which one is best for your project.

Images and screenshots: Do you want to capture, create, or edit images?

If you want to work with images, go with Snagit. Camtasia really only does video.

What can Snagit do with images? 

Not only can you grab pretty much any type of screenshot – a region, window, and full-screen (and easily adjust margins as you go), Snagit also lets you capture what extends beyond your screen.

Capture content that scrolls up and down, including scrolling webpages, and panoramic content that extends beyond your screen—up, down, and side-to-side. This is priceless when you’re trying to capture online maps, interestingly shaped images, and nested tables commonly seen in programs like Excel or Sheets.

Scrolling capture of a full webpage with Snagit

If you want to create and work with images, Snagit is a clear choice.

Most importantly, Snagit makes it easy to edit screenshots the way you want. 

Add notes and comments with callouts, or add text directly on the capture. Point important details out with arrows and fun stamps. Blur your screenshot or simplify complicated UI. Then, resize and crop your image to the right size. That being said, Snagit has a lot of lesser-known features that can make huge changes to your images too.

You can even move elements around in your capture and edit or replace text for easy modifications.

Snagit makes it easy to create simple videos

Screenshots and screen recordings are easy with Snagit

Download Free Trial
Illustration of a how-to guide made with snagit

With so many image editing features, some people just get Snagit for that.  But since it has both image capture and editing, it’s easy to capture and create great-looking, consistently-themed images, and share to popular destinations. When deciding between Snagit vs. Camtasia, people tend to choose Snagit for making images for documentation, elearning materials, written tutorials, and similar tasks.

Videos and screen recordings: Do you need a basic or fancy video?

For simple videos, Snagit’s your best bet. 

With Snagit, you can record your screen, camera, and audio simultaneously, which is perfect for tutorials! While you record, Snagit offers a Screen Draw option which means you can point out important details and highlight information in real-time. 

Snagit has basic editing features like trimming, cutting out content, and combining multiple videos into one.

Plus, Snagit has a click animation and a cursor highlight feature for your mouse. This way your viewers will always follow what you want them to see.

With simple video recording and basic video editing options, Snagit has a low learning curve, so it’s easy to make a complete video from start to finish in just a few clicks.

For more polished video, choose Camtasia

Camtasia can also record your screen and camera but offers higher-resolution recording, as well as more advanced video editing features. And it goes beyond cutting and splicing content. But advanced doesn’t necessarily mean complicated. For easy editing, Camtasia has drag-and-drop animations, transitions, effects, backgrounds, and more. If you can think of it, Camtasia probably has it!

Camtasia Rev’s workflow lets you edit your videos quicker than ever before. The workflow enables you to resize and format videos with different optimal layouts for any screen size. You can also quickly add intuitive backgrounds, effects, and intuitive templates.

 

For accessibility, Camtasia offers closed captioning, not only great for ADA compliance but also handy when you want to give people the option of viewing your content with the sound turned ‘off’ on social media. 

Whether you go with Snagit or Camtasia for video creation and editing, making videos yourself saves you time and money.  When you hire an outside company, the average cost for a 60-second explainer video is $7,972​ , and takes around five and a half weeks to complete.

In contrast, you can make and share your own videos for a fraction of the price, on a much faster timeline. 

Lindy Belley, Marketing Coordinator at Integrity Data, explains how her department is able to save resources by making videos in-house:

“I know if I have to turn something out quickly, I can pull it into Camtasia and make all of my changes within minutes,” said Lindy. “I don’t know that I could have done that with any other video production tool.”

What do you want to do?

Another way to decide between Snagit and Camtasia is by what you want to accomplish, and how quickly. 

Again, if you want to capture images and edit them, Snagit is the clear choice. But since both Snagit and Camtasia do video capturing, here are some differences in how people use each product, to help you choose.

People typically say they love Snagit for quick, spontaneous, videos with a relatively short shelf life. Use cases include:

  • Quick videos to show a colleague something
  • One-take videos that walk through a process
  • Record your screen to share information
  • Capturing screen footage of IT-related issues
  • Send personalized feedback to someone
  • Import video for basic editing

Or any other video that needs minimal editing and features.

On the other hand, people choose Camtasia for videos that are planned, scripted, and have a longer shelf-life for a larger audience. Popular types of videos include:

  • Tutorials, demos, and how-to videos for training
  • YouTube videos, marketing content, including social media
  • Engaging video lessons for online and blended learning
  • Accessible videos with captions for silent viewing
  • Rich videos with music, system sounds, and backgrounds
  • Interactive videos with clickable links

Or any other video that needs substantial editing and professional features.

Snagit and Camtasia's features and UI go head-too-head. Snagit is best for quick, informal videos and Camtasia is best for polished, creative videos

While either tool can help you create and edit useful videos, the purpose of your project will help you decide which solution is right for you.

Create the perfect videos with Camtasia

Camtasia makes it easy to create professional videos with easy-to-use features.

Download Free Trial
Camtasia icon

Is price a consideration?

Ultimately you want the best tool for the job. Choose a screen capture tool based on your project goals, not based on price.  

Both tools offer non-profit and education discounts, along with volume discounts and enterprise pricing, that can help you get these tools for your team or company.

When choosing between Snagit vs Camtasia, if you can only provide one screen capture tool for everyone (regardless of project goals), Snagit is a good way to go. It will give your organization image capture and editing plus basic video creation and trimming, with a low learning curve to start seeing increased productivity right away

You can always get Camtasia for a subset of employees who need to create training videos, demos, and other more complex recordings.

Both Snagit and Camtasia are valuable tools

Since they do different things, Snagit and Camtasia are both valuable tools to have at your fingertips. Both work on Windows and Mac and have a host of sharing options like Screencast, Google Drive, Microsoft Word, YouTube, and more.

Share link feature used on an edited screenshot.

When you want to share an effective screenshot, Snagit is a quick and easy way to communicate information. When you want to create an effective tutorial video, Camtasia is a great choice.  Even people who have never made a video before can learn to use Camtasia, so having it for everyone lets them use their new skill set on an as-needed basis.

When you want to share information, it’s important to have the right tools in your toolbox when you need them. Whether you choose Snagit, Camtasia, or both, having quality screen capture solutions will help you share knowledge and save time.

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

What Makes a Good Presentation? How to Make a PowerPoint 101

Tips to make a Powerpoint presentation not boring

Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and other slide presentations have become an absolutely essential part of any presentation.

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.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to make your presentations dazzle with just a few easy tips.

 

How to create a PowerPoint presentation

Your slide deck has the power to add to or take away from the overall effectiveness of your presentation. 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 good. 

So, before you open PowerPoint, let’s go through some basics.

Less is more

Less is more with slide content.  

Your slides should not be stuffed with content, especially text-heavy content. Incorporating bullet points helps your audience follow your message without getting distracted by trying to read the slide.

Use engaging 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 presentation templates can help you make PowerPoint slides, 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 through Slidesgo and Slidescarnival for Google Slides and for PowerPoint. Each of these platforms offers themes within their software as well. 

All you’ll need to do is make minor adjustements to the design!

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 avoid overly scripted options as they are difficult to read on screen.

Use visual aids

Visuals make a huge difference in your presentations. But there are a few rules to follow.

Stick with high-quality images. Adding images to your slides that are blurry, pixelated, or otherwise low in quality is an easy way to quickly disengage with your audience.

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

Plus, adding screenshots can make your presentation more interesting than stock photos. 

Add screenshots to your presentations with Snagit

Snagit makes it easy to capture and edit the perfect screenshot!

Download Free Trial
Example of taking a screenshot on mac with Snagit

Share data analytics or upcoming project plans by taking a simple screenshot. Screenshots are the perfect addition to your presentations.

Third-party tools like Snagit are made just for that. You can add callouts, arrows, and other tools that draw your audience’s attention

PowerPoint presentation with a screenshot showing campaign results

For a more fun visual, use GIFs to highlight some key points.

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

Visuals always help with memorability and GIFs usually include a touch of humor and personality – both qualities that help information stick.

You can make your own GIFs using Snagit so that they are perfectly catered to your presentation.

Snagit's create a GIF option

Add videos

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

Videos can be an easy way to show a tutorial or demonstrate a process. Whatever your presentation is about, there are videos you can make or outsource that will support your point.

However, using too many videos can take away the impact your own content has. Try to stick to three or fewer videos in one presentation. 

According to Forbes, thirty to sixty seconds is ideal for a presentation video.

You want your visual aids to support your presentation, not take over it. The focus of your presentation should still be you and the value you are bringing to your audience!

Presentation tips and tricks

For your presentation to shine, you need to combine storytelling, authenticity, and visual aids.  

Basically, it’s all about what you say and how you say it.

Tell a story 

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

If most of your attention and time is spent on design, 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 crafting your content – the actual information you will be sharing and how you will be sharing it. It doesn’t matter how good 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 storytelling aspects, like personal connection and impact.

The purpose of your presentation is either to inform, entertain, persuade, or inspire

To achieve your purpose, you’ll need an outline. That way, your purpose is kept at the center of your presentation and you follow a familiar structure. You need to make sure that you have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Just like a regular story!

Presentations that are interesting from beginning to end take the audience on a journey. Steer away from reciting facts and from long tangents. Find a middle ground that’s personable and informative!

To create an interesting presentation, 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. 

Be authentic and engaging

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

Leslie Chamberlain, Senior Director, Customer Education explains on The Visual Lounge Podcast:

“What it comes down to. Whenever you’re doing any kind of presentation, whether you’re doing it on a video, whether you’re doing it in front of folks in person, it comes down to your audience is building the relationship with you. Your slides, your images are not the presentation. You are the presentation. So as you go forward to present, be true to yourself, speak from your heart, and enjoy every minute of it.”

Lean into 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. Public speaking is always a little daunting, but with confidence, you can achieve anything!

Your body language should be easygoing, so try to use natural hand gestures and smile. Make sure to maintain eye contact with audience members. It will create a bond between you and them, which will increase their confidence in you.

Your energy is contagious. 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 to make it more interesting, draw attention to specific points, and present authentically.

And don’t forget to use organic visuals in your presentation to support your purpose and drive home the information you’re sharing. 

Create a Video to Share Your Slides After Your Presentation 

 

To wrap it up, you can make a video of your presentation. That way, you’ll be able to use it again in the future without going through the hassle of presenting over and over.

To do so, you can simply video record your screen and your camera. With Snagit, you can do so easily and use some fun tools like Screen Draw to direct attention to certain parts of your slides. 

Record and share your presentation with Snagit

Snagit makes it easy to record your screen, camera, and audio for the perfect presentation setup!

Download Free Trial
illustration of snagit's screen recording interface

Once you’re done recording and making simple edits, send the video as a link through Screencast. Hit the Share Link button to create a unique link to your video. Then, send it out to anyone who might’ve missed your presentation!

Screen draw in action on a website mockup

This is also a great way to get feedback on your presentation before it happens. Record a mock-up presentation using Snagit, and send it to your team for honest, constructive criticism. That way, your presentation will be so much better when the day comes!

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

Email Etiquette: 12 Rules and Useful Tips

what is email etiquette

Email etiquette isn’t something that we’re born knowing. Yet, it feels like everyone but us knows the unwritten rules of professional emails.

Luckily, these rules are not hard once you get the main picture. We’re here to give you tips that’ll make you stand out. In a good way, we promise!

So whether you’re new to professional email communication or just want a quick refresh, this guide is for you. After all, sending an email should never be overwhelming.

Let’s get into emailing best practices so you can elevate your professional communication in just a few steps.

What is professional email etiquette, and why is it important?

Simply put, email etiquette is the way you write your emails for professional communication. Different aspects of emails have different purposes, which is what we’re covering in this guide.

Email etiquette is important for many reasons. First, it sets the tone for communication and reflects your professionalism. A poorly written email can lead to misunderstandings and even damage relationships.

Additionally, proper etiquette can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communication, leading to better relationships and results. 

Email is undoubtedly the top communication channel for workplace communication, so understanding etiquette is important if you want to succeed. 

The unspoken email etiquette rules that matter

Let’s go over the most important rules that you should follow for proper communication.

Professional email address

This one is easy. When you create your account, use an email address with your name. I know we all have an embarrassing address from our youth, we never want to resurface. If you’re still using it, let’s create a new one!

Appropriate and informative subject line

Your subject line is the introduction to your email. Or, what your recipient will read first. Keep this one short, concise, and informative.

For example, a good subject line for a job application email would be: “Sales Assistant Position Application.” Notice that the subject line includes the job title “Sales Assistant” and the purpose “Application.” The recipient will know exactly what you are reaching out for–that’s the goal!

Inbox with relevant subject lines

Professional salutation & closing

Proper salutation is always a greeting like “Hello, Good morning, Dear, etc” followed by their name. Add the “Mrs, Ms, MR, Dr, etc” prefix whenever you can.

If you don’t know their name, no worries, just say hello. And don’t forget to add a comma after the salutation.

Your closing and signature are also going to be standard. End your emails with a closing remark such as “Best regards”, “Sincerely”, or “Thank you” depending on the context.

Then, sign off your email with your name or a personalized email signature block.

Proper grammar and spelling

This one is obvious, but it can be the hardest to follow. Our best advice is to double-check your words and follow standard grammar rules. Outlook and Gmail have spell checkers, but more advanced tools like Grammarly can really take your writing to the next level.

Maintain a professional tone and don’t overuse exclamation points. We know it can be hard to come across as friendly without them but use them sparingly. They quickly get overwhelming. 

Keep it concise

No one wants to waste time wading through a clunky, long email. Your email recipient is likely only spending a small amount of time on your message. That makes it important to get to the point quickly. 

In your opening line, state the purpose of your email. Follow it up with some additional information and close it out with a timeframe. This makes communication extremely easy and efficient for everyone. 

Don’t let attachments clog inboxes

Large files are an email inbox’s worst nightmare. They can mess up the speed and efficiency of your recipient’s inbox.

A wise choice is to share large attachments with a link.

Screencast is a third-party application that creates a unique link for all of your images and videos. You can then send that link instead of the large attachment itself.

Share link option in Screencast

Plus, you can start a conversation on the image or video you attached. Add comments, reactions, and continue to collaborate all in one space.

Trust us, your recipient will thank you for not slowing down their inbox.

Easily communicate with Snagit today

Snagit makes it easy for you to create and share engaging and easy-to-follow visuals for your emails!

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Illustration of a video embedded in an email with snagit and screencast

Reply all

Reply all is a great tool, but it can also be a scary tool. Our advice is to use it… sparingly. Remember that when you reply all, you reply ALL.

Everyone on the thread will get your email back, which is a great tool for mass communication of information. However, it becomes a not-so-great tool for specific, individualized questions.

Best practices you may not know about

Business email etiquette should seem a bit more doable at this point. Or so we hope. In this section, we’ll go over some email etiquette tips that will improve your communication beyond expectations.

Respond promptly

Try to respond to your emails within 24 hours of receiving them. But sometimes, we know that isn’t realistic. Instead, prioritize the importance of your emails using the Eisenhower Method

The eisenhower matrix of workplace communication

Avoid using email for confidential information

Use a secure messaging platform or a face-to-face conversation for any confidential information. Although emails are usually private, they are not foolproof. As the saying goes: better to be safe than sorry.

Use visual communication to avoid long walls of text

This one is a real game-changer. Instead of long, boring emails, try to share information through visuals. It’ll be more effective and less boring to your recipients.

In fact, a recent TechSmith study found that 98% of respondents who use video at work say it impacts the effectiveness of their message in various ways, among them by reducing misunderstandings, increasing engagement, and saving time.

Images

By sending images, you can easily show a process, provide feedback, and share data. Communication gets a whole lot easier when it’s clear and thrives with the aid of visuals.

Use visual communication to show a process, provide feedback, and share data

Plus, screenshots are super easy to take. With a screenshotting tool like Snagit, you can capture your screen, and add helpful annotations whenever you need. Whether you need to call out an important detail, use the Step Tool to highlight a process, or use more features, Snagit has you covered.

Once your capture is edited perfectly, share your screenshot with a unique link. Then, paste it into your favorite messaging platform. We’re guessing it’s over email!

Videos

Videos are fantastic tools when you need a quick demo or tutorial for yourself or your team. With Snagit’s picture-in-picture recording and Screen Draw abilities, you can elevate any email. Just press record and everything else is made easy for you.

Just like a screenshot, you can email your videos by sharing a unique link.

Share your screenshots and screen recordings with Snagit

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illustration of snagit's screen recording interface

Use email filters and folders to stay organized

Lastly, stay organized! Emails get lost in the sea of communication we receive every day. And you can’t mark all of them as flagged, that’ll get confusing too!

Instead, create folders to stay organized. Once you’re done reading an email, just file it away in the appropriate folder. That way you’ll never lose an email and you can refer back to it quickly whenever you need information from it.

It changes your communication and it changes the way you work. No more wasted time.

In conclusion…

So, sending a professional email isn’t all that hard. Some of the conventions can definitely be tricky to keep in mind, but that’s what this guide is all about. Feel free to refer back to it whenever you need, nobody will know!

Clémence Daniere

Content Marketing Specialist Contractor at TechSmith where I write, edit, and create content that informs and entertains. I also read too many books.

How To Reduce Video File Size

Reduce video size

Let’s just say it: Large video files are a hassle. First, your computer struggles to get through editing because it can hardly support the file. Then, your video takes forever to render, leaving you twiddling your thumbs. And, just when you think you’re finally done, Google says ‘video file too large to email’ UGH! 

There has to be an easy way to reduce video file size. 

In this guide, we will explore the reasons why video files are so large in the first place. More importantly, we provide simple solutions to these common problems so that you never have to worry about large video files again!

The field of video compression uses a lot of technical jargon, which makes it hard to know where to start. Thankfully, using video editing software like Camtasia makes reducing video file size fast and easy! In fact, you might not even need to think about it with our automatic features!

Easily reduce your video file size!

Get started with a free trial of Camtasia today.

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Camtasia user interface

Ready to jump in?

Lossy compression vs. lossless compression

These two terms are important to understand before we get started because compression always takes one of these two forms. 

  • Lossy compression refers to any type of compression that reduces file size by removing data from your video. It’s called “lossy” because your video will lose data with this method. While lossy compression is super common and easy to achieve, it can seriously impact the quality of your video if you overdo it. 

We have two tips when using lossy compression. First, since data lost with lossy compression is unrecoverable, save a backup of your video before applying any compression.

Our second tip is to only apply lossy compression after your video is completely finished – you should never edit a compressed video as doing so will destroy your video quality. 

  • Lossless compression uses mathematics to reduce file size while keeping all of the original data in your video. Lossless videos can be decompressed to the original size at any time without data loss. The quality advantage of lossless compression is great, but it may not be able to compress your video as much as you desire.

When using lossless compression, we recommend that you consider your intent. If you’re posting the video to a platform like YouTube, your video will have lossy compression anyways! 

Step 1: Consider making cuts to the video

If you have a long video that contains multiple sections, one of the easiest ways to reduce video file size is to cut it up! Simply cut the video by each section and export them individually. Each file should have a much lower size than before!

If length isn’t the problem, it could be the number of animations and effects you used! Color effects are known to have a significant effect on the overall file size. So, consider removing unnecessary effects to reduce the overall file size!

Takeaway: Adding lots of movement and transitions will cause your file to be larger.

Step 2: Use a smaller video file format

There are many different video formats you could export your finished video into, including MP4, MOV, AVI, WMV, and WEBM. But which one is the best in terms of file size?

MP4 is typically the best balance of quality and file size. Because of this, MP4 is most popular for web-based delivery including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. MP4 uses lossy compression.

MOV is Apple’s native video format, but it is compatible with Windows. It has very high quality options, which makes it a professional standard. Depending on the encoding process you select, MOV can be either lossy OR lossless, which makes it one of the most versatile options on this list. 

AVI is Microsoft’s answer to MOV, but it is not compatible with Mac. Developed in 1995, it is one of the oldest formats in existence. Like MOV, AVI can be either lossy and lossless based on the encoding process you choose. 

WMV is the only format that beats MP4 in terms of compressed file size. However, the video quality is poor, and this format is incompatible with Mac. You should only use WMV if file size takes priority over everything else.

Camtasia and Snagit video outputs default to the MP4 file format. We recommend using MP4 in the majority of cases for online sharing. 

But if quality is your highest priority, we recommend working with either MOV or AVI during the editing process. You can decide which compression method suits you best later on with the comfort that no data is being lost while you edit.

You may be wondering about the codecs and containers of these formats ーwe have a whole article on that! Understanding Video File Formats, Codecs and Containers.

Takeaway: Use the MP4 file type to keep quality and reduce file size.

Step 3: Use smaller dimensions and thoughtful captures

The resolution of a video determines the size in height and width that the video will be created in. In Camtasia, you can change the project settings to produce your video at any desired resolution. Just remember, larger resolution videos will dramatically increase file size. 

  • A video that is 1920 x 1080 (1080p) will have a larger file size than a video that is 1280 x 720 (720p). 
  • Some screen recordings taken on high density displays can even produce videos at or above 3840 pixels × 2160 (4k). 

So, don’t record your entire screen unless it’s necessary. Better yet, consider using zoom-and-pan actions while editing your video. This way you can scale the video down, which helps focus the viewer’s attention on a specific portion of the screen.

Takeaway: Export at a suitable resolution for your project. If you try 1080p and the file is too large, try 720p instead!

Step 4: Lower the frame rate

What is frame rate? The short answer is that frame rate describes how many frames (still images) are shown per second. For an in-depth discussion, take a look at our beginners guide to frame rate!

Most films are shot at 24 fps. Home videos and camcorders typically default to 30 fps. Some mobile phones even default to 60 fps! Which is best? That’s a subjective question and depends on your intended audience. 

The custom production settings in Camtasia allow for between 1 and 30 frames per second (fps). While the default, 30 fps, is standard for video, if you’re looking to get more cinematic you can lower it to 24 fps. And if you recorded on your phone, definitely change it from 60 fps to 30! This should considerably reduce your file size.

Takeaway: Use the frame rate that is right for your project, either 24 or 30. Remember that higher frame rates will cause larger videos!

Step 5: Compress your audio

Sometimes audio can create larger file sizes, though most of the time recording devices and software will compress your audio so as not to create large file sizes. In addition, it is very rare that uncompressed audio is going to make an audible difference to your viewers. 

After you’re done editing your video, make sure to export with compressed audio. Default outputs for Camtasia and Snagit MP4 format uses AAC audio compression which has a good combination of sound quality and file size.

Takeaway: Compress your audio on export. It’s rare to need uncompressed audio in most projects. Take a look at our audio best practices.

Step 6: Put your file in a zipped folder

When you’ve finished editing your video with all these optimized settings, the only thing left to do is create a zipped folder for the video file!

On both Mac and Windows, zipped folders use lossless compression. So, you don’t need to worry about losing any quality on your final take. You can upload zipped files to Google Drive, send them via email, and easily share them across operating systems. 

Creating a zipped folder on Windows

To create a zipped folder on Windows, simply right-click your video file, then select New > “create zipped folder.” 

Creating a zipped folder on Mac

Simply select your file, right-click to bring up the context menu. Then, click “Compress” 

Conclusion

Hopefully these tips will help you reduce the file size of your video. If you’re ready to try it yourself, download Camtasia! Let us know how it goes on Facebook or Twitter!

Robert Trudeau

I'm a content marketing specialist contractor for Techsmith. In plain language, I write blogs, social posts, video scripts and more to help support the marketing team's efforts. Organic growth gets me excited, both in the tech space and in my in garden.