There’s a small but acute pang of dread I used to encounter.
When the world went to work from home, it only got worse. I’m guessing most office workers felt it, too.
A recurring, frustrating jolt of “Oh no, this will be tedious” arrived whenever I was deep in a task and realized help or feedback from a colleague was required.
The problem was that while I was steeped in the task and all its context, others weren’t.
At least not completely.
And so I would immediately feel a zap of anxiety or stress as I considered the time and effort it would take to explain everything in an email, on Slack, or even on a call.
Just so I could get a simple answer and keep moving with my work.
That is until I discovered the salve. The healing balm that lets you quickly share context, avoid the need to schedule a meeting or video call, and eliminate excess typing and textual explaining.
The grand solution is screencasting, the simple process of recording a short video and sharing it with co-workers. It’s the ideal way to communicate ideas, context, knowledge, and almost any other type of information.
Now, when I encounter that stress, I simply record a short video with Snagit, which is almost always easier than writing things out.
The visuals in a screen recording combined with narration provide all the context, and I’m able to get an answer in much less time than if I used text alone.
But screencasting does more than alleviate moments of minor frustration. It’s an ideal practice for solving or enhancing other elements of work.
Here are seven more ways you can use screencasting to work faster and with greater efficiency.
1. Plan and execute work
I work on the TechSmith website. Like any website, it has numerous pages made of content chunks, images, videos, and other elements. It’s often in need of changes or updates to reflect the progression of our business and products.
The challenge is that when a specific element needs an update, a number of questions emerge.
“Where is this content on the website?” “How does it need to change?” “Is it in multiple places?”
Answering these questions via email is a bit like trying to describe a specific element of a picture to someone standing on the other side of a curtain. You need to be extremely specific with what you say.
Instead, we make videos that explain what needs to be done. Then, that video can be shared to make sure everyone agrees with the plan. The video makes the what, where, and why of our work obvious.
If, like us, you use a project management software like Asana or Trello, the link to the video can be placed on the task that represents the work.
Now, when someone starts the task, they’ll have the information needed to hit the ground running. And no one had to write it all out.
2. Record calls and meetings
Video meetings are now a way of life.
No matter if you use Teams, Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or another platform to conduct video meetings, they’ve been essentially the only way for colleagues (and, outside of work, friends and family) to safely gather, collaborate, and have discussions.
While the circumstances are not ideal, a great opportunity has emerged. When every meeting relies on technology, then every meeting is easy to record and archive. Conveniently, most video call services have built-in recording features, or you can use screen recording software like Camtasia.
Recorded meetings make it easy to reference what was discussed. Better yet, if someone missed the meeting, they can catch up by watching the recording.
A recorded meeting is great, too, because you can use a video editor like Camtasia to remove some of the idle chatter at the beginning or end. Hosting on a service like TechSmith Knowmia allows viewers to ask questions, so the discussion doesn’t have to end with the meeting, and non-attendees can provide their thoughts.
3. Customer and product research
This tip builds on the last one, except I am now suggesting, with proper permission, that you record calls with customers. Usually, these are product or marketing strategy calls.
The information shared in these calls is invaluable. Hearing the exact words and tones of voice people use when discussing their experience with your product or service is one of the best ways for everyone at a company to gain an understanding of the customers they serve.
At TechSmith, we often edit these recordings to share particularly useful and enlightening feedback from our customers.
Just like I suggested above, you can record these calls, edit them down to the useful parts, and then share them with others.
4. Quick how-to training videos
The life of today’s office worker is essentially a gauntlet of different technologies.
We hop from this data dashboard to that one, or one SaaS product to another.
As we navigate the technological landscape, inevitably we encounter a process we don’t know. Or, just as likely, someone needs you to show them how to do something.
You explain it to them and move on. Then someone else asks the same question. And you explain it to them. And then someone else…until your entire day is spent showing people how to do things and never having an opportunity to focus on or complete your own work.
Screencasting is your way out of this devastating cycle.
Record a quick video or two for the common processes that people ask about. It might be how to pull particular reports. Or how to set up a dashboard.
Once you have the video, host it on something like Screencast.com, and send the link whenever someone asks. Better yet, you might create a simple knowledge base that answers a number of common questions.
The time savings here compound — as others will become experts, they will share your resources, and everyone levels up.
5. Product demos for sales and customer experience
Video is useful throughout the sales cycle. It lets you be personable and nurture relationships in a way email alone doesn’t, but without needing to schedule in-person or live video calls.
At the start of a customer engagement, it’s great for giving potential clients a look at your product in action, and demonstrating some of its most powerful capabilities.
As the conversation progresses, videos can be more specific, even bespoke. Many salespeople and CX professionals create product demo videos for individual accounts, which connect specific features to the way a customer can use them.
6. Retain organizational knowledge
When people leave companies for new opportunities or to retire, it can create a knowledge void.
Long-term employees usually become experts on certain tasks, procedures, and elements of the business. It’s critical to find ways to retain their knowledge and maintain organizational and business continuity.
Screencasting is an ideal way to do this.
Try and make it a practice among expert employees to record videos of the procedures and processes that others need to understand. By having experts capture their workflows, you ensure that best practices and important information are not lost.
7. Onboard new employees
If you’re recording important knowledge and processes, you’re likely building a library of resources that is ideal for onboarding new employees. Essentially, taking knowledge that took years to acquire and making it available to employees at the beginning of their tenure.
Compile videos created by experts (like in tip #5) into a “Get Started” resource for new hires and trainees. Or, bring together a group of experts to brainstorm the most important things a new employee should know as they get started in your organization. Then, create a set of videos that constitute an onboarding “curriculum.”
If you’re looking for inspiration, see how Virgin Media uses video to retain knowledge at their company.
Keep your eye out for more screencasting opportunities
Every industry, business, organization, and role has its unique processes and elements. And video can likely help alleviate common sticking points or make work more efficient in some way for them all.
So keep your eye out, as you’ll probably find ways to adapt what I’ve suggested and likely a number of new ideas.