Are you tired of always going back and forth with coworkers just to explain something?
Is context getting lost when you send that email or Slack message?
What if there was a form of communication that could be used to show steps in a process, illustrate a concept, offer a quick reply to a message, and more, all without a wall of text?
Enter the GIF!
There’s no doubt about it. GIFs (pronounced “gif” or “jif”) are everywhere these days.
There are GIF keyboards, GIF integrations, GIF websites, and even easy ways to quickly create GIFs. Once left in the dustbin of the internet past, GIFs seem to be having an eternal moment, and you may want to seriously consider adding them to your communications workflow.
Why, when so many technologies rise to popularity only to be suddenly discarded, does a 29-year-old media format have such staying power? Because, while our world has continually changed, the unique elements that define the GIF format have continued to make it a useful and relevant way to communicate feelings, ideas, and information. Consider how the creation, distribution, and consumption of content have evolved from static.
Here are the top reasons why GIFs remain such a powerful format in today’s world:
- Quick to capture (especially with Snagit).
- No audio hassle.
- No aspect ratio concerns.
- Goes where images go.
- No hosting hassle.
- Relatively lightweight.
- Device agnostic.
- Motion attracts attention.
- Easy – it plays automatically.
- It doesn’t use much mobile data.
- No speakers needed.
- You can watch them silently on a mobile device in public.
Are GIFs really work-appropriate?
We all know that hilarious GIFs are great for making us laugh, but did you also know that using GIFs can really help you out at work? There are numerous uses for this form of communication.
Many people remember when:
- Email was brought into the workplace (late 1990s)
- Adding a simple smiley emoticon 🙂 in a work email was considered bold and different (circa 2005)
- You first saw an emoji creep into a work email? (circa 2015)
In each of those instances, there were naysayers who genuinely thought that adding emoticons or emoji wasn’t work appropriate. Yet more mobile-savvy millennials and gen zs are entering the workforce, and work-based chat clients like Slack and Teams are becoming more widely adopted. Workplace communication is changing.
Ready to take your workplace communications to a more modern, engaging level?
Here are 10 real, everyday ways you could be using GIFs at work right now:
1. Show a series of steps in a process
Sometimes a seemingly simple process has a lot of steps. GIFs are the perfect way to explain an onscreen process quickly, without having to list all the steps out in text form.
2. Show cause and effect
Illustrate how one thing changes another. GIFs clearly demonstrate cause and effect in a way a static image simply can’t. A GIF that isolates essential elements makes it easy to focus and see the impact of an action.
3. Show before and after
When the amount of space on your screen is an important consideration, a GIF can really be a lifesaver. In a world with screens of every size, conveying all the necessary information efficiently in a small space can be difficult.
Before GIF, you had to use two pictures: a before picture and an after picture. Now, you can show them both in the same space.
4. Make comparisons
Similar to a before and after GIF, a comparison GIF is a powerful communication tool. By taking two (or more) seemingly separate images and mashing them together in GIF form, you recontextualize the meanings of both.
It’s difficult to find another universally recognized file format that packs so much power.
5. Onboarding and walkthroughs
We love this one. In fact, there’s this handy dandy screen capture program called Snagit that uses GIF for an introductory tutorial.
The GIF exposes functionality with animated loops and a simplified user interface. Perfect for showcasing macro-level functionality without getting into the nitty-gritty.
The GIF can serve as a “mini-demo.” They’re perfect to show off a new feature or process and can easily replace still images for dropdown menus and checklist UIs.
7. Social media teasers
Want to tease a concept or solicit feedback on social media? Post a GIF and test how your engagement increases. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn support the posting and viewing of GIFs in the feed.
Motion-heavy GIFs help stop the scroll and draw attention to your post.
8. Concept illustrations
Animated illustrations can show concepts and introduce new features rather than teach steps. GIF motion draws attention, and it encourages a second look for a seemingly boring topic.
9. Help desk ticket
GIFs are perfect for your IT help desk. If someone in your organization is asking for computer help, it’s likely that someone else may have the same issue.
By creating a simple, helpful GIF and keeping it on file, you will be ready to help everyone who asks about that particular topic again.
10. Quick tips or answering questions
Has someone ever asked you a question on how to do a seemingly simple task, and you find yourself writing them a novel in email form? It’s actually faster to just make them a quick GIF.
It’s also easier for the person to follow along. Perfect for the workplace social platform, such as Slack, Teams, or Flowdock.
Bonus! GIF reactions
Did someone on your team close a big sale? Squash that pesky computer bug? Nail that latest presentation? Consider emailing them a congratulatory GIF!
Want to really celebrate? CC the entire team on your email. Nothing blows up your inbox quicker than a well-placed GIF. Your co-workers might even respond with a GIF or meme of their own.
Here at TechSmith, when someone sends out a funny GIF or meme, we all pile on and try to outdo each other. Sure, it’s a bit of distraction, but we’re all laughing as a team and having a bit of fun at work. I am constantly amazed by the GIF mastery and meme brilliance of my colleagues.
How to make a GIF
It’s as simple as importing your video, selecting the portion you want to turn into a GIF, choosing your settings, and exporting it. Check out the video walkthrough below for a detailed step-by-step process.
Ready to use GIFs at work?
You’re now armed with several ideas for using GIFs at work! Of course, we encourage you to think outside the box and go beyond that’s listed in this post.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Snagit makes it easy to turn any video into a GIF. Read more in the “How to make a GIF” section above.
Unfortunately, Instagram does not support GIFs on the main feed. However, you can add one to your Instagram story!