Whether you’re already doing a lot of video marketing, or just figuring out how to make video a part of your marketing mix, consider screencasting: capturing your computer screen output in a video, along with audio narration and sometimes video of the presenter. In contrast to a videoconference or webinar, screencasting lets you create a video from your desktop that can be viewed again and again. And it cuts down on setup and production time by using your screen as a visual asset.
“You can then peruse it at your leisure. You can stop and pause, rewind and watch it as many or as few times as you need to get the information conveyed to you,” explains Jason Valade, a product manager at TechSmith, a software company developing screen capture and screencasting tools such as Camtasia, Snagit and Jing. He shares some tips and tricks and best practices for more effective screencasting.
Before getting started, make sure screencasting is the best tool for your goals. In some instances, having a live conference is preferable to sharing a video—specifically, if you’d like to walk someone through a process and answer questions on the fly. In that case, tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect and GoToMeeting might be preferable.
Why and when to screencast
Screencasts aren’t just for public presentations or product demos, though. You can drop a link to your video in an email or on your blog, making sure you’re sharing something valuable with your audience that benefits from screencasting.
The whole point is to intersperse faces and screens, narration and demonstration, creating a more interactive experience but one that is recorded for later consumption. For example, take a look at TechSmith’s video on screencast recording best practices, which includes video of a narrator, screencast and visual examples of proper and improper lighting. Some instructional videos omit video of the narrator altogether, but include audio narration and various images.
Tailor your presentation to your audience
As with any video endeavor, technology can become a preoccupation: don’t get bogged down with editing and re-recording screencasts. Valade recommends tailoring your level of editing to your audience.
“If I’m sending something out to someone I don’t know who I’ve never interacted with, I’m going to make sure that thing is as polished as I can get it… good edits, nice music, all sorts of stuff,” he says. “But if I’m sending something out to a colleague, a co-worker, or someone I’ve had all sorts of interaction where I can do a down and dirty recording, then I can get away with the coughs or the umms or the ahhs or the subtle pauses while I’m thinking of information.”
In addition to the audience, the amount of time you have to get a video out is also a factor, as well as how often your audience will be viewing the video. If they’ll only have a chance to view it once, it’s a good idea to focus more attention on production quality.
In general, Valade recommends a balanced approach: some people are even intimidated by a video that’s exceptionally polished and most are turned off by one that looks as though it was produced with little attention paid to the viewer’s time and expectations.
Preparation is key
Not only should you know in advance what you’re going to be showing in your video, Valade recommends doing a run-through while paying attention to what is on your screen. “If you’re sharing your screen, you’re going to see everything that’s on there, such as notifications popping up or messages coming in.”
If you choose to be on camera for your screencast, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for your audience. And since you don’t take up the whole screen, pay attention to what’s going on behind you before you hit record. “If the desk behind me is messy, that may convey a bad message to whoever I’m sharing information with,” Valade explains.
Preparing, of course, also includes making sure your camera and microphone work well, and that you’ve got everything you want to share open and ready to go instead of fumbling around on your screen during the shoot.
Don’t obsess over what you look and sound like.
Paying attention to your presentation quality and making sure your clothing is appropriate for your audience doesn’t mean you need to go overboard.
“Some people get really hung up on how they sound or how they look,” says Valade, who sees this as a challenge people need to overcome. He points out that the audience’s expectations are usually realistic ones. “If someone’s watching a video that I created, they’re hopefully expecting me and not Steven Spielberg.”
Rehearse, sure, but don’t try to be the voice behind those movie trailers.
“Your voice is what it is. If you’re going to put on the fake radio voice and talk in a way that’s concise, you can do that, but then you have to carry it through the whole presentation.”
Have you tried screencasting? What was your experience like? Share with us in the comments.
This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.
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