Dipping Your Toe in the Video Pool

4 ways you can get started creating video without having to reinvent the wheel.

Research shows consistently that not only do people prefer video content over wordy documents for learning, they actually perform better when information is provided via video. In fact, according to TechSmith research, 67 percent of people are better at completing tasks when the instructions are provided via video or other visual content.

Knowing that video content can be a much better and more efficient way to deliver learning content doesn’t make it easier to get started—especially if you’re new to creating videos. Beyond typical worries about whether or not you have the time or skills necessary to create video, it can seem daunting to imagine completely reworking the way you train or communicate with employees or customers. 

But that’s the thing: You don’t have to completely rework anything. Sometimes the best way to create change is to start small. 

Here are a few ways you can get started creating video without having to reinvent the wheel.

1. Replace one e-mail

E-mail is the lifeblood of business and that’s not changing anytime soon. But who hasn’t received an e-mail that was at best, unnecessary, and at worst, actually maddening? While video can’t solve all of e-mail’s problems, it can solve a few.

Instead of sending an e-mail detailing changes to a document, Webpage, or other content, why not run through it with a quick video?

We’ve all received these types of e-mails. Lots of words about what needs to be changed and where to change it. Phrases such as, “In the third paragraph, just under the second graphic, change the word ‘X’ to ‘Y’ and make sure there’s a comma after ‘Z’ … blah blah blah,” are common. They take a long time to write, a long time to read, and it’s almost guaranteed something will be missed. 

Instead, fire up your screen recording software and make a quick video going through the document and narrating the changes as you go. You can show exactly what you want done in exactly the place you want it and it will take far less time than it would to write the same things in text. Your recipient will thank you and will almost certainly do a better job of getting your changes right the first time.

Plus, this kind of video needs literally NO polish. Fast, easy, and way better than text alone.

2. Send a video project update rather than an e-mail

Similar to e-mails about document changes, project updates also might better be handled with video. 

Instead of writing a wordy e-mail detailing a project’s current status, record yourself on Webcam or by recording your screen and do a quick run-through of where things stand. It’s far more personal than an e-mail and helps to improve engagement. This can be especially helpful in larger companies where many employees may not regularly see executives or other senior leaders. Seeing faces and hearing voices helps better connect employees and makes them feel part of a larger community. 

This isn’t reserved for executives, though. In companies where many employees may work remotely or where there may be offices around the world, it’s great to be able to see and hear your colleagues. Sending a video (much like a video call) does just that.

3. Replace one meeting

When was the last time you had a really good meeting—the kind that makes you feel energized and ready to take on the world? While it’s not unheard of, in many organizations, they tend to be few and far between. 

Let’s face it, we have A LOT of unnecessary meetings. You know that meeting you were planning to update everyone on “X” project? What if you made that a video instead? 

One of my colleagues here at TechSmith does a great job with this. Rather than pull everyone together to report out the latest blog traffic stats and discuss upcoming blog topics (which used to be at least a 30-minute meeting), he puts together a five-minute video running through the Google Analytics data he wants to show and then walks through a quick update in our project management application for the blog project. 

The blog team is seven people. Seven people x 30 minutes = 3.5 person-hours. By sending the video instead, we save nearly three hours of productivity time. We all get the same information and—if necessary—he’s always available to answer any further questions that may arise. And, if anyone needs the information again, they can just rewatch the video.

I nearly guarantee you have a meeting on your calendar right now that probably could be a video instead.

4. Replace one piece of training content

One of my favorite ways to use video to replace other forms of communication is through training and learning content. Whether it’s for your employees or your customers, providing tutorials and other forms of educational and informational videos can go a long way in helping them better use your products or internal systems. 

For your employees, you could start in several ways. How about an onboarding or orientation video that walks new hires through logging into computer systems on their first day? Or, perhaps when it’s time for benefits open enrollment, provide a video that walks your employees through the HR system rather than detailed (and hard-to-follow) written instructions. For IT-related issues, your tech folks could create a few videos on how to solve common computer problems so they don’t have to answer the same questions over and over. 

On the customer-facing side, your tech support team could provide quick screen-recorded videos for customers on how to solve common questions. They could even do these on the fly, providing a unique and surprising customer experience as customers need them. 

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When it comes to learning and training content, people crave video. In fact, a recent study on video viewing habits by TechSmith showed that, since 2013, the number of people watching two or more informational or instructional videos per week has risen from 23 percent to more than 50 percent.

Companies that fail to deliver what customers and employees want risk providing a poor experience and potentially driving people to competitors. 

But you don’t have to go all-out at once. Start small and build a library of video content at a pace that best suits your capabilities. Your customers and employees will thank you.

Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.