Yesterday, I attended the STC Technical Editing SIG sponsored Webinar titled “When is Video the Answer (and When Isn’t It)?” given by Ken Circeo, a senior video producer at Microsoft.
Here are my notes, which my team found rather useful, so I thought I’d share them all with you, my faithful blog readers. I present them as my general takeaways and my golden nuggets, of which I only had one golden nugget.
- Video is not always the answer.
- Video appeals to multiple learning styles (see, hear, & do)
- Video almost always scores higher than text; it delights them more… but only if it answers their question
- Video has come to be expected; much higher demand for it as it becomes more ubiquitous (thanks, YouTube!)
- More low quality video out there, because anyone can shoot and upload video; must distinguish ourselves by producing high-quality video
- Ask this one question: what problem are you trying to solve? it is the only question that matters; audience does not matter!
- Developers want a different kind of video than administrators do, and that managers do, etc. (see, audience does matter!)
- The context matters, too; where you embed it or include it (such as in an installation process, as an animation of where to find a feature)
- When should you NOT use video? when procedures are short & simple, or when procedures are long & complex; Goldilocks anyone?
- Level of detail is important
- Shorter the better; ideal time? 2 mins, 48 secs (he said that time as a joke, before he said: “as short as possible”)
- Never “force” a video; no video for video sake
- Skip the background music; most users don’t notice it
- Try to solve the problem with other ways first (redesign the UI, write a procedure, etc), and only after other avenues explored do they create a video
- Deliver video alongside of other docs; video doesn’t replace other docs, but supplements it
- Uses .mp4 format, standardizes on it for its reduced file size
- Spend the most time on the script, and get that right before you start on the actual animations, graphics, and video production.
His final concluding slide provided the golden nugget of the 1-hour session.
Here are the 5 types of videos that he’s found most useful:
- First run — the hook — like our author intro videos?
- Getting started — introduce —
- What’s new — reveal
- Overview — simplify something complex, simplify complex concepts
- How to — show or demonstrate how to do something