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Richard E. Mayer, Multimedia Learning . Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Alan S. Pringle and Sarah S. O’Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Documentation . Scriptorium Publishing Services, Inc., 2000.
Robert W. Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbook . Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 1985.
Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: Science and Practice . Allyn & Bacon, 2001.
Bryan Eisenburg, Jeffrey Eisenburg, and Lisa T. Davis, Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank . Future Now, Inc., 2002.
Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points . Microsoft Press, 2005.
Peter E. Cohan, Great Demo! How to Create and Execute Stunning Software Demonstrations , 2nd ed. iUniverse, 2005.
Robert Riefstahl, Demonstrating to Win! The Indispensable Guide for Demonstrating Software . Xlibris Corporation, 2000.
For each of the three common video types (training, marketing, and demonstration), there are techniques that will help you create compelling content. Regardless of the video type, you must consider two predominant factors:
Who is your audience? In figuring out whom you’re trying to reach as well as what that population’s needs are, you can craft a video that addresses those needs.
What is your purpose? While the purpose of your video may seem obvious, refining your objective(s) to be as specific as possible will aid you in planning a project that accomplishes its goals without a lot of superfluous fluff.
I once took an improvisation course as a college
So how do we remedy this? Well, now that you’ve gotten more acquainted with your audience, and hopefully have a better sense of purpose based on their needs (and on your goals for them), it’s time to put it all down on paper. I typically do this in two steps:
Scripting , where you clarify your basic message and draft the video’s voice narration.
Storyboarding , where you plan the visuals (be it in words, pictures, or video) and tighten up your script to match them. The storyboard is the plan from which your video will ultimately be created.
This section covers the basics of writing your narration script. Even if you’re not planning on narrating your video, it’s still a good exercise to put on paper the various points you’ll want to
A lot of people have asked me whether it’s a good idea to narrate your
My answer is an unequivocal
. As you read in the last chapter, Richard Mayer’s studies tell us that engaging multiple
The trick lies in trying to figure out ways of pushing your personality, knowledge, and
Before sitting down to write a single word of narration, you need to start out in information-gathering mode. In addition to the acts of finding out about your audience and discovering your purpose that we talked about in the previous chapter, it’s a good idea to approach a few content experts so that you can collect their input. For example, you might approach the developers of the software for tips on the
Once you have a good sense of what you want to cover and how, it’s finally time to hunker down and get typing. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people become paralyzed. You fire up a new word processing document, and there’s just something about the vastness of that blank screen, with its I-beam cursor blinking tauntingly at you, that seems to freeze the creative juices right in their tracks.
The best tip I can recommend here is to go back to the good work you did during your preparation. Return to your assessments of the audience and purpose, and determine how those things interact with the outline you’ve established. Once you’ve got that blueprint in place, trust me, the text will practically write itself. Focus on your objective, and start typing content that speaks to that objective.
If you’re still stuck, there is one technique I use that helps me
If you’ve done a rough cut and actually find that it provides a good basis for a script, here’s an idea that can save you additional time transcribing it. Instructional designer Dan Kazup came up with this idea for auto-generating a rough script using the voice recognition capabilities built into the English-, Chinese-, and Japanese- language versions of Word 2003. With the proper setup and equipment, Word can actually take dictation as you’re playing back your rough video. Here’s how it works:
Record your first-draft video in Camtasia Recorder, complete with narration. Make sure that your system is equipped with a microphone and is set up to record sound. You’ll discover the intricacies of sound recording in Chapter 10, “Working with Other Media: Audio, PIP, and Title Clips.”
In Word 2003, choose Speech from the Tools menu. You’ll be prompted to install the feature if you haven’t already done so.
If this is your first time using the Speech feature, you’ll need to
Return to Microsoft Word. You should now have the language bar located at the top of your screen. Click the
button if it’s not already selected. A special tooltip on the toolbar will
Open your video. After beginning playback, return to Word again. Provided that Word is listening to the correct audio device and input line, you should see Word transcribing what you hear in the video.
Included in this section are a few content and style tips to keep in mind when hammering out a script for a video audience. First, let’s talk a bit about the wording we use in a video script.
When doing videos about software, you’re bound to be producing for both technical and decidedly nontechnical audiences. Remember, in each and every video project you undertake, part of your discovery process with the target audience is figuring out which applies (if not both). The technical savvy of your
And this isn’t just limited to techie words. The same concept applies to marketing
That said, you’ll want to “speak their language” as much as possible where it doesn’t obscure your point. When citing examples, make them appropriate to the industry of your target audience rather than using generic filler content. For example, when demonstrating a particular feature of your new home design software, fill in the software’s various fields with terms that an actual contractor (or architect, or whoever your target audience happens to be) would really use when using your product in a real-world situation. So, if you’re showing off the Door & Window Inventory List feature, ask yourself which field entry would be more compelling: “Widget” or “Loose pin back flap hinge.” Using the former is tantamount to saying, “I understand nothing about you or the things you care about,” which doesn’t do much to make a sale or establish yourself as a content expert.
Okay, I have one final point to make before I shut up about terminology. For some odd reason, presumably in the interest of adding variety to the narration, many writers of narration scripts will invariably use two or three different terms for the same concept. This is severely detrimental to helping your audience comprehend the content. It’s the kiss of death for a tutorial video.
In this book, for example, I always call a video a
. I don’t say movie, or film, or motion picture. And all of these are terms with which the general populace is pretty familiar. Imagine my throwing around a few highly technical, polysyllabic words, all of which
is a frame that has a complete picture in it. Also called an I-frame (short for “intra-frame”), a key frame anchors your video by providing a fully assembled image every so many
Even when presenting both terms at once, I’d still typically use one of them pretty much exclusively, only mentioning the other once as background information.
While there are any number of methods for approaching the actual
The “Sesame Street” technique.
This organizational scripting technique is sometimes credited to the Children’s Television Workshop and its educational research in developing its
TV series. It actually predates Big Bird and Cookie Monster in its use by
The premise is simple. First, tell them what you intend to show them today. Show them. And then tell them what you’ve shown them. This
technique tips off the audience as to what to expect, reinforces that expectation with the actual material, and then
A brief introduction not only prepares the audience for the content, it selects the audience as well. Viewers can therefore tell in the first 30 seconds whether this video contains information that will be useful to them. Due to the shorter length of most screen videos, I tend to
I use this technique all the time. Its inherent sense of structure really seems to speak to people. Additionally, it helps you organize your own thoughts as well as get you thinking about the overall flow of the piece.
In his book
Beyond Bullet Points
, management consultant Cliff Atkinson concocted a method of conducting a PowerPoint presentation that avoids the “bullet point syndrome” with which most of us are all too familiar. He suggests using your presentation to tell a story, casting your audience in the role of protagonist. Much like a stage play, this story consists of multiple acts where your
While intended for the PowerPoint set, this book offers a
Of course, a brief synopsis doesn’t really do the technique
I’ve been on the business end of this technique several times, and I can tell you that when it works, it works remarkably well.
There have also been a couple of instances when I’ve seen this technique fail miserably,