The most useful tool I have stumbled across over the past year has probably been CaptureFox. This is an add-on for the browser Mozilla Firefox that lets you record a screencast. At the most basic level, this tool allows you to simultaneously record your computer screen and your voice. The best part is you can do this with the click of a button without purchasing any expensive equipment or reading any complex instruction manuals.
Why might you want to create a screencast?
Probably the most obvious use of a screencast, you can use it to illustrate how particular features of a software work. Rather than spending time and money on a professionally-created step-by-step video series, you can create your demo as quickly as it takes to show someone who is sitting next to you how to use a piece of the software. You can then re-create your video whenever software updates make your old video out-of-date.
Maybe you are the Excel whiz in your office and you have been asked how to create a pivot table… for the 10th time this month. Or perhaps your company started using a new program and there are endless questions on how to customize the settings. You can create a tutorial to show how something is done in a particular program—once!—and send it hundreds of times or to hundreds of people.
When you create or own a process, you become very efficient in how it is carried out. For example, a tech-challenged beginner may take several days to put together a newsletter, but by the fifty-second time it goes out, this same person is now a subject matter expert and they may only take two hours to get it done. When a new person takes over the task, that process knowledge is often lost, even if the new employee is trained. Giving instructions for a standardized step-by-step process via video is time efficient for the teacher and customized to the learner since the video can be replayed, paused, rewound, and fast-forwarded.
There are many ways to share a past or live presentation online. But another option is to record a dry run of your future presentation a few days before your speaking engagement. Flip through the slides and deliver your speech just as you would in front of your audience. Then, watch it back to find areas for improvement. You can even send it to a trusted friend, mentor, or coach for more feedback.
When you can’t be in the same place and the same time, you can use webcams to create that face-to-face feel for an interview with an expert. Conduct the virtual interview via Skype and capture your screen to share it with others.
You can capture and share a webinar that did not get recorded by the presenters. The sound quality will not be very good, but it is one way to save that information. Alternatively, you can record just the part of the webinar that is relevant to your needs, skipping the intro and the Q+A portion.
Instead of coming into the office or scheduling a one-on-one meeting, you can walk through a document or a spreadsheet with the screencast.
To get started with screencasts using CaptureFox:
- You must be using the Mozilla Firefox browser (download).
- Download the CaptureFox add-on (download).
- Start CaptureFox one of two ways:
- Tools –> CaptureFox –> Settings
- Ctrl + Shift + U
- Click Start Capturing! The video will capture everything you do, whether it is on your browser or on your desktop, or other applications you have running.
- Repeat Step #3 to end your recording. You now have an .AVI file that is ready to be uploaded to YouTube, saved, emailed, etc.
- For advanced settings, you can read this Help Section.
Tips for creating a screencast:
- Mentally rehearse what you will record before you do it.
- Make sure your background noise is at a minimum and you won’t be interrupted mid-sentence.
- Create a practice recording, watch it, then re-create it.
- Speak slowly, but use a conversational tone to keep it casual.
- Provide an introduction and a wrap-up summary.
Have you used this tool? What are some other business uses for screencasts?