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Screencast Tutorial Part 1 – Why You Need Screencasts | ProCasts' Blog about Professional Screencast Production

Screencast Tutorial Part 1 – Why You Need Screencasts

If indeed a picture is worth a thousand words then perhaps a screencast is worth a million?  Your viewers get to see your application in action just as if you were giving a live demo (but without any annoying crashes or slow-downs!), they hear a friendly human voice and they get to see your tool solving their problem.  What could be more convincing?

For evidence for how screencasts can double sign-ups, increase sales, reduce your bounce-rate (by 7%) and halve your support costs, see our 4 mini case studies.

STOP – become a better screencaster!

In this series we’ll look at all the steps you need to take to make beautiful screencasts that explain your software to your users.  It is aimed at anyone selling software or web-applications who wants to increase their user-numbers and sales.

  1. Why do you need to screencast?
  2. Choosing your screencast software
  3. Editing your screencast
  4. Why adding music makes your screencast more professional
  5. How and why export screencasts to .flv, .mp4, .wmv, .avi and .swf formats
  6. Embedding screencasts in your site
  7. Get more publicity with sites like YouTube and Vimeo
  8. Pro tip – how to make your audio sound like it was recorded by a professional
  9. Pro tip – using an introductory animation and PowerPoint slides

Our memories are keyed to different ways of perceiving sensations (called modalities or semiotics) – simply put, the more senses are involved, the more ways we have to remember something.  A site that uses video will be more memorable than one that just uses text and images as we’re adding full-motion video and audio to the usual text and images.

Smaller software companies typically have to work hard to get their message out – a screencast gives you a professional demo (so you punch above your weight) which quickly explains your proposition.

A 2 minute screencast can express pages of feature lists and screenshots.  By showing how your tool works the viewer can easily understand if it solves their problem – if it does then it makes sense to try you out rather than going back to Google to find a competitor.

Contrast this with the process of comparing feature lists between several different applications – you still don’t know which one will actually solve your issue to you keep researching until you think it is worth trying one.  Help your users avoid this process and keep them interested in your tool by using screencasts.

Ideal ways to use a screencast include:

  • Adding one or more to your homepage to give ‘the big picture’ within 2 minutes e.g. LiveDrive
  • Adding several to your main feature-tour pages to show each feature in action e.g. BackPack
  • Adding screencasts through-out your site to introduce new features as the user comes across them e.g. FreshBooks

Do remember to use a voice-over, humans are keyed to respond to a friendly, helpful, confident voice – it puts us at ease and makes the screencast more watchable.  This does mean you’ll need a good voice and a decent microphone (more on this later in the series).

How to get started?

First, you must plan your screencast.  Know who you’re presenting to and what they need to learn, then figure out how explain your software in under 2 minutes.  Sketch out the scenes and make notes, then practice the demo a few times.  Remember that in post-production you can add call-outs and annotations, so background information can be added which you don’t need to narrate.

Next you’ll want to choose your screencasting software, then edit the screencast.  You’ll also want to add music to give it a professional feel and then you’ll have to figure out which formats to export.  Having decided on your format (probably .flv or .mp4) you’ll want to embed the screencast in your site and possibly consider spreading it further afield into sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

For further polish you’ll want to consider how you record your audio – what’s the best mic to use?  Why use an external mic over an internal one?  Finally, consider extra polish with an introductory animation (this really sets you apart from the crowd) and short slide sections.

Re-posts – Rudy at ScreenToaster has reposted the above for all their users, thanks Rudy!

Do you want more of your visitors to use your software? We make professional screencasts.  Get in Contact and we’ll help you convert more visitors into users, sell more of your software and reduce your support costs.

Looking for a professional screen cast? Get in touch today via www.procasts.co.uk.
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20 Responses to “Screencast Tutorial Part 1 – Why You Need Screencasts”

  1. [...] already covered why you should be screencasting, now let’s look at your software choices.  For each platform you have a choice of a few [...]

  2. [...] discussed why you should screencast and how to choose your screencast software, now we’ll look at editing your [...]

  3. [...] Why do you need to screencast? [...]

  4. [...] Blog series on Learning to Screencast, will become an eBook once the 9-part series is finished: http://blog.procasts.co.uk/2009/03/why-screencast-if-a-picture-is-worth-a-1000-words/ [...]

  5. [...] Having created and exported your screencast now you’ll want to host it somewhere so you can show it to your visitors.  The two main options are to host it externally or internally.  You are in episode 6 of 9 in this screencast tutorial series (jump back to the start). [...]

  6. [...] in this screencast tutorial series we looked at embedding your screencast in your site, here we’ll discuss how you can [...]

  7. [...] you’re on a budget and have time to spare then with some practice and our screencast tutorial you’ll be able to experiment with making your own screencasts that offer the same benefits. [...]

  8. [...] far we’ve covered scripting, visuals and recording in this screencast tutorial.  What about the audio?  The quality of your audio really matters.  If you get your audio wrong, [...]

  9. [...] and slides.  Each has their place in a professional-looking screencast.  This is part 9 of our screencast tutorial [...]

  10. [...] back from the mic should reduce their incidence.  The Pro Audio for Screencasts entry in our tutorial series has more tips including lessons on editing, producing and [...]

  11. [...] already looked at choosing your screencasting software and editing the screencast in this screencast tutorial series, now let’s look at adding music.  Later we’ll look at exporting the finished [...]

  12. [...] looked at choosing your screencasting software, editing the screencast and adding music in this screencast tutorial series, now let’s look at exporting the finished video.  Later we’ll consider [...]

  13. [...] Screencast Tutorial Part 1 – Why You Need Screencasts (tags: tutorial howto screencast reference) [...]

  14. [...] screencast tutorial series gives tips on all the above [...]

  15. [...] the way I wrote a 9-part screencast tutorial but I’ve got so much experience to share…so I figured it was time to write a [...]

  16. [...] you are just getting started, the ProCasts blog has tutorials on making [...]

  17. I use screen casts for every kind of client interaction these days. It’s not as time consuming as people might think and if you keep your past casts you can use them time and time again … as clients always share problems.


    Col :-)

  18. [...] videos and screencasts of your product (yes, I know, you should hire a professional speaker for this, but if you are [...]

  19. How long Can it Record

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