In 1994, I started a company New Vision Software, Incorporated our goal was to teach people faster using screen videos (way before the time they were called screencasts) but we did something different. We taught from the heart, we taught as subject matter experts. We made mistakes, got errors and left them in the videos to show users how to overcome problems they might find. We did edit out some of the coughs, phone calls, Darth Vader audio but all in all our content was from the heart not scripted.
The value of from the heart is two fold it makes you sound like a human to your student. I don't know about you but I want to be taught by a teacher, not the marketing department or some actor. And it greatly reduces the time it takes to make content.
A few years ago we met with an office manager of a bank who teaches people how to use the system. I asked her to teach me how to use the teller machine, I turned on the mic and screen recording software, she talked for about 15 minutes and walked me through the whole process. I told her we were recording and showed the training she made she was blown away, we cloned her took her 15 minutes and used it to teach all tellers in their 11 offices when ever they started at the bank. I love using a microphone and recording more than one person at a time its like learning in radio talkshow format, its a fun way to learn, if you want to try it I like the Blue Snowball.
( A few days ago while working with a colleague over the internet I saw something cool with google docs that I grabbed the snowball, put my colleague on speaker phone and turned on the wme screen recorder and made a quick screencast to show others how cool this was. I'll post these on my youtube account. Screencasts can be a lot of fun! )
Anyways we started selling our semi professional, we use to call it blue collar training in the office (we'd roll up our sleeves and get it done) it was training for the rest of us!
When we started selling it we were amazed out of hundreds of thousands of users over the year SofTutor (our screencast player) which made our screen casts interactive and we encouraged our users to follow along with them. I would expect the 99.9% might be lower if you cannot keep the users attention or keep them involved in doing something (learning) while you teach.
Oddly enough, we tried a scripted version once and we had a lot of complaints everyone said it sounded canned, like someone was reading to them. Just be yourself! Although, I would say if you are looking for a presales marketing demo then you might want to use a higher end voice over person. Also, if your training is going worldwide, don't expect more than 60% of your users to like it, with all of the different languages, inflections and dialects around the world people like someone who sounds local when they learn.
Just another comment about quality our worst product was a demo we made a proof of concept demo for Intergraph for their new Imagineer Technical product (now they call it SmartSketch). It was state of art pre-visio like drag and drop associative dimensioning way ahead of its time, kind of like sketchup but better. Anyways we did a proof of concept and spend 2 days on it the audio was horrible, the content was good, we brought it down to IGUG Intergraph Graphical Users Group to show at our booth. And for the first time ever we sold over 2,000 copies at the 3 day show, normally we'd get leads or maybe sell 30 to guys over seas but when the director of engineering at Proctor and Gamble saw our training and realized that the learning curve of this new cad software was about 2 hours (compared to 80+ in the industry) he bought a 2,000 user license of Imagineer Technical and SofTutor as is. Unreal!
A screencast with SofTutor is an awesome combination that reduces the learning curve of technology to next to nothing, our users called "SofTutor ... the end of the learning curve". Last month we reduced the learning curve of second life after 3 days work. We're re-engineering the product to try to get the learning curve to less than 10 minutes. Stay concise, to the point, just show the tasks people need to learn.
Got an idea see something cool you want to share, throw on your headphone, grab your notebook and show us! We don't care if there are kids, birds, cars, phones in the background we just want your knowledge! And we want to know its from you!
- Just roll up your sleeves and do it, something is always better than nothing! If you use a screencast management system like SofTutor, crank um out, then replace um later, switching updates takes a few seconds.
- Still nervous get a friend and podcast together in radio talk show format.