Multimedia creator Matthew Pierce of TechSmith Corporation shares why business owners need to start using video for training and more.
Are you spending too much time trying to get your team to understand what needs to be done, how to do it, and why they should care?
If you’re looking for a better way to lead your people, I’m excited to share my interview with Matthew Pierce, a highly experienced instructional designer, training manager, speaker, and multimedia creator. Matthew manages training and development at TechSmith Corporation (creators of Snagit and Camtasia), and oversees their instructional design, documentation, training, and technical support.
Matthew discusses how you can start using video today to communicate with your team faster and more clearly. He breaks down crucial ways that visual media boosts productivity, from aligning your team with your values to onboarding new talent. Finally, pay close attention to how Matthew shares the dos and don’ts of creating “screencasting” or videos for visual training purposes. Listen and enjoy!
Listen to the podcast here:
Download the audio file here.
How to Use Video to Boost Your Team’s Productivity—with Matthew Pierce
Matthew, thank you for joining me on the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I got an email about yourself. When I looked at your bio, where you work, the type of business you are in, I figured that this is something that I want our readers to hear more about because when it comes to technology, to changing habits of how we do things, we always leave that for last, especially if you’re a very busy business owner and growing a team. There are many other things to do. Before we start, why not tell our audience a little bit about yourself and about the company you work for and what they do?
My name is Matt Pierce, Learning and Video Ambassador for TechSmith Corporation. My job is to help educate customers about our products. TechSmith makes two products that some people might know. There are Camtasia and Snagit. We have a few other products as well but those are our most well-known. Primarily, what we do is we create software that allows people to capture images and videos on their screen, take those, edit those and share those in a variety of different ways for a whole wide range of purposes, everything from teaching internally your staff or educating your customers to create content, to share your marketing. We are focused on software.
The great thing that I love about my job is all about helping people do those things successfully. It’s a great place to be. Especially with everything that’s been happening in the world, there’s such a greater need for people to be able to communicate in an asynchronous way that’s going to allow them to have time to do their day job and still get those messages out in a timely way and reach lots of people wherever they are.
Where I want to dive in immediately is you mentioned where people are using the products and we’re not going to speak about the software in particular. We’re speaking about the concept of what the software does, which is at this point, being able to snap a shot of what you’re looking at, sharing it or recording a video and sharing it. In our company, at PTEX Group, we’ve been using systems like that for a long time. Especially when you work with remote people or even you work with people down the hallway and if you go over to show them something on the website, you can show them a function or a bug or whatever it is or you could quickly snap that video and send it off to them. There’s no room for error. They don’t have to interpolate your email or try to make sense of what you wrote to them or left them a voice note about, what are you seeing in the marketplace? How are people using it and adopting software like yours?You don't have to be a mega-corporation to incorporate video. In fact, if you're a small business, it's even more effective to have it. Click To Tweet
You said exactly the right things that people are doing with it. Let’s talk even pre-pandemic, that people need to communicate. We know that sometimes describing things takes too many words. It takes too long of an email. It’s hard to understand because it’s complex. There are lots of pieces that you might have to describe to give context or you might have to use to help someone to see what’s happening. I love your example of if there’s a bug in the software, you’re seeing some error. That’s a great use case. In general, there’s a lot of information on a screen that you might want to convey.
We’re seeing Fortune 500 companies, most of them small companies, small businesses are taking our software and using these ideas of capturing your screen to allow them to make that communication clearer and faster. One of the things we’ve looked at and research we’ve done is we went out to see like, “Do people learn and perform better if images are used or visuals are used? The resounding answer is yes, they do. On average, if people were to use more visuals in their email, they can save something like seven minutes a day. Seven minutes a day doesn’t sound like a lot but you start adding that up over 10 or 100 employees or you add that up over a course of a year. It starts to become a significant time-saving to these organizations.
One thing that I want to share is the story of a colleague of mine. I know he’s got a small business, probably about 25 people. He was trying to do everything right. He was doing all these different chores and tasks and he couldn’t do everything as a CEO. He started making videos saying, “This is how I do this process.” He made a spreadsheet, put links to the videos in that spreadsheet and then shared that with employees and said, “If you want to know how to do this, I’m going to ask you how to ask you to do this. Go ahead and watch this video and it’s going to show you.” He was able to free up his ability to be the CEO by making quick videos, to show people the jobs that he didn’t need to be doing.
I love what you shared because I wanted to share my story, which is similar. For this show, people don’t realize I’ll share a statistic that people wouldn’t even imagine for every episode that goes live on the podcast, we have about between 30 and 35 steps. At one point I told my content team that I know there’s a ton of steps and I don’t want people to remember it because they’ve started doing it. We document the SOP, which is the operating procedure for that. Each step has a video that goes alongside it. Regardless, if we want to hand it over to another person at, let’s say last minute, we don’t have to say, “We have to do all training.” They can watch the videos and do it within minutes of finding out about this task.
This brings me to the point that I want to mention and I want to hear your opinion about it because you are doing a lot of the teaching on this. We live in a world that companies are onboarding employees very frequently. They’re onboarding people, not only frequently but a lot of times at the last minute, when we’re waiting for candidates, we’re waiting for the interviewing process but we need the candidate to be up and running as soon as possible. One of the places where people suffer, I would use that word is finally the employee is onboarded and we have to start training. There’s no training process in place.
Using videos of processes that the company is doing or that role needs is so much easier because you don’t have to sit now and show every single step. They could watch it at their pace and consume it the way that they are able to do it instead of waiting around for the trainer or the person that’s doing work. They need to wait until they’re available to train them properly. I want to get your feeling about it. How much would you say is it being used in that stage and how could people go ahead and use it even more?
It’s something that I’m seeing a lot of companies do. They’re using lots of different types of onboarding. Video is a portion of that, generally speaking but we’re seeing more and more of it. You can start to almost automate this onboarding to say like, “Here’s a list of these things that you need to learn. You’ve got 60 days to do them. You need to start picking them off.” If I’m that person’s mentor or manager, I don’t have to spend the time saying like, “Here’s how you’re going to go through to do this process in Outlook or in the CRM,” or whatever tool it is that you want them to learn how to use. You can encapsulate that and put it in a list for them.
They can do it on-demand. That way, what they can be focusing their face-to-face time on are the other things that you need them to do. It could be those manual processes of software or tools that you want them to use. What we’ve also found and we’re doing this internally, is taking some of our cultural onboarding and putting that into video as well. The company I work for is now what I like to call a 30-plus-year-old startup. We’re a small company and we’ve got a rich history with our founder. There’s a lot of things that he can talk about in our history that influenced the way we do things today. We were able to sit down with him and interview him and say like, “Tell us about this experience.”
We can use that with new employees to get a sense of that culture and that deep, rich history from the senior leadership that then allows them to start picking up on those values even faster because you want to convey those things. There’s so much you can be doing. We do see a lot of companies doing this. It doesn’t have to be hard. A lot of people worry about the video is they worry that it’s going to be a big process. There’s going to be, “We got to hire a crew. We got to get cameras.” While you can definitely do all those things, if you’ve got a phone in your pocket, you can make a video.
It can be an okay video and that might be your starter one. You do that for year one. You make a bunch of selfie-type videos or screen recording videos and you say, “This is to get us through year one because we have the need.” You can always improve those if they’re not working and find ways to make them better. What I always say is to get started doing it. What you’ll find is that return is going to come back to itself pretty quickly. You’re going to find that people are understanding these things better. Frankly, we know that the onboarding process is good. It’s important. But how often do you have an employee that gets onboarded and you show them a tool and then twelve weeks later, they’re ready to start doing the work? They’re like, “How do you do this again? How do I get started?” They have to ask questions. Now. not only have you saved the onboarding process and some time there, you can say, “Go back and review that video if you got a question about that particular process.” All in all, this is a fantastic use of video and images.
If you don’t want to make a video, you can always do screen captures or photos or whatever and put it into text format. I prefer video especially from an onboarding perspective, you could still get that human connection. They can see the person that’s talking to them. They can hear that voice. They’re going to recognize that later on. You’re like, “That was Matt that was talking about or that was Meny and he was saying this. There he is.” Now I recognize that he knows something about Salesforce or whatever tool that you might be using.
You mentioned something important. One of the things that most busy CEOs or C-level executives or for that case any valuable employee struggles with is lack of time, that’s something that you can’t buy on Fiverr. We push in so much in a day. The only way that you can achieve stuff is figuring out what is the stuff that takes you a lot of time, get rid of them, either delegate them or get rid of them in total. A lot of time gets wasted. If you look at all types of communication now that we’re bombarded with notifications of all kinds of systems. If you could make sure that the communication is the least back and forth as possible then how much time could you save?
How many email chains could we go in and say, “I wish that person would have picked up the phone and asked me because this is already 15 emails in and 5 people are CC’d on it.” Everybody’s spending five extra minutes. Here’s precious time for many different people because one person didn’t understand what the request was. For our readers, it’s not about only the medium or the product that we’re discussing. It’s about the mindset of understanding how could you easily communicate? How could you make sure that your communication has a level of clarity that you don’t have to be busy with stuff that you shouldn’t have been busy more than once?
When you use technology, which is available at your fingertips, you could just show them. Somebody sent me a spreadsheet and there was a bunch of numbers. A few years ago, this would be a back and forth, explanation of different numbers. I took my limit of four minutes and I opened up the spreadsheet. I hit record and I asked five questions. I was pointing at those lines. I said, “This is question one. I want an explanation on this line item and that line item.” It’s easy. I don’t have to go back and forth ten emails explaining this, explaining that, and taking things out of context.
For our readers, ask themselves, where could I use better communication? When they do delegation, what could it give that person that they’re delegating to with a level of clarity and how could they use technology to do that? Sometimes it’s written up SOP that has images and sometimes it’s quick, you hit record and do that recording.
I want to touch on another important point. This is for our readers to get a feeling we’re in midst of a pandemic where many things change and hopefully, we’ll get out of this soon and healthy. The question is many offices went remote. Many people are social distancing and not having those face-to-face meetings with groups of people. What have you seen from different trends from the backend? Are people using it for different cases or is the normal usage up based on more volume?
What we’re seeing is that across the board, usage is up. The challenge of communicating, there are things like Zoom and there are remote meetings but meetings take time and they take mind share. You can’t go into a meeting ideally that you show up and be like, “What are we talking about?” You’ve got to prepare for those things. One of the things that we’re seeing is more people are prepping their meetings with these videos, individuals. I love your example of going into the spreadsheet and asking questions. That’s a great example of what people are doing more of. We’re also seeing an increase in usage for training purposes. We’re seeing increased purposes for marketing trying to connect on a more authentic level than what email can do.
One of the things that happens is with email and I don’t know if you’re like me but you’ve probably been there. You’ve read an email and said, “Why are they taking this bad tone with me? Where did this come from?” That’s not the intent. Video allows you with the tone of the voice and with the visuals, you can also start to make that clarity, not on an understanding of the information level but on the emotional level too. Those are things that we’re seeing happen more and more. We see the increase of creating documentation, showing things that you otherwise would normally look over the shoulder.
I would say that across the board, in all the industries that we talk to, that level of usage is up because it is harder now to communicate. I can’t have the conversation. I can’t say, “Come on over and look at this.” It’s all got to be done virtually. You don’t always want to have a Zoom meeting. People aren’t always available. They may be helping their kids or they’re taking a break or they’re busy with their other work. The benefit is that you can do this and it doesn’t have to be real-time. We don’t have to be doing it with a Zoom meeting.
You can say like, “Here’s the video. It’s three minutes long. Go ahead and watch that when you’re ready and get back to me.” And you can provide so much detailed, rich information. None of this has to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time to prepare. Do like you did, turn on the screen recorder and say, “Here are my questions.” That’s going to provide way more information way faster than you could get by doing an email.As a business, you have to understand what value you're trying to provide. Click To Tweet
Let me ask you two practical questions. First, if our readers are reading this and they say, “Where do I start?” what would you suggest for them? Where do they start using your technology or even the concept as a whole?
Let’s talk about the concept as a whole. That’s fair to your audience. That way they’re not required to do anything with any specific technology. It’s easy. Where I tell everyone to start is to make your first video. Here’s the thing that’s going to be true about that first video. It’s not going to be very good. You’re going to make some mistakes but it’s going to be authentic and it’s going to be human. Do something simple like ask some questions or share out some information before a meeting so that when everyone gets together, they’ve all got the same context. Make it something simple. If you’ve got a phone, if it’s a smartphone, you can easily make a recording using that.
If you got a screen recorder, a lot of the Windows and Mac both have those built-in or you can purchase a tool. There are free tools out there. Make a quick recording, make that quick video and go from there. Once you’ve done that then it’s about getting better and making these more effective. If you’re going to put it publicly facing, you might want to work on quality but we share videos—I don’t know how many videos I get in a day or in a week but we share a lot of videos—because we have the technology readily available and that’s built into our culture but it’s easy. I don’t even have to watch the videos in real-time. I can watch them at 1.5 speed. I’m getting the same information in less time and it still is clear and still understandable. Start with the first video and remind me of the second question again.
The second question would be more of what will you tell people, meaning you covered in the first one a little bit but I wanted to ask going into this space of, “It’s not perfect. I’m going to now do it ten times,” and then all of a sudden, “Forget about it. I’m going over and tell that person what I wanted to say.” What would you say to the person? How should they be comfortable with what they’re seeing?
This is a big challenge for a lot of people. I hear this all the time. “I don’t like the sound of my voice. I don’t like the way I look on camera.” Those are hard things to overcome for a lot of people because we tend to be vain, unfortunately. Here’s what I can tell you. Your voice is your voice and that’s the way you sound to everyone else. You don’t sound the same when you’re recorded. It’s okay. A little bit of me is saying like, “Sorry, you got to get over it.” Know that it’s okay the way you sound. If you don’t like the way you look, I’m not a psychologist. I can’t do anything about that. However, if you’re feeling self-conscious, make sure you dress a little bit better. If you wear makeup, put on makeup. If you’re going to worry about your hair, do your hair. I don’t have that problem. I don’t have any hair. It works out for me.
The thing is don’t get caught up in that. Because of the different technologies that are out there, you don’t necessarily even have to be on camera. If you’re worried about seeing yourself, don’t. There are ways to work around that. It’s one of those things. For most things that we do, it takes a little time to get some confidence but when you get on camera or you’re making your video be a little bit bigger than you normally are. If you’re monotone, put a little energy into it. Talk with your hands if you talk with your hands.
You’ll find that by projecting a little bit, by putting out a little bit bigger personality—don’t be anybody that you’re not but being a little bit bigger—that will convey energy. It will convey excitement. It plays well with video. What will come through is this natural feeling that you on camera, you’re communicating with this person. It’s real. If you make a mistake, you stumble on a word. You either say, “That wasn’t the right thing.” You correct it. If you’re invested in this message, you want it to be good. You can always go edit that out later but we make mistakes all the time. If we’re in a live Zoom or webinar or broadcast or something, you make a mistake, what do you do? You move on. You’re in a face-to-face conversation. You say something wrong. You correct yourself and you move on. We can set the same expectations for ourselves, for videos that we’re making, especially early on, especially for internal communications.
I want to go back to something that I maybe didn’t even realize what you said. You’re working for a twenty-year-old startup. Talk about that because what triggered that statement?
As a small company, we’re dealing with all of the things that small companies deal with. Small is relative here. We’re about a 300-person company. We’ve gotten big in many years comparatively but compared to a lot of software companies out there, you look at the Googles, the Apples, the Microsofts, they’re growing like gangbusters. Amazon, how many hundreds of thousands of employees do they have? We’re working on a much smaller scale, which means we are wearing multiple hats a lot of times. We’re trying to be efficient in everything that we do. Our funding is all bootstrapped. We’re not like pouring in cash or anything like that. We try to think about how do we be effective in everything that we do? How do we mind what we’re doing?
Our communications have to be effective. For those that are reading this that can relate to those small business challenges, we’re right there with you. We think about this a lot and try to make sure that we’re helping all companies of all sizes to understand how to do this. You don’t have to be a mega-corporation to incorporate video. In fact, if you’re a small business, it’s even more effective to have a video in a lot of ways. If you’re doing sales, support and marketing altogether, as one person, people are going to recognize you. They’re going to start making those connections, that personality and that personal connection are important for a lot of brands.
One final question, you mentioned small business challenges with a couple of hundred employees. Every business has challenges, in particular in the software space where things are changing so rapidly. Especially if you mentioned bootstrap versus venture capital, there’s much software being developed and people throwing in money. How do you overcome that? How do you stay on the course of what the plans are, what the vision is for the product, for the company?
I’m not the best person to answer it but I’m going to take my crack at it because I have a thought here. The one thing I’ve seen over several years at TechSmith, they’ve done well and any business could learn from is you have to understand what value you’re trying to provide. There’s some amount of sticking the course. Not trying to go after whatever is the hot, new thing for us that has worked well. We’ve been dedicated to this image, video space the entire time, plus I’ve been there. As you do that, you find the thing you’re going to go after. You can start to grow your brand. You can start to understand the problems that your markets are having and start developing and continuing to evolve your tools so that they’re going to be effective for those customers.
If we start taking dramatically wild swings at things and sometimes those opportunities will come up and I get it, you got to go for it. If you stay focused and you’re focused on what’s going to bring that value to your customers, you’re going to be way more successful than if you’re trying to go whatever. It’s going to bring in the most money. I see that over and over again with some of these small companies, they pivot, which you have to do in the software company or in the software world. If you can say like, “We’re about this. We’re going to build expertise in this,” you can say, “We know this and we’re going to make the best products available to our audience.” At the end of the day, the marketplace is going to help sort that out and raise you to the top.
When you’re looking at competition, other companies, you have to notice what they’re doing but that shouldn’t scare you in and say, “Every time that my competition is pivoting, I need to do the same.” That’s a great lesson over here. Matt, we discussed in the beginning that you might have a discount code for our readers to be able to start and try the product. You could check it out at www.PTEXGroup.com/podcast. Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Number one, a book that changed your life.
Number two, a piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget?
If you’re going to do this, stick with it.
Number three, anything you wish you could go back and do differently?
I would focus more on learning video skills early on so I could be better at it because I’m self-taught.If you stay focused on what's going to bring that value to your customers, you're going to be way more successful. Click To Tweet
Last and final question, what’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
I have a lot of places on my bucket list that I still want to be able to visit. Unfortunately, I’m not going anywhere but I’m looking forward to the day that I can travel again.
Matt, thank you for joining us. I know your time is valuable. That is why in the name of our readers, we will forever be grateful for sharing some of your time with us.
Thank you, Meny.
It’s my pleasure.
- TechSmith Corporation
- Matthew Pierce
- Creativity, Inc.
- @PierceMR – Twitter
About Matthew Pierce
Matthew Pierce is an experienced instructional designer, training manager, speaker, and multimedia creator. He currently manages training and development at TechSmith Corporation (creators of Snagit and Camtasia), including overseeing instructional design, documentation, training, and technical support. He also has experience leading and managing the social media, video, Public Relations groups at TechSmith.
For several years Matt ran TechSmith’s visual communication web show, The Forge, interviewing guests from around the world discussing the use of visuals, video, and technology in education, training, marketing and more.
Matt is a regular contributor to several online publications and has published articles in various training publications in the U.S. and U.K. He has spoken multiple times at national and international conferences including ASTD TechKnowledge, the Society for Technical Communication Summit, Technical Communication UK, and Online Educa Berlin. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology.