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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Web Video In Three Stories

Video is a most compelling tool for communicating on the web. Here are three stories that molded my understanding of video.

First Story
Twenty years ago I bought a video camera and and small playback television to videotape participants in a sales class. The first time we did it, they learned more watching themselves than they had ever learned through feedback. And there was nothing for the teacher to do, since they were getting better instruction, that they liked and understood, and changing their behavior faster without me. That hurt for a minute.

Second Story
Ten years ago we were demonstrating a new GUI interface proposed for the federal payroll system. We had a couple of hours and were sharing the time with another competitor, call it a throwdown. Somehow we were selected to go last, and the other team went way over their time. Finally my host realized there was less than 30 minutes left, and asked if we wanted to reschedule? He said his people would have to leave to get their car pools. Getting this meeting had taken 60 days of schedule twisting and another 60 days would be after vendor selection.

I asked my technical partner, “Can you do a two minute demonstration?”

He said, “I can do a drive by.”

And he did.

And they asked him to do another quick demonstration about something else.

And he did another drive by.

And they asked him to do another quick demonstration about something else.

And he did another drive by.

Everyone in the audience missed their car pool that day. We won the business and ever since I have encouraged my teams to stay with two minute demonstrations, and two minute or less answers.

Third Story
This week, one of my customers invited me to watch their brand new forty minute prerecorded video webinar. I got through the first seven minutes...because they are a customer. By the time my phone rang and I logged off, they were still introducing the cast. Nothing had happened yet.

I remembered that when I was designing my first website a decade ago, I learned about the “tube” theory of organizing your points in one long presentation, and the “chaotic” theory of web design, where you make one point quickly and then give the reader the choice of several links for what they want to see next. That was for paragraphs, but it also works well with videos.

Short videos load faster, are much cheaper to produce, and as a viewer, I appreciate not having to sit through something I don’t want to see before I get to the good stuff.

Watching others, the good stuff is different for everyone. But watching video seems to be more fun that reading for just about everybody.