Screencasting - the secret sauce for less time wasted in meetings

— 4 minute read

I’m a freelance web designer, so time is almost always against me. Because of that, what wouldn’t be helpful for me would be spending a large portion of my working week in meetings. Those of you who also work in client services are probably thinking “well that’s just part of the job” and I won’t disagree with that. We can be more efficient with meetings, though and I’ll explain how I cut out a lot of meetings by recording screencasts for clients.

What’s a screencast? permalink

A screencast is where I record a video of my screen and (optionally) myself while talking/narrating over the top. I use the following tools to do that:

It’s really important to record these videos in the highest possible quality and both these tools do a great job of that for me. The bonus of using Loom, especially, is that the videos can be interacted with and commented on by the viewer, which is extra handy for contextual feedback.

Why do this rather than a meeting? permalink

Firstly, a screencast takes up a lot less time. Even with a solid agenda, meetings almost always overrun. It’s also very rare that a meeting will go on for less than 30 minutes, too. If you work 6-8 hours in a day: 30 minutes of that is a long time—especially when you factor in the pre and post meeting parts of the day when you don’t get much done, so this is the first and most important reason why I record screencasts.

The second reason is that especially with design work, a presentation meeting can result in reactive feedback because the stakeholders feel like they have to say something; anything. This can result in feedback that could completely derail the project. With a screencast, you’re providing the stakeholders some time to consider their feedback which almost always results in better, more constructive feedback.

How to structure a screencast permalink

I tend to follow a structure like this:

  1. Explain why I’m recording this screencast: “Hey folks, this is the early look and feel of {projectName}, so I wanted to give you all a sneak peek and get feedback”.
  2. Explain what feedback you want from them: “What I need from you is feedback only on the colours, typography and layout”.
  3. The main body of the video where I present the work with explanations of each part: “This is the homepage. I chose X colours because of Y”.
  4. Lastly, I remind them of the type of feedback I need from them and super importantly, I tell them that they don’t need to rush that feedback: “Remember: the only feedback I need from you is on the colours, typography and layout. We can cover the other parts later in the project”.

Demo permalink

Here’s a quick demo of how I produce this sort of screencast. I obviously can’t show you a real client one, so instead, I’m presenting one of my own products, Front-End Challenges Club.

(Can’t see the video? Go straight to Vimeo to watch it there.)

Wrapping up permalink

Seriously, give screencasting a try. It’s completely transformed my workflow with clients. You don’t have to be a freelancer to do it, either. You could work in an agency or even a product team and it’ll be equally as useful for you.

The key thing is that it reduces time wasted in meetings, so if that’s a problem for you, this approach should really help to remedy that.

Hi 👋, I’m Andy — an educator and web designer

I produce front-end development tutorials over at Front-End Challenges Club and Piccalilli. You can sign up for updates on Piccalilli to stay up to date with its progress.

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