I recently took over a small job for a website community. There are constant comings and goings: people join or leave, and PayPal sometimes unsubscribes people for no apparent reason.
I help subscribers, keep some records and look after the membership of the mailing list.
None of these things are hard but I did need to learn new routines.
Your organisation probably also has routines for computer-based work, for example, to login to your website and update content. Or which folder to save certain documents in or how to set up for this month’s newsletter.
With any luck you have documentation of all these things so that if a current staff member or volunteer leaves a new person can find out how to do things.
Chances are though that the documentation is not quite all it could be. It can be very hard to make sure you have all the right steps in all the right sequences and without leaving anything out.
My colleague made a screencast while she taught me my new role. This meant that everything she did on screen was recorded as a video. Later, rather than bothering my colleague with questions about small details I was able to simply review the video to see what to do.
I recommend making screencasts for your own internal training purposes — it’s extraordinarily easy to do.
As a Mac user I can make screencasts with QuickTime Player X, free with Snow Leopard. These videos are very basic but satisfactory.
Since I frequently publish instructional videos I normally use a sophisticated piece of software called ScreenFlow.
To make a video of what’s on your screen simply tell the software to start recording, and make sure it’s recording your voice too. Then work through your normal process such as adding a user to a mailing list, explaining it as you go.
Tips to make the videos more useful
- At the start of the video introduce the topic:
How to add a user to the mailing list. Include a date and your name, so people know who to refer to for more information and how old the video is.
- Work a little more slowly than usual, so viewers can keep up.
- Make one short video per topic rather than one giant one for everything.
- When you save the video give it a useful name such as
Add user to mailing list.
You could quickly and easily build up a very useful training library for your volunteers and staff members by making screencast videos. Just give it a try and let us know how you get on.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.