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ATD Blog

Screencasting to Preserve Institutional Knowledge

Monday, October 17, 2022

Over the last two years, the way business, particularly in learning and development, is done has changed rapidly. Many of us went from working full-time in the office to working fully remotely and now are headed back into the office, at least for some of our workweek. These changes have facilitated new ways of working and provided opportunities to try ideas that had been present but not widely adopted.

One of these areas involves using screen recordings, often called screencasts, to facilitate not only training on software but helping with daily communications, supplementing virtual instructional opportunities, and more. As we’ve lost in-person connections, we can no longer watch over a coworker’s shoulder as they demonstrate a process or task. Gone is the opportunity to say to someone, “Hey, check this out on my screen.”

Even though these in-person communications have diminished, screencasting has become a key replacement to make sure these important touch points can be replicated in an asynchronous way and without being in the same office, geographical location, or time zone.

Screencasting and videos have many utilities. While some people favor virtual, synchronous communications via web conferencing platforms, like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it does not always make sense to deliver information live. Instead, screencasts that include PowerPoint slides, a camera, and various other materials (ranging from recording systems, screenshots, stock videos, or images, among others) can be used to supplement meetings.

For instance, by sharing contextual information before a meeting, the time spent together in the meeting can be focused on interactions, like answering questions, generating ideas, making decisions, and collaborating. In addition to freeing up time in the meeting, the information can easily be referred to later. Because the participants are all receiving the same message, they can watch it on their schedule.


And there’s another benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked: Many viewers can adjust the playback speed to watch a video at one to two times its normal speed, meaning they can get the same information faster while still understanding it.

Screencasting’s utility extends even further because screencasts can be used to supplement materials in a meeting. They have the additional benefit of being shareable, providing consistent messaging. Often, having your audience turn their attention from the presenter to a video can provide a break that helps to refocus attention and re-engage the audience. This also allows the presenter to catch up in the chat or take a moment to have a drink before they continue their presentation.


Meetings benefit, but so do other interactions, whether you are in an office together or working remotely. For example, creating feedback videos, especially for digital works, can speed up the review process (whether for a training module, interactive course, presentation, or any other materials). It’s as simple as recording your screen and talking through the feedback. You can also add markup annotations. Importantly, the information is often conveyed in the tone of voice or intonation that may not be picked up from a written feedback process.

These are just a few examples of how screencasts can be used and have been used successfully by many organizations.

However, changing processes is difficult, so here are a few suggestions to successfully use screencasts in hybrid and remote work:

  • Good enough is enough in most cases. Audio should be the main concern, especially if the screencast will have a short usage life.
  • Like with any communication, a little preparation goes a long way. Know what you want to say, and don’t say more or spend more time than needed.
  • Set expectations around the viewing. When should it be watched by? Why is it important? Should you encourage the viewer to watch it with a faster playback speed?
  • Video is a visual medium; make sure you have something to show. It could be slides or an application, and sometimes it can include you. After all, most of us work with other people, and videos can help us make a connection.
  • It gets easier with time. Start by making your first video; it probably won’t be a masterpiece, but it doesn’t need to be awesome to work well. Then, work to make each screencast a little better every time.
About the Author

Matthew Pierce works for TechSmith Corp., a software company that provides practical business and academic solutions that change how people communicate with images and video. For seven years, he directly managed the training and user assistance teams for TechSmith, and has experience leading the social media, video, public relations, and technical support teams. Matt has also run TechSmith's visual communication web show, The Forge, interviewing guests from around the world about the use of visuals, video, and technology in education, training, marketing, and more. He currently manages training, document, and support efforts at TechSmith. Matt is a regular contributor to several online publications, and has also written articles for training publications in the United States and the United Kingdom. He has spoken multiple times at national and international conferences, including ATD TechKnowledge, Training, 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, Matt has more than 10 years’ experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction.

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