Archives: April 1, 2016

Video topic setup (3) – testing and script


Here is another step before I actually go into recording a training video – the testing.

It happens quite frequently that I have this nice idea for a video, get started with my samples, play around with settings and features and then realize during testing that I am either missing a step or the sample sentences are not in the right sequence or I find a bug in the software and cannot use the sample I had planned to use or, or, or…

Testing is essential. This quality assurance – the steps you take so that quality can happen – is absolutely necessary. I guess, everybody who tried to “repair” a video by adding boxes over things that should not be visible or tries to insert a screenshot in a video knows what I mean.

Going through the steps that I want to show also helps me to create the text that I want to have in the video (either written or spoken or both). I collect the text in a table format so that I can associate a certain slide number or dialog in the software with the text that belongs to it. If I am working with slides, the text document also shows when I need to move on to the next animation or next slide altogether.


video topic setup 3 - script

And, as tedious as it is, another QA step is to use the script to actually go through the feature you are showing again and again. If the topic is a very complex one and I need a lot of specific settings to show something, I make a list of the settings as well. Like, a special database to load, a special checkbox to activate, and the size of the windows I am showing etc.

But still, every time I actually do a recording, I find a typo in the script or a missing mark for starting an animation or I have to redo everything because this time I did not revert to the default settings I wanted to start out with. But there would probably be a lot more of those things if I had not done all the testing upfront.

Adding voice to a video can be done in several ways. You can record your voice while you click through the software or show the slides. Or you can do a video of the feature and add your voice later. For me, it does not really matter, the time I need to spend on it is about the same either way. I have now tried to work with a slightly different setup. Slides and voice to explain things and then small pieces of clicking through the software without voice-over.

I would be interested to hear what strategies other trainers are using.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

Video topic setup (2) – sample files


After selecting your topic and creating a list of sub-topics and a structure for the video, there is one more step that can take quite some time – the creation of samples.

Very often, I know exactly what I want to show, but creating the right sample file for the purpose is not as easy as it looks like.

First, it should be a sample in the right language – if I create a German video, I try to use German source text in my samples. For other languages I tend to create separate sample documents instead of just translating existing ones. The obvious reason is that not everything that work in one language works also in another. Prominent example would be the use of numbers and dots in German (Das 3. Treffen der 2. Gruppe…) which can be nicely used to show segmentation issues in a translation tool. But the same example does not work for English (The second meeting of the third group…).

Next it should be simple, very very simple. The simpler the text the more people concentrate on the actual feature.

During my early training days some 15 years back I already used such very simple files. You know “this is a test”, “this is another test” etc. Some people (translators) complained that these simple segments did not represent the kind of text they had to deal with and they asked for some more sophisticated texts. When I tried that in my next class it turned out that now the participants were arguing over how to translate a sentence correctly instead of listening to me while I explained the feature. That is why I now use very short, simple sentence (and tell my audience why I do so, to avoid any discussion).

My motto is: One sentence – one feature. I found that it is easier to focus on the features of a software if one sample only applies to one specific feature you want to show. So one segment for showing the term check, another for showing a certain match value, another for showing the number substitution etc. People tend to get confused if the same sentence is used to show different features.

The hardest thing is the logical sequence of things to show. The sentences in the sample document do not need to make sense as a text, but the things you want to show will have a certain logic to them and therefore the sample sentences should follow that logic.

As our learning bits are quite small, so should be the sample files – short and easy to navigate. Put too much into one sample file and you keep jumping around in the file, losing your participants. The more you show them the more they will try to find out what the other sentences are there for which will distract them from the actual goal.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

Video topic setup (1) – topic selection and structure


Having said in an earlier post that the smaller the learning unit gets the better the trainer needs to prepare such a topic, I would like to share with you how I approach the creation of a new video.

1. Select the topic

This sounds much easier than it actually is. The topic should not be too big or small. You need to be able to cover every angle of it within a maximum of 15 minutes. Also, if this topic ties in with other topics, there needs to be a logical sequence or each topics needs to be self-explaining to be able to stand alone.

Example: Topic = XML in translation

Too big -> split up into: XML basics, XML filter creation, XML in tool A, XML in tool B, multilingual XML, specialized XML like XLIFF or TMX, details in XML (attributes, elements, conditions, entities)…

2. Decide on the sequence.

Decide on the general structure (for learning purposes, it is useful to have the same structural setup for every video). Here is what I came up with:

  • Introduction (what is it good for, when do we use it, what will you learn to do…)
  • Setting the stage (give the basic background information a user needs to understand the following explanations: examples of when such a feature would be used, describe the situation when this feature might come in handy…)
  • Technical groundwork(information on what the feature does, what kind of input it needs and what kind of output is to be expected)
  • The show (video or slides with screenshots of the process)
  • Conclusion (summarize the process, what goes in, what happens, what goes out, when is it useful)
  • But wait, there’s more (additional information on pitfalls, things to consider, mistakes that can be made, things this feature cannot do)

Example: This is roughly what I would do, if the topic was “Analysis Statistics”.

  • To create word counts and match statistics
  • Used for pricing in translation projects
  • Estimation of workload
Setting the stage
  • What does the statistic do (count words, compare source language sentences/segments)?
  • Where and when can you run the statistics?
  • How do the results look like?
Technical groundwork
  • What is a word and how do different tools count words
  • What is matching and what different match values are there
The show
  • Select files in a project and start the statistics feature
  • Go through the settings and explain what they mean
  • Create the statistics
  • Explain how to read the outcome
  • Export the statistics
  • What do you use the analysis for?
  • When do you run the statistics?
  • What can the statistics tell you and what not?
But wait, there’s more
  • What settings can influence the number of words or segments?
  • What other settings can influence the match values (penalties on TM segments or alignments…)
  • What if the statistics tell you there are more words in the file than there could be (pitfalls, mistakes that can happen…)?

What do you think? Looking forward to your feedback.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)

Micro Learning / Learning with bits and pieces


Can you also feel it?

The attention span getting shorter and shorter?


We are so used to dealing with smaller and smaller bits and pieces of information that it seems to get harder and harder to concentrate on reading a text or watching a video for longer than, say, 5 minutes. I realize that myself when I sign up for one of the webinars that are so frequently offered on different tools and new functionalities. After a few minutes, and especially when the presenter does not come to the point, but goes on and on with some marketing-heavy slides, I tend to get frustrated, bored, angry and sometimes I even leave the webinar then.

Always with the thought in mind that I can go back and watch the recoding any time I like.

I almost never do that. Or if I do, I tend to skip through the recording with the fast forward button.


What does that mean for the training industry? It means that we must cater to the needs of the users. That’s why I have tried to create 5-10 minute videos instead of a 1-hour recording.

But let me tell you, the smaller the information pieces get, the more focused you have to be as a trainer. It takes a lot of preparation. Would you believe that a 15-minute video on a specific topic can take up to 6 hours of preparation?

  • Deciding on the topic / coming up with a concept of what you want to show
  • Creating the sample files and settings (takes longer than you think)
  • Running through the process to see if it works or if you forgot a setting / sample file / topic to mention
  • Create a script of what you want to say
  • Create some slides that can be shown as introduction or an image to be used as cover for the video/course/lesson
  • Run through the whole thing again: showing slides and clicking through the tool while reading the script (I found that it can be easier to do these things one after the other, i.e. adding the voice after producing the video)
  • Do the recording
  • Go through the recording to eliminate any background noises or sections where you made a mistake.
  • Produce the final video
  • Upload, add a description

This was a full day of work for a 15-minute video.


I would love to hear how you are creating learning videos and what your experiences are on how long it takes and how long the videos should be to be useful and are really watched all the way through.



(Trainer for translation tools since 1997)