I hate the sound of my own voice. And like Sam Smith croons, I know I’m not the only one.
Oscar winners Joaquin Phoenix, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon all avoid watching their own performances because they don’t like the way they look or sound on the big screen.
Imagine being Javier Bardem and never watching No Country for Old Men. That’s an actual thing.
The science behind the cringe
Voice confrontation is a phenomenon that occurs when you hear your own voice live.
When you speak, your ears process a complex wave produced by your vocal cords and the low-frequency, forced vibrations of surrounding bones in your neck and head. Microphones are obviously outside your body (I hope?) so they only record the former.
Basically, when we hear ourselves talking in real time, we’re not necessarily getting the whole picture of what others hear. Recordings make us confront that reality face-to-face, or should I say ear-to-ear.
I first encountered my own voice sometime after my parents bought our first camcorder. People used to haul around shoulder-mounted camcorders like they were running a one-person local news crew. A kid touched the family camcorder at their peril. 90s kids know the deal.
Since then my voice has changed, but the discomfort level of hearing my own voice hasn’t made much headway.
Here’s why that matters: I’ve been avoiding screen recording software and video conferencing software because of voice confrontation. I didn’t consciously realize the avoidance until I started working at Zight (formerly CloudApp). I figured, I can’t be the only one shying away from video recorders, right? That’s a shame.
Most people talk 5x faster than they type, potentially more depending on time of day and caffeine level.
Email was to the rise of multinational corporations what the printing press was to medieval Europe, but it’s heyday is long past. It’s why technologies like Slack and Discord have taken off—video is a step in the natural evolution of the way we work and collaborate in an increasingly dispersed workforce.
With that being said, how do we overcome voice confrontation and mainline video recording into the body of our workweek? Here’s what’s been working for me.
Face your video messaging fears
Not dogfooding Zight (formerly CloudApp) because I was embarrassed by my own voice wasn’t a good look. If knowing is half the battle, then I was halfway to the solution.
I told myself what I’d tell Javier: face your fears. If I didn’t start using video messaging software while working at a video messaging software company, then when?
Using video recording software is embarrassing at first, maybe, but you are only hurting yourself if you don’t do it.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: everyone already knows what your voice sounds like. Even though you’re not Spanish hunk and critically-acclaimed Oscar winner, Javier Bardem, that’s no excuse to succumb to vocal dysmorphia.
Quick wins with video messaging
Once I stopped worrying about how I sounded, I started seeing opportunities where I could save15 minutes or more by sending a voice recording instead of an email. By not utilizing Zight (formerly CloudApp) as much as I knew I could have, I started seeing why the workweek seemed to just slip away.
If you’ve made it this far and you’re like me, you probably are already thinking of all the different scenarios where you could send videos and save 15 minutes. Now that the issue has been raised, it’s going to eat at you until you download Zight (formerly CloudApp) and start using it every day.
Maybe you hate the idea that your insecurities are essentially robbing your employer of your potential productivity. I know that I aspire to be the kind of person that schedules out their day and works until my daily goals are done. I invite you to think of all of the time you could save by adding screen recording software into your workflow.
I especially obsess over email when corresponding with people outside the company. Painstakingly pouring over spelling and grammar takes forever. The time wasted adds up. Saving that proofreading time is a win that keeps me coming back.
Coworker work feedback
The great thing about working in an office with your coworkers is that they don’t have to send emails back and forth; the bad thing about working in an office with your coworkers is that they don’t have to send emails back and forth.
Working remotely helped us all realize what a luxury it is to speak to someone face-to-face, but let’s be honest, the face-to-face interactions, while nice around the water cooler, aren’t anyone’s cup of tea when it comes in the form of the “office pop-in”, pulling you away from whatever deep work you were doing.
Some surprise interactions were unavoidable before technology supported asynchronous work, but now webcams are ubiquitous and screen recording software gives us the freedom to choose when we respond and to what extent we allow others to interrupt our workflow.
Real-time, face-to-face professional communication isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, but before the combination of the availability of Zight (formerly CloudApp) and a de facto remote work environment forcing my hand, it didn’t really sink in. Let’s keep workplace chit chat where it belongs: discussing the latest show you are binging.
Working with interns
Both of our interns work remotely and give 100%. But that 100% is only as good as their understanding of what they are being asked to do. It’s up to me to get their best work effort. Zight (formerly CloudApp) plays a major role in getting them the instructions that they need, complete with step-by-step screen recorded information. That means far less confusion, less back and forth, and getting more done in a day.
I started out primarily by Slack messaging and then it evolved more to webcam conversations, but then so many times I would think of things after the fact that I didn’t remember to discuss in our meeting. I would make note of it and then hopefully remember it the next time we jumped on a call, but more than often did not. We’re all only human.
Even if I did remember to make notes to communicate the thought later, I would often forget the more nuanced parts of what I wanted to discuss. For example, there might be a couple exceptions to how I want a task performed but I only remember the most common one.
Time zone differences also became an issue if I put off a more complicated task, so effective and efficient asynchronous communication was that much more important.
So what do I do now? I do video or voice recordings right when I think of something and then I’m able to spell out that information in real time before it gets lost in the shuffle. There’s not a worse feeling for you or your intern than when your instructions weren’t clear enough and they ended up spending the day doing something wrong instead of advancing business goals.
Zight (formerly CloudApp) videos are better than an avalanche of short follow-up emails because you can immediately categorize and tag resources that make finding instructional resources easier to find than digging through your inbox. As a rule I like to get out as many inbox items as possible into tasks or easily accessible resources. Here’s an example of an actual video sent to an intern.
Internal training documentation
Any new employee has to become proficient in a number of new software programs and platforms. Creating a knowledge base for employee onboarding is a great way to ensure a shorter ramp up period to where they are a fully productive member of the team.
When you are drinking from a firehose, what are you more likely to remember: an endless wall of text or a series of thoughtful custom videos created with company-specific use cases in mind? Screen recordings are a great way to be able to play the long game and streamline your onboarding process.
We use Zight (formerly CloudApp) screen recording videos for training new team members on Asana projects, for example. We include a link to the training video in the project overview. A typical video covers the project scope, the meanings of custom fields in each task and our procedure for task assignment so that nothing falls through the cracks.
As you can see from this actual training video, they cover a lot of ground; and the alternative—text broken up by static images—takes longer to make and can lead to more questions than answers.
Our team uses Asana to manage our editorial calendar and every step of the content publishing process.
There are always tweaks that can make things a bit better, like adding additional disposition in the content creation funnel or changing up how we flag changes along the way. But little changes and adjustments in the process are only as good as they are faithfully implemented.
This means you have to get others up to speed on the changes. When you’re working in an agile environment of a software startup, things are constantly in flux, so somebody who is innovating but also working remotely may be left behind.
As most of us have experienced, with five team members in one project you’ll likely end up with six opinions of how the process should work. You can really start to lose the benefits of a project management tool if everyone isn’t on the same page. You might as well just go back to leaving comments in a word doc and emailing it to each other. Video helps ensure your entire team is all on the same page.
When engaging with interns or new employees, the ideal scenario is obviously that their ability to take on more responsibility grows over time. So you’ll want to account for this as you alter your processes.
It can frankly be a nightmare trying to efficiently streamline a new project while working asynchronously, so I eventually decided to just bite the bullet and say, “hey, I’m going to just record these videos in real time while it’s top of mind and include an example of what I’m talking about for context.”
This might not seem particularly profound, but the point is that you’re getting information out immediately in a way that’s unambiguous and can quickly pollinate a whole organization. It’s essentially social media for your internal communications.
ESL contractor communication
I sometimes work with international contractors and English may not be their first language. The time zone difference can also be a hurdle to get things done.
I try my best to accommodate for a large time difference I’d often be working until 8 or 9pm to touch base with them at the beginning of their work day. I noticed that using email or traditional messaging with text would only take our communications so far. This sort of disjointed-ness can occur with even native english-speakers, but with ESL contractors the communication gap is even more noticeable.
To get to the level of painstaking detail required to effectively communicate everything a contractor needs to ne successful via email could take hours, with video only a couple of minutes.
Video messaging adds a human touch
Video is intimate in a way text never can be. Between vocal tone and inflection, body language, and nonverbal body language, you can communicate with international contractors with complete clarity as well as build a much more in-depth personal relationship. This often translates to people being more invested in your company’s success.
I believe you can get better work out of people when they feel like you’re going out of your way to make sure that they’re set up for success.
Off the top of my head I can imagine many scenarios in dealing with things like code reviews or customer service in which asynchronous video would be supremely useful. Talking through code out loud forces programmers into deeper understanding, and a customer with a visual demonstration of how to use a product is more likely to develop brand loyalty and increase their lifetime value to your business. Just to name a few.
Whether we like it or not, the shift into asynchronous communication in our professional lives is upon us. With easy, user-friendly, video collaboration tools out there like Zight (formerly CloudApp), there’s no reason to be sending emails when you can send a video.
If there’s an instructional component to something you’re trying to communicate, consider sending a video screen recording instead of an email. Remember that reluctance you feel is rooted in insecurity and face your fears!
“I don’t want my coworkers to see the mess behind me in my house.”
“I didn’t comb my hair today.”
“I don’t want to have to review the video and hear my own voice.”
These are all excuses that may come up for you (I know they do for me) but we honestly just need to buckle up and face our fears in the name of efficiency and a better work life balance. No one else thinks your voice sounds weird or cares that your kid left a toy behind you on the floor. We need to get past this. It’s worth it.
The addition of video screen recording into my repertoire has majorly boosted my productivity. I feel less stressed, more job satisfaction, and have more time for personal pursuits. It all started by embracing my nasal voice.
I guess in some ways this post in and of itself is a bit ironic, right?
If video recording is so effective, why am I taking the time to write out this blog post as opposed to just recording a video?
The number one use case for video recording is when a demonstrative element is helpful or necessary. Almost every professional interaction involves some level of instruction or review of functionality, and this is the use case for the video screen recorder.
So get out there and give sending a screen recording a try in place of that next lengthy email. In a world of Javiers, be like Anton Chigurh and start killing it.