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Why (product) managers should leverage video communication

Boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic 🦠🤧, I learned to embrace the benefits of asynchronous video communication for my daily work as a product manager at Homeday. 🎥 ⏯ 🙂

Not a day goes by that I don’t record a “Loom”. And I think it will soon become a standard for many others as well and shape our professional exchange. In this article, I’ll share my experience with you on how videos improve my PM communication and where I use them.

ℹ️ Being a huge fan of Loom 😍, I became one of its partners. Feel free to use my affiliate link to explore it. For sure, there are other great tools out there. Let me know, if you find one you like better.

Now, let’s put the providers aside 🙄 and look at benefits and use cases! 🚀

How videos improve PM communication

As a PM, you are a central contact person within your business area. Connecting your stakeholders with your technical team, you need to provide context, inspire innovation, encourage proactive contribution, and ensure buy-in for your actions. Videos help you get your messages across.

Screenshot: Briefing video for stakeholder alignment session in 2021.

Address multiple senses 👁👂🏽

People memorize information better when it is received through multiple senses. The preferred ways of receiving information (learning styles) vary across individuals. By sending commented videos, you can cover more of those ways asynchronously then by just writing texts.

You can easily walk your audience through presentations, demonstrate software or visualize your arguments on a digital whiteboard while recording you voice.

That being said, videos shouldn’t fully replace written communication. A short written summary of the video’s core message and the required actions allow recipients to review the main facts at a glance. They shouldn’t be forced to watch your video for that again.

Allow recipients to listen at their own pace 🐢 🐇

Your stakeholders and squad members aren’t equally involved in every project. Thus, they have different levels of information on them. Yet, at certain points they need to jointly decide things and be on the same page.

Sending an introduction video in which you recap the most important facts allows all recipients to consciously invest their time. Those who are new might go back and watch certain parts again. Others might skip the whole intro as they already have all information.

Having the option to prepare a line of argumentation, your stakeholders can also contribute more meaningfully in the meeting. Furthermore, the (so far legitimate) excuse “I can’t tell spontaneously. I have to think about it first.” is off the table. This way, you can be more binding.

Overcome calendar limitations 🗓 ✅

If you need to have many important stakeholders onboard, finding a time slot is nearly impossible. Thus, meetings are often shortened or take place too late. To still reach some of the desired outcome, organizers tend to squeeze in a lot into the meeting. After such meetings, I often observed that I killed most of the meeting time with simple informative parts.

Using videos, you can carve out such informative parts of a meeting and send it as a pre-read. That way, you and your stakeholders can better use the meeting time to directly start with the main discussion.

Transport emotions ✨😍

Expressing feelings and making sure they are properly understood is difficult in written form. Additionally, it takes a lot of time too. This is way easier and faster to do in videos. Recording softwares allow you to both record your screen and your face at the same time.

Turn your stakeholders into multipliers 👉🏻 🔗

Using videos, you don’t have to repeat yourself that often. You and your stakeholders can simply share your video with others who should join the conversation. Doing so you enable stakeholders to become good multipliers without having to worry about distorted messages.

Save time for you and your stakeholders 🕢 💸

Creating videos takes some time indeed. Honestly, in some cases it can be even quite a lot. However, it does pay off, especially once you get used to the recording and (if needed) the editing process. Most videos, don’t need long preparation and editing as they are internal anyways. Small errors don’t matter. It’s not TV.

You save time as you don’t have to repeat yourself all over again and don’t have to wait for free slots in the calendar. Your stakeholders also save time skipping redundant information and deciding flexibly when to watch.

Where can you use videos as a product manager?

Briefings / Debriefings for roadmap alignments 📜

Most roadmap alignments I’ve seen (including my own ones) lack the true stakeholder contribution that you need to jointly take good decisions about the next steps. Stakeholders feel spontaneously pushed to provide their perspectives and can’t see the big picture.

Within a briefing video, the key questions to solve and the expected stakeholder contribution can be clearly communicated. In this video, you can e.g. review the current state of the roadmap, recap learnings and pitch potential opportunities. Those things would usually costs you most time in the roadmap alignment meeting. If you send the video with a written summary and agenda, the target discussion can start right after the welcoming part.

Design reviews 💬

Designers often struggle to get timely and actionable feedback from stakeholders on a drafted solution. This slows down the discovery and development process and thus is also an issue for the PM. Within a review meeting, the designer would usually first present the solution and then ask for feedback. In some cases the designer would ask follow up questions. However, most of the time is covered by the introduction.

This whole process runs a lot smoother with asynchronous video communication – and without meetings. In the best case, stakeholders even answer with a short video or voice recording. If complex questions arise, a meeting can still be scheduled. However, from my experience this is barely the case.

Bug Reporting 🐛

This is sooooooo much faster and easier than writing a plain text ticket. Just record the wrong behavior and describe it in your video.

On top, it saves a lot of follow up questions from the development side. You don’t have to describe what you think you did in words. The developers can just see it first hand.

For the bug ticket, some bullets with additional information are then sufficient in most cases.

Release communication 🚀

Releases are usually communicated to a variety of stakeholders – not at least, to your internal and external customers. Some of those stakeholders already know some context – e.g. the part of the app you’re improving – others don’t.

By watching a short video your audience gets a realistic impression of what using the new feature might feel like than just by reading a release note with some unknown terms or seeing a static screenshot.

At Homeday, we communicate most releases to our internal customers (partner real estate agents) through videos. This reduces the amount of post-release questions tremendously and creates a lot more understanding and excitement around our products.

Partner communication 🤝

For a recent project, I had to evaluate some software providers. You can imagine that I had to repeat myself a lot in the first meetings. After the first few ones, I created a video as a pre-read in which I went over some sketches in miro about the business issues I was facing. Within a simple email, I could have never provided such clarity to an external partner before the meeting.

Consequently, the partners could better cater my needs in our meetings. It’s a simple tit-for-tat approach. Since I invested time in preparing a good briefing, they wanted to be prepared in return.

What is your experience with videos? 😃

That’s it so far. I bet there are tons of more uses cases for videos in internal communication. What do you use them for? What are your dos and don’ts? What do you think of Loom? Please let me know in the comments or contact me for an exchange.

Thank you very much for reading! 👍🏻🙂

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HOMEDAY is the next generation estate agent. Easier. Transparent. Digital. And cheaper. Because we believe: Good brokerage does not have to be expensive.

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Jan-Henrik Franetzki

Jan-Henrik Franetzki

Team Lead Product Management at Homeday GmbH & Founder of VirtuSales™

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