Richard Goring is a Director at BrightCarbon, the specialist presentation and eLearning agency. He enjoys helping people create engaging content and communicate effectively using visuals, diagrams, and animated sequences that explain and reinforce the key points.
In this conversation, Richard talks about a Covid-19 video that BrightCarbon created, and about working remotely.
Geetesh: Richard, you, and your team at BrightCarbon recently did a pro bono video project, about preventing the spread of Covid-19 in Africa. Can you tell us more about this project?
Richard: We’ve always done pro bono work, but obviously the current situation has brought out a real need and we were keen to help if we could. One of our directors is good friends with a consultant in infectious diseases, and she asked if we were interested in doing something with a charity she knew. It’s a small charity called Picturing Health. We hadn’t heard of them before, but they have good links to doctors in a lot of places in Africa and other charities.
Our major questions before agreeing to help were around the need, and whether they had a good plan to actually get the animation out there. At times like this, there are no guarantees that something will have an impact, but we thought that if we might do some good we should at least try.
Picturing Health provided the script, and our team storyboarded, designed, and animated everything. The voiceover was from someone Picturing Health had worked with before in South Africa. Shee Juma, our lead designer and animator on the project is Kenyan, which helped to make sure that we got the visual style right.
Geetesh: What made you choose PowerPoint as the medium to create this video? Are there inherent benefits in using PowerPoint to create such explainer videos?
Richard: Mostly it’s about speed when collaborating. We could have done the animation in After Effects, but we find that it’s a little slower for this sort of project, and as we can make explainer videos in PowerPoint that do everything we need them to, there’s no advantage to using AE.
We created the animation in a little over two days – from sketching the storyboard, finalizing the design, and then making all the assets, bringing everything into PowerPoint, animating, and timing with the audio. In PowerPoint, we are already set up to have a team of people working on the same file at once. With our BrightSlide animation library and PowerPoint transitions, we can handle the animation quickly too. Then, if we need to update things we can easily insert another slide without having to mess around with the rest of the timeline.
It wasn’t a major consideration, but another nice thing about using PowerPoint is that apart from animation, we also end up making slides, and they can be used in different settings. So, as well as the explainer video, we also have a set of slides that may be different doctors or community groups might want to use in different ways. Realistically, they aren’t going to be making many edits to the slides we’ve made, but they could use them within their own presentations, or in a different order or things like that.
Geetesh: We are living in times when social distancing and lack of travel options have made working remotely a norm. How do you cope with this new situation?
Richard: We were reasonably well set up for the new situation because a lot of our staff already worked remotely. We do have a bunch of people who would go into one of our offices most days – but even they would sometimes work from home. We definitely didn’t have to learn how to use Zoom or Teams or Hangouts in a hurry like some businesses did.
As a business, there are things that we used to do face-to-face though, and we’ve had to adapt. Our presentation skills training was the most obvious thing, but also our PowerPoint training. We’ve changed our presentation skills training so that now we can train people in how to present remotely – using Zoom or whatever. We deliver the course remotely, but also we’re teaching new skills because presenting over the web isn’t the same as presenting face-to-face.
We help our clients with their messaging on a lot of presentations, and sometimes we would do that through in-person workshops. Now, of course, we need to run things remotely. We are already pretty used to that – but clients aren’t always, and sometimes we need to support them a bit with the process, and to reassure them that we’re used to it and quality won’t suffer.
We do a lot of eLearning work for clients, as well as presentations. We expect to be doing more of that as face-to-face training becomes impossible to arrange. So not everything is affected in the same way.
I think the biggest issue really has been ensuring our staff is coping OK. Even for people who always worked from home, it’s just a bit different during a lockdown in a global pandemic. People are scared. The economy is a mess. So we’ve had to communicate a lot with the team and to be very clear about where we are as a business, and try hard to be flexible and supportive.
We’ll see how it plays out. If things stay like this for months it’s going to be interesting to see how the work that we do changes. We’re hoping that slides become more important than ever if you can’t get in the room with your audience, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.