I still have the chat logs from my endless hours spent on AOL Instant Messenger back in high school (2000 – 2004). I rediscovered them recently and spent about ten minutes reading before I couldn’t go on any further. Every other word made me cringe.
There’s a very specific reason why I was cringing: I remembered exactly what I was thinking as I had those conversations, but that is not at all how it came across as I looked back at things. I thought I was properly communicating my thoughts, but everything was actually coming out all wrong. I wasn’t being witty, I was just being a jerk.
I’ve become slightly better with words since then (I hope!) but there’s only so far that text chats can get you. When you’re trying to explain something to someone, there are times when words aren’t enough. You need to show them.
But when you’re not sitting right next to that person, showing can be difficult. There are a few different ways to solve this problem. Chris Ducker, of Virtual Freedom, crafted what he calls the VA Training Trifecta, in which an entrepreneur can either text, audio, video, or some combination therein to communicate tasks with virtual staff.
But there’s another powerful tool that I use nearly everyday to quickly show people exactly what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about GIFs.
A GIF is the perfect communication tool for describing small bits of dynamic information, like how a button animation should work or the way something is working on your computer. You can guarantee that whoever you’re talking to can see exactly what you’re seeing, and it’s much easier to show rather than trying to describe the problem with words or going through the hassle of creating a huge screencast.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a GIF is worth over 9,000!
I’ve perfected a system that lets me make GIFs on my Mac in about 30 seconds. I’m going to show you exactly how I do it. Continue reading