You’re reading Hot dogs and eggs, a blog by Chris Gallo since 2014.

Show, Don't Tell

This post will take you about 3 minutes to read.


Show. Don’t tell.

When you were in school you didn’t talk about your pet rock in front of your classmates. You showed it to them.

Why?


As a support rep, my days are spent trying to explain to people why they need to do something. Whether that is to use the product, update their billing information, or inspire them to try a different approach - it requires showing, not telling.

Here’s 3 tools to help you get your point across.

1. Skitch

This is free web app run by the Evernote. It makes it simple to mark-up a screenshot and explain yourself.

If you’ve ever used Photoshop, Adobe Reader, or Keynote to mark-up documents - you know the struggle. You jump through lots of hoops just to add an arrow or text to the image. You don’t need 12 steps - you need one or two.

Download Skitch and give yourself 10 minutes of your life back. Here’s a quick example of how easy it is to use.

First, let me tell you what to do. After you read one of my blog posts, click the twitter hyperlink and tell me what you thought of it.

Seems easy enough - right?

Now let me show you with Skitch.

skitch-example.png

Which one is easier to understand?


2. LICEcap

Animated gifs are all the rage. But this format can be useful in getting your message across in a simple way.

Nathan Kontny, creator of Draft, uses LICEcap to showcase new features he adds to his web app. Check out one of these announcements here.

Nate let me in on this trick after asking him on twitter. As he says, it’s such a simple and fast way to express a point.

Let’s check out an example. Remember the twitter example above where you could share or tell me what you think about my post on twitter? It’s time we adjust the styling of that line on the blog.

To do this you need open Google Chrome as your browser. Then scroll down underneath a blog post, and inspect element of where you’re asked to drop me a line of twitter. That’s telling you.

LICEcap shows you. And it takes all of 2 minutes to put together. The image automatically saves to your computer as a gif.

example-licecap.gif


3. Quicktime and Wistia

This next tool was introduced to me by a customer. After going back and forth about installing a block of javascript, he decided to show me a 40 second clip of where he was placing the code. He used Quicktime to record his screen and Wistia to send the clip straight to my inbox.

Quicktime is built into MAC OS X and Wistia is free for up to 3 vidoes and 5 MB of bandwidth each month. It’s an easy way to show someone what you’re trying to accomplish, talk over the video to explain it, and create calls to action inside or after your video.

Let’s stick with the same example, but now we want to adjust the text for our twitter call to action at the end of each post. Replace the text with - Did you enjoy this post? Let me know on twitter? - using inspect element in Google Chrome.

Simple enough. But here’s how you can show someone how to do it using Quicktime and Wisita.


You brought your pet rock to show and tell for one reason. Because your classmates could see it with their own eyes.

Sure - you can tell someone do something. But if you show them how to do something, they just might do it themselves.