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When subtitles are just what we need

I was doing a bit of ‘how-to’ research this week and it turned out that many of the most interesting search results were videos. This is an increasing occurrence. However, a video was no use to me, as other people were in the same office and playing the video would disturb them. This of course is an old problem, but the thing which most people forget is that it’s not the video which is the problem here, it’s the audio.

So how do we get around it? The obvious move is to transcribe the video, and many sites do this really well. Indeed, there’s a massive SEO benefit from having the entire commentary spelt out in words too. But that doesn’t help when people are watching the video on other sites, including YouTube or wherever the video is hosted. In that case, the solution is to have a video which can be watched in silence.

Many slideshow videos do this by default: they just have background music which contributes nothing of substance to the presentation, and are narrated by captions on screen. Videos with an essential voiceover, or interviews, need subtitles or captions adding. It’s a bit of a chore, and you wouldn’t do it for a video of a half-hour conference presentation, but on a three-minute corporate presentation? It’s worth considering. A top tip would be to show the subtitling in the video thumbnail image, so people can instantly see that they might be able to follow it without any audio.