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Video Messaging with Jira - A Netiquette

Let’s stop meetings with more asynchronous video messages

Note: This article has been reviewed to include feedback from the Community. Video messaging are, after all, not a panacea.

We’re still sitting in Zoom meetings all the time and it has to stop.

We must start using Atlassian tools to proactively cut down on meetings. But how?

I think part of the solution to doing less meetings is sending more video messages. And LinkedIn seems to agree with me.

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 11.03.55 AM.png

Videos can pack up a lot in a very short time, and an internal video message takes less effort than a full-blown writeup with the same content.

We could stop writing complex tasks in Jira and replace them with a video explanation. We wouldn’t be the first! In fact, Asana released a partnership with Vimeo back in September. And they won an awesome award for it.

image-20220601-132355.png

Is Jira going to stay behind? Well it might well happen if we don’t do anything about it. So I choose to do something instead.

I think Atlassian users (particularly Jira users) can greatly benefit from video messages as an additional form of communication that can significantly cut down unnecessary meetings.

Change is possible. Just like we stopped making phone calls to send audio messages, we can frown upon unnecessary meeting invites and go big on recorded feedback. We’ll have more time for real work, more time for our families, and more time to hang out with colleagues whenever we decide to meet!

But there will be complains and pushback. And I think part of the movement implies that we need to define new rules on what it means to be polite and friendly when sending video messages.

When I wrote the first version of this article, @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ reacted very strongly against the idea of making video messaging the main channel for communicating. You can see his full response below, but here's a lovely quote:

- oh heck no.  No no no.  Take that idea out, burn it with fire, and then nuke it from orbit.

What's the risk? Here's another quote from a person Nick knows:

people keep demanding my time to listen to them expound on all their problems, when all I need to deal with it is an issue key and 10 seconds reading"

So there's a great risk to productivity and mental health. Too many video messages will kill your day -- or make you just ignore them. 

But there's also great potential. Let's work on some basic rules to try find the balance.

Basic Netiquette for video messaging in Jira

Video messages should have their own netiquette – one that is not fully written yet. So I’m going to try my best here at outlining some basic rules.

Oh! And I spent 10 minutes creating a Canva version out of this. Cute, right?

Video Messaging Netiquette (2).png

1. Provide the right context

Rule number one is for clarity. This is particularly important if you’re collaborating with somebody outside your team. Before you jump into the meat, give enough background information to your peers so they can understand why the topic is important, what is expected of them, and what does success look like.

2. Keep videos short

Number two is for brevity. Watching a 30 minute video rant is no better than wasting 30 minutes of your life in a meeting that should have been an email. Make the content of your video messages actionable and stay on topic.

3. Be emotional

Yes, we have emojis:exploding_head: . But it’s hard to convey honest emotions in a traditional issue description. Make sure to open up to your team, encourage your colleagues and recognize hard work. In the end, async can be lonely!

4. Add visual support

Like a whiteboard, a Confluence page, or even your notes! Videos are memorable if they have a structure, and having supporting text and visuals can really help with that. This is particularly true for issue types like bugs, design feedback, or code reviews. Which brings me to the next point…

5. Select types of issues that are a good match

Don’t spam! Not every Jira issue should be a video message. If you abuse them, they will become a nuisance and your colleagues will stop hitting play. Here’s a quick list of tasks for which a video is almost mandatory:

  • Design feedback
  • Product demo
  • Code review
  • Reporting
  • Bug

I've written about this in more detail in our website.

6. Summarize action points

Don’t be overconfident about getting the point across! Stop at the end of each video to summarize what you’re asking and any action points that other users should own. Deadlines and assignments should be in writing as well: many users may watch the video only once and go back to the issue for reference.

7. Handle objections

You know your team and what worries them. If you can anticipate their questions and objections, tackle them upfront in the video. It will make you go even faster!

8. Ask for feedback

If you need feedback about a deliverable, be very specific about what kind of comments you need and how that feedback will inform your work. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to criticism. However, it’s also good practice to communicate what type of feedback isn’t useful. For example, feedback regarding a strategic decision that has already been made.

How to send video messages in Jira

If video messages are new to your team, it might take some time before they become a real channel. Here’s a couple of things I’ve tried and have worked for us.

  • Build a habit. Don’t make video messaging a one-off. Be purposeful and focused on what type of tasks deserve them and take your time to record. Even if you’re slow at the beginning, you’ll pick up speed later. Consistency will also help with engagement, as your colleagues will know what to expect.
  • Start out with a small circle. Don’t plan a company-wide rollout. Start in your smaller team – in fact, I started with our designer.
  • Select the right tool. Pick up a tool you like with a clean flow that energizes you. Below are some easy alternatives.

Selecting the right tool

Options abound. Here are some of them.

Zoom for Jira - the do-with-what-you’ve-got

Kill Zoom with Zoom. I like the irony and don’t pretend you don’t. To be honest, even Zoom can be transformed into a pretty neat video messaging platform, particularly if you’re already paying for it. All you need to do is add an app like resolution’s Zoom for Jira Plugin, and start recording Zoom sessions with only yourself in them.

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 11.20.36 AM.png

If you start the Zoom session from Jira, the recording will automatically be attached to the issue when you’re done.

Loom - the Leviathan

The market leader is most definitely Loom, which has its own Marketplace app for Premium users. If you haven’t tried if yet, please go ahead and find out what the fuss is about!

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 11.12.24 AM.png

Loom lets you create videos from the Jira UI quite easily. Although you’ll need the app for Premium users to embed them into Jira issues.

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 11.15.15 AM.png

However, new options keep appearing in a market that is for sure going to expand in the near future.

Bubbles - the newcomer

Self-defined as the anti-Zoom! Besides a delightful free experience that doesn’t even require a new user account, Bubbles is a great choice if you prefer to support a smaller team of 8 instead of a startup that grew unsustainably and is now laying off folks (yes, that’s Loom in 2022 unfortunately).

Screen Shot 2022-06-02 at 11.11.15 AM.png

Bubbles doesn’t integrate with Jira, but you can simply provide a link to any recordings or screenshots.

 

Other options? Comments?

I’m sure there are dozens of other options. What are you using? Do you have any suggestions that we can add to the video messaging netiquette?

10 comments

There is a theme that runs through this that I think should be called out explicitly.

Know your audience, and pitch your communication at them in the right way.

As an example, I know a lot of people who simply ignore video messages.  They've already given up on them as a waste of their time.   They don't want to have to sit through a load of burbling and niceties for 5 minutes, or have yet more client software to enable them to do it, and being forced to watch and pay attention to a video stops them multi-tasking.  They don't have control of their time, the video messages demand too much.

"We're all sitting in zoom meetings and it has to stop" - yes, stop making people go to meetings they don't need to, but video messages are not going to help.

"I want the Atlassian Community to use video messages as the main form of communication" - oh heck no.  No no no.  Take that idea out, burn it with fire, and then nuke it from orbit.

I skim almost 500 messages a day for stuff I might be able to help out with.  You're asking me to watch over two hours of video just to decide what questions to look at every day (and most questions take a lot more than 15 seconds to explain, rather than read).  And then record and publish around 16 hours of video responses.

  I asked one of the anti-video people to read your article and their summary was "video messaging is the worst of all worlds".  A Teams meeting (they're not much of a Zoom user) enables them to interact with the other people.  An email/slack/teams message lets them spend a few seconds reading some text and either absorbing the information in it, or making them say "ok, we need to actually talk about this".  A constant complaint I hear from this person is "people keep demanding my time to listen to them expound on all their problems, when all I need to deal with it is an issue key and 10 seconds reading".

This person is now at a point where they are asking the business to provide timesheet codes for "having to watch videos that could have been done with one line of text in a Teams message or email"

TLDR: know your audience, and use video messaging only when it is going to save time.

It has a place, it can be useful, but consider your recipients.

Like Dan likes this
Capi _resolution_ Marketplace Partner Jun 03, 2022

@Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ thanks for the effort you've put into your response! There is a lot of goodness in what you say and complain about.

I recognize that the line you quote from me is too much. We need a combination of channels to communicate with our colleagues, and interaction should definitely NOT disappear. This depends a lot on your experience, but in my professional experience video messaging is being underused, so I am trying to encourage it. Hence the excessive tone.

However, I can perfectly understand that an overload of video messages can be an even worse nightmare than back to back meetings every day.

I am going to try to rephrase the article to include your feedback. I believe that Jira has indeed a lot of room for embedding video messaging in the right context -- and I did mention that some issue types are better than others. For example demoing a new feature, giving feedback for a design, etc. 

But yes, it's a danger to use them just for vague team updates. And they're also a black box, as you can't really scan them -- although this could be solved with transcripts. 

Again, thanks for taking the time and for your passion Nick!

Like Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ likes this

Thanks for reading through that last comment with an open mind and reading it properly, I really do appreciate that you read and understood what I was rambling about, and then took the time to expand on it here.

Like Capi _resolution_ likes this

Agree with @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ , 

I would use video messages only in combination with a super brief high-level sum up of key takeaways (so I don't need to watch the video but just read the text 😅)

I know that there are people who prefer videos but I'm sure even they would get overwhelmed by the number of video updates if the company is larger and information would get lost.

Text is just much easier to skim through and search. (and I don't think transcripts are going to solve this unless they're manually formatted for better readability)

Like Capi _resolution_ likes this
Capi _resolution_ Marketplace Partner Jun 07, 2022

Hey Nikki,

Thanks for jumping into the conversation! It's always cool to know what's your feeling when it comes to communication in product teams.

What you mention is a great best practice. It does make sense to combine video messages with a brief textual overview so that you go into the video for details.

Something else that makes videos easier to skim is adding chapters, just like in YouTube. This is also supported by the Zoom API and we have leveraged it in the apps we've built. But I still think that the flow between creating a video and writing about that video could be improved within the recording product, and I'm sure we'll see more of that in future updates of products like Loom.

Chapters?  If you think you need chapters in a video message, then your video message is definitely a complete waste of time.

Like Nikki Zavadska _jexo_ likes this

I disagree with that. Video messages should be short and concise. That's certainly valid as a rule of thumb. But depending on what you are trying to do, I see how some could be longer than a couple of minutes. Or how a bit of in-video structure could be helpful.

Perhaps some of these are not what we usually call video messages. But they're videos we want to have documented in Jira (or Confluence, for that matter). They're videos that build up on organizational knowledge.

Imagine that you're a product marketing manager doing competitive analysis of some products. You record a video where you play with each of these tools and you want this video to be VERY accessible. Your reviews are concise, but they still take 15 minutes each. You have a common structure for all of them. And the different sections are interesting to different teams (for example pricing triggers versus the hardcore demo). 

In that case I can easily see how you can record a video with any of the tools I mention in the article. And then you either want to add chapters (like you can do with the Zoom plugin) or add the specific seconds in the text overview to tell your colleagues where each section starts.

Is this the classic video message? Hardly. Is it a complete waste of time? Hardly. This type of video is helpful knowledge for the product marketer himself, for anybody who will be hired in the future to replace him and would otherwise go through the same motions when analyzing competitors, and for any interested stakeholders.

Wondering what your thoughts are on that @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ 

That's my whole point - if a video message needs to have chapters, then, by definition, it's over-long and bloated.  Chapters tells me that it is absolutely not short and concise.

I think we need to be clear on what we are talking about.

A video message is an option to replace an email, an instant message, a letter, a card, a question or response to one, or an announcement of some sort.  

We are not talking about training videos, lectures or demonstrations here, we're talking about messages.

Like # people like this
Capi _resolution_ Marketplace Partner Jun 07, 2022

Yes! I'm behind you on that. I've put longer videos and video messages in the same bag in this article, and that's misleading. Thanks for pointing that out.

Let's go back to my initial argument though. 

I do believe that recorded video can help us cut back on meetings and that this format has a place in Jira (and Confluence). I talked about video messages but as you say there are different things here:

- video messages that replace "an email, an instant message, a letter, a card, a question or response to one, or an announcement of some sort" (I like your definition) should be used sparingly, mainly when they add visual feedback etc. Announcements have a place here but "sparingly" becomes particularly important.

- longer videos like trainings, demos, and lectures can be longer and should be shared broadly in Jira, Confluence etc. as they build a knowledge repository. However, they're created for reference and are not part of a conversation. But they do prevent meetings that are just about showing how to do something or handing over knowledge.

I see a grey area in between and that's probably what causes discomfort. Video messages with feedback that are not on point and demand time and attention from the receiver are dangerous. Imagine a designer asking for feedback and getting 25 videos, each of them 7 minutes long.  That's not unthinkable in a large org and it's almost 3 hours of watching time.

Yep, I agree with all of that, I just wanted to be clear on the difference between thinking of them as messages or something else.

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