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Let's come up with a list of software sales videos or guided tours. What do you like to see in a video demo? Do you want to be sold like in an infomercial or would you rather have just the facts?

Here's a bunch to start off.

Logos Bible Software - a guided tour
flash video player
Shows the first most common task: search. Highlights mouse movements. Audio production quality could be improved. No heavy sell, the narrator just demonstrates enthusiastically. He sounds a bit like an infomercial: "It's so easy to use." The first two tasks demonstrated are done slowly. Afterwards, the demonstrations of the various features are shown quickly.

Apple iLife iPhoto '09. A Guided Tour.
Provides three sizes for viewing Quicktime video online and two download sizes.
Very high quality audio and video production quality. The tour starts off with Apple Store associate next to an iMac against a pleasingly calm, white gradient background. He doesn't sound pushy or like an infomercial. Instead he sounds friendly and intelligent. He talks at a normal speed. The highlights of the mouse in the video are nicely done with an animated opacity layer over the entire screen and a rounded cornered box with full opacity over the area of the screen in focus.

FogBugz 6.0 Demo
flash video player
Starts off with campy piano music along with their cartoonish kiwi bird logo. The demo is narrated by the CEO Joel Spolsky in a natural down-to-earth manner. He does a brief overview of the main features. He's then interrupted by someone else with questions that the potential customer may ask. They do a bit of a duet banter often used in a radio show. The second person comments along the way with "hmmm" or "Awesome!" and additional questions.

37Signals Basecamp audio/video tour of the Dashboard
flash video player
The narrator simply introduces himself quickly and goes right into a no-frills demo of the Basecamp dashboard. There's no story, no music, no comic-relief, no exclamatory statements ... just the facts.

SkyCMS - Intro
flash video player
This video is well-produced with background music, a pleasant narrating voice and smooth transitions. The video feels like a short infomercial.

NetSuite - Executive Demo
flash video player
This is a very corporate flash video demo with a professional voice talent reading a script. Case studies are used to demonstrate features. Because CRMs are used by different kinds of users, the left sidebar has links to different videos depending on the role the viewer plays in a business. The bottom of the video contains action links: "Contact Me", "Schedule a Demo" and "Free Trial".

flash video player
This demo has no audio, just a screencast with bubble messages colored in a hideous neon green. It reminds me of cPanel training videos. My guess is that this CRM was created by people for whom English is not their native language.

flash video player
The audio on this video has a slight echo making it seem that the audio was recorded in a small room with hard walls and no furnishings. The narrator makes outrageously grand claims straight off, saying that their software the most powerful in the world and that it is a "gift from God".

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I really like this demo video:
It's completely integrated with the design of the website and plays right on the home page.
Ochestrate workflow software demo.

The audio is echo-y.
UTS Health website demo

They hired voice talent from at an approximate rate of $300 per 5 minutes of recorded speech. Their sales video creation experienced is described on this blog.
FastSpring ecommerce payment system

Clear audio. Nice navigation on the left sidebar. They should probably have an easy to find signup button on the page.
two important things from my perspective:

1) jump into the thick of things as quickly as possible - don't spend 30+ seconds on chatter, introductions, etc... you should be able to give the intro in 15 seconds and then dive into the features - people are watching the video b/c they're eager to see a product in action.

2) if your video is longer than 4 minutes... use a video platform that enable "chaptering" so people can hop around to the places that interest them... i hate feeling both captive and lost at the same time
I just discovered FlowPlayer, a very nice flash video player which is open source. The free version can be used in commercial projects.
Eliminate Distractions
It's best not to show distracting elements from your desktop in a sales or demo video. An example of this is MemoPal's demo video which shows the demonstrator's desktop shortcuts, dock and menu bar. The DropBox screencast presenter, in contrast, has his dock set to automatically hide itself when not in use, which minimizes distraction.

Screen Size
The DropBox video uses a screen size of about 800x600 pixels, which incidentally is the screen size recommended by Joel Spolsky for demos. At this resolution, text is very easy to read in the video. The MemoPal video screen size is so large in their video that there is a lot of wasted screen area and text is not easy to read.

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