Training videos are an extremely effective way of communicating key information to your employees; whether they’re part of a group training exercise or available online on demand for one-to-one training. They can be a stand-alone tool or part of an integrated training module, such as for e-learning.
Research shows that people retain the information from visual images in their long-term memory much more effectively than written or spoken information; with one study showing that individuals only retain 10-20% of information in a written or spoken format three days later, compared to 65% when delivered in a visual format.
While this applies to visual images and graphics on any platform – illustrations in articles, images in presentations and printed material – video ups the ante by conveying information in three different and very effective ways:
1: Visual action – great for enabling the memory to pair concepts with images,
2: Graphics and animated illustrations – effective for conveying key statistics, actions and takeaways,
3: Audio – dialogue and voice-over focuses the viewer on the content and reinforces key points, and music contributes to the essential entertain factor.
The impact of audio and visuals together has a dual-coding effect on the brain, increasing the chances of the viewer retaining information for longer. Video is also more engaging than any training manual or handbook could ever hope to be, increasing the likelihood of employees seeing the training process through to the end.
As with any other video content, there are key factors that can help you create better training videos: ones that will help to ensure your content is effective, meets your objectives and produces high results.
1: Pitch it at the right audience
Training video content should always be tailored for your target audience, and this means ensuring that it is accessible to all employees for whom it’s designed. Don’t consider this to be a question of ‘dumbing down’; it’s more about creating concise and clear content that conveys key messages succinctly to everyone it’s intended for.
2: Remember what your objectives are
Good training videos often win industry awards, but they should never be designed for winning a BAFTA and, therefore, do not need to use cinematic techniques to communicate information. Instead it is about providing that information in a way that builds on learning. Sometimes the simplest approaches are the best; the proven ones – e.g. show the wrong way, then show the right way. This generally means a linear sequence – i.e. step 1, step 2, step 3, etc. Each step enhances the viewer’s understanding of the subject and provides them with logical instructions or learning.
3: Highlight important content
Key takeaways, instructions, statistics or actions can be reiterated using audio-visual elements. For example, figures can be presented as a graphic to support a voice-over. Visual action, graphics, dialogue, voice-over, should always correlate with each other; this will increase the chance of the information being retained, as well as avoiding confusion.
4: Choose instructors carefully
Your video content needs to be engaging to keep the attention of the viewer, but also delivered in a clear and comprehensible way. Professional voice artists and presenters will naturally have the skills to do this, but if you want to use an industry professional or trainer from within your company choose them carefully. You need good communicators who can confidently put your content across in an engaging, believable and easily digestible way. It’s a false economy to use in-house team members in order to save on your budget if the resulting video does not deliver on your objectives!
5: Take a modular approach
If the training video has a lot of content or a complexity of detail, it will be more effective if it’s broken down into short engaging modules, just as a training manual would consist of chapters. This allows employees to focus on the content for a shorter period of time and then review what they have learnt, and perhaps answer a set of questions before moving onto the next module.
6: High production values
While special effects and expensive post-production techniques are not essential for a good training video, poor production values can be a distraction and result in a less effective tool. Good production values come from a properly developed storyline, script and professional filming and editing.
7: High and low quality versions
Even with the best production values your training video can still fail if only those in your target audience with a fast broadband connection and speakers on their computers can see and hear it successfully. To make it accessible to all, it’s worth providing different data rate versions. We have even created slide show versions of training videos for people who don’t have audio playback on their computers.
To see some good example of the various routes of video delivery, have a look at the e-learning modules we produce for the NHS. These form part of an e-learning website for trainers of foundation doctors and pharmacists, and demonstrate how video can be used effectively to convey a range of information for professionals.