How to Make Great Training Videos in 2021
Let’s face it: many companies force their employees to sit through training modules that aren’t optimized to help them retain knowledge and are just plain boring. While in-person training limits the potential for employees to be distracted, this may not…
Let’s face it: many companies force their employees to sit through training modules that aren’t optimized to help them retain knowledge and are just plain boring.
While in-person training limits the potential for employees to be distracted, this may not always be possible for employees working from home. Alternatively, you may use online training programs so that different team members can work through the training at their own pace.
Unfortunately, even as it becomes more necessary for a hybrid workforce, digital training comes with the possibility of divided attention. This means that employers face the challenge of keeping employees focused and increasing retention.
Video training helps to achieve both goals because it is naturally engaging, when done correctly.
While you could certainly set up a camera in front of your training room presentation, it’s very likely this would produce video that fails to engage new hires. Instead, the key is to take the time to craft a video that gives employees a reason to pay attention, and makes key ideas stick.
Why Use Video for Training New Employees?
Even when employees aren’t working from home, in-person instruction can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition, in-person training often means that employees have to be educated in cohorts, which can make scheduling a nightmare.
For these reasons, many companies are increasingly relying on video training because it is asynchronous, consistent, and can help keep employees engaged.
Video training can also explain certain concepts more effectively. With video, there is much more potential to show concepts, rather than simply telling trainees about them in the abstract. Storytelling and humor can also make difficult topics more personal or easily digestible, and animation can illustrate concepts that may be hard to showcase in a physical environment.
With more people watching TV, movies, and YouTube videos on a regular basis, training in this medium fits right in with how most of us are accustomed to consuming new information.
Understanding Your Audience
The audience for your training is the first aspect you want to consider when creating a training video. Understanding the audience will inform most of the other decisions you make in this process and will drive the emotional engagement for the project.
If possible, you may want to conduct interviews within newer employees to get a feel for where they feel the current training program fell short, and what else they’d like to have known.
In addition, the age range, social dynamics, and vernacular of your audience are all important things to consider. However, no factor is more important than emotion – digging into what really drives your team to do their best work.
One of the key advantages to video learning it enhances your ability to emotionally engage the audience.
Creating emotional engagement gives the audience a reason to pay attention. We remember and adopt things more often when they have emotional impact.
Consider a common training case – needing to train employees on how to operate specialized machinery. While a technical document can provide instructions on safe operation for the machine, it does very little to make the audience care about those procedures.
Video can help the audience understand the risks on an emotional level and provide evidence that resonates with employees through humor, drama, or simply a presentation with a more personal voice.
Think about what would make your employees care about the content of the training. Consider the fact that you may have a multi-generational workforce with different motivators, fears, desires, and senses of humor. Think about what would make your training video fun to watch for each of them.
However, it’s important to avoid overdoing it. We have all seen training videos that make us roll our eyes by focusing too much on the “fun” aspects. Training videos that don’t consider the dynamic of the audience will come across as gimmicky and lead employees to take it less seriously.
Your training videos should also be seen as an extension of your company’s employment brand. Be sure each element of your video reflects the company’s standards and values. This will create a consistent experience across teams and strengthen the workplace culture.
In a digital environment, attention spans are often very short. Think about what key information actually needs to get across and make sure to stay focused. Your audience will thank you for not wasting their time.
For the most effective and digestible videos, it’s a good idea to limit your content to one topic or sub-topic per video. Try to keep your videos between 2-6 minutes long.
If you think you’ll have to have a video that takes longer, consider creating a series of small videos. Bite-size learning modules are often more effective than half-hour or hour-long courses.
You may also include short assessments and other activities to break up the content. Not only will this help to break up the consumption, but it also offers the opportunity to confirm that trainees are paying attention.
Types of Training Videos
While there are many effective formats you may use for training videos, some formats keep showing up across industries. Presentations, scenarios, screencasts, and animation are all great ways you can use video to train your employees on different topics. Because each format has its own strengths and weaknesses, you will want to choose the best type for your objective.
Presentation videos mimic a classroom setting and provide mostly the same advantages. When in-class teaching is preferred, a video in which a presenter is speaking directly to the camera can make remote learning more personal. This style of video is often used for orientation to make new hires feel welcome.
When creating presenter videos, the use of graphics (i.e. whiteboard diagrams, bullet points, integrated screencasting, etc.) can be used to reinforce key points of information as the presenter is engaging the audience verbally and emotionally.
While having a presenter for the content is advantageous, be sure to make the video mostly about the content itself. Avoid drawing unnecessary attention to the presenter’s appearance or the background.
Scenario videos go a long way to create emotional engagement with the audience. Using an educational scenario can help employees apply job knowledge and critical thinking to a typical real-world situation.
This type of video can also be used to illustrate the seriousness of certain policies through dramatic interpretations or humor. Scenario videos can also demonstrate what certain skills and desired modes of conduct can look like in person.
Screencasting uses software to record the actions on a person’s screen. This type of video is usually used when training employees in new software or introducing a new tech feature. This type of video can help employees visualize processes by recording the screen exactly as it would be seen in real time.
Some versions of the screencast video can combine the video of the presenter with the screencast. This can help add a personal touch to the screencast format.
Looking for inspiration? Check out how we do software walkthrough videos.
While animation is a highly specialized form of video, it can provide some advantages that other formats may not be able to accomplish. For instance, animation can be used to create scenario videos that are not possible due to budget constraints or safety hazards.
Animation is also very visually engaging and friendly to audiences. Many designs can be immediately inclusive to a diverse set of employees.
Another key advantage of the freedom animation allows is the ability to illustrate something that cannot be easily explained, or demonstrated in a physical environment. For instance, some computer processes, anatomical lessons, or other complex systems can benefit from animated explanations.
While you might be tempted to grab the nearest camera and start filming a training video right away, it pays to take extra steps to make sure you are prepared for the shoot. Using good equipment and preparing your essential material beforehand will help you to achieve the high-quality video you’re after.
That said, there are also a few principles you want to follow when doing the actual work of creating the video.
We believe that creating high quality video will convey your content in an engaging and effective way. That’s why we recommend investing in good technology.
Cameras and Microphones
Some people might believe the only camera you need is the one on the back of your smartphone. We disagree. Good quality video is important to making the content visually appealing and clear. That’s why we shoot our videos using the same cameras as your favorite Netflix shows.
Make sure you have the proper lens for the content you are shooting. If you have multiple lenses available, test various options, seeing which works best with your subject & lighting to produce results that look great.
Also, make sure you have your camera mounted to some sort of tripod or other support, to ensure a stable shot. Shaky, handheld footage is distracting, and won’t seem professional.
Furthermore, make sure you test your setup before it’s time to actually shoot. Whether it’s having your audio not encoded properly, or having your frame rate sync with the lighting or a screen and produce black bars – you want to catch and resolve any issues before it’s go-time.
In addition to a good camera setup, it is also important to have a good microphone. While you may not think of yourself as an audiophile, everyone notices when the audio quality isn’t up to par, and it can ruin an otherwise good video.
In other words, the audience will absorb a great deal of your content through music, narration, and other auditory elements and will quickly become disoriented if these are not top notch.
While you may only need a simple lapel microphone for presentations, omni-directional microphones and boom microphones will likely create a better soundscape, especially if there are multiple speakers.
While your set design is not the most important part of your training video, it’s important to invest in good lighting. This is especially true if your video showcases a presenter.
You will likely need at least 3 main lights (key, fill, and backlight) and replacement bulbs just in case. You will also need some other lighting accessories such as reflectors, softboxes, colored gels, and light stands in order to light the set correctly.
Screen Recording Software
If you are doing a screencast for software or tech videos, you will need the right software to record your screen. Some programs such as Loom, Bandicam, Screencast-O-Matic, and Jing can work just fine. You may also choose to use software specifically designed for creating software demos, such as Adobe Captivate.
Unless you plan on shooting your video in one take (don’t), you’ll want to have good video editing software to put your clips together.
Keeping with Adobe, you may choose to use Premiere Pro for editing, Spark for graphics, and After Effects to create special effects and animation. There are also animation-specific programs, such as Unity, Cinema4d, and Adobe Animate. Many professionals also choose Apple’s Final Cut Pro for video editing and other effects.
Preparing a script and materials before your video is not just a recommended practice. It is essential to keep the project in line with what you hope to accomplish. While scripting and storyboarding are important, you will also want to gather key graphics, lighting, and props before the shoot.
Scripting and Storyboarding
Although your presentation may have room for spontaneity, keep in mind that your video is always telling a story. The writing will be the driving force that fuels the rest of the production.
This part of the process is where you will decide how to create emotional engagement with your audience. Using data and scientific facts can help you approach emotionally difficult topics. On the other hand, you may use humor to make boring topics more engaging. While a script for a presentation is mainly a method of organizing thoughts, it has the potential to direct the tone and overall essence of the content being conveyed.
In any case, you will want to prepare your talking points and the general structure of the video beforehand. It is just as important for a video presenter to stay on track as it is for a live speaker. This will also keep the content of the video focused and make it easier to create a short but engaging training segment.
Just like movie productions, it’s also a good idea to create a shot list (especially if you are shooting a scenario-type training video). Storyboarding can be a creative endeavor, but you don’t have to be an artist to block out the shots you want to make. Creating a page of boxes in which each shot is represented can also help you visualize the video and make adjustments to get the right footage. It will also keep you from forgetting important shots.
Graphics can help reinforce key points in your video. It can also focus attention on certain aspects of your content and create a dynamic visual element to any presentation.
For instance, you might shoot a presentation in front of a whiteboard. While it can be engaging to have the presenter draw out graphics, you will want to sketch these moments beforehand. Prepare any drawings or figures that will be included so that they are implemented correctly and without hesitation during filming.
Similar to graphics, props can create a tangible visual element to solidify important moments. They will likely be important for filming dramatic representations as well. In these cases, you want to have all of your props ready before shooting.
Go through your script first and list all of the things you may need to hold, wear, swing around, or otherwise draw attention to. Make sure to set out any furniture you want to sit on, plants in the background, the whiteboard you’ll be drawing on, and any other materials required on the set.
There are 3 main parts to a good lighting setup. The key light is the main source of light on your subject. While one light can provide a good base, it will also create strong shadows and a harsher image.
For this reason, you also need to use a fill light. This light does not change the lighting overall, but simply dilutes shadows and creates a softer image. In addition, you may also need to use back lights to create depth.
Remember not to light the subject from directly in front of them. It’s best to place your lights at angles and allow them to compliment each other.
In addition, you probably won’t want to use bare bulbs when lighting a set. Instead, find a way to diffuse the light, such as a softbox or umbrella, then get the light as close to your subject as possible without the light getting into the frame of your shot.
Capturing the Video
When creating any kind of video or animation, it’s important to consider the elements of visual design. Once again, don’t focus too much on making your video like an art project or a comedy sketch. The real work will be done in how you engage the audience emotionally while communicating effectively.
Use a grid to position your subject for any presentation videos. Follow the rule of thirds and other principles of good photography to make sure the framing of your video is visually appealing and not distracting. Make sure to keep the subject in focus by adjusting the lens on your camera and maintain the proper exposure by adjusting the ISO.
When shooting your video, you may think that moving the camera makes the shot more interesting. While this can be the case if you’re able to execute a smooth shot, excessive camera movement can be confusing and distracting for the audience. If you’re new to videography, it’s often better to have static shots.
The use of multiple angles is great for making a visually engaging production. A static video of an office scenario or a person in front of a whiteboard will quickly bore many audience members if it is only shot from one angle, but cutting to other angles at key moments can keep the energy levels high.
However, keep in mind that camera movements and angles must be intentional. Like any other aspect of your video, they can convey certain messages very quickly. For this reason, it is best to shoot your training videos with somewhat familiar angles and use movement sparingly to highlight important moments. Avoid unnecessary movement or confusing angles. Remember that the goal is to get the audience to focus on the content, not the unique cinematography.
Once you have your raw footage and audio files, you will import those clips to whichever video editing software you choose. Editing is where you cut, paste, trim, and polish your training video before it gets released.
You can also correct the color of your video and adjust the quality of your audio recordings at the editing stage. Spend some time in post-production to make sure your final product is polished and ready for your team to view.
Don’t worry if the content doesn’t look perfect as soon as you start editing. It shouldn’t. Some of the most important elements of your video will only be possible to create in this final stage.
To illustrate how important it is to have good audio design for your video, imagine watching a horror movie with no sound. The result is similar to watching someone scream in a silent film. It simply doesn’t have the same effect.
For this reason, it’s also a good idea to add music to just about any type of video you choose. Music can influence the entire mood of your training video. It can also focus the audience’s attention by creating rhythm and energy. Just like camera movements, music should be perceived mainly in the background and not be distracting.
Keep in mind that during editing, your audio tracks are separate from the video. However, those watching the video will perceive them as one. It is your job as the editor to synchronize any voiceover narration or speaker audio in time with the right moments. Adjust the volume of the tracks to match one another between cuts.
When editing your video, be sure to cut out any fluff and excessive filler language. Remember to keep the content as focused as possible. Especially in a presentation video, you have the opportunity to cut the video down to only the most essential pieces of information without excessively jarring the audience.
You may also decide to edit your video footage to match the rhythm of your music track. This can create a very engaging experience, similar to the effect of a montage.
In any case, you will want to make certain cuts to add different angles and variety to the visual design of the video. You may choose to add title slides and graphics to divide and signify different points within the content.
For a screencast, the editing stage is where you will zoom in on key moments of the demonstration. You can also add graphics, lines, circles, and arrows to the screencast that can further highlight important features.
Training videos are evolving to speak to a highly diverse, visually literate workforce. To train your employees in the most effective way, it’s important to create video that rivals the quality we consume outside of the office.
Effective engagement begins with great storytelling and a passion to create something worth watching. At Vidico, we believe in creating high quality video work that values your company objectives just as much as you do.
If you’d like help with a free custom script for your training video (or if you want us to shoot the whole thing for you), we would love to work with you and your team on your next video project. Let us know how we can help by reaching out today.