How To Create Great Training Videos
Video is one the most powerful ways to deliver information, and training videos are a great example of how this power can be harnessed to deliver a better service.
Whether you’re selling a product or showing staff how to perform a certain task, training carries one fundamental challenge. You have to communicate lots of information. One option is to create a really long training session, which will convey all the information. The only problem with this idea is that employees don’t engage with long training sessions, they switch off. Another option is to reduce the amount of information you want to convey, which sounds like a great idea in principle, but in reality this leads to missing key points, and the resulting task isn’t performed correctly.
In steps, video, the one size fits all solution. With a video you can communicate complex ideas in a short amount of time, perfect for training.
I’m frequently asked by our clients, how can you produce an effective training video, and so I’ve put together my step by step guide to creating one that works.
Step 1- Story, Story, Story
People love stories, and stories are why videos exist. The first films ever produced, by the Lumière brothers, were short 40- 50 second films of seemingly normal events happening, a train entering a station, people walking out of a factory and even a gardener at work! But these films were immensely successful, because they offered people an insight into another world, or one they didn’t live in at least, they told a story.
Training videos have come along way since the Lumière brothers toured the world in 1896, but they still work for the same reasons, they tell stories. Training videos are focussed around teaching a user a process, so I always start by visualising that process on a timeline. Get clear on what your story is, the beginning, middle and end and the road between them.
Step 2- The Power Of The Visual
Once you’ve got your story, it’s time to work out how to you’re going to make it stick in peoples minds. So at this stage, I begin annotating my story board, what shots will show things in the best way, what angles show different buttons clearly and how those shots used in a certain order will convey your information. People often make big mistakes which severely compromise the effectiveness of their video, such as not showing a key stage because they assume most of their audience know how to do it anyway!
Step 3- Test Time
Before you shoot, show a friend or colleague who hasn’t been trained yet, your storyboard. Does it make sense to them? If not, go back to the drawing board, it won’t suddenly work once it’s on film! If it works for them, consider running it by someone who’s already been trained as well, they may have ideas of extra bits to add in, our how to make it clearer.
Step 4- Lights, Camera, Action
As with any video, once you’ve done all the planning (and not a second sooner!) pick up the camera and work to the plan. Remember that you already know your plan works, you’ve tested it! All you’re doing now is putting it into “action”!
Whilst I was on work experience at the start of my life as a film maker, I picked up one particularly useful bit of advice from a mentor of mine. He said “If you haven’t got it, you can’t throw it away”. What he meant by that was, if you’re not sure whether you need to film something, film it and then delete it later, don’t forget to film it and then wish you had later. I still use this today. As with any story, you have to plot a path form the beginning to the end, and little bits of footage that seem pointless whilst filming, might just help build that road.
Step 5- Editing
The editing is now the cherry on top, the part where you combine all your audio, video and graphics into one story. Here’s a few tips
- Use visuals and text to reinforce what is being explained in the voiceover. If the voiceover is saying, now tie up your shoe laces, use a graphic pointing to the shoe laces, and have the video showing the shoe laces being tied! It may sound simple, but you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve seen, another story for another day though. Communicating your information with text, video and audio all at the same time utilises the full power of video, and enables you to clearly and concisely show the story.
- Be sure to avoid distractions. A lot of training videos are shot on a white background, which allows your audience to focus on what they’re being trained on, and not the colour of the wall!
- Summarise the key steps at the end to reinforce the learning.
- Finally, most importantly, don’t rush. Yes, people engage better with short videos, but only when the information is presented clearly. Rushing the video will lead to information being missed and sacrificing clarity. Remember that your audience want to watch this to learn the new skill, so you don’t have to fight for their attention like you do with a promo video.
There you have it, my step by step guide to creating a great training video. I hope it was useful and if you’d like to learn more, get in touch!
Director, EpicTech Media
I take on the role of Production Supervisor at EpicTech Media, overseeing all of our projects from script to screen.
I try and ensure that every project i work on is rooted in two things, audience and story. A good video, in my view, connects the two.
Outside of work i'm a sucker for model railways and a good game of racketball!
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