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Learning & Development Blog

Breaking Down Effective Video Training

It's no surprise that the use of video in corporate training continues to gain in popularity among Learning and Development departments. Brandon Hall, the research firm based out of Delray Beach, FL, polled over 300 training professionals back in 2011 and found the top 2 reasons for using video in training – effectiveness and engagement.

These two concepts seem to go hand in hand. People respond to video. Combining moving pictures with audio in a compelling way draws people in. A good training video can bring out almost the same level of engagement as a good movie or television show. I always find it interesting that people would often rather watch other people on a screen than interact with them in person (Hitchcock had it right – there’s an element of voyeurism in each of us).

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There’s an art as well as a science to making a good training video, as Marie-Claire Ross wrote in a conveniently titled post, “How to Make the Best Training Video.”

In this post and others she’s written, Ross cites research that learners more easily understand material presented in video that allows them to both hear and see information. The combination of video and audio reinforces the content in several different areas of the brain – increasing the likelihood that the material will be stored in long-term memory. Ross points out several characteristics that make for quality learning videos:

  1. Match the visuals, titles, and voiceover. A seamless integration of these elements seems effortless. However, it takes a careful editor to make sure they all reinforce the same message.
  2. Instructional design principles are still paramount. It's still training after all. Ross suggests the script be written in a way that enhances learning and adheres to ID principles like any other training format.
  3. Take a cue from cable. Change what’s on the screen every 5-7 seconds. Keep people engaged by using a variety of methods – titles, voiceovers, different camera angles, music.
  4. Show people doing stuff. As Hitchcock says, people like looking at other people.
  5. Ross reminds trainers that our brain absorbs information in a fairly linear way. The content of the training should always be presented start to finish without any confusing jumps. Structure is key whether it be in an e-learning context or a training video.
  6. The script must be friendly and very conversational. Keep it simple and use everyday words and sentences.
  7. Structure the training video into a range of titles and subtitles and make them easy to skip to. This helps focus the viewers on what they are going to learn next.

Training videos are an incredibly effective method of training people quickly and thoroughly. They help viewers retain information more completely than if they were to read the information or even hear it. There is a fair amount of art that goes into making video training as effective as it can be. Following the guidelines above is a great start.

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