We watch the shows, we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours

— Radio Gaga, Queen, from the track 1984!

When the British rock band Queen sang Radio Gaga, in praise of video and wrote and obituary to radio, it wasn’t greatly prophetic. Considering it was 1984, the world was already on the brink of video revolution, with everyone glued to their television screens. Queen were only announcing what was to become the video era.

Just look around. We consume videos everywhere. YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, Snapchat. And we even create our own videos. Many of our traditional phone calls too have now become video-based calls. If entertainment, news and books have now turned into videos, can learning be far behind?

In fact, we often consume training videos without realizing it. What would you do if your iPhone crashed or if you sat wondering how to assemble your IKEA furniture? You simply open YouTube and watch a video. You might have even subscribed to some YouTube speakers’ channels, on time management or frugal living or personal finance management. Today, the new mantra is, ‘When in doubt, watch a YouTube video.’

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In fact, we are actually spoilt for choice today. There is no dependency on a single source for any information. So, anything you want to teach them, put it up as a video. The flipside is, it would have to be engaging, else the users can simply close the window and move to something else. 

So, if you’re in L&D and considering creating training video content, you need to carefully weigh your choices. How do you garner their attention and keep it? 

Just consider these points while creating video content:

1) What do you want to train on?

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Start with your goal in the mind. What do you want to achieve with your video? Let’s say your content is selling insurance. You don’t want to create just another sales video but would like it to stand out. You don’t want to compete with the best in the industry, of course, because you will never know who the best creator is today. Whilst you’re reviewing one channel and marveling at it, someone somewhere is quietly creating a video that’s going to topple your number one competitor. So, don’t sweat much about creating a world-class video, but focus on creating a video that achieves your stated goal: help improve sales. Even within the broad spectrum of sales, you might want to focus on a specific aspect: Opening, Establishing Relationship, Handling Objection, Negotiating, Closing, Upselling. Which is yours? Make sure that your video gives away something that the viewer can implement it practically. Stay away from abstract theories that they’ll forget as soon as the video has finished playing.

2) Who do you want to train?

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Don’t design generic video that is intended to reach all human beings in the world. There is no such video. Be very specific about your audience and start creating something for them. Understanding your target audience is about knowing their demography, their personal likes and dislikes, their favourite music bands, etc. It’s like when someone writes a movie script, they are expected to write detailed back-story of the characters. Write the backstory of your audiences. For Insurance sales, your audience is a 25+ male and female of middle-class economic background. Somebody who is struggling with the skill that you’re dealing with, so looking forward to answers to his or her problem. Selling Insurance is hard, because you’re selling something for which the buyer gets nothing in return (at least immediately, so there is no real motivation). So they may even be frustrated a bit about their profession. This information would help you instil a dollop of empathy into your content. Write down such a story about your viewer and then write your video script and you will see your training content transform like never before.

3) How do you want to train?

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Do you want live-action content? Image animation? Illustrated animation? Whiteboard animation? Oh, don’t do whiteboard animation, as it’s been done to death! Image animation has become passé as well. Choose innovative illustration or settle for live action if you have the budget. So, as you decide the strategy, choose something contemporary.

4) How long to train?

The statistics say that an average length for a YouTube video is 4 minutes 20 seconds. This is a clear indicator of where the world is heading. Don’t create a training video with the running length of 90 minutes! If you have a lot of things to say, create short videos with a self-contained content. And build multiple ones like that and string them together.

If you’re not on mobile, you’re not on

If you’re above 40, you could be forgiven for thinking that beyond calls and messages, mobile phones help only with booking cabs. But the younger lot, the millennials especially, live in their phones. They do everything with mobile. To them, it is only incidental that  modern phones have the calling facility!

So, in effect, your training too should be mobile-focused. It should be built for mobile in mind. What’s the big deal, wouldn’t all MP4s work on mobile, you might ask! Big deal indeed. A typical video is filmed and designed with long shots and zoom-ins to cover the large canvass area. Such an approach would be disengaging when watched on a small screen. So, when you design your video content for a small screen, you’d tend to be mindful of the size and keep more close-ups and, shorter and bolder text elements. Keep them large and brief.

Go Vertical

Since the advent of smartphones and Facebook, vertical videos have been gaining traction. Since the standard posture of holding a phone is vertical, your content too can become vertical, making it easy and convenient for the learner to access the material. The older lot might still frown upon a vertical video, but if your audience is fully millennials, they might simply lap it up like a dollop of ice cream.

Standardize Presentation

Go to any successful YouTube channel and browse through their videos. You will notice that they have a pattern. Even though these videos play only for 8 to 10 minutes, some even shorter, within that, they follow a pattern. A beginning, an intro, a standardized title, a middle and a conclusion. 

This kind of standardization can be seen in all the good channels. Your video nuggets too should follow a standard pattern. This helps learners familiarize with the content and become friendly with it. 

Tell them what you told them

Videos are famously distracting. They do not provide the kind of focus a book-reading can. Therefore, it is easy to get distracted in the colorful visuals and miss the point. To help with that, state the goal in the beginning and summarize in the end. Again, standardize this intro and summary so that learners will immediately recognize. Don’t get adventurous and use different styles for each video. That would be adding to the distraction!

To Conclude..

Creating videos has now become commonplace for all of us. As learning professionals, it’s important to keep upgrading the way we think and add video strategy to our armory. This will make our learning interventions effective, engaging and contemporary for our learners. Of course, it would be a long time before someone can sing obituary to Video the way Queen sang for Radio. That wouldn’t happen anytime in the near future. So, let’s get on and go gaga over video, with due apologies to Queen!