My friend had been studying for her teacher certification for months. I came to pick her up for a short study break. There were piles of books and study aids on almost every flat surface, but her most effective study tool was on the TV. She was watching John Green’s World History Crash Course videos. Our short study break turned into watching “just one more video” three or four times as if we were binge watching our favorite TV show.
My friend and I are not an anomaly. In Allen’s conversation with Donald Taylor, he discussed how “video is part of how we live and learn today,” and the data support that claim: 78% of people watch online video once a week, with 55% watching video daily.
The Crash Course videos were only a part of my friend’s studying strategy, but they worked in a way that her books and study aids couldn’t—she was automatically engaged with the videos because John Green was a friendly face in an overwhelming sea of dates, facts and events.
Your learners might also be looking for a face to help them make sense of their training. While I could discuss the types and techniques of video that work best for each learning situation, there are four major ways that a simple description video will help you engage learners:
1. Remind learners that people are behind the training. Most companies do not create training on a whim. People are involved in the strategy, planning, creation and implementation. The act of creating training is an act of showing learners you care about their personal and professional growth, but that can be lost when learners only see page after page of training content. Even a short video at the beginning of the training can remind learners that people, even and especially company leaders, came together to create this training for them.
2. Share the big picture. In addition to showing learners that people are behind the training, you can show them that there’s a reason behind the training. It is best practice to give adult learners the purpose for any training, but too often that purpose is delivered in a dry, boring list of objectives that the learner may or may not read. A video is a richer, more visual, personal experience where you can say to your learner exactly what you hope they gain from the training.
3. Give training extra significance. If your training does not typically include video, adding it can send the message that this training demands attention.
For example, I worked with a client who had a new initiative and they wanted to impact the company’s culture. They wanted the training to be part of that initiative, but in the past, training was viewed as a punishment. Using video of key leaders talking about the new initiative helped us avoid training fatigue. Learners got to hear firsthand why this training was different.
4. Show you thought about the learner’s concerns. Video allows for a more conversation-like interaction between you and the learner. John Green humorously acts like his grade-school self to disrupt his own narrative. It’s a fun way to call out and address points of confusion or disagreement his learners might have. After all, he can’t sit and answer everybody’s questions, but he can show he’s aware of his learners’ concerns.
You don’t have to make your video funny to be effective. You can acknowledge and discuss your learners’ concerns in any way that’s authentic to your company culture. For example, we had a client who was concerned about the transition from employee to supervisor. We interviewed supervisors who made the same transition, and they shared their experience on video. It was a moment of honesty and inspiration.
As you look at your training, keep in mind that video is just one part of the training ecosystem. You’ll likely lose learner engagement if you force them to watch a two-hour lecture, but a well-placed one-minute video may motivate your learner to progress through a two-hour course.