Training that incorporates modern techniques such as gamification, interactive design, and mobile learning can be tremendously effective, but some concepts are best communicated with the 120-year-old technique of combining moving images with sound. While the way we experience video has changed drastically over the years, basic principles of video-based training have not.
An effective training video, depending on its purpose, should accomplish at least one of the objectives:
- Communicate exactly what needs to be communicated, and no more.
- Engage the learner with humor or drama so they will remember the lesson.
- Help the learner relate to the subject matter by establishing context.
- Make an abstract concept easy to visualize.
- Reinforce a basic idea so the learner can build on their knowledge from a solid foundation.
We’ve found examples of training videos from the corporate world, education and pop culture that illustrate these five objectives. Use these examples for inspiration in your own video training design or just enjoy a few minutes of educational fun.
1. Using the Watch to control your music (1:55)
When you need to perform a simple task with unfamiliar steps—like syncing your smartwatch to an external speaker—a text manual can be baffling. In this situation, a straight-to-the-point video can bring to life moves and gestures you couldn’t visualize and un-baffle you in seconds. The key is to focus on one task, show exactly what to do and go away. Apple’s guide to syncing the Watch is, as you’d expect, beautifully minimalist.
2. Lightning Safety (1:57)
Some folks are more likely to get struck by lightning than to voluntarily study thunderstorm safety—atmospheric science isn’t very relatable when you’re sitting at home watching a video. So, in this video, the LDS Church mixed in a healthy dose of humor (and a bit of drama) to make the science go down easy. The next time you’re looking up at a darkening sky, you’ll think twice about our friend, the cloud.
3. Appreciation Changes Everything (2:33)
Even the best-designed training can be hard to get into if the learner can’t relate to it. One great way to solve this problem is to start with a video that orients the learner and sets the context. In this employee recognition course we created for OC Tanner, learners are drawn in with an intro outlining the importance of employee appreciation; they’re introduced to the context of the material with a relatable scenario; and then they’re transitioned smoothly into the interactive meat of the course.
4. Physics of sound (3:44)
Physics is fascinating, but until you can visualize a complicated process, it’s easy to drown in a sea of differential equations and two-dimensional drawings of three-dimensional moving objects. A training video with clear and simple demonstrations, like this introduction to sound from Khan Academy, can cut through that frustration.
5. I’m Just a Bill (3:00)
This introduction to lawmaking, one of the most famous educational videos of all time, might not resemble real life as well as it did when it was produced by Schoolhouse Rock in 1976. But, for people who grew up in the 70s, the catchy tune, simple story and high repetition on Saturday mornings cemented basic concepts of political science that they should have been learning in school. While the video is aimed at young people, it is valuable for adults as well, since these concepts are all too easy for otherwise well-educated people to lose track of.
Video can be a way to communicate certain concepts in training that would take much longer to convey in any other medium. Where have you had the most success with video?