Representing Reality in Corporate Training
Make no mistake; your learners can spot generic stock art in training modules immediately. Generic stock art can make an otherwise custom, compelling training course seem dull and lack luster. The advantages of investing in a photo session for training far outweigh the cost. Although, there are a few strategies that should be used to present an accurate visual.
A few months ago we were developing a series of courses for bankers and started casting models to play the characters in our case studies. As we began coordinating with an agency to schedule the models for our photo shoot, we found out that one of the models was going to be 7 months pregnant at the time of the shoot. Our first inclination was to select someone else, but we started thinking about it.
Bankers are humans too. They have families. We checked with the client, and they were game for including a pregnant model. We’ve always sought out realistic diversity in the cases we develop for this particular client, and this was an opportunity for us to pull in another realistic aspect.
I just got the photos back from the shoot, and they turned out remarkably well. In several of the cases, the characters are struggling with balancing the demands of work and family. Having a pregnant character makes this all the more real, and I think a lot of people will appreciate that realism. It’s fortunate that the opportunity came up because I never would have thought of it.
We spend a lot of time thinking about diversity and realism in our corporate training courses at Allen, and I encourage my clients to do the same. It’s much easier to be strategic about your examples and casting up front than it is to do damage control later when a group is excluded or offended.
The most obvious sensitivities are race and gender. In one project, we filmed footage of mental health practitioners and their clients. When casting real-life people and their stories for videos like this, diversity may be a lower priority than the individual’s story and their willingness to be filmed. To maintain diversity in the course, we made sure that the examples we wrote and presented on the non-video pages balanced out the race and ethnicity of the practitioners and clients.
Another area where we’ll aim for realism is in dress. I once worked on a project where we did a photo shoot at a child care center. At that particular location, the employees were allowed to wear jeans, but at other locations, they weren’t. Unfortunately, one of the models wore jeans, and our graphic artist ended up having to do magic in Photoshop to turn them into khakis. It was a time consuming and costly mistake that could have easily been prevented.
Details like these can make or break your course. Seeing a mentor in jeans when learners had to iron their dress pants that morning can sting and turn them off of a course right from the start.
When you think about your audience, it’s important to consider a number of questions:
- What are the demographics of your learners? What demographics do you want to portray?
- What do your learners wear? Where do they work? How do they talk and interact?
- What motivates your learners? What turns them off?
These questions are easy to skip or gloss over, but they can save you a lot of time and prevent expensive mistakes.
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