Words alone aren’t the best way to communicate. In fact, sometimes words can get in the way of what we’re trying to say. But if words aren’t the answer, where do we turn to get our message across? TechSmith research shows that two-thirds (67%) of people understand information better when it’s communicated visually. And people are consuming more and more visual content: a Nielsen report from last year found that US adults spent almost six hours per day consuming video content during the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 11 minutes on the previous quarter. 

When it comes to learning and development for your employees, incorporating visuals can be a game-changer. Visual content relays information more quickly and efficiently, and aids retention. It’s a win-win situation: employees receive more engaging, interesting training, and employers benefit from better-trained staff. There are tons of other bonuses too, including cost, flexibility, and scalability.

A more dynamic approach to L&D

Let’s say that a software company needs to ensure that all their consultants are experts in the software they’re selling and up-to-date with current trends in the industry. Consultants are dispersed across many different countries, making it challenging to deliver efficient, cost-effective training.

Instead of attempting to train each new hire face-to-face (or even in multiple group settings) and issuing explanatory documents, the L&D team could instead create a series of instructional videos. Simple-to-use tools for screen capture, screen recording, and video editing like those provided by TechSmith make the video creation process easy. There’s no need to hire a professional, external video production team, as videos can be created easily in-house.

The same videos can be repurposed for different regions by creating voice-overs in different languages, or adding appropriate subtitles. As all the videos are easily editable, they can be quickly tweaked to keep the training relevant and up-to-date as necessary. Training videos are saved in a central location so that they can be accessed and revisited by all staff at any time. And any face-to-face training that does take place can be recorded, screen-captured, and added to the training video library so that it benefits everyone.

This method is kinder on the budget, effective, and scalable. It results in better information absorption and retention. But what’s even more revolutionary is that learning becomes self-directed. Employees can go back and revisit training materials when they need a refresher and can learn at a pace that best suits their needs. And, when they learn how easy it is to create these videos, they can even start creating and sharing videos to help highlight work they’re doing, results they’ve seen, or provide their own trainings on new systems or approaches to the work. Staff are motivated to actively participate in this social, dynamic form of learning, which just can’t happen with traditional methods of training like face-to-face sessions, PowerPoint presentations and instructional PDFs.

Lessons in visuals from the marketing team

While many marketing teams are adept at creating video content, HR and L&D teams may feel like they don’t have the necessary skills, tools, or confidence to make brilliant videos. But there are lots of tips and techniques that L&D professionals can borrow from marketing to make sure that training videos are as effective as possible. These are our top tips:

  • Tell a captivating story

Good marketers know that product-focused content is unlikely to catch the attention of their audience. Instead of concentrating on the hard-sell, they present a narrative that resonates with their customers and makes an emotional connection, in an effort to establish a lasting relationship between brand and consumer.

L&D professionals can try the same technique, creating a story and characters that effectively convey the message and learning points with much more impact than a simple instructional video.

  • Think about the overall experience

When they’re considering how to engage with consumers, marketers focus on the overall experience and try to ensure that every interaction is on-brand.

When designing training videos for learners, L&D professionals need to think through the overall experience too. It’s important to ensure that each element of a video is consistent, and that each video makes sense in the context of a whole learning pathway.

A recognisable message and tone throughout will help with engagement and information retention.

  • Personalise the content

Marketers are skilled at creating personalised messages to appeal to different target markets, and this is another lesson for L&D teams. An effective training video allows users to choose the way they navigate material, including how fast they move through the content and what topics they learn.

  • Keep it short

Recent TechSmith research found that when it comes to video, brevity is definitely best. Almost three-quarters (74%) of UK viewers prefer informational videos that are no more than six minutes long.

Marketers are well aware that today’s consumers tend to be time poor and have short attention spans, which explains the rise of super short video content. Training videos should be relevant and where possible, kept short and concise too, without too many learning points packed into each video.

How to make a training video

Now you know the ingredients of a successful training video, follow these steps to get started.

  • Make sure you’re clear on who your audience is and what topic/s the video will cover, including the content you’ll include and the learning points that you want viewers to come away with. Don’t try to overload the video with information. Focus on a topic and get the information across in the most efficient manner.
  • Choose the best format. Will the video be a screencast, demo video, presenter video, role play, or a combination?
  • Write a script for your video and then create a storyboard. This means using images to show the sequence of your video.
  • Once everything is prepared, start shooting! You don’t need fancy equipment; your smartphone and screencasting software should be plenty to start.
  • Edit your video to create a finished piece. The TechSmith Assets library contains resources including motion backgrounds, animations, images and music that you can add to your video. Annotations, text overlays and animations can also help bring your video to life.
  • Once you’ve finished the first draft of your video, get stakeholders and colleagues to take a look at it to check you’re on the right track. You can use TechSmith’s Video Review tool to streamline this process, and then incorporate any stakeholder feedback into your next version.
  • When your video is finalised, you need to render it from the video editor into a video file — usually an MP4 — and then choose a place to host it. YouTube and Vimeo are popular hosting options, but you may just host it on your intranet if you want it to be private to your employees.