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Waiting for the Movie to Come Out

More organizations are integrating the use of training videos into their new hire orientation, ongoing professional development and on-demand training.  Are these training videos any good?  Are they effective?

Today, anyone with a smart phone can record, edit and post a video online and call it “training”. Simply recording video footage of a manager talking into a camera, telling employees what they need to know or do in order to fulfill their job responsibilities is not an effective training tool.

A Comparison: One Topic, Two Very Different Levels of Effort and Effectiveness

Following are two examples of people delivering content about a specific topic: motivating employees.  You’ll notice that one is certainly more engaging and attention-grabbing than the other.

[ted id=618 width=560 height=315]


Why Your Videos Should Definitely Look More Like One Than The Other

Here’s a list of five elements that Daniel Pink includes in his TED Talk that make it stand out as an engaging video:

  1. Beginning with an Anchor. He doesn’t begin by immediately launching into the content.  He grabs the audience’s attention from the start by declaring he has a confession to make.
  2. Body Language and Voice. Throughout the presentation, he presents with open body language and gestures to punctuate his points.  He also varies his voice, tone and speed to keep the audience listening.
  3. Visual Aids. He uses well-timed images (with very little text) to supplement his points, yet he does not overuse pictures or slides.
  4. Storytelling. While he provides research and statistics, he does so through the use of stories in order to provide concrete information that the audience can envision and relate to.
  5. Asking Questions. He poses questions to the audience.  They are rhetorical questions that he answers immediately, but they serve to make the audience feel he is talking with them, not at them.

When you contrast Daniel Pink’s TED Talk with Pat Goodwin’s brief video on the same topic, you’ll notice a world of difference.  Two positive notes from Pat Goodwin’s presentation:

  1. Bite-sized. She shares her content and points in a brief, bite-sized video that can be viewed quickly for those who don’t have extra time on their hands to watch videos all day.
  2. Specific Tips. She offers specific, actionable tips on motivating employees.

However, there’s room for improvement:

  1. Subdued.  As opposed to Daniel Pink’s more animated style, Pat Goodwin appears subdued, stiff in body language and monotone in voice.
  2. Unpolished. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare these videos.  TED Talks have a reputation for showcasing some of the best public speakers in the world.  However, that’s not an excuse for sharing video content that seems unrehearsed or a speaker who seems unsure of what to say next.  There are many instances in the second video where the speaker seems to be searching for words.
  3. Quasi-examples.  While she offers some concrete tips for motivating employees, it includes a lot of “you should’s”.  She attempts to paint a picture of what it might look like if someone uses these tips, but the examples are very general.  Concrete stories that provide specific examples of what happened when these tips have been put into action will always be more memorable and clear for the learner.

Video can be an essential training tool, especially for organizations that are looking to increase the scope and scale of learning opportunities while at the same time working with limited resources.  High quality, engaging video presentations that feature strong, well-rehearsed delivery of content are important to ensure they can hold the learners’ attention.

One final comment is that video presentations generally feature only content.  Simply because someone says something in the video doesn’t mean that the learner will actually be able to do something better or different following the video.  If the objective of the training video is to enable the audience to develop new skills, abilities or behaviors, then effective assessments to determine what the audience learned and whether or not audience members can do things better will also be crucial to the success of training videos.

If you know of someone who is planning to use video as a training tool, please feel free to share this post.  If you don’t want to miss a single new post, tip or tool, I invite you to Follow this blog.  The Train Like A Champion blog will return to its regular Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule next week! 

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