If you’ve been paying attention (to this series of blog posts and to the world of employee development), you’ve come to see the benefits video can bring to your training programs.
How do you decide how to harness that power for your company?
Larger companies have staff who understand the production process and can even perform much of it. They have a map. Not all organizations are so fortunate. How do you draw your own map? Here’s an overview of your first steps.
1. Understand how animations and video differ from conventional training. To be sure your video is a success, choose material that leverages the benefits of video. Make sure the medium suits the message.
To make sense to us as physical creatures, any ‘truth’ must undergo transformations, be couched in certain terms, or we couldn’t understand it. — Jane Roberts
Here’s the final test as you consider whether video is the correct medium for this portion of your training program: try mapping the content for video. For example, take that hour-long PowerPoint presentation and reduce it to its essential elements. Does it easily break into several distinct areas? Can each of those areas be presented in a four- or five-minute video? If it can’t, your material may be too abstract to utilize video effectively.
This process demands you clearly define the critical information in your training. That’s going to come in handy later, when you want to measure its success.
As you do this, remember several things about video and animation:
- A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? According to studies, an animation is worth 1.8 million words, which means you can teach a lot from visuals; not every point must be spoken. You can also make points in narration; not every word must be presented visually. This means that although animations are much shorter than PPT-based training, in some ways, they contain much more information.
- People learn much more easily by being shown how to do something than they do from being told the method.
- It is very common for training to fill the time allotted to it; trainers tend to add detail to fill the allocated time. For video and animation, it is crucial to boil the material down to key facts.
Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. — C. Northcote Parkinson
From this step, you have discerned what medium best suits your project. Assuming your answer is video, let’s draw the next few stops on your map.
Now you know what you want: to produce a video with clear ROI. Your next steps involve how the video will be delivered (the context of your training program), and how you will measure its success.
This is an area that has developed significantly in the last two years. You can and should be able to gather significant data about the use and effectiveneness of your video training.
Delivery and outcomes
- In what environment and on what technology will this content to be consumed? This affects the way the visuals are created.
- Compare training videos that will be played in the kitchen of a fast-food restaurant, a video presented in an auditorium with in-person experts available for Q&A afterwards, and an animation an employee watches on their smart phone on the bus home from work. These videos will all be built very differently.
- Does your material need to be presented in different languages, or take varying cultural sensibilities into account? Map this in from the beginning.
- What are the learning objectives for this video or series of videos?
- After your work above, it should be simple to write three statements beginning with, “After watching this video, employees will understand [the topic] and able to [the task].”
- What are the measurable outcomes that must be achieved? What are the outcomes that would be ideal to achieve?
- Desired outcomes dictate the method of evaluating outcomes. It’s essential to know your targets, and how they will be measured, before the script is even written.
But let the wise be warned against too great readiness at explanation: it multiplies the sources of mistake, lengthening the sum for reckoners sure to go wrong. — George Eliot
Your next steps, regardless of the extent of your in-house talent, concern who does what.
If you are inexperienced working with scripts, content maps, and storyboards, sit down with your production partner and ask questions until you are completely clear about who will do what, at what milestones you have approval, and the consequences of making changes after that approval. Some discussion points include:
- What are the basic visual objectives and tone you want this video to project?
- What kind of voice-over do you want?
- Do you have a corporate style guide, and should it be followed? If not, which logos and colors that represent your organization should be included?
- Do you want a trendy look or more conventional?
- Should this video be friendly? Formal? Should it include humor (make it too funny and your viewers won’t learn – they’ll just laugh)?
Who is going to convert content that already exists?
- Identify the key areas of crossover between your subject-matter experts and the video production staff who will bring it to life, and create partnerships for clear communication.
- Writing for video animations is very different than writing for training manuals. Lean on your production company if you are uncertain.
- It’s difficult to make significant corrections once the animation has been roughed out. Make sure the script does what you need it to do before it goes to the animators.
Who is going to create, administer, and analyze ROI measurements? This is a separate topic, but needs to come up now and be part of the project.
If you work through this process in a systematic way, it soon becomes second nature. Many of our clients struggle with the first one or two. Then they adapt to the new media, and we make a digital production line, producing dozens and sometimes hundreds of animations. This really is the future of training for the next few years, so let’s get started.