Ideas, Tips, and Resources for Using Video in Your Online Training

I have a love/hate relationship with training videos. On the one hand I love how engaging video can be for demonstrating complex concepts or processes. On the other, I hate the cringe-worthy corporate training videos we’ve all endured in the past. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re over-produced - replete with unrealistic scenarios, quasi-aspirational music, and distracting animation effects. I think the following parody does a hilarious job of poking fun at these qualities.

But even if you’re a training video hater, there’s reason to fall in love: Parody-worthy corporate training videos are on their way out in favor of photojournalistic and amateur-produced videos. While these amateur videos may not always be of the highest quality they are less labor intensive to create, they’re more pointed, have a more realistic tone, and they’re low cost to produce. And, with the popularity of smart phones featuring built-in video shooting and editing capabilites and the availability of inexpensive, easy to use flip video cameras; you don’t need to be the next Scorsese to make great videos. To get started here are a few creative ideas for using video in training and some practical design tips for executing your vision.

How to Use Video in Online Training

Check out “Gettin’ Geeky’s” Gina Schreck as she shares some great ideas for using video for training. (Cool alert: this video was shot entirely on a flip camera!)

In addition to Gina’s ideas, consider these:

  • Think beyond the testimonial by equipping customers to shoot videos of them using your product/service. When trainees see how your company’s products or services really impact a customer’s life, it takes your message from informative to transformative.
  • Film your company’s senior leaders at conferences or regional meetings. When your audience is widely dispersed trainees may feel left out or struggle to see the big picture. Instead of making remote trainees download 30MB of video or forcing them to listen to a lengthy audio recording - both of which require the trainee to extract the meaningful details for themselves - edit video down to the key messages and imbed them in a short online module. Not only does this help get the word out, it gives you a chance to translate strategic initiatives into ground-level behaviors for your trainees, and it demonstrates the collaborative spirit of the training team to the higher-ups.
  • Give your employees a video camera and ask them to film their team’s best practices, innovations, or ideas. Facilitate the process by setting specific goals for the video(s) and then let your trainees run with it!
  • Let the images do the talking. I realize people will disagree with me on using silent video but sometimes it’s more engaging to capture the nuances of a step by step process in pictures than it is to narrate it for the audience.

Video Design Tips

No one wants their amateur training video to look amateurish. Before you grab your camera check out these practical training design tips from Jeremy Vest of Online Education Pro (via the eLearning Brothers blog).

And once you’ve got your design in place here are a few tips for a successful shoot:

  1. Sketch out a rough storyboard to capture your shot by shot vision.
  2. Use a camera tripod or invest in a flip camera tripod to steady your shots.
  3. Before you hit record, do some basic shot composition. Make sure your subject is in frame and properly lit.

Post-production editing, in many cases, can be done right on your phone or video camera. But if you want or need to do more extensive editing there are numerous free or low cost software options, like:

Do you have any examples of great online training videos you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Click the comment link.


Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training solutions. When her training skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own design muscles. Contact Trina at trina@rimmer.net.

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