Whether training is conducted online or in person, video glitches can wreak havoc on a presentation. My first significant training mishap occurred early in my career. As the Safety and Security Supervisor in a manufacturing facility I had persuaded my boss to purchase what seemed to be an expensive video on hearing protection. With new standards, I thought it would be a good way to reach the 1,300-plus employees working shifts around the clock.
I was eager to show off the product — and my great decision making — to the Plant Manager and senior team when they asked me to share a preview of the video. With notes in hand I pressed play in the conference room where I sat with six executives. It took only a few seconds to realize that the film was not in English. The only saving grace was the humorous conversation that followed, trying to figure out the language being spoken which was not easily identifiable. I don’t remember the land the verbiage came from, but now I do remember to check all video content long before any presentation.
Passing the Video Preview Test
This afternoon I participated in a short training session for presenters in a virtual conference for HR.com. I have used the platform before, but not wanting to be rude I stayed in the session to the end, engaging in a bit of multitasking. When the topic about using video during presentations came up, I paid attention.
The trainer warned a few times that video can be shaky or a bit slow to load. The logistics were also interesting. When we couldn’t hear the sound from the video, one person was told to put the phone receiver next to the computer speaker. Yes, they admitted this was clunky and decidedly low tech, but it worked. However, none of this passed my test for video preview. I don’t need to add potential sound or picture problems to my snafu file.
Don't Assume Equipment Will Work
Just this week I faced equipment issues that delayed a video. I facilitated the final day of a core management skills program that concludes with a survival exercise. The professional development group that created the content brings in a second trainer to help run the exercise. I typically work with the same person, Jon, and I trust his navigation skills with the wide variety of hotel conference room equipment. Jon sets up during lunch and takes charge of the remote. In this recent case it took two laptops and a hotel staff member to get the moving image on the screen. I knew how to describe the situation to conduct the simulation without the DVD; two years ago we were in a location that had neglected to set up any equipment — it was all in use elsewhere. As Jon was leaving he promised to bring his own laptop when we work together again in June.
Before using a video for training purposes, view it as if you are an audience member. Check and re-check the format. Even when you know everything is covered be prepared with plan “B” backup so your audience never sees you miss a beat.
Rebecca Mazin is the owner of Recruit Right in Larchmont, N.Y. She does consulting, management training, and writing to create solutions for human resources issues. Co-author of The HR Answer Book: An Indispensable Guide for Managers and Human Resources Professionals, Mazin is also the author of The HR Answer Blog on AllBusiness.com and The Employee Benefits Answer Book (Pfeiffer).