As we’ve covered before, corporate training and instructional videos are a special breed. There is an expectation from many in the business world that EVERY corporate production will WITHOUT FAIL either make the audience want to claw out their eyeballs or slip slowly into a coma of boredom. While this might be a touch unfair, these sorts of beliefs create an opportunity to surprise.
It’s like we’re at the Olympic high jump final and the bar isn’t even the height of the mat yet, such is the level that it’s set.
So why not raise that bar?
This is just a short checklist of things to keep in mind when creating your next training or instructional production. And while a production company should always have a handle on the things mentioned here, knowing the processes involved can also help on both sides of the production coin.
To get an idea of whether it is a path you want to go down, a good first step is to sketch out a basic plan and see whether the whole thing is feasible. When planning the video, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions;
- What are the goals of this production?
- Will this be a stand-alone production or part of a series?
- How long do we want the video/s to be?
- Do we need Subject Matter Experts (SME) and who are our choices?
- When and where will it be shot?
- Do we need to hire a crew (cameraman, director, producer)?
- How much are we willing to spend?
Understanding the Medium
If you’ve decided to go ahead with your production, the next step is to wrap your head around the potential and the limits of video training.
The basic layout of a training video is as follows;
1) Tell the learner what they’ll learn
2) Teach the instruction
3) Summarise what has been learnt
Length is a key factor in training videos. Ideally they’ll be between 2 and 7 minutes long, and anything over 10 minutes can lose the audience very quickly.
Secondly, correctly using an SME – the video’s teacher – is super important. A sparkling personality is just as important as how it is utilised. If your training is on a bit of software, for example, you don’t want it to be a 10 minute video of a screen with a mouse floating around. If splice the video with shots of the teacher, it creates far more of a connect with the audience than a pure voiceover ever could.
Give it a Practice Run
Don’t leave it to chance on the day of the shoot. Much like a wedding rehearsal, you want all your ducks in a row come the big day. Little things like your on-screen talent being flustered, your crew not working together, or your set not being as required, can make the shoot a disaster if you try to nail it first time.
Invest the time in a practice run to iron out any issues before the pressure is truly on.
Shooting with your SME
On the day of the shoot, your Subject Matter Expert needs to be comfortable. They need to play the part of both an educator and (secondly) an entertainer. It can be a particularly tricky mix to get right, so coaching them on how they are going about it, and acknowledging when they’ve got it right, are super important.
Be sure to allow them to be themselves, as asking non-actors to act in front of the camera is a recipe for disaster. It’s also important to alleviate any perceived pressure. Reassure them that you can always refilm segments if they make a mistake – no biggy.
Post shoot, be sure to debrief with those on set. Extra sets of eyes and ears are always handy in picking things up that you otherwise may have missed. Ensuring that your editor is on the set for the shoot will give them a lot more knowledge on the training material, and will help when they’re cutting it all together.
From there, ensuring that the material is effectively transmitted to the audience is also important. You shouldn’t hesitate in testing the new videos on test audiences first, and gauging their reactions. Don’t shy away from the fact that If it results in a better outcome, it is worth reshooting.
As was said at the off, corporate training videos don’t have to exactly be Oscar worthy to be appreciated. A well thought-out and well-produced piece of work is all it takes to raise the bar.