How to Create Instructional Videos [Ultimate Guide]
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Video learning has become the new norm.
How often do you turn to YouTube if you want to learn a new skill? Or perform a task?
This trend of video learning is also seen internally within organizations – whether your HR team is looking for new content for onboarding employees, or your supply chain team needs to learn technical, step-by-step processes. Training videos provide a full sensory learning experience while being accessible instantly anywhere in the world.
But remember, creating high-quality training videos takes time and resources. The principles of high production value are simple in theory, but take dedicated practice in order to perfect.
And even more important than production value is the way your learning is designed. We highly recommend hiring an experienced learning consultant to help organize and craft your learning content before you begin planning your training videos.
Once your learning content is organized and objectives are set, then you can assess the ideal training video features and formats to convey this information.
And that leads to our tips – what makes a great training video? This article will help you organize, plan, and create the best training videos for your audience.
Tips For Planning Training Videos
It may sound simple but always keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind: to help people understand some type of information. While visual design and entertainment are important factors for modern training videos, the core of your focus should be on your learning objective and a simple explanation of the material.
Here are a few tips for planning your training videos:
- Have a learning objective for each video: Just like developing any instructional tool, always start with a learning objective. Ensure the learning objective is so clear, that the learner’s know what the objective is before they start watching the video. For example, use titles such as: “How to Submit an IT Ticket Request.” In this case, the learner already knows the objective before they even press play. As you move through each step of creating your training video, always make sure to refer back to your learning objective to stay on track.
- Write a clean and simple script: The script is the most critical piece of a quality training video. Starting with your learning objective, make sure you dedicate enough time to ensure your video script is well-written, well-organized, and incredibly easy-to-understand. Confusing scripts are detrimental to learning videos. And we’ll be honest, writing good scripts takes a lot of practice. If writing isn’t your strong suit, we suggest finding someone within your organization to help edit your scripts, or hire an experienced consultant.
- Keep your training videos short in length: Research has shown that short videos (with one specific learning objective) are ideal for learning comprehension. Maintaining shorter videos all begins with your scriptwriting. Continually edit and refine your script until you’ve trimmed out all of the fat and your message is crystal clear. A good rule of thumb is to keep each of your videos under 5-minutes long.
- Sketch or storyboard your ideas: Once your script is set, it’s time to start planning your visuals. You don’t have to have a formal storyboard to outline every scene, but it does help to sketch out some ideas. Before you move into the production phase, have a rough outline of the visuals you’d like to use. This means reviewing your script and drafting some ideas for visuals to match. What will be the most engaging/unique/interesting to your learning audience?
- Brainstorm some “surprise-and-delight” features: How can you make your video more engaging? Can you add small elements of humor? Can you personalize the video for this specific audience? Can you use relevant company lingo or jokes? Conjure up some fresh ideas to surprise and delight your audience. Not only will your learning audience enjoy the training videos more, this will also help solidify their understanding of the content.
Beginner Tips For Producing Training Videos
Now, it’s time to produce your video! And while you don’t need to strive for Martin Scorcese, quality video production truly is essential to provide a valuable learning experience. By removing distracting barriers, high production value provides learners with an increased level of focus, clarity, trust, and comfort.
Here are few tips for planning your online training videos:
- Use a tripod to steady your shots: If you’re using a video camera to film yourself, or any subject, it is imperative that you use a tripod. A steady video shot keeps a professional look to your training video, plus allows learners to maintain focus on the content.
- Carefully frame your shots: Depending on your plan for editing your videos, you want to be deliberate about how you frame each shot. Is the subject in the center of the screen? Off center to the left? Carefully think through your framing before you press the little red record button.
- Get your lighting right: Videography is all about lighting. You want to find a location that has good natural light, but is in a shaded area so the light is distributed evenly. Avoid shooting in harsh, bright sunlight or in dark rooms.
- Invest in audio recording equipment: Forgetting about audio is the most common mistake when first starting off creating training videos. Think about it – the sound is potentially the most important part of a good training video. You need your learners to hear your content loud, crisp, and clear for a successful knowledge transfer. Invest in a quality microphone and external audio recorder to maximize your sound quality.
- Hire a good video editor: Once your video is shot and recorded, you’ll have a handful of large video files to edit. If you’ve never edited video before, just know that it is a lengthy and resource-intensive process. There are many free resources available online to teach yourself video editing, but we suggest hiring an expert that can edit your videos quickly and efficiently. This will ensure a clean, professional look that your learning audience will appreciate.
- Select a fitting music track: Music in training videos remains a long-debated subject, but we’re for them! We’ve found that the correct music track creates a comfortable and positive learning experience. But the key is finding the correct track for your audience. Make sure to critically think through your audience ages and interests and pick a track that fits best. Also, make sure to keep the music volume low enough so your audience can clearly hear the voiceover or speaker.
- Don’t overdo it with the visual effects: Another common of those new to video editing is to go overboard with visual effects. Flashes, pops, weird colors. Keep it simple and straightforward as possible. You may want to boost the brightness or contrast up a few notches, but make sure that the video still feels real and natural in the eyes of your learners
Intermediate Tips For Producing Training Videos
Video production is a never-ending pit of techniques and approaches. If you’re looking to step up to the intermediate level, here are a few more tips to creating killer online training videos:
- Bring some motion to your shots: As mentioned above, tripods are critical to get that steady, professional look. But the eye craves smooth motion. Notice, we said smooth motion. This doesn’t mean holding the camera with your hands. Often, adding smooth motion to your shots requires additional rigs such as stabilizers, gimbals, or tracks. These types of shots certainly aren’t necessary for most training videos, but they will boost your production value above 98% of other training videos out there.
- Upgrade your editing software: Using professional video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro will provide you with endless post-production options. And while these software programs do carry a heavier price tag, they are 100% worth the cost if you’re planning to edit training videos for the long-term.
- Leverage text and highlight features to further explain: Text, arrows, highlights. These are all critical components of creating a quality training video. Often, these tools help reinforce information that is complex or needs additional support for learning. While your robust video editing software can certainly handle these tasks, Camtasia is a great out-of the-box software solution. With highlight and arrow features built in, Camtasia offers a fast-performing, video editing program that is perfect for beginners or intermediate users.
- Use animations to enhance explanations: Quality visuals are required to create a powerful learning experience through online video. And while custom animations are expensive and time-consuming, there are many simpler options to get the job done. One option is to purchase pre-made animation templates. From sites such as Motion Array or Video Hive, you can purchase brilliantly created animations to add some pop and flash to your training videos. Another option is to use software tools such as Vyond (previously GoAnimate) or VideoScribe. These simple animation tools deliver high production value at a limited time investment.
- Change your scenes frequently: To keep learners engaged and interested, it’s important to change your scenes frequently. Rather than having a talking head on screen for five straight minutes, you need to mix it up. Add some b-roll footage over top. Insert an animation to explain the concept the video is discussing. It’s both an art and a science to find the correct balance of time between scenes.
- Create thoughtful scene transitions: Transitions in training videos are one aspect that your learners won’t consciously notice. But they do make a big impact on quality. In the editing process, as you move from scene to scene, carefully consider how your transition will work. Will your text move out left and chart move in right? Try out some ideas and continue to tinker until it is smooth and crisp for the viewer.
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