How to create a training video that sticks

Computer monitor doing bench presses with a barbell

Training is no one’s favorite part of the job, and yet, it has to be done. Luckily, employee training videos are a cost-effective — and just effective-effective — way to share information with your workforce and customer base. 

Making a training video requires some effort upfront, but then it’s there, ready to go whenever you need it. E-learning and online courses have been shown to be cheaper than in-person instruction, and substantially more effective than just having people read a Powerpoint quietly by themselves. They’re also flexible and accessible — employees can engage with them at their own pace, and they’re perfect for the work-from-home trend. 

If you’re wondering how to create training videos that boost retention, here are some things to think about as you get started. 

Center it on a learning objective

Give your viewers something specific to grab onto so they know what the point of the video is from the very beginning. Are they learning a new skill or being refreshed on corporate policy? Either way, having a simple, stated goal in mind will help you make a tighter, more effective training video, and will keep the audience engaged and on task throughout. 

Direct it at a particular learner

Again, the more specific you are here, the better. The only downside of video trainings is that participants can’t pause the conversation to ask clarifying questions, so you want to make sure you’re including everything they need to know — without bogging them down with excess information. It sometimes helps to imagine a specific employee and ask yourself, how would I give information to this person? What would they already understand, and what would they need extra help grasping?

Use a logical sequence that’s easy to follow

Like any good to-do list, this one should be well-organized so that information flows naturally. Make it as step-by-step as you can, linking topics together when possible and highlighting when you’re changing directions so no one gets confused. 

Make it relevant

Don’t get wrapped up in minutiae — you’ll lose your audience if you spend your time going over every detail from a handbook or manual. What does your audience need to know in order to understand this topic better? Where will examples and demonstrations be more memorable than just rote recitation? 

Make it memorable

You don’t have to go overboard with silly costumes or zany effects, but don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it. Slip a joke or two into the narration, or include some fun animations with your transitions. Sometimes those little touches can help keep people focused and engaged. It also might help jog their memories later, so that the meat of what they’re learning is easier to recall when they need it most. 

8 steps to a great training video

Once you’ve got all of that, you’re ready to get started! Here’s our tutorial on how to create your training video, step by step. 

1. Determine your audience

Like we said above, be specific! This isn’t just customers or employees. Think of which department will be watching, and whether you want to gear your video towards onboarding new employees, or refreshing your old hands on a particular topic. 

2. Write a script

Start by outlining: break down your topic into a few different components, and decide what order you should tackle them. Then write out how you’re going to explain and discuss each one. Before you go to record, try reading it out loud — what makes sense on the page doesn’t always sound natural when it comes out of your mouth! If you need extra help, we’ve got guides on how to write a script and how to read a script that sounds natural.

3. Plan a storyboard

This is your chance to try a director’s cap on. What images are going to accompany all of those words? If you’re making a hands-on instructional video, it might just be footage of you demonstrating the technique you’re talking about. But you also might need to use a screen recorder if the process involves digital work. Are there going to be interactive elements? What will they look and feel like? A storyboard helps you think all of this through so you can make decisions and track down resources before you start the recording process. That way you know what you need from the beginning. 

4. Record your narration

It’s important that your voiceover sounds clear, clean and professional. We have tons of tips for how to do that, but the two most important ones are to record in a quiet space that’s not too echo-y, and have headphones on while you do it. Your phone’s internal microphone is okay for recording, but ideally you’ll use an external microphone, which can make a huge difference in quality without breaking the bank. Here are our picks, which, yes, do include budget options!

5. Record your screen or film your video

This can be as easy as setting up a screencast, but might also involve some in-person shots that require sets and lighting. If that’s the case, remember to keep things simple — neutral backdrops, no crazy patterns on anyone’s clothing — and to use a webcam or put your camera on a tripod so the shoot isn’t derailed by shaky footage. If you’re looking for animation templates, we’ve got tips for you right here. If you are doing any screen recording, you can do that all in Descript — check out this tutorial video to get started.

6. Edit the video

If you’ve got a tried and true video editor you like to use, by all means, use it! But if you’re not all that familiar with video production, Descript can really help. It’s video editing software that’s as easy to use as a word document but with powerful editing tools to make a truly professional video.

7. Add an intro

Once you’re done putting your main video content together, go back to the beginning and introduce the content. Let your viewers know who you are, and what they’re about to experience! You might drop in a logo here, too, just to jazz things up.

8. Share the video

Last but never least. Post your video online, share it with your colleagues, customers, and friends, and let the learning begin. 

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