Businesses have been making instructional videos for decades. In the 1980s, VHS tapes made it easy for any business to make and distribute training and other instruction through video — we remember them for their corny acting, low-production values, and mouth-watering chilis.
Later, with the arrival of the internet and cheaper, better recording equipment, training videos got an upgrade. The number of training-video ideas ballooned, too: in a 2019 survey 74% of corporate trainers said they were using video in their curriculums.
Today, tutorial videos have become a mainstay of digital media. The pandemic sent their popularity soaring as businesses groped for ways to share knowledge and instruction remotely.
So how does a small-business or individual creator get in on the training-video boom? How do you make a decent training video? And why should you?
Learning how to make training videos can be invaluable. Done well, they serve as step-by-step visual guides that make your product or service more accessible and appealing.
Here’s a bunch more reasons:
When your company is hiring, you’re training. Without training videos, the bulk of that training falls on your team, who have to teach the newbies the ropes.
That takes time away from their regular duties and makes training more expensive. With effective training videos, you can shrink that time and cut those training costs by half.
Training videos can standardize and streamline the new-employee onboarding process.
With accessible employee training videos, you can rest assured that all new staff will have the same onboarding experience, wherever they are. Online training videos are also beneficial for remote workers who can’t do on-site training — and a lot cheaper than flying them in and putting them up in a hotel for several days of training. And the stakes are high: research shows that employees are more likely to stay with a company longer if they have an engaging onboarding experience.
They’re more memorable
Engaging, interactive, visually-oriented content — think virtual-reality or video-game-style videos — that emphasizes action over front-loaded facts has been shown to improve trainees’ retention of information.
They boost productivity
Faster, better retention combined plus, a more efficient process adds up to increased productivity. Training new hires in person takes longer, and when it’s done in a room full of people, it’s prone to interruptions. With videos, even when interruptions happen, they’re less likely to derail the trainee. They can easily pause the video and come back later. This has been and always will be a huge benefit of e-learning.
More website traffic
If you’re creating training materials for the general public, a properly tagged and labeled video will help you rank higher in Google search results. Your content will be easier to find, and which will drive more traffic to your website, which will, in turn, increase your website’s overall authority (as measured by Google) on a particular subject.
Better customer support
If you’re selling a product or service to the public, you’re well aware of the constant need for customer service. The volume of service calls will steadily increase as your client base grows. Training videos can answer basic questions, which will free up those service reps to handle thornier problems and needier customers.
They make employees and customers happier
Lastly, training videos can improve overall satisfaction in their target audience. If your videos are engaging, concise, and helpful, it will make customers less frustrated about using your product, or employees less disgruntled about working for you, when stuff breaks down.
When Not To Do Training Videos
Before diving into best practices and tips for making training videos, we should point out a few scenarios where there’s a better option. You don’t need a training video in situations where:
Learning is not the objective.
A small task is easier to explain via email or Slack.
In-person training is necessary, like teaching someone how to drive a forklift or operate a press.
The training video only applies to a few people, negating the efficiencies and productivity benefits.
In all these scenarios, you’re better off explaining things to an employee or a consumer one-on-one, where you can be more targeted and nuanced.
How To Make an Effective Training Video
If you decide a training video is the best course of action, always remember to:
Know your audience
Things like gender, age, location, and most common search queries are critical to understand. If you’re creating a training video on how to edit a podcast, is it for young digital natives or an audience who grew up with tape recorders?
Set a clear objective
The whole point of creating a training video is to boost memory retention, increase productivity, and save you money. So the production process needs to start with a very clear goal in mind, and keep that goal front-and-center at every step in order to teach effectively. Otherwise you’ll waste time and resources creating something that nobody needs or watches.
Pick a format
Different video formats work better for various topics. For example:
Screencast tutorials are great for teaching someone how to use a new piece of software.
Presenter videos are well-suited for giving employees a guided tour of a workplace.
Micro videos are great for explaining short, bite-sized concepts.
Animated videos are great for explaining a subject that’s not visual, like the creative process, in an engaging way.
Side note: Budget can play into the choice of video format, too.
After you finish your preparatory work, here are several more steps to keep in mind.
Scripting and storyboarding
Before you shoot a single frame of video, you need to write a script and sketch out a storyboard. Scripts will keep you on topic while filming. Storyboards help you plan your shots — showing you things like what the camera will show, and where it should be positioned.
Of course, you don’t need scripts for 45-second micro videos. And you don’t need storyboards for simple screen recordings. The bottom line: Think about what you need to prepare to make the shoot go smoothly — it’s the most time-consuming part and you want to make it as efficient as possible.
When planning your video, make sure you think through exactly what the viewer will see at every moment. The more engaging they are to the eye, the longer your videos will hold your audience’s attention.
Use the right equipment
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using equipment capable of delivering the production value you need for the kind of video you’re making. You’ll definitely need a camera, screen-recording software, high-quality mics, appropriate lighting, and editing software.
Of course Descript can do a lot of that, and in some cases all of it. And of course we think it’s the best choice for editing software no matter what kind of training video you’re making. With Descript you can record your screen and narrate, add music to that recording, then edit it by editing the transcript — which we’ll automatically generate for you. You can add subtitles for accessibility, titles, and anything else you need.
Best of all, the app is intuitive and easy to learn, so it’s perfect for creating your own tutorials. And once they’re created, Descript makes it easy to upload them to the web and share on social channels.
Where Can I Host a Training Video?
You’re probably familiar with at least one of the most prevalent video-hosting sites. But be sure to check out some of the alternatives to YouTube, and to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Your company’s website
Obviously, this option only works if the website is robust and built to host those videos. If it is, it could be the best option when your instructional tutorials are few and far between.
Posting these videos to your website can also drive traffic via Google, which will index them and link back to you.
YouTube is still the king of long-form video content. In a 2018 Pew Research study, 87 percent of YouTube viewers said the platform had helped them figure out how to do a task. They considered it a necessary resource because of that.
If your tutorials are for a general audience, YouTube is a great platform. It’s also highly searchable (Google owns it, after all). The downside is it’s a big pond with millions of videos, many of them low-grade junk. And the interface isn’t super professional.
Vimeo acts as an alternative to Youtube. It allows you to upload videos to password-protected web pages (an important feature for certain organizations), embed them into other web pages, and send links to them via newsletters. Its interface is a little nicer to look at than Google’s and it offers higher video and audio playback quality than YouTube on paid accounts. If you’re spending a lot to make a well-produced video, it may be worth paying for higher-quality playback.
Finally, Wistia is a great platform for hosting professional videos, from educational content to product marketing. It features a fully customizable video player and the ability to embed your video channels, among many other benefits.
If you want to read more about various tips and tricks for recording your videos, check out Descript’s blog in full.
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