Training videos have a reputation for being tedious and uninspiring. But with a few tips from Hollywood, anyone tasked with producing training videos can make them enjoyable to watch.
Learners remember lessons where they have a strong emotional reaction to the content. Here are five ways that training videos can use entertaining storytelling techniques to enhance your learning objectives.
1. Tell a Story
Too many training videos want to get right to the lesson without showing why learning the lesson is important in the first place. While the lesson objective may be straightforward and even in the lesson title, it will be more memorable if you can frame the lesson as a story rather than a lecture.
If you’re making a sales training video, rather than showing only good examples of sales, start with a bad example so your learners can see and remember the differences. If you can’t show lesson examples, at least tell a story of how a process went wrong, and the consequences of that mistake. Did an employee not follow correct procedures delivering a refrigerator, and ended up causing thousands of dollars of damage to the home?
Telling a “bad example” story at the start of each lesson reminds the learner about the cost of not knowing the correct procedure that your video will now teach them.
2. Introduce Story Conflict
A good story always asks a central dramatic question: Will the hero achieve their goal? You make the goal difficult by adding conflict. By conflict, we don’t mean a fistfight — but at least try to make it hard for your main character to reach their objective. If your video shows a technician how to tighten belts on a fan motor, for example, the conflict can be the difficulty of getting into position to make the adjustment, or problems seeing the fan without a portable light or even having access to correct tools.
Look for these “conflict moments” by asking your subject matter expert about the difficulties they faced doing the task. Most experts tend to downplay conflict, regarding it as just part of their jobs, so dig deep in your research.
If possible, after the hero achieves their main goal, show other difficulties the learner may encounter. Never make it easy on your hero!
3. Hire Good Actors
There’s a reason Hollywood makes movies with stars: They’re fun to watch! No matter where you’re located, you can find good actors who understand how to deliver lines and perform in ways that are enjoyable for your learning audience.
If you’re going to film a scene where characters interact with each other, professional actors will know how to memorize your script, how to take stage directions and most of all, how to be believable. There’s a huge difference between the delivery of a professional actor and an amateur whose only acting experience was dressing up as a character at a sci-fi convention.
If your lesson requires the use of a teleprompter, a professional actor will know how to deliver the lines with the correct body language, gestures, facial expressions and pacing. Again, the key reason for hiring professional actors is because they know how to be believable. If your audience can’t believe your characters, they won’t believe your lesson.
Talent agencies can help you find the right actors and will make sure the talent you pick will arrive on time and prepared. They can also help you diversify your cast to reflect your intended audience.
The cost of professional actors depends on your location; expect to pay between $100 and $250 per hour (prices for actors like George Clooney for may be a tad higher).
4. Leave the Comedy to the Professionals
While using humor in training can be awesome, poorly done comedy can completely distract learners from your training message. Keep your humor subtle and, when in doubt, leave it out.
On a similar note, try not to be overly dramatic. We’ve all seen poorly made training videos that covered serious topics. The ham-fisted drama, amateur scripts and bad acting can make the material seem more like a Saturday Night Live sketch than a serious instructional video. Too much melodrama will take your learners right out of your topic.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to be Entertaining
Probably the most difficult thing is to convince your team that training videos for your learning management system (LMS) can be entertaining as well as educational. Entertaining doesn’t mean you’re not taking the lesson seriously — it just means you want your learners to enjoy the process of learning.
Offer to rewrite or edit scripts to introduce Hollywood techniques such as storytelling and conflict. Hire professional actors and show your stakeholders how good performances can make for memorable lessons and are worth the cost. After you deliver scripts to your actors, ask them if they can suggest ways to make their parts more entertaining.
Good video editors can add another layer of entertainment content to your training. They can suggest ways to add pacing, transitions, music, graphics and other elements to make your final videos exciting and interesting.
The YouTube Factor
If you’re still not sure how to make a dull topic entertaining, head over to YouTube and search for training videos similar to yours. Since how-to and tutorial videos are YouTube’s third most popular type of content, you’ll easily find plenty of examples, both good and bad, that can give you ideas for making your training videos entertaining and educational.
With a little effort, your video lessons can be just as enjoyable as a TV show, a movie or a how-to video on YouTube. Make your training entertaining, and your students will never think of comparing them to boring slideshow presentations again.