How often do you change the channel because you don’t find the program interesting enough? How often do you close a video within a few seconds because it isn’t engaging enough? How often do you leave the first lesson of a MOOC because it isn’t informative enough?

If you do it, your learners probably do, too. So, how can you make sure your content is interesting, engaging and informative?

When Facebook conducted research on the effectiveness of videos, it found that people who watch less than three seconds of a video ad create up to 47% of the total campaign value, and people who watch less than 10 seconds create up to 74%. In training, we usually use the first three to 10 seconds in our videos to build a story or provide information about what we’re going to cover. These seconds can make or break video engagement and viewership.

A new generation of learners knows what content it needs and how to find it. Many of these learners are working in your organization. Your training must be able to compete with the plethora of options they have online.

How? The most important part of video creation is the script, but it’s also the most neglected part. When we plan our videos, we often think about the output, software, tools and strategies more than we think about the content itself. The final video is often “jazzy” but not informative enough. We don’t answer the questions learners need answered.

To solve this problem, use the acronym LIFTS (learner-centricity, integrity, flow, transition and simplicity):

Learner-centricity

Consider these questions while scripting:

  • Will my learners be able to relate to the content?
  • Will they be able to empathize with the protagonist or the situation?
  • What is the information gap that my learners will be able to overcome as a result of watching the video?

Even before you start scripting, consider whether your learners will be able to relate to the content. Will they be able to put themselves in the shoes of the characters or understand the examples that you are using? Will they be able to achieve a specific outcome after watching the video? When creating the script, be mindful of the language, situations and characters you use.

Consider this example:

Simon is a director of sales at your organization. As the sales training manager, you recommend a few short videos to him:

  • How to follow up on a marketing lead.
  • How to grow your business as an entrepreneur.
  • How to use a new customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Which one is Simon likely to watch? We know that he is the director of sales, so he probably already knows about the first topic. Since his focus is on leading a sales team, not growing his own business, the second is irrelevant. The last topic teaches him how to use a product that will help him lead his team, so there’s a good chance he will watch it.

Integrity

Always keep in mind the objectives of your training video. What is it that you want the learners to learn from it? Learning videos must be more than just entertaining; they have skill objectives and must stay true to them.

The key is to cut right to the chase. If Simon were watching your training video about the new CRM and, suddenly, the focus of the content shifted to books salespeople should read, Simon would likely think, “I didn’t sign up for this!” Furthermore, if the video simply listed various CRMs available on the market, it would not be doing justice to the topic at hand.

Flow

Write your content so that it builds logically as it progresses from point to point — from simple to complex or from generic to specific. For Simon, a logical progression would be talking about a generic topic like how the CRM landscape is changing and then moving toward specific ways to use the CRM in question. Starting from a broader perspective and becoming more specific will help you hook your audience.

Transition

Transitions are crucial. The trick is to move learners from one topic or subtopic to the next by relating each topic to the preceding one. This way, learners understand how each topic relates to the others and have an easy time following the video.

Simplicity

In your script, use simple and direct language so your learners interpret the video the way you intend them to. Don’t rely on the camera to do your job. All it can do is translate the vision you put on paper. Script to the last detail to ensure that the video conveys your intended meaning.

Akira Kurosowa, one of the early masters of cinema, once said, “With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can make a passable film. But with a bad script, even a good director can’t possibly make a good film.”

The same is true of training videos; it’s all in the work you put in backstage. Establish a connection with your learners within the first 10 seconds of your video, and script it well and in simple language. Then, more than half of your job is complete.

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