Video is a popular medium in entertainment and for learning non-work-related skills. It’s also becoming increasingly popular in workplace learning.

Learners are increasingly expecting to see video in training content, says Jeff Fissel, co-founder and vice president of solutions at KZO Innovations, which was recently acquired by Learning Technologies Group (LTG) and integrated with LTG’s authoring tool, gomo. “If we want to know how to do something, we probably go to YouTube,” he says. “We want to replicate that experience within organizations.”

“Video,” says Najette Fellache, founder and CEO of SpeachMe, “is the most effective modality for learning because of its ability to deliver a compelling experience that combines visual, audio and graphical elements in a manner that captures the benefits of an in-person learning experience – minus the distractions.” The ability to rewind goes a step beyond instructor-led training by enabling learners to make sure they understand key points, says Ari Bixhorn, vice president of marketing at Panopto.

What Makes a Good Video?

It’s OK to sacrifice some video quality for content quality and relevancy, experts say. “Viewers will happily forgive less-than-Hollywood-level production values if you’re providing useful ideas and information,” says Bixhorn. “Few, however, will spend the time to watch something that’s light on actual content, even if it is well-produced.”

Still, says Fissel, it’s important to make sure learning professionals know how to create good video content, and he recommends providing coaching and training to help them learn those skills. In fact, if video creation is embedded in your authoring tool, you might even be able to provide comments and notes in the video itself so they can learn to make better videos.

“While the quality of the video recorded by today’s webcams, camcorders and smartphones continues to improve, the quality of the audio those devices capture has not always kept up,” says Bixhorn. Test the audio quality before recording, and if your camera isn’t recording the audio well, invest in an affordable USB microphone or lavaliere microphone set.

Bixhorn also says it’s important to make sure your recordings are easily searched. He recommends making videos three to five minutes long to help learners find specific learning moments, or use a platform that enables advanced video searches, such as the ability to index every word spoken or shown on screen. Fellache points out that short videos have other benefits. “Research has suggested that optimal engagement with training videos declines dramatically after six minutes,” she says.

Security is also an important concern. Don’t “rely on consumer tools that aren’t intended for business use,” Bixhorn cautions. “When YouTube debuted in 2005, many early adopters started storing their business videos there. But YouTube was not – and still is not – intended for sharing sensitive or proprietary business information.” Fissel echoes this advice, saying it’s important to share video “in a secure and curated environment.”

Tips for Using Video

Now is a good time to start using video. “Only 10 years ago,” Bixhorn says, “creating professional-quality training videos may have required expensive camcorders and specialized expertise with video production software. Over the last decade, however, it’s become much, much easier to create great quality videos.” With the high-definition cameras built into many smartphones, many training professionals already have the ability to create good videos cheaply and easily.

“If you’re new to using video, focus first on developing and delivering a great presentation,” Bixhorn says. “Then, look for tools that can help you capture and share that presentation,” whether that’s a video conferencing or screen recording tool that records the video, which you can then upload into your LMS, or an end-to-end video platform, which you can use to record, share and manage a video library.

Make sure the platform you use also enables you to track behavioral data such as what people are watching, how long they are watching, and what parts they skip or return to, adds Fissel. That way, you can better support your learners and develop better content over time.

If possible, make videos interactive. “Content that can blend mobile device recordings, webcam, links, screen captures or existing videos with slides, documents, quizzes and annotations maximizes engagement with training,” says Fellache. Chaptering is also effective; enabling learners to return to specific parts of a video helps them refresh their knowledge.

Video-Ready Topics and Job Functions

Onboarding is a great opportunity to use video. “Training that needs to be delivered right as a new hire is ramping up, and that [you] want to ensure will be delivered consistently to everyone,” says Bixhorn, is “difficult to achieve in one-on-one trainings but [is] done by default when training with video.” Fellache and Fissel agree, and Fissel says Comcast uses video to flip the classroom and create shorter, more efficient onboarding programs.

“Video is the perfect medium for unlocking resident expertise,” says Fellache, and while formal, training department-produced videos are certainly valuable, it’s also important to ensure that employees are able to create and share short, informal videos with their co-workers.

“In the knowledge economy, it’s likely every single one of your employees has expertise that their colleagues would benefit from,” agrees Bixhorn. For example, Synaptics centralized video content to one library and encouraged employees to share videos. The company “credits the video library with supporting innovation and saving 7,000 working hours annually,” says Bixhorn.

Fellache says that technical skills and gestures in a manufacturing environment are a perfect use of video. For example, Airbus, which designs, manufactures and sells civil and military aerospace products worldwide, typically has a large number of new employees at any given time. “For Airbus to achieve a level of operational excellence, it is essential to quickly train a large number of employees.” Using interactive videos to address situations that cause non-quality and customer dissatisfaction, the company has improved learner engagement, reduced non-quality costs by 76 percent and increased profits.

For something like training a mechanic on how to service a transmission, says Fissel, “looking at a picture or reading text just isn’t going to have the same effect.” Similarly, video can help train someone on how to use software by demonstrating its use. On the flip side, he adds, soft skills training is another great example of where video can help. For example, a video demonstrating an elevator pitch can demonstrate effective presentations to sales reps, and managers can record themselves practicing delivering a performance review to receive feedback from a coach. “Anywhere where the tone of what you’re saying really matters,” Fissel says, video is a good modality.

Fellache’s final tip? “Be fun.” Experiment with locations and other video elements to make videos as engaging as possible. Video can be a fun learning modality – but it can also be fun to create!