Ah, the corporate employee training video. Dingy beige sets and synthesizer soundtracks. Bad suits and dead air. Slowly moving stock footage of a “digitally connected world.” Odds are, you’ve had to sit through at least one of these miserable excuses for on-the-job education at some point in your career.
But good news! The times they are a-changin’—at least somewhat. Videos remain one of the best ways to train new employees, but they don’t have to be terrible. With the ubiquity of TikTok and YouTube, folks are used to learning a lot from short-form videos, and companies can learn a little, too, from their fast-paced, straight-shooting style.
The secret lies in making these things watchable. Unignorable. Dare I say, fun? In a world of constant notifications, attention is an ever-rarer commodity. But with the right tools, you can tame it.
Speech. Speed. Sparkle. Keep an eye on these three key factors, and lessons will stick more strongly—and less annoyingly.
1. Speech: Employ a conversational tone to improve employee training
How you’re saying what you’re saying is important. That’s obvious—it’s a central pillar of copywriting. But it cannot be overstated. All too often, these employee training videos are written from the top down. Expertise is great, and we need to hear it, but it has to be translated into everyday speech. Really, this is a problem with all of education, not just corporate videos.
When you’re trying to communicate how to do something new or unfamiliar, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the student. Meet them where they are instead of imagining they’ll jump up to your platform. That means eliminating all jargon. Stick to a conversational style. Pretend you’re explaining this stuff at a cocktail party to a group of random strangers.
But! That doesn’t mean you should treat your audience like kids, either. Don’t just explain the granular details—don’t dictate the how. Elaborate on the why. Let them know the reasoning behind your processes. It helps. Finally, read and re-read your script out loud and make sure it sounds natural to the ears. It’s an auditory art; it needs to be performed before it can perform.
2. Speed: Faster-moving films = better video learning
As mentioned, attention is hard to come by. We’ve been trained to get jittery and jump around from app to app. But we can work with that. To start, make sure your video is no longer than about three minutes long. This might be tricky when there’s a lot to go over. But where you can, consider splitting bigger topics into smaller ones to prevent those eyes from glazing over. As any streaming scroller knows—it’s easier to commit to four one-hour-long episodes than a single two-hour-long movie.
A shorter runtime also allows your audience to go back and rewatch the thing as many times as they’d like or skip around to the parts they need extra help with. When writing the script, trim out any redundancies, tangents, or needless specifics. And when you’re recording, try to keep up the pace of your voice-over. No need to go crazy—no one is expecting Eminem here. But a consistently quick clip will keep your audience engaged. Remember, you can always make another video to cover more ground.
3. Sparkle: Because employee development shouldn’t be dull
The final ingredient in a quality training video is a little less easily quantifiable. We’re talking about sparkle. Panache. Razzamatazz! That je ne sais quoi that makes it memorable. This might take the shape of a joke or witticism, or even just an unexpected turn of phrase. By throwing something zany into the mix every once in a while, you can keep your audience on their toes and give their mind something to latch on to.
These magic tricks could (and should) be visual, too. Maybe some on-screen text pulses or flickers. Maybe your stock footage has a really cute dog in it. Your audience is looking for something interesting to focus on—and if it’s not on screen, it’s on their phones. So give them a breadcrumb of fun every once in a while.
But only every once in a while! You don’t want this turning into an off-the-rails joke show (unless you’re writing a training video for Nickelodeon, of course). So just a dash of sparkle will do the trick—it’s still work, after all.
All good employee training videos ought to conclude with a brief recapitulation, quickly summarizing the thing you just watched. For instance: Remember to direct your scripts, storyboards, and sessions with speech, speed, and sparkle in mind. Keep it quick, snappy, simple, and fun. And if it’s going too long, simply break it up and make another video. Oh, one more thing—make sure you leave your audience with direction on where to get more info. Like here or here. Happy training, and good luck out there!
(And if you’d like us to help with your next training video—don’t hesitate to reach out!)