Performance support videos are everywhere. From YouTube to the workplace, you can learn pretty much anything by watching a step-by-step video one step at a time, and then doing it yourself. Some of these videos are good; others not so much. So how can you be sure that the video you are producing for your client or organization is high quality – and effective?
In June, I gave a session at the Focus On Learning conference in which I shared ten tips and tricks for producing a video which will have impact. These tips will help you through various stages of the development process, including pre-production, production, and post-production. Some of the tips discussed include tools, working with SMEs, equipment, output delivery, accessibility, and maintenance. I also managed to throw in a few bonus tips. This post won’t show you how to make your video. Instead, it will help you make your video better!
Question 1: There are so many tools out there. It’s overwhelming. How do I know which one to use?
Determine which tool you will use to create your video. Are you training on soft skills? Are you showing how to use software? Very different purposes which may require different tools. Are you showing an actual software process which requires learners to see the mouse movements, etc., or can you get away with static screenshots?
TIP: Determine which tools you will use.
Question 2: Sometimes the person reading the script does not seem to know what they are talking about. Can you help?
Review the script with your SME. If you are recording audio, record the script with your SME so you know where to place emphasis when recording the narration.
TIP: Review the script with your SME. Practice!
Know in advance how the final output will be delivered. Are you embedding your tool into a web page? Is it part of a course that you are creating in Captivate or some other tool?
TIP: Know in advance how the final output will be delivered.
Question 4: These types of videos are great! But I watched one recently about how to install drywall. The first five minutes talked about the history of drywall. That was ridiculous!
Throw out the nice to know. Focus on the need to know. Give learners the very basic information they need, and then stop! Again, they will likely have the program open and then model what they are seeing, especially if it is to help them use a piece of software.
TIP: Throw out the nice to know. Focus on the need to know.
Question 5: My co-worker is visually impaired. Our training staff rolled out a video program like this last year but she couldn’t use it. Can you make it accessible for her?
Be sure to provide a video description page and link to it from the page that plays the video so that users who cannot watch the video can still get the information. My organization found that learners without disabilities are actually printing these description pages and using them as job aids after watching the videos.
TIP: Remember accessibility. Include a transcript or video description page.
Question 6: I would love to create those kinds of videos, but I don’t have the money for all that equipment. So what am I supposed to do?
Don’t bother with expensive cameras. Use your phone’s on-board camera – it is capable of producing perfectly acceptable video. Or use screen recording software such as Captivate, Camtasia, or some of the others that are available.
TIP: Don’t bother with expensive cameras. Use your phone’s on-board camera.
Question 7: So where are you going to put these videos? How can I find them?
Place the video as close as you can to the moment of need. If it is for software skills, can you embed the videos into the program? Can you create a help button in the program where the learners can go to access the videos? Can you create a desktop icon to the videos that is near the icon for the software program?
TIP: Place the video as close as you can to the moment of need.
Question 8: I’d love to watch a video to help me, but it’s a hassle logging in to the LMS just to find what I need. By the time I’ve done all that, I could just try and figure it out on my own.
Don’t mess with an LMS. These videos are not training courses. They are performance support videos. They are designed to be used at the moment of need – when someone wants to access them right away to quickly get an answer. Do not make them log into an LMS to find the answer they want.
TIP: Don’t mess with an LMS.
Follow-up to Question 8: Yes, but management needs numbers on usage. I have to give them something and the only way to do it is from the LMS.
Answer: One word – WebTrends. Or is that two words? The LMS will track completion data. But what if you want to see how may people watched at least part of your video? It is likely your user did not view the entire video, but rather just the portion they needed. That might be a more realistic way to track usage than the LMS, especially since you might be selling yourself short if you rely on those figures. WebTrends trackers how many people viewed it – and a whole lot more!
Question 9: We got a new software program at work. They created a training video on it. I watch part of the video, then perform a task in the program. Then I watch some more and move on to the next step. It’s awesome!
Conduct focus groups to find out how learners are using these videos. Are they watching it from beginning to end like a YouTube video? Or are they watching a brief segment and then pausing it to go to a software program to do what they just saw, and then coming back and watching the next brief segment?
TIP: Obtain user feedback.
Question 10: I used those videos a few years ago to learn our new HR system. But then the system changed, but nobody updated the videos, and people stopped watching them. It’s kind of sad when you think about it.
The beauty of this type of system is that your videos are very short. If a particular step changes in a process, it should be fairly easy and quick to update a video or create a new one from scratch. The system may be well-received initially, but if it is not maintained, it (and you) will lose some credibility. When you are developing this type of system, be sure to include a plan for how you will maintain the content after it changes.
TIP: Maintain your video content.
BONUS Question 1: I was trying to learn a step with our new accounting software. The video was terrible. The person teaching it kept moving his mouse all over the screen and could not finish a sentence. It’s like he was making it up as he went along.
Bonus TIP 1: Rehearse your on-screen movements. Record audio separately.
BONUS Question 2: I had to watch this video that was ridiculously long. I had to sit through an interminable amount of content that I already knew, just to get to the stuff I didn’t know. I got frustrated and just gave up.
Bonus TIP 2: Meet your learners where they are. Break content into discrete steps.
I hope you are able to use at least one of these tips and that they enable you to produce a better-quality video.