The Advantage of Video in Training Material

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Learning is a natural consequence of being human and alive. But learning on demand, to learn a very specific set of skills or acquire a specific knowledge that will be required from you in some way, can easily become tasking.

If you’ve ever been at a corporate training that was badly organized or not well done, it is very easy to simply drift off from the thread of the speaker and instinctively reach for your phone. PowerPoint presentations, especially when the slides become unbearably long and going on about a topic you’re not necessarily interested in, can be very soul sucking. Preparing training material is also difficult work on the part of the facilitator or trainer. A professional may have years and years of experience, and yet is a horrible teacher of it. If he is picked to create the training material, it will most likely be too advanced for the audience, and he will be irked at every elementary question he is asked, and will consequently not be able to provide an answer that satisfies the question.

So how can training material be designed such that it is most importantly fun for the audience while at the same time clearly communicating the message intended by the trainer?  The advantages of video training are vast and outweigh other modes of training. The immersiveness of the experience alone is enough to score points for it against any other method. The right use of video in training can be extremely effective. The Pictorial Superiority Effect shows that using words and pictures together results in greater information recall. Particularly, after 3 days, we have a tendency to remember only 10% of information if it was served solely in word format, and yet we are able to remember up to 65% of information if it was delivered in both word and picture format. In this post, we will look at the various advantages of using video in training material, and even some science that supports it.

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Video training allows training to be deployed more quickly:

Depending on the concept being taught, it may be hard to visualise what the trainer is explaining especially for advanced scientific or business topics. It will require time and constant teaching to begin to familiarise the students with the concepts being expounded, and even then, they are still going to be easily forgettable as a result of the fact that the student is dealing with the information at the level of concepts. There is yet no sensory experience that he can call upon to provide clarity in moments where perhaps he forgets a part of the information, which leads to another disadvantage of teaching concepts. If one part of the narrative is forgotten, the brain may not be able to make sense of the remaining bits of the information. If the information is to be deployed quickly or immediately, the best option for communicating that information is video training. Practical applications of this will be found in the medical and surgical fields, as well as engineering and other technical disciplines.

There is easy access to training including from mobile devices:

The best way to get in the face of the average person these days is their cell phones. People pay more attention to what is shown on their screens these days than their laptops and definitely more than television. Some people do not even watch television anymore. Also, not everybody enjoys reading the text. They simply find it difficult to concentrate on written words for any stretch of time, and as a result, handing them a large material for them to study will be sure to backfire. They have no motivation for even opening the material, and if they do honestly want to study, it still provides a problem because they have no ability to sustain concentration on the script for long enough to glean enough from it. They are simply not comfortable with learning like that. People like this often have struggled through school and have subconsciously promised to never look at a handout again. It is, therefore, a burden for both the trainer and the student to try and educate such people through text. Contrarily, if you make the video available, it is easier for people to connect to the story and find meaning in the moving images. Those moving images are guaranteed by science to stick more in their brains and be harder to forget that mere words on paper.

New employees can get on board more quickly:

I was recently opportune to be at an onboarding for new staff in a reputable financial company. The newly hired members were all quietly excited and ready to begin at the beginning of the day, but their quiet enthusiasm faded down by afternoon, as they realized they were to be trained using powerpoint slides and uninteresting resource persons. If you want to get new employees on board very quickly, your best bet would be to carefully create, curate or design a video or set of videos that will intimate them with the most important parts of the company, or at least the information they need to begin functioning immediately. Things like your corporate culture, the history of the company, and more can be communicated through interesting videos that could also include dramatisations. And who wouldn’t be inspired by watching the CEO of an organisation himself explain the cultures and values of an organisation in person, even if it is a recording?

Short videos are easy to digest and have higher retention:

Retaining the subject matter that has been taught at a training event should be the ultimate goal of the training. If the aim of training is to pass across useful, valuable and immediately actionable information to the audience, then short, easy-to-digest videos are by far and away the best choice. This is because they are easy to internalise and remember at the point when the information is required. On the contrary, it is impractical to offer uninteresting and long lecture notes to the audience and also expect that by the next day, they are armed with the knowledge and ready to begin using it.

Video content can be used for different purposes:

From product launches to compliance training, a properly recorded video will always go without saying. All the information that needs to be spread about a particular subject matter can be put in a video and shared out. It is more comfortable to whip out your earpads and watch a video on the commute home for instance than to lug out a standard A4 sized script and attempt to process the information in with the ambient light. You can use video when there’s not enough time to prepare a proper formal written message. It solves the problem. For training where the chief facilitator is for some reason not available physically to administer his lecture, he can do so via a Skype call, where he can explain concepts better than he could ever have done on a word document, and the audience has the added advantage of asking questions in real time.

It encourages employee autonomy and motivation:

This advantage of video training is valid for employees that function better without someone constantly breathing down their throats. Some people prefer to learn privately, in their own cubicle and despise the idea of being herded in the middle of the day to a conference room. This may go against the culture of the company that encourages employees to have a healthy relationship with each other, but in a case where the communication of the information is prioritised above all else, simply sending all the necessary people emails with an attachment of the video containing the material they need to know, may work best. The employees can then go on to study the video privately and pick up the information. This kind of employee autonomy will well come back to be useful to the management in due course.

Companies can create video libraries for learning on demand:

Perhaps this is one of the most beautiful applications of video in employee training. Companies can create a video library and upload to the corporate portal and make it accessible to all the employees, such that whoever needs whatever can find it, download it and use freely, and in their own time. A system like this can also be used to evaluate which employees are interested in the advancement of their careers by how much enthusiasm and time they commit to visiting the company’s library to pick up courses, lectures, and videos that they consider beneficial.

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Video training is highly cost effective and reduces travel cost:

Imagine that a company needs a specific training to be facilitated by a professor who lives in Brighton England, and the company headquarters is located in Queensland Australia. Imagine also, that this resource person will have to travel down with his personal assistant without which he does not travel. He has prepared a series of lectures and will be delivering them through word of mouth and some beautiful slideshows. It would cost the company that much more to transport the teacher and his compulsory extra almost halfway around the world to deliver this training, not to mention that all that will be left with the attendees of this training after he is gone are the notes they took down and copies of the slide show presentation possibly sent to their emails. Now we begin asking ourselves about the effectiveness of this kind of training. How many employees will go back to that email to study the slides at a later date? And how many employees will be able to retain up to 50% of what was taught another two weeks into the future? It is in a scenario like this that video training truly shines. We have already mentioned a Skype lecture. Instead of the burden of logistics and accommodation fees, the company can arrange the lecture to hold live via Skype. It not only makes for a longer retention of the subject matter and a forum for students to ask questions, it also eliminates the costs for transport, and if the resource person does not like travelling, it’s a win-win for both parties.  

It provides a consistent experience:

Consistency is something that can be lost if a company has different locations across different cities. With text-based materials, it may distribute one standard material to all its office for use in onboarding new employees, but the person who administers this material is most likely to be different for each location, and this can create an inconsistency in the delivery. Concepts may be misinterpreted by the trainers, and a severe case of this will lead to the misinformation of the new employees. In any case, an inconsistency in the onboarding of new employees can badly affect company culture, or, worse, damage relationships between the company and a client on account of a small misunderstanding of the material. To provide a consistent experience, the best way to send information across the company is video content. Once it is recorded, it will always be the same and the presence of voice and tone and facial expression make it next to impossible for meaning to be misunderstood by the audience.

The use of video in corporate training is a concept that would not have been possible just 40 years ago. In fact, it would not have been something that was even considered. But the vast and constantly evolving technological landscape has made this feasible and even highly recommended. Training is done every day on popular websites like Youtube. Websites like this leverage the fluidity and versatility of video to share large amounts of information across to billions of people. The internet has enabled activated the largest mass learning of all time. A person with an internet connection and a laptop can begin and finish a course on Youtube. The possibilities that lie behind using video in training have not yet even been fully explored, but the little functionality that is currently available is already changing lives across the world and actively pushing a transfer of information all across the world.