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Video making for training – 3 steps to take before yelling “action!”

Like most business professionals, L&D specialists face the constant challenge to stay on top of the rapid developments in their field.

A few years back, instructional design simply required access to a good image database and basic PowerPoint skills. Content mattered most and when there was a big chunk of it, paper-based hand-outs or manuals were a viable solution. Today most training has moved online and even though learning content is very important, the delivery also has to be dynamic and engaging, allowing the learner to get a lot of information in a short time.

Employing the latest technology is a must and video has lately become the favorite medium for getting information.

3 Steps to take before video making for training

Of course, this can prove stressful since most people in charge of designing training materials have not gone to art school. Luckily, technology works in everyone’s favor and there are many great apps, tips and videos out there that can bring out the director in anybody.

But before yelling “lights, camera, action!”, here are three things to be checked off the list.

  1. Establishing the concept

    The first step of video making is figuring out the concept. It’s easier to do that starting with a few descriptive words about what the general feel should be. For consistency, every design element needs to be working in harmony with the concept. Each element needs to be communicating the same message. They all need to be in harmony with the chosen concept. It’s in the trying to create unity and harmony that the concept leads the design.

    If, for example, the concept is one of luxury and formal elegance it is imperative to use more whitespace to suggest luxury. It suggests certain color schemes, like black and red and perhaps more symmetry to convey formality. The concept will show designers where to go with specific design decisions. It’s the roadmap to come back to again and again through the design process.

    If something isn’t working it’s probably because it doesn’t fit the concept. If nothing is working it’s wise to go about exploring a different concept altogether. Developing a concept has to work both verbally and visually. The former helps determine the message to be conveyed and the latter helps determine how that message will be conveyed. Both are very important for design decisions.

  2. Outlining the content

    Once the concept is in place, it is time to make a comprehensive outline of the content meant to be included in the video. In this step designers should consider what visual elements are needed in order to convey the information and what particular activities would increase the chances of that information being remembered and applied once the course is completed.

    It is important to take the time to be very thorough in drawing this outline because once it is ready, all involved should get a pretty clear idea about the project’s amplitude. How much time and what resources are to be invested in it ought to be calculated on account of this blueprint.

    This doesn’t mean that alterations can’t be done later on if they prove to be more effective but since most often there are several people involved in such an endeavor and each has something different to do, it’s best if there is a very clear image of the desired outcome right off the bat.

    Otherwise, since people do tend to have very diverse visions of the same thing, there’s a risk of ending up with a highly heterogeneous material that does not make much sense.

  3. Scripting narrative and dialog

    Even with the concept and outline in place, it’s still not the time to get right to the actual video shoot. First, the e-learning video script has to be written and proofread. Using words that sound naturally and in concordance with the storyline is very important otherwise there may be an incongruence between the images and what is spoken.

    Even if the video is meant for corporate learning, corporate slang and industry jargon are not necessarily a must – unless the module is targeted at a very specific audience who is very knowledgeable on that particular topic.

    It’s true that an image is worth a thousand words but since the era of silent film is long gone, dialogs and narration bring a lot of weight to video content so they require minute scrutiny. The whole point of making an e-learning video is to more easily achieve some set learning objectives so both image and text should go in that direction.

    Even with audio narration in place, it’s wise to emphasize important aspects by also captioning text on the screen. Key ideas and concepts are more easily remembered if they are seen, head and read.

    Repetition is good, if done in a professional, engaging way, redundancy is not so great. That’s why having more than one person proofread the script as well as reading it out loud can prove very helpful.

All in all

These three steps might seem a bit time consuming. Indeed they involve quite a bit of brainstorming, conceptualizing and blueprinting. They are, however, essential for the making of a good learning video and ensure a very smooth sailing in its realization.