Adding Life To Your Learning Video

Adding Life To Your Learning Video image pleasantville photos 352

© 1998 – New Line Cinema Productions, Inc.

It’s important in today’s busy world to find efficient ways of creating content that still guarantee quality but don’t take lots of time to produce. Having taught thousands of people around the world how to make media that looks good but do it fast, I’m convinced the best way is to first get your structure right.

Time and again when I visit organizations where I have taught trainers to also be learning media creators, I see the people who do structure first are the ones who churn out the most content. I also see that these are the folks who regularly churn out content that’s engaging rather than boring. And I see them breaking down barriers to learning.

This is the reason I focused on how to structure your learning media in my previous post. It’s also why I believe planning structure carefully ensures the learning impact is not left to chance. But structure is only part of what you need when creating engaging learning video. Once your structure is pinned down, you need to think about how to make the content interesting. That means adding life, which includes exploring visuals to bring the structure alive, incorporating music and adding special effects.

There are loads of things you can do. In this post I want to share just a few. They are:

  1. Incorporate actuality
  2. Introduce subject matter experts
  3. Add some music

Incorporate Actuality Into Your Videos

Television professionals understand that to keep people watching, they need to keep changing the picture. Of course this is done subtly and unless you’re looking out for it, most people don’t even notice. If you don’t believe me, spend some time watching your favorite TV drama. You’ll see that mid-conversation the director switches to a camera placed in another position. You’ll see when press conferences are covered, the shots change constantly. One moment you’ll see a close up and then a few moments later it is a wide shot. The next shot is a cutaway to journalists in the audience writing in their notebooks.

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TV producers know that if they don’t keep changing the shots, viewers will get bored and look away. This very same principle applies to how people watch your online training video. If you don’t keep changing what your viewer sees on the screen, they will look away or be tempted to check their email.

There are a number of other issues here that lead to this but I’m afraid we don’t have time for it in this post – we can cover these in more detail in future posts. But the main point is that we need to keep changing the picture. If you are talking on camera for more than fifteen seconds and nothing changes visually, people will get bored. And they’ll turn to their emails.

There are many things you can do to make things more interesting. One is to add some actuality.

What do I mean by this? If you’re explaining how to change a tire, don’t just talk about it. Shoot some video of a motorist actually changing a tire. When you talk about loosening the bolt, cut to a close-up of someone loosening the bolt. Think about showing what you are talking about. If you are using Knoodle to deliver your learning videos and want to really make them look good, cut to some actuality and put a text explanation in your slides.

Here’s an example:

You can create actuality easily with your iPhone or Flip Cam. I’ll explain how to get the best shots with these cheaper cameras so they look professional in another post.

Introduce Subject Matter Experts

As we think about changing your shots, you could keep people interested by including more than one person in the video. Rather than explain a concept yourself, get an expert to do it for you. You might shoot this part of the video in their workplace.

So to draw on my earlier example of changing a tire, get a mechanic to explain the process of changing a tire and shoot his explanation in his workshop. And remember to cut back and forth between the actuality and his speaking to camera.

Add Some Music

Music is a powerful tool in media and can do a number of things for your content. First, it can set the mood. Second, it can transport you to another location. Third, it can create energy. Music in factual videos has an important role to play in maintaining the energy level of your viewer. So use some energetic background music to keep people awake.

There are many theories about how music helps people learn. Some believe that music written in the Baroque era – such as by Bach – is great for aiding learning. There are other benefits to adding music. It can make your presentation feel more polished. It can also cover up poor presentation skills as people with bad voices don’t sound so bad when there’s a little music in the background.

Use music carefully. You don’t want to use it throughout the whole video, just at select times to help with energy, mood and polish.

Adding life to your learning video is essential if you want people to be engaged and keep watching. Once you have planned the learning structure, think about adding actuality, subject matter experts and music.

If you’d like some practical training on making effective multimedia for learning, Jonathan Halls will be leading a two-day workshop at ASTD’s TechKnowledge 2013 conference in San Jose, CA on January 28-29, 2013. Visit the ASTD site for more information and to register.

Image credit: hive of cholo the b.

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