The corporate training video. It just sounds painfully boring, doesn’t it? And let’s be honest, if you’ve been forced to watch one of these productions, you know just how bad they can be! To be fair, there are a number of reasons for this — bad corporate videos could be the result of lack of budget, lack of expertise, or just good intentions gone bad. In any case, training videos don’t have to be less exciting than watching color bars on television, they just require some creativity and a thoughtful approach. Here are some suggestions for how to make training videos that are interesting and engaging instead of a dreadful work obligation.

Start with the Viewer

Let’s face it, most people perceive watching corporate training videos as a cruel job requirement that puts more people to sleep than it does educate. One reason is that the company responsible for producing the video may not care if the employee watches the video or not — because it’s their job to watch it, like it or not. So, they serve up dog food expecting that everyone will watch because it’s a requirement! One of my favorite training videos is traditionally one of the biggest yawners in training video history. It’s the “In Flight” safety video that airlines show before you take off. Delta produced a series of these videos that actually makes training videos fun!

What makes this video so good is that it’s all about the viewer. The 80’s motif is targeted at a key audience for Delta — the middle-aged traveler who potentially has discretionary income to travel for vacation and certainly for business. It’s interesting, engaging, and shot extremely well.

Strong writing

One of the great misconceptions about writing for video is that it’s like writing for print. The mediums are completely different and need to be approached differently. One of the tricks to writing for video is writing TO video. In other words, the best television news producers and reporters write copy to complement what people at home are seeing on the screen. There is a connection between the words and what is being seen. So often, with bad corporate training videos, there is no such connection. Or if there is a connection between words and images on the screen, those images are bulleted words as if they were a Power Point presentation. How interesting is that? Not very. Whether it’s a corporate training video or a feature story, it first starts with strong writing. And the best writing connects the copy with the images.

A relatable spokesperson

One goal for all videos that you produce is to eliminate all elements that could be a distraction for the viewer. Whether that’s bad music, graphics that are difficult to read, music that’s cheesy, or a spokesperson that is totally un-relatable. We’ve all seen that spokesperson who, after watching, makes us want to get up and impersonate them. We fixate on what they look like or how they speak more than what they’re saying! In the end, the viewer focuses more on the spokesperson’s idiosyncrasies than the message they are delivering. Remember to keep the audience in mind and then find the best spokesperson for that group of people.

Video that illustrates the message

Just as strong writing should set up the video that viewers see, it’s critical that the video that people see is actually easy to follow. Often, the video that is captured for training purposes is not of high quality and doesn’t actually help the viewer learn. The best videographers understand how to capture aspects of the instruction that precisely depict how to do what the training video is trying to teach. The video below is from a company called “Tentsile” that offers this training video free online to help people learn how to hang their tent from a tree. Not only does the videographer clearly show how to set up the tent, it’s shot in a visually captivating manner that helps to sell the product. Check it out.

Producing a corporate training video these days is no easy feat. With the proliferation of video content online, viewers are more discerning than ever. If you actually care about how much the viewer retains, it’s important that your video engages the viewer, teaches them something, and shows them how to do what you need them to do! So, consider your audience, remember good writing really counts with video, find a relatable spokesperson, and make sure you have a videographer who knows what he or she is doing. What tips do you have? What have you found that works well in your production?