Instructional Videos Don’t Have to be Boring – Jonathan Halls

This guest post is from Jonathan Halls. He’s a speaker at Learning Solutions 2019 and will also be leading the pre-conference workshop BYOD: Training Video Bootcamp. Here Jonathan discusses why he thinks knowing how to craft good instructional video is so important for people in our field today.

It’s no longer a novelty for trainers to make their own instructional videos. In most organizations, trainers make loads of videos, whether they be screen capture or full-blown productions with multiple camera angles, special effects, and green screen.

However, I wonder if instructional videos that are engaging and lead to learning, are still a novelty.

Some Instructional Videos are Boooooring

When I ask folks if the instructional videos their organization makes in-house are effective, such as those embedded in e-Learning or used as ‘microlearning’, I hear a lot of horror stories.

A trainer from Texas attending a workshop in Florida told me her organization “slaps up long, boring talking head videos.”  We all know people tune out of talking head shots within a nano-second or two. While an instructional designer from Indianapolis confided that his organization streams loads of choppy videos as part of their microlearning strategy. “They’re not at all polished – a lot are out of focus, poorly lit.  And lots of shaky cam.  I’m embarrassed to watch them because they don’t create a good image of our training department,” he told me.

Of course, not all instructional videos produced in house by trainers are bad. In fact, I’ve also seen some amazing content.  But a lot of training organizations struggle to create effective instructional videos.

Now, talking about what makes a good or effective instructional video can be subjective. After all, there are lots of opinions about what makes good instructional video. Some think it’s about production values. Others the integrity of the learning.  Others style – should it be flash flashy, edgy or folksy?

Good Instructional Video Supports Learning

In my book, Rapid Video Development for Trainers, I suggest that good instructional video simply causes learning and is visually engaging. We don’t make video for art or to entertain. We make it to help people do their jobs better. And if content is not engaging, people will struggle to concentrate. To pull off the challenge of making effective instructional video, we need to draw together instructional design principles and media practice.

I also think, that for video to be an efficient training investment, we need to be able to produce it fast.  This requires basic production and planning skills and an efficient workflow to follow. It’s tempting to think you can wing it, but video is costly and timely to produce. You can expect to spend two to three hours making one minute of quality video. A three-minute video will take a day. If no-one watches the video or it fails to cause learning, that day spent planning, filming and editing is wasted.

Video Production Should be a Core Skill for Trainers

When I attended my first ever train-the-trainer class back in the early nineties, they taught us how to use a flip chart. What color pen to use and how to write clearly. If you’ve been around for a while, like me, this may sound familiar. But train-the-trainer programs still teach people how to use a flip chart today. When flip charts are only one of many tools available today.

Video is one of the new tools. In fact, as learning gets dispersed beyond the classroom and becomes more on demand, video will be the new flip chart.

I think tomorrow’s trainer, talent specialist, or whatever we’ll call the people who help organizations do their stuff better, will need skills to both create and curate video. Good instructional video that leads to learning doesn’t need to be a novelty. In fact, with some core video skills and by following a solid workflow we can all make awesome training videos the norm.

One-Day A to Z of Video Production for Trainers

Want to know more? I’m leading the full day BYOD: Training Video Bootcamp pre-conference workshop at Learning Solutions on Monday, March 25th. It will cover the A to Z of making instructional videos. If you want to learn how to make video, or simply to brush up your skills, come join us.

We’ll follow the Rapid Media Workflow – an approach I’ve taught to learning professionals, media producers, and journalists around the world. It’s designed to speed up production and minimize errors so you can concentrate on being creative.

We’ll look at how to capture great shots, so your videos are visually appealing. If you can nail the art of shooting visually interesting video footage, you’ve won half the battle to making engaging video. While you’ll use your cell phone’s cameras, you’ll learn the same techniques that TV professionals use to compose shots that draw the eyes.

We’ll dig into the content planning process and how to make your content quick and easy to understand. And, most importantly, ensure it supports learning.

Oh, and we’ll have lots of fun. Because video is just fun to make even when it’s work.


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