5 Tips for Making Truly Effective eLearning Videos

5 Tips for Making Truly Effective eLearning Videos

Video is one of the best engagement tools for employee training.

Studies show that typical employees watch at least 7 hours of work-related video each month, and 76% of people use video solutions at work.

ELearning videos can still be challenging to create for many employers, however.

Due to the medium’s rising popularity — and thanks in part to sites like YouTube — many Internet users have high expectations when it comes video quality.

A poorly produced training video is just as likely to make employees bored as it is to train them.

The goal is to create videos that not only contain job-relevant information, but are also attention-grabbing and attention-keeping. A boring video is not effective.

Here are a few tips for creating high-quality, engaging eLearning videos.

1. Start with a well-planned script

Creating the perfect eLearning video is a careful balance of planning and execution.

A video that lacks direction, leaves out vital information, or is otherwise confusing won’t improve training and it won’t keep employees engaged.

The perfect eLearning video starts with the perfect script.

But before you get down to writing, you will want to:

  • Create a list of all the information pertinent to the lesson
  • Consider the point of view (POV) of the narrator (will it be written in first or third person?)
  • Choose a script writer (either from your organization or hire a professional)

You may need to develop a storyboard before you start writing to help you visualize the narrative.

The key to a good script is to make it sound as human as possible. What would you say to your employees if you were speaking to them in a room? Write like that.

The more human and relatable your script sounds, the more engaging it will be.

If you’re not sure how to get started writing an eLearning video script, here are a few suggestions from the pros.

2. Match your video style to your message

There are many different styles of videos from which to choose, and each may have different effects on your audience.

There’s whiteboard animation videos (also known as whiteboard explainer videos) that help you visualize points through simple, cartoon-like animations with a voice over.

This type of video is great when you want to demonstrate key points of your presentation, but don’t necessarily have the ability or funds to hire a camera crew and demonstrate specific actions in person.

There are also interactive videos that are created with special programs that include clickable buttons, mouse-overs and other interactive elements.

This can be beneficial if you want to use training scenarios or simulations in video form, or something like a video quiz or virtual tour.

Keep in mind that these videos often require special tools or programs to create (production costs can vary).

You can also use screen capture tools to do a technical demo or a walkthrough from your computer with a simple voiceover as well.

This can be helpful for those that want a simple walkthrough or tutorial video without having to invest in expensive programs.

Other types of videos might include standard 2D animation videos (non-whiteboard), typography videos or a recorded video lecture from a manager or trainer.

If needed, you can include multiple video styles in a single video (you might have a whiteboard animation in a lecture video, for example).

Just keep it limited to 2-3 styles if you’re using more than one.

3. Use Royalty Free Images and Audio Sites

Videos do take time to produce, so there’s no reason to drag out that time by trying to create original images or audio files when you don’t absolutely have to.

But you also don’t want to steal images or audio from sources that are copyrighted.

Taking images from a Google Image search, for example, is generally a no-no, and using songs or audio clips from YouTube can also be a violation of copyright laws.

To save you time and help you avoid copyright issues, take images and audio from royalty free sites to spice up your content. Many of them are also free or low-cost.

YouTube Audio Library is a free source of music or voice-over content, for example.

Other sites include:

You can also find a list of more audio sites here.

As for images, there are many different royalty free sites full of beautiful, professional level images, infographics, animated characters and more.

StockSnap.io offers hundreds of high-resolution photography images.

Pexels has completely free stock photography that can be used for your training videos.

Freepik is another great source if you’re looking for illustrations or vector-based graphics. If you’re not a member you do have to give an image credit to Freepik, however.

But a quick citation at the end of your video will let you use images for free, including any original illustrations.

If you’re trying to demo something and you want to take your own screenshots, or capture an image from your website or a presentation, for example, you can use Skitch to annotate them before inserting them in your video.

Just be sure to cite any sources that are not original (using Skitch to steal a stock photo is also a bad idea).

By using images or an image slideshow, you can save time and still create a unique video without spending a lot of money on video editors or other tools.

4. Incorporate your current training resources and links

Depending on the software you use to produce and publish your video, you may have the ability to add certain links.

Uploaded YouTube videos, for example, give you the option of clicking links to other video content.

You can also add links to video descriptions, which will allow you to use other resources you’ve already created to save time. Here’s an example from eFront:

If your video references a case study or an eLearning scenario that you’ve already created, for example, you can simply add it as a resource in the description instead of having to take screenshots or incorporate it into the video in other ways.

Just be sure that your links are working if you decide to do this. If your video references a case study, for instance, but your case study link is broken, your video won’t be quite as effective.

If you notice that someone else has already produce a video that contains the same information you want to use, consider asking them for permission to either use or recreate it.

You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel if the content already exists.

Consider linking to already created content instead of trying to develop your own video series, if at all possible.

These videos can always be supplemented with unique, non-video learning content, like an infographic or a quiz that goes along with the video.

5. Trim your videos to address short attention spans

Finally, don’t make your videos any longer than they have to be.

Studies show that the most engaging videos tend to be under 3 minutes, with a steady drop off in attention after 7 minutes.

(Image source)

If you’re creating a video recording of a lecture or live presentation, you have a little bit of leeway when it comes to length.

Longer videos (60+ minutes) that are educational tend to still perform as well as marketing videos depending on the audience.

Just remember that longer videos still need to be engaging.

If possible, use different mediums in the video in order to break up the tedium. You may use a whiteboard animation to present the speaker’s point in a new way, for example.

You can also keep attention by breaking up long content into several smaller videos.

If you design your course in distinct modules rather than a long list of cumulative lessons, you can increase engagement over time, even if the content itself takes several weeks or months to work through.

Final Thoughts

Videos can be a great way to engage learners in a new way, but creating videos comes with unique challenges.

Ensure that your script contains all the necessary information, presented in a way that will keep the watcher’s attention. A bad script will always produce a bad video.

Next, don’t be afraid of using different video styles to make things more interesting, or to combine different styles into a single video (but preferably no more than 2 styles).

If you’re going to use images or audio that’s not original, make sure it comes from a royalty free source. Don’t steal from Google.

Finally, keep your videos as succinct as possible.

While there is some leeway with certain types of content, most learners are busy, so don’t bore them with unnecessary information.

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