Look for videos where images really help illustrate what’s happening and are not just there make the video look nice – nothing wrong with it looking nice, but images can do so much more.
A favourite image of ours is the ‘letting the genie out of the bottle’ – used for data protection/information security – the idea being that once the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put it back.
Strange though it may seem, the voiceover is probably more important in a video than the actual visuals. A poorly recorded audio track can be hard to listen to, if it sounds like a person is reading a text they don’t really understand, listeners won’t believe what they’re being told and a poor voiceover can ruin an otherwise great video.
I saw a very impressive video recently which obviously took a lot of time and large budget to produce. About a minute in the audio said something like ‘if you work with desperate systems’, when if should have said ‘if you work with disparate systems’. It’s hard to then believe what you’re being told – even if you want to.
Many people like the RSA videos such as this one and I do too. Personally though, it’s the voice that makes the video, not the animation. Try just listening to it – you’ll probably find that the illustrations look nice, but don’t really help the listener understand more or better. Don’t get me wrong. They’re a nice to have, but when you think how much they add to the cost of the video, you also need to think about how much they add. Could the same video have the same amount of impact using fewer illustrations. I’d suggest it probably could.
When you get a really good speakers such as Dan Pink or Sir Ken Robinson, they are masters at delivering interesting talks and that’s what, in our view, really makes the difference.
Something which we’re seeing more and more of, in our opinion, is the overuse of animation. Images flying in and out very quickly, and often for no apparent reason.
If the animation adds nothing, then it will often detract from the content. If you need an animation to add interest to the content, then we’d suggest looking at the content and thinking about why it needs to be ‘brought to life’ with animation.
The power of images comes when they are reinforcing what is being said.
Pace is a really tough one, but it’s not just about the speed of delivery, it’s also about the speed at which information is presented. You can put a lot of information into a very short video, but the viewer can soon become overloaded.
Some people think that a fast voiceover adds excitement and interest. It’s unlikely to. Some of the best presenters speak very slowly. President Obama is a good example of how you can speak slowly, and in very small chunks, but still keep people interested. Here’s an example of him telling a joke. https://youtu.be/IMR0SB–CPg?t=2m0s
People who commission or create videos are often very familiar with the content. Someone who’s being presented with the information for the first time might appreciate a slower, more measured pace.
There’s good research that shows that sound effects distract viewers and make learning harder, yet people still use them. There’s a difference between background, ambient sounds and sound effects (like pops and boings), so again, do the effects add anything? They’re often like visual metaphors – they’re so obvious that they add nothing and are therefore neutral, or more likely a detractor.
This is one area where promo and training videos vary. Promo videos generally want to create a mood, training videos can benefit from this, but here are some considerations.
One piece of music might inspire one person and put another off. In terms of: like, neutral and dislike, there will be more people who are neutral or dislike the music than like it. So there’s a good chance you’ll alienate more people than you help.
People often use ‘stock music’ in videos. These are pieces of music which you can buy cheaply and use with your video. Here’s an example
Unless music is written especially for a piece, it’s likely to be very repetitive. This might work for a short one minute video, but repetition can become annoying very quickly.
Here’s an example Uplifting and Inspiring Corporate It’s a lovely piece of music which is fairly uplifting and inspiring. It’s essentially a very short piece music which is repeated with different arrangements. For short videos of a minute to a minute and a half, something like this can work well. I’d suggest though that most people would be put off by its repetitiveness if the video were longer.
Another thing I’ve seen quite a bit is music like this being used but not sync’ing the video or voice over to it. The voice doesn’t need to be completely matched, but the pace needs to be similar to that of the music otherwise it jars as the two rhythms (voice and music) are competing with each other.
Don’t let the music dominate the speech. I know it sounds obvious, but it happens. It’s always a good idea to listen to the audio through different speakers and headphones so that you can hear what others will hear.
Captions are really important. They make it possible for people with hearing loss to access the training, and make it easier for people whose first language isn’t the same as that used in the video.
YouTube will add captions based on voice-to-text software. These are useful as they do most of the work, but they need to be corrected before the video is shared.
Otherwise you run the risk of
1) showing that you don’t care enough to do the job properly
2) appearing as though you’re saying something insulting or ridiculous.
Videos are great for training, but as with all things elearning it’s the content that makes it good, not the format. Videos can be expensive, but they needn’t be.
Make sure you’re paying for the good things, and not spending a limited budget on things which are unlikely to make any difference.
A lot of what’s good and what’s bad will come down to personal opinion and choice. But often people are making choices for others e.g. when making a purchasing choice for an organisation.
There are quite a few myths floating around about videos, we hope this blog is useful and if you’re thinking about using videos as part of your training programme and would like to discuss any of the issues, please get in touch and we’ll have a chat.