How to produce great videos for microlearning: Part I
We believe that any successful microlearning strategy needs to include effective use of videos, so we're sharing our best practice tips in a series of blog posts.
Part I: The Basics
- Why use video?
Part II: Getting down to business
- Filming tips
- Adding audio
- Post production
Part III: Other options
- Alternatives to live video
- Screen recording / screen capture
- Slide presentations
Hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Please send your top video tips to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can feature them in future posts! Now.. let's get started!
Part I: The Basics
Why use video?
Videos are the core of our learning experience. They can:
- Deliver information in a more entertaining, engaging, and memorable way
- Bring a human touch to mobile learning (helping to recreate elements of in-person training)
- Provide authentic context and scenarios to boost learning and retention
YouTube is proof that you don’t require expensive equipment, professional editing or paid actors to achieve a successful video
- "Home-made" videos using your mobile phone can be highly relevant, personal and "relatable" for learners
- Learners have a short attention span and decide within a few seconds if the video is worth watching, or whether to skip to the end!
Preparation is key
- Try to plan all your videos up front using mindmaps, storyboards, or just putting your ideas on paper
- Aim to do your filming in one session, or over a few days; videos will look more consistent, and it saves the time and money of arranging extra filming to catch something you missed
- Keep your videos short: aim for 1 to 2 mins max per lesson (less if you can) as this is ideal for microlearning. In the words of Josh Bersin, “today’s employees are overwhelmed, distracted, and impatient”. This means that your learners will take 5-10 seconds to decide whether to proceed with training, based on whether it looks relevant and will fit into their busy schedules.
- If your course content is quite long, then plan your videos so that they can be broken up into shorter chunks or episodes e.g. different phases of a sales pitch or customer service procedure
- Try to arrange a realistic setting with visual cues or props, not just 2 people talking in front of a white wall (ask yourself: can learners extract key information from the setting and actions, even without hearing the audio?)
- Ensure that the actors are positioned against an attractive, appropriate background (e.g. incorporating company logos or products), BUT make sure the setting isn’t cluttered or distracting
- Always shoot plenty of test footage beforehand to check lighting and audio, to make sure all your equipment is working, that everything is captured in the frame, etc
- As a final test, check how the video looks on a mobile phone as, if you're looking to do microlearning, this is where your learners will be!
- Plan to shoot more than you need; you can never have too much, but you’ll regret having too little
- Always draft a script outline to ensure actors cover the key learning points, while allowing them to improvise the exact wording
- In situations where you want a more ‘natural’ conversation e.g. in an interview, you can still prepare the questions, if not the responses
- Videos work better when actors look and sound natural - have them memorise the script rather than reading off-screen notes
- Grab viewers’ attention by using storytelling techniques e.g. emotion, a ‘trigger event’, conflict, cliffhangers (come back next time to see what happens), plot twists...
- Avoid filming presentations, speeches or monologues: a role play, conversation, or interview is much more engaging and authentic
- Use scenarios that will be interesting and relevant to learners e.g. issues they struggle with at work, unusual / dramatic / funny situations, real events…
- Keep the dialogue light, informal and conversational, not too complex or ‘information dense’ - you can always overlay text and graphics later on to highlight key facts and figures
- Keep your learning goal in mind and stick to 1 or 2 main takeaways for each video, rather than cramming too much content into a short timeframe
- Be creative and have fun: look for inspiration in trending videos on YouTube
- Choose your actors (and voice artists) carefully as they are key to entertaining the viewer, delivering your message and representing your product or brand
- Screen presence is vital: actors who are funny or quirky will grab viewers’ attention, but they also need to be credible, and someone the learners can relate to
- You can win ‘points’ with learners by choosing someone well-known, liked and respected, e.g. a colleague or peer
- You can also create fictional characters based on celebrities or cultural icons - but don’t be too offbeat as it may not be believable!
- Try to use a mix of demographics (age, ethnicity, gender…) to appeal to your audience
- Have the actors interact directly with the viewer e.g. by having them talk directly to the camera, to welcome learners to the course, ask questions at key points, or explain what they’ve seen / are about to see in the video
- On a practical note, you might need to get actors to sign a waiver or release form to be able to use the video; make sure that you get this permission in writing
Alright, that's Part I done. If you feel something is missing, let us know and we'll happily discuss! Next post will be "Part II: Getting down to business" where we give specific tips on filming, audio and post-production. Don't miss it!
At EduMe, we put business impact at the centre of our approach. If we partner with you, we’ll work together to clearly link your microlearning initiative to business objectives, so that ROI can be measured. Our approach is described in more detail in this blog post.
Get in touch to find out why companies like Uber are using EduMe and why Learning Technologies Awards consider EduMe to be one of the best solutions for mobile learning.
The EduMe Learning Team