CrossBraining Staff
By CrossBraining Staff on July 13, 2021

Best practices for employee training videos

We’ve all endured the bloodborne pathogen video. The one where you hit play before stepping away to do laundry. And then you guess on a bunch of multiple choice questions until you get them all right. 

That’s how to not use video for training. 

Here are some tips from education science on how to best use video for training.

Keep videos under 3 minutes

Shorter videos improve learning in a number of ways:

  1. They allow learners to quickly refer back to content without having to scroll through a long movie to find the few seconds they care about.
  2. Shorter videos hold attention better, allowing for better retention of information.
  3. They allow for better instructional scaffolding. This is a learning term that means separating skills into bite-sized chunks in order to build upon them.

If your instructional video is over 3 minutes, consider breaking it up into multiple lessons.

You may question this advice when many YouTube tutorials are well over 10 minutes. That’s because YouTube allows creators to show extra ads - and therefore make extra money - on videos that are longer. 

Use simplified, animated graphics

Consider these two images of how internal combustion engines work. One shows a real-life picture while another shows a stylized version. Which one is more informative?

Internal_combustion_engine_pistons_of_partial_cross-sectional_view 4-Stroke-Engine-with-airflows
source: Wikimedia Commons


There are a few things that make the stylized version better for learning:

  1. It slowly shows each step. Actual engines go much faster, but this animation is slow enough that viewers can see each step in action.
  2. It’s colored-coded. By using vivid, distinct colors, viewers can easily see what parts are doing what and what they are expecting to understand.
  3. It repeats. This lets viewers take their time in understanding what is going on, allowing them to internalize the information at their own pace.
  4. It leaves out distracting detail. The graphic doesn’t show the throttle, transmission, or other systems in the car. It only shows exactly what is necessary for the viewer to understand.

Avoid talking heads

The power of video is that it can convey information that words alone can’t. Instead of having someone on screen talking about what a good weld looks like, actually show the weld (along with a poor weld)! 

Additionally, people learn better when they are exposed to the same information in multiple ways. So hearing and seeing the same information will improve learning. Last, no one wants to be lectured at, and learning only happens when we are relaxed and interested. So avoid videos that are just a person talking into the camera.

Give training cues - especially for hands-on skills

Anyone who has ever played a sport recognizes a training cue:

  • Squat like you’re going to sit in a chair
  • Tighten your core like you’re about to get punched in the stomach
  • Punch through the target

These cues, combined with their visual representations, can have a powerful learning effect. They allow students to take something they easily understand and apply it to something they are still learning.

Using these methods, you can turn your videos into training powerhouses. 

Never miss a post. Subscribe now.

Published by CrossBraining Staff July 13, 2021
CrossBraining Staff