How often do we switch the news channel because we didn’t find the news ‘interesting enough’?
How often did we close a video within a few seconds because it wasn’t ‘engaging enough’?
How often do we close a MOOC within a few minutes because we thought it wasn’t ‘informative enough’?
So, how do we ensure our content is interesting, engaging and informative?
The first 10-20 seconds are crucial – we should aim to deliver the highest impact during these initial seconds. When Facebook conducted a research to analyze the effectiveness of their videos, they found that up to 47% of the value in a video campaign was delivered in the first three seconds, while up to 74% of the value was delivered in the first ten. As learning professionals, what does this tell us about our video content?
Usually, the first three, or even ten seconds in our videos are covered by building a story or providing information about what we’re going to cover in the video. These three to ten seconds can make or break your video engagement and viewership. The world has ushered in a ‘smart generation’ who know what content they need and how to acquire them. And a bunch of them are working in your organization. Our training should compete with the plethora of options they have.
But how do we do that? The most important part of video creation is the script. Often, it’s also the most neglected part. When we plan our video creation, we think about the output, software, tools, strategies more than we think about what information to include. So, the video turns out jazzy enough, but not informative enough. We don’t answer the real questions the learners would have.
Here are some tips for you to follow. Let’s use an acronym to remember this: LIFTS
Learner-centric | Integrity | Flow | Transition | Simplicity
Consider these questions while scripting:
- Will my learners be able to relate to the content?
- Will they be able to empathize with the protagonist or the situation?
- What is the information gap that my learners will be able to overcome?
Right from scripting or even before it, when you’re strategizing your video, consider if the learners will be able to relate to the content. Will they be able to put themselves in the shoes of the person in the scenarios or examples that you are using or developing for the learning? Will they be able to achieve an outcome from this training video? You need to be mindful of the language, situations, and characters you use to gain the learners’ attention.
Consider this example:
Sam is a successful young entrepreneur. As a training consultant, you recommend a few video nuggets to him. Here are the topics:
1. How to become an entrepreneur?
2. How to grow your business?
3. How to recruit people?
4. How to grow your business and retain employees?
Which one is Sam likely to watch? We know that Sam is a successful entrepreneur. So, that rules out the possibility of him learning about becoming an entrepreneur. If he’s successful, he probably has a good workforce supporting him which means, he would not want to know about recruiting people either. He could call dibs on watching #2 or #4. Since the #4 video is teaching him on two topics, there is a fair chance he will watch it.
You must ensure that all concepts that you develop are directed to the learning goals and assisted by relevant examples. Be aware of the objective of your training video. What is it that you want the learners to learn and gain from the video? If you’re making a funny video and viewers watch it with grim face, the objective is not met. A learning video has certain skill objectives and it needs to stay true to that. The key is to cut right to the chase and not digress. Taking Sam’s example, if he was watching your video ‘How to grow your business and retain employees?’ and suddenly, the focus of the content shifts from ways of growing business to which books you should read as an entrepreneur. Sam would likely think that he did not sign up for that. If the video talks mainly about how to be a successful entrepreneur, it’s not doing justice to Sam.
Write your content in a way that it builds logically as it progresses from point to point—from simple to complex, or from generic to specific and not vice versa. For Sam, a logical progression would be talking about a generic topic like famous entrepreneurs and the successful routines they follow, then, coming to more specific ones like the problems that might occur while doing business and how to resolve each problem. If you build your viewers’ interest around a specific topic, they will not feel detached if you put in a generic topic in between. Similarly, go from simple to complex. Explain the value of numbers while doing business and then show the math. This ensures that your learners are hooked to the content.
Transition in your scripts is crucial so that your learners can follow a straight path where the topics and content build from each other. The trick is to move the learners from one topic or subtopic to the next one; relating the succeeding content to the preceding one; and through this, informing the learners why a given content piece is important to be learned before, after, or as part of a particular topic or subtopic.
Okay, you must be thinking ‘If I hear of the acronym KISS one more time, I’d go mad!’! We’re not going to refer to that. In Simplicity, we’re referring to using simple and direct language so that the learners take the same meaning that you intended. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised to know how often the learners can obtain different interpretations. Let’s face it, English is not such a great language when it comes to direct communication. Do not leave the camera to do your job. Its job is to simply translate your vision that’s on paper. Script to the last detail and every word to ensure that your intended meaning (lodged in your mind), is conveyed easily to the learners as well.
Creating visual storyboards after your content is structured will not be a difficult task if you know what you’re teaching and how you want the learners to gain meaning out of it.
To Conclude: A well-drafted script & well-crafted storyboard is half the job done for a video!
Akira Kurosowa, one of the early masters of cinema, once remarked “With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece; with the same script a mediocre director can make a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film.’
The same logic applies to training videos too. It’s all in the work you put backstage on the storyboard and script, before making your video a reality. When you think about your video, remember to establish connection with your viewers or learners within the first 10 seconds of your video and script it well in simple language. If this is achieved, more than half the job is done.
(This article originally appeared on Training Industry.)