3 Common Mistakes to Avoid for Better Training and Onboarding Videos

Expertise is built in a variety of ways, but with video in particular, having a clear concept of what you want to achieve, a bit of knowledge, and lots of practice will take you a long way.

Video is an interesting and often complex way to communicate information—whether for learning, HR updates, or onboarding. If you want people to view your video and retain the information, you need to create engaging videos that both look and sound good.

You may face several challenges throughout your video creation process. Let’s take a look at some common production pain points and best practices to help elevate your video creation process to the next level. 

1. Not Knowing Your Equipment

Much of the gear we have at our disposal can do a lot, and it can usually do it pretty well—even if we don’t know how to fully unlock its potential. 

Regardless of how much or little gear you have, if you aren’t optimizing the settings, you’re probably not getting the most out of what you have yet! Whether it’s your camera, microphone/audio gear, lighting, or software, take the time to get to know how to use it. 

Don’t be afraid to read the instructions, watch a tutorial, or ask others what they’re doing. You might even look to others in different roles or professions for how they are using the equipment. They may suggest new ideas and different, more efficient methods that you can incorporate into your everyday workflow to increase your productivity and product quality. 

But don’t forget, you don’t need high-end equipment to produce great videos. So don’t let the fear of unfamiliar equipment keep you from taking advantage of all that video has to offer.

2. Assuming You’ll Fix It Later

While you can (and should) fix elements of your video in post-production, the more you get right in the up-front during production, the better off you’ll be. There are no guarantees you’ll be able to fix or cover up mistakes that happened during the recording process with editing techniques. 

You may be able to fix simple things such as cutting out “ummms,” from your audiobut trying to fix major issues with lighting, composition, or audio is much more difficult—and in some situations impossible. 

Here are a few examples of things that are difficult to correct:

  • Audio that is too loud/blown out
  • Large or jarring sounds such as a dog barking, door slamming, etc.
  • Shaky camera video 
  • Overexposed camera footage
  • Too dark camera footage 
  • White balance on your camera
  • Details in the background of your shot—such as something on the wall that shouldn’t be there
  • Shots that are zoomed in too far 

To help become more aware of these things, when preparing for your next shoot run through a mental (or physical) checklist: 

  • Are there any noises you can eliminate? 
  • Is the mic positioned in a way that it is going to pick up the appropriate sound? 
  • Are there things in your shot that shouldn’t be there? 
  • Is your lighting good enough? 
  • Are your camera settings right? Make sure they are appropriate for your shoot. 
  • Are you using zoom appropriately? 

The key is to try to get things right the first time, so you won’t create more work for yourself later. 

3. Too Much/Little Lighting

Light is a critical part of any video. Whether you use extra lights or natural light, your camera requires enough light to capture the video. Something that may look well lit to our eye may still be too low lighting for your camera’s sensor. 

Shooting in low lighting will make the quality of the video suffer greatly. Consider adding external lights to help improve the overall quality of your videos.

On the flip side of that, there’s also the possibility that you’ll have too much light, which will make the video look washed out. Too much light is incredibly difficult to correct in post-production.

So when you have too much light, find ways to remove the excess. You can do this by flagging the light source, which basically means finding ways to block the extra light, or by diffusing it (spreading the light to reduce glare and harsh shadows). 

When lighting your next project, think about Goldilocks—you want it to be just right.

Bonus Tip: Don't Ignore the Importance of Audio

Audio plays such a critical role in the video production process. When you watch videos, visuals are, of course, important. However, if the audio you provide lacks quality (muffled or difficult to understand), it can impact the overall effectiveness of your videos. 

There are several issues that can impact overall quality. While this list isn’t comprehensive, it should give you a few things to watch out for: 

  • Background noise/room noise
  • Environment
  • Microphone quality 
  • Microphone placement
  • Music (mixing, type, or having it at all)

Bad audio can quickly prompt viewers to lose interest and stop watching. 

Expertise is built in a variety of ways, but with video in particular, having a clear concept of what you want to achieve, a bit of knowledge, and lots of practice will take you a long way. 

Go make something—start creating. You will be more successful for having tried than just from hearing about the ideas. With a little practice, and by avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll start seeing the quality of your videos improve in no time!

Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.

Get our newsletter and digital magazine

November / December 2020

Stay current on learning and development trends, best practices, research, new products and technologies, case studies and much more.