Don’t Tell Me, Show Me!

Using video to enhance your training.

For trainers, giving people the new skills they need to succeed can be a hurdle. But what happens when the audience you’re trying to train is uncomfortable with the very technology they need to use to solve their problem?

Lisa Louise Cooke, the author and host of the Genealogy Gems broadcast on, knows this problem all too well, having previously trained subscribers of all ages via the increasingly humble podcast. Cooke, on her prior verbal training methodology, says, “here I am talking about technology, but I am trying to verbalize it, not show it.”

According to Dr. Haig Kouyoumdjian, Ph.D., the abstract nature of words renders them hard for the brain to remember, whereas visuals are defined and concrete, consequently making retention a simpler task. Adding a visual element to your training presentation can drastically aid understanding. And by combining both visual and oral elements, retention rates multiply by more than six times versus the standard, archaic, oral presentation.

“I started creating free videos, because the bulk of my audience is 60 years and older. They didn’t grow up with computers. They wanted me to sit down and show them because they couldn’t follow along with the podcast,” Cooke tells of her subscribers becoming frustrated by the lack of understanding of standard audio cues. “What was amazing was how quickly people of all ages started to embrace what I was doing. It showed me what video can do, and told me that people really want to see and hear.”

Creating the video may be seen as a hassle, but there are a variety of solutions available for trainers to create affordable videos in-house.

Screencasting is one option. Screencasting allows users to record their screen, which can include anything from presentation slides to training documents. It is an intuitive, easy-to-use tool that requires little investment in terms of equipment. No video cameras or videography equipment needed here. Not to mention, regardless of technological prowess, anyone can screencast.

When trainers actively engage video as a tool for training, they will be able to more efficiently equip their trainees with the skills needed to be successful. What you do in the selected screencasting frame is what your audience will see. Furthermore, training videos can be archived and accessed at any point in time through a plethora of Web-enabled devices, putting trainers in the same room as their trainees, bridging time and space in today’s data-driven world.

Despite its apparent youth, the use of online visuals as teaching aids is alive and well in the business sector as a form of training, with more than 41percent of current Fortune 500 companies actively using some form of educational technology when training employees. “I was doing podcasts for years, but when I started to incorporate video, that’s when my business really exploded,” explains Cooke. “I started using Camtasia Studio,” and she has never looked back.

Clients would ask Cooke, “Can’t you just come to my house and just sit next to me?”

And with screencasting, she can.

Matt Pierce is Customer Engagement manager at TechSmith. In addition to his day job, he hosts a monthly Webshow, TechSmith’s The Forge, interviewing video makers, visual communicators, educators, and more. His secret talent is interpreting board game instructions. Teach him something at @piercemr.