Venturing into Video Training

A look at video’s training benefits and tips for video content development.

By Gary Lipkowitz, COO, GoAnimate

Awkward. That’s how HR managers and participants alike may feel during a training session on harassment.

Bored. That’s how a trainer may feel delivering the same procedures and summaries for the 1,000th time to the latest crew of recruits.

Tired. That’s how your subject matter expert may feel after a long night at the keyboard (i.e., computer or piano bar) on the morning of your training session.

The task of keeping training engagements fresh, interesting, and comfortable is often as much of a challenge to the trainer as it is keeping the content up to date. Thanks to today’s technology enabling on-demand content access, your employees present a high threshold of engagement—and a very small window in which to clear that threshold. And if the images don’t move, their imaginations do, quickly wandering elsewhere.

That’s why so many trainers have expanded the use of video in their programs. Digital video presentations are always as bright, precise, and clear as the day they were produced. They never have a coughing fit and could care less if they were transferred to a USB drive that someone stuffed in their pocket while they went dancing all night.

From the trainee’s perspective, video can be an engaging way to deliver information in the form of a story and to wrap the viewer into the plot line with music and voices, humor and drama. Beyond its welcome tendency to engage viewers, video offers many other benefits to trainers:

  • Lower cost. In numerous situations, training programs can be distributed in video form on DVDs, eliminating travel expenses for a trainer.
  • Extended reach. Employees across a global organization can receive standardized training through distribution of a common video—with the voice track translated into appropriate languages. Similarly, through video, employees can hear almost-firsthand from a global company’s key executives who are situated in distant countries.
  • Best performances, repeated. Video can be recorded in several takes, so the trainer can select the best performance from an executive, subject matter expert, actor—or herself.
  • Perfect demos. Video can be used to capture the perfect demonstration of a device, process, or reaction. The demo only needs to be perfect once, and then that performance will appear on the video in every training session.
  • Preservation of knowledge. Information and insights gathered for drafting the script and from experts who appear in the video will be retained and can be delivered virtually forever through the video.
  • Linear presentation. Though counterintuitive to our hyperlinked society, video has the benefit of being linear. The trainer controls the content, pacing, and flow of information from beginning to end so trainees receive the background and understanding they need before moving on to the next stage, and no one is flipping ahead in their workbook or PowerPoint print-out.
  • Showing soft skills. When discussing sales and service situations, interpersonal boundary limits, ethical matters, and other behavioral issues, video is often an excellent way to present good-and-bad, before-and-after, and problem-solution scenarios.
  • Explanation of complex concepts. Whether an economic theory, a production process, or a piece of machinery, video combined with animation can make it easier for employees to understand. A video can expose components of an instrument or a vehicle that are not easily visible under other circumstances, and animation can simplify the explanation.

Videos need not be expensive to produce. One of the most popular formats today—boosted by success on Saturday Night Live and YouTube—is the animated video. Cloud-based video production sites such as GoAnimate ( make the creation of animated videos a simple matter of selecting background environments, props, characters, and vocal styles and simply reading or uploading a script. The animation platform synchronizes each character’s mouth with the scripted words.

Video Content Development Tips

  • Beyond the choice of visual styles, of course, the script, interview, or captured conversation is the primary means of conveying the content. Before launching into a script, be sure you understand the video’s objective. You should be certain that the video helps your trainees adopt, change, or consider the actions and attitudes you are seeking from them.
  • Also, consider the knowledge level of your audience, so your content is not too basic to maintain their attention nor too complex and technical for them to grasp.
  • Then, keep your content compact—don’t expect your trainees to sit for an hour watching your video masterpiece.
  • Use video segments to their best advantage, for communicating motion and emotion, methods and momentum, support and advice.
  • A final piece of advice: Don’t be static. Don’t let the review process steer you toward talking heads reading the content outline. Take full advantage of the medium—utilize creativity, moving pictures, music, and sound effects—and enjoy this medium’s unique ability to quickly engage learners.

It’s easier to remember a story than a fact sheet, so video can increase attention spans while significantly improving information retention. Consider starting with an easy, inexpensive short animated video and measure the results yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised at the way your audience reacts when you translate your training message to video.

Gary Lipkowitz is chief operating officer of GoAnimate (, which enables people to produce custom videos from scratch in the cloud using drag-and-drop tools. Lipkowitz has more than 17 years of media and entertainment experience in the U.S. and Asia, including being a corporate television writer/producer in Chicago and Austin and writing, producing, and directing the English-language adaptations of more than 20 anime franchises for ADV Films. He previously served as the COO of in Singapore, assistant vice president with Mediacorp Raintree Pictures, and strategy consultant with Yahoo! Southeast Asia. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Psychology from New York University, an MFA in Film/TV from Northwestern University, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.