In the past 5 years video has been disrupted as never before. Cameras have been liberated from professionals by the broadcast quality technology in the palms of our hands. Overnight, video has been democratised and has become available to the many not just the few. So why are so many Learning teams getting it so, so wrong?
Where is the Netflix style video content that could revolutionise the dull, conservative learning experienced everyday by corporate Britain? Why are we still waiting for Learning to realise the true potential of film? Why is learning content still so bad?
Since leaving the BBC, I’ve worked with some of the UK’s best-loved businesses and brands. Brands whose marketing is first class, whose adverts are superb and whose comms are second to none… why oh why, then, is the learning still so naff? And when I say naff I mean naff.
By working with these top businesses to improve their learning I’ve come to realise that the reason Learning teams get it wrong is that they fail to obey a key rule - the number 1 rule - a rule I had drummed into me at the BBC will never forget.
And that number 1 rule is…
Respect Your Audience!
When I was working on shows like Watchdog, we used to sit and watch the audience ratings - live. If you had any slow moments, if you were boring or irrelevant, you would literally see viewers switching off. You learn very quickly that respect goes both ways: if you want your audience to give you their time then you have to start by respecting them.
We need to understand that audience time is precious. They are all adults; they know what they like, and, in a world where what they like is usually only a few clicks away, their tolerance for dull, time-wasting content is currently at zero.
Learning teams have to think about their colleagues as an audience to be won over and informed. Credit your audience with a good level of understanding. Help them to see your programme as a powerful and important strategic initiative. By respecting your audience you can inspire them to change and respect your learning content and programmes. It’s an invaluable lesson and should be applied to all learning content you create.
I appreciate, though, that this is easier said than done. Many learning pros are still only just wrapping their heads around the changes taking place in the world and the complex ways these are affecting the content we create.
That’s why I’d like to share with you my top advice for how to respect audiences - and in turn get your audiences to respect you…
How to Make Great Learning Video
1. Engage Emotions With Storytelling
We all know that stories have a beginning, middle and an end. But how do you structure your content outside of this?
A ‘Why, What, How?’ structure can be a simple, powerful way to get everyone understanding a programme’s context, key messages and main actionable points. Another way to structure is the Hero’s Quest. It has been proved time and time again that people will recall and remember anything better when they make an emotional connection to it. It has also been the essence of good stories since the dawn of time. Setting a challenge to be overcome, positioning the change as a call to adventure and providing a revelation and a return, guides viewers to a perfect solution; one that they will engage with, learn from and not forget in a hurry.
And at present there’s nothing better to present your story than video. Video is the most powerful storytelling medium we have. Using video to connect learners and content there’s so much you can do; you can win hearts and minds, align people to a strategy or make them relate to their customers. You can inspire the genuine engagement that keeps people hooked to a campaign like it’s Game of Thrones.
2. Use The Power Of Your People
In an age of authenticity it’s also important to create content that feels like part of a genuine conversation. You don’t need to look at the world of Social Influencers to know that people like to learn from their peers. 20-30 second top tips are an incredible way to introduce peer to peer learning.
Very often the best takeaway from face to face training is that connection to someone else who is going through the same challenges as you. “Oh look, this person has the sames issues as me. They feel like me. They do the same job and they have some great ideas that can help me overcome these issues.” In our experience this is one of the simplest and most effective uses of video. Uniting audiences, sharing best practice and providing audiences with additional context for the rest of your programme.
3. Unleash Your Animators
The wave of simple explainer animations are all too often a distraction to what you’re being told. They can sometimes feel like a meaningless visual aid designed to sugar coat a giant learning pill.
A little tip, though - if you ever get the chance to work directly with an animator, ask them how they would explain something before you pin them down with a script. The animators I work with are fantastic at visualising concepts and if you can engage them in your discussions, you’re sure to get great inspiration that supports your ideas.
Whatever the actual figures, (I hear 60,0000 times faster a lot!) our brains do process images faster than text and we are capable of deriving complex information from simple imagery. So next time you’re working on an animation try and think about the images before you start blocking out your key messages.
4. Work Closely With Comms
Increasingly we see our clients in Learning and Internal Communications coming together and sharing resources. Combining budgets to create joined up and more powerful video that fulfils a broad range of objectives and uses.
It also provides companies with a more cost effective and joined up delivery for some of their key strategies and, best of all, reduces the noise. With some clients we have the sole provider contract for Digital Learning and for Video meaning we understand the strategy deeply and can offer a better service for both teams that supports the business. If you don’t have a partnership with your Learning or Internal comms, start building connections now. Both have a lot to offer each other.
In an industry dominated by digital learning dinosaurs, miss-sold LMSs and gamification it’s important to remember that video is almost always the answer when you want to make an impact.
Our brain loves video. It's a perfect combination of two things that catch our attention like nothing else - movement and noise. It's a mirror of how we perceive the world everyday. We’re programmed to retain visual content better than a page loaded with words. We are also far more likely to absorb and recall key messages watched rather than read.
And video has the power to encompass all types of content - written, audio, visual, moving. No other medium has this ability. It’s why marketers love it and why it’s still exploding all over the internet. Video’s truly the king of content!
All you have to do is make sure that the video you create matters to your audience. You have to make it relevant; make it with feeling.
I’m lucky to be working with an incredible client right now, one who is visionary in this space, one who truly gets the power of film in corporate learning and I’d like to share the story with you.
To find out how our film and learning content can transform your learning portfolio, drop us a line anytime. Make a connection. Together we can make smarter content for a new world.
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