11 Tips For Better Training Videos

Hi there! In case you've not noticed, videos are now taking the world by storm. Just look at the number of people on YouTube every day.

And if you look specifically at training videos, you'll find that it is now much easier to make them than in the past. If you have a special skill or talent, like juggling or installing a new PC, you can turn that knowledge into a training video to be shared with the world.

In this article, I want to share with you 11 tips for making training videos that enthrall your audience. Some of these tips will be obvious to you (e.g. have good audio), while others, like sticking to a consistent production format, may not be so obvious. So read on and find out more!

1. Use a Script

The first tip for shooting better training videos is to simply use a script. It helps so much if you have a script, storyboard and a shot list ready before starting your video shoot.

In a script, I'd write down who has to say what at what time. This helps to save everyone's time, instead of doing stuff "adhoc" during the actual shoot. Even a simple piece of paper with bullet points is helpful - as long as you have some idea who is to say what.

Equally important is a storyboard. You need to know where you're going with the video. For example, if you're shooting a 5-part training video series, then your subject should know what topics are going to be covered in a later video, to help guide the audience.

Another point here is to have a shot list. If you are shooting a video on assembling a PC, then you want shots of your trainer, the components you need, the actual assembly, etc. Thinking these shots through and writing them down helps to clarify things upfront and ensures a smoother shoot.

Many beginner videographers simply want to jump in and shoot the training video. They end up wasting a lot of time and not knowing where they're going. Don't be like that - plan your training video ahead of time.

2. Keep it Concise

The second tip I apply when producing training videos is keep everything short, simple and concise. Your audience has very short attention spans - especially those who are viewing your video online.

Make sure your shots are between 2 to 5 minutes long - and not longer. If your training content is more complex, you may want to break up the content into separate videos, each lasting 3 to 5 minutes.

The rule I use is never to have a single training video lasting more than 30 minutes. Any training video more than 30 minutes is bound to put your audience to sleep. So break it up as you see fit and make it more digestable for your viewers.

3. Audio Is Very Important

Many digital video enthusiasts forget that audio is a very important part of video. How many times have you gone on YouTube, seen content that is shot beautifully in full HD, only to hear muffled voices coming through? Turns you off immediately doesn't it?

Well, the same is true for training videos. In fact, in training videos, you need to be absolutely clear in your diction so your audience can hear what you're saying.

My advice is to use an external mic for shoot training videos. Most muffled audio in video can be significantly reduced with just an inexpensive $15 wired mic. Make sure you get at least one of those to cut out the majority of audio problems.

4. Simple Background and Lighting

Ok, the other point about training videos is this - you're not making a movie. So you don't need fancy backgrounds and lighting. You don't need special effects and sets.

Stick with a simple background. If you're shooting a training video which showcases some components, you may want to lay them out on a table. You can also purchase some pre-made curtains and use them as background. Try to go for neutral shades as your background - a full white background tends to be too stark and overexposed.

For lighting, my best results have been achieved by setting up two lights about 45-degrees from the center of your scene. Stick to this and you'll get a very well light training video.

5. Use Two Cameras

Many videographers I know use two cameras to shoot their training videos. They use one main camera and attach the mic to that. Then they use a second camera to shoot cutaways and close ups.

Let me quote an example. If I'm shooting a video on "how to make a pizza", I'd first shoot my subject (the chef) explaining some introductory stuff on pizza making. This can be done using Camera A.

I'd then have him or her show the components that go into the pizza. Each of the pizza components requires a close up and I'd shoot this with Camera B. Once I have all the shots, I can splice them all together using a video editing package.

That's how many of the professional training videographers do it, so you should try it out.

6. Shooting Closeups And Cutaways

Close ups are often needed for training videos. For example, if you're shooting a video on juggling, it's important to show close ups of the juggling batons used, as well as the precise hand movements applied.

You can shoot cutaways such as a little scene of professional jugglers to give some context to the story.

When shooting closeups, it's quite important not to zoom in, pan or move too much. You don't want to disorientate the audience with your constant motion.

Continuity is also critical in training videos (or any other videos for that matter). If your subject is holding a screwdriver in his or her right hand in one scene, then in the next scene he or she should still be holding that screwdriver in the same hand. Audiences appreciate continuity in your videos.

7. Add Simple Graphics

For training videos, it's often useful to add some simple graphics to give context to your video.

For example, if I'm making a training video on how to assemble a PC, I'd have an opening graphic that reads "Introduction", then have the trainer talk about the entire process of assembling the PC.

Next, I'd throw in a graphic "Tools You'll Need" to help introduce the audience to the equipment needed for assembling the PC. These graphics should be kept as simple as possible - some text against a black background is always good.

If you have a lot of training content, I'd even do up a little table of contents and use that as a graphic through major sections of the video. You can then tick off each section as you cover it. You can use a simple bullet point list to create such a table of contents.

8. Check Out Examples Online

As always, when shooting video, I'd encourage you to learn from others. Go to YouTube or DailyMotion and do a search on "how to cook pasta", "how to boil an egg" or any other "how-to" videos you can find.

You should also watch cooking shows or any other kind of educational video which trains the audience. Pick up the good and bad points of those videos and understand what message is being communicated. Is the video successful in teaching the audience how to do something? If not, why?

I'll give you an example. A few years back, a friend of mine wanted to produce a video series on cooking Thai food. We found an area in his living room, shifted some furntiure around, then set up some fabric to serve as the backdrop for the show.

We applied the same main introduction for every video in the series, and used two cameras - one for shooting my friend (the chef) and the other to do closeups of the ingredients in the kitchen. The results were fantastic and I've used that series as a template for many other types of training videos since.

9. Bonus Material

Another tip for training videos - especially if you sell the video to consumers - is to packagin some bonus content. Bonus content not only raises the value of your training video package, it can be used as a teaser to attract more sales. Some of the bonuses I've seen included in training videos include PDFs of stories or checklists which can be used by the audience.

10. Add A Teaser

I also encourage you to add a teaser to your training video, right at the end. It's not unlike the latest blockbuster action movie leaving a small clip within the ending credits, just to showcase what's in the sequel.

Keep the teaser short, not more than 10 to 20 seconds. Put in some advertisments for the next video in your series.

11. Producing Training Videos For Income

Ok, one last point on training videos - though this is not strictly a "tip" - producing training videos can be a source of income for you. You don't really need to have skills in assembling a PC, playing golf or cooking - if you have a knack for shooting and editing training videos - you can make some income.

There are dozens of websites out there that pay you some income for producing quality training videos. You can also package the videos into a DVD series and sell it to corporates or the mass consumer market.

Wrapping Up ...

I hope the above has helped you understand some good tips on shooting better training videos. Like all video production work, training videos require good planning, careful setup of equipment and some good shooting techniques.

Package the footage together with a solid video editing program, adding in graphics, bonus material, teasers and so forth. If you have all that done, I'll gurantee you have a solid training video series that can be sold in the market.

Until next time, have fun with shooting and editing those training videos!