3 Research-Based Training Video Tips

Karina Kasparova
September 21, 2022

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Are you looking to step up your training video game and create more effective training videos? 🔝

Luckily, science has given us plenty of guidance on what works and doesn't work when it comes to getting your point across.

Here are 3 tips backed by research that will help you create training videos your employees will actually pay attention to.

Are you a visual learner? Our Learning expert Kevin outlined the tips in a video format just for you 👇

How to Make Engaging Video (3 Quick Tips)

Tip #1: Add a (human) face

We, humans, are social creatures and our brains are wired to find and engage with faces.

It's a principle that has long been documented in one of the most important books in the e-learning space - e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer.

The Personalization Principle outlined in that book states that humans are naturally social creatures that like to be engaged in conversation.

This Principle can be applied in practice by adding a visual character in a training video to simulate a person-to-person interaction and increase viewer engagement.

Additionally, a 2014 study into how video production affects student engagement found that among different types of instructional videos, informal talking head videos are more engaging.

In the same study, 46% of students attempted to solve a related problem immediately following a talking head video, whereas only 33% did that after watching slideshows and screencasts.

Who can be used as a talking head in training videos?

Traditionally, instructors, subject matter experts, or actors. But lately, AI avatars are becoming more and more popular as talking heads in employee training videos.

You can read more about using AI avatars in training videos in a separate detailed blog post.

Where should you add talking heads in a training video?

The above 2014 research paper suggests showing talking heads at key moments throughout the video.

For training videos specifically, we recommend using a talking head

  • at the beginning of the video to tell the learners what the video is about
  • when outlining key points/takeaways to reinforce learning
  • at the end of the video to recap and make the call-to-action more impactful

Tip #2: Change up your visuals

While talking head videos are certainly engaging, too much of a good thing isn't.

Monotone visuals aren't the best for learner engagement - lack of visual variety leads to boredom and zoning out. 🥱

This is backed by research from the Nielsen Norman Group, which in 2005 did an eye-tracking study to measure viewer engagement with talking head videos online. In a 24-second long video excerpt, viewers' attention didn't stay on the talking head for very long - it diverted to other objects in the video frame and outside the frame as well.

The study was expanded in 2017 to analyze how we can increase viewer engagement in a talking head video. The short answer - change up the visuals.

To expand on that, here are a few things you can do to increase engagement:

1. Include interesting background elements

Visual elements other than the speaker can give users somewhere to divert their gaze without fully switching off from the video itself.

Just make sure that the elements aren't too distracting - you still want the viewer to pay attention to the audio.

2. Show related text content outside the video frame

If the learner's attention does shift from the video, make sure that the content outside the video frame is useful and related to the content of the training video.

The text can contain useful supplemental information or links to other interesting content in case they do lose interest in the video.

3. Shift the camera angle

Zooming in, zooming out, and moving the subject slightly to the left or to the right is an easy way to keep viewers engaged.

If you're using AI avatars to create training videos, you can mimic different camera angles using this technique:

Avatar Angles

4. Include graphics within the video

Reinforce and complement your message with graphic elements within the video.

They are a new interesting visual element to focus on but repeat the message to reinforce learning.

These elements can include:

  • text
  • shapes, arrows
  • animations

Tip #3: Shorten your introduction

Make your introduction as concise as possible, ideally no longer than 5-10 seconds.

In your introduction, focus on answering these two questions:

  1. What is this training video going to be about?
  2. What is the learner expected to do afterward?

Keeping the introduction short helps reduce the overall length of the video. And if there's one thing that has been proven time and time again in the e-learning space, is that short videos are more engaging.

Even as far back as 1956, Miller's Law states that the number of objects a person can hold in their short-term memory is limited to about 7 plus/minus 2.

How does that translate into video training?

Since the short-term memory capacity of a learner is limited, that means the number of topics covered in one video should reflect that. The fewer topics are covered, the shorter the video.

What tip will you try first?

So there you have it, our top three research-based training video tips to help your viewers learn and retain information.

Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines – feel free to experiment with different visuals, audio, and lengths to see what works best for your content.

And don’t forget – if you want to create effective training videos but don’t have the time or resources, we can help.

With Synthesia, you can simplify your training video creation process by eliminating the need for actors, filming equipment, and video editing software.

Try a free demo video to see for yourself.

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