Outdated Video Training Puts a Business at Risk

Out with the monotone slide-show bullet points; in with storytelling 

by Maury Rogow

Businesses risk loss of revenue, loss of employee commitment and increases in key employee attrition. One solution is here for us to embrace: the new rules of engagement in training videos. 

Millennial and GenX value contribution, learning and challenge above financial gains.

Businesses that deliver training in an outdated format or style can suffer from all three of the pain points above. This is just as true in healthcare and tech as it is in sales — boring has no place in training.

Video Training Must Be Something New 

Businesses should follow the same key rules as marketing videos in order to succeed. Engagement is the new standard.

Video platforms engage employees because the content is more memorable than any outdated formats. Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read a document, an email or a web article. They are also more likely to remember it — research has shown content retention of video-based material to be double that of a conventional training session.

Embrace New Video and Training Formats

To be effective, training videos need to focus on three core aspects: length, engaging style and core story. 

Whether a business is training employees in their job function or teaching new sales and operational programs internally, employees will not pay attention or retain information if it is presented in lecture-type subject training.

First, the key lessons must be short. Anything longer than three major take-aways per segment will lower retention. If there is a lot of material to teach, long-form lessons can be broken into chapters. We learn the most at the open and close; the midpoint is tertiary. If there is too much emphasis on multiple points, retention decreases. It’s best to create multiple three-act structured stories.

Second, infuse animation, graphics, and fun. Yes, fun. This will open new synapses. Creation of new neural pathways increases retention. Fun has been an antonym of “training” video for decades, but to be successful, leaders need to adapt.

Third, the story is the vehicle that delivers engagement. A good story is perhaps the most difficult aspect of every video. Anyone who has told a joke and had it fall flat understands how important it is to get the pieces of the story in the right order, and to use timing to accentuate points. 

Leadership Education

If a business is successful engaging customers and prospective customers but its employees do not have the knowledge to help them, guide them and sell them, its brand and company will fail. Great video training is on-demand and doesn’t need to wait for an instructor to free up a calendar. It allows companies to scale repeat at no cost.

Investment in video-based training is an investment in a company’s future. Businesses should do what Hollywood does to grab attention.

The Three-Act Structure

Ninety percent of the movies and plays we know, and especially the Hollywood blockbusters, obey the Three-Act Structure. 

Act One: This is where we carefully establish our main character (the protagonist) and his or her world, and build empathy and relatability. If an audience can relate, we are engaged.

For a training video, businesses can spend the first act establishing the world in which their product exists and there is an issue that is dark and foreboding. The audience is engaged in solving the problem.

Act Two: Act Two begins in movies when the protagonist has experienced a life-changing event, and now he or she is off to face a new challenge. 

Think Harry Potter after he finds out he’s a wizard. Think Luke Skywalker after he finds the message from Princess Leia. They’re off to learn new things about the world and themselves. They are now acting on the “Call to Adventure.”

Throughout Act Two, the protagonist encounters the antagonist (the person or thing that keeps the protagonist from achieving his or her goal). They’re going to go through ups and downs. They’re going to go through a journey of discovery and choices — some good, some bad. For businesses, consider what can be taught along this path, what useful tools are there to use and share?

Act Three: At the end of Act Two, a film’s protagonist is at his or her lowest point. All hope appears to be lost. But in Act Three, our protagonist finds the strength to fight through and persevere — and, at the end, to get to that main goal that provides redemption or transformation. 

The caterpillar becomes the butterfly. Luke becomes the Jedi knight. A business’s customer becomes a savior to that business by using its product.

That’s the Three-Act Structure. 

The question for businesses is how to improve their training videos and engagement with it.  

Maury Rogow is a video marketing expert and CEO of Rip Media Group, believes brands will thrive or die not because of the products they sell but because of the stories they tell. The company’s website offers the guide “The 6 Stories You Need to Make Money.”

For the past 12 years, Rogow has served as Chief Story Officer of Rip Media Group, and has helped hundreds of brands such as Cisco, Ben & Jerry’s, Comcast and Harvard thrive through the power of story. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America, an author, speaker and trainer.

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