How to Make a Training Video

By Helen Bradley | Posted October 06, 2016
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    How to Make a Training Video

    Video provides a compelling, effective way to train new hires and to demonstrate certain job functions. If you want to make training videos—without spending a lot of money—look no further than your smartphone. Today you can affordably record and produce your own training videos for not much more than the cost of your time.

    After you make your training videos, you can easily distribute them within your organization for employees to view them. We'll walk you through the basic steps, and show you how to make a training video with your smartphone.

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    Step One: How to Make a Training Video

    Making training videos requires preparation. First, establish a clear understanding of the video's purpose. What task will it explain or demonstrate? Choose a topic you can cover in less than 10 minutes—it's better to break up a big topic into multiple shorter videos than to jam everything into one epic production. Write a description of the video's goal, and then write the steps—in order—that the video needs to cover to achieve that goal.

    Afraid you won't remember what to say? Write a script that you can read when you film. If your topic involves more talking than physical action, you can estimate around 120-150 words for each minute of video. A demonstration video generally requires less verbiage.

    Rehearse by reading the script aloud, and be sure to practice the task you're presenting. Note any props or anything special you need to film the training.

    Print your script using a large typeface, and place the pages out of the camera's sight—but where you can read them. Alternately, load your script into teleprompter app, and use it on a laptop, iPad, or tablet. For example, CuePrompter.com is a free teleprompter app for laptops, and you'll find plenty of tablet apps available in the iTunes store and on Google Play.

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    Step Two: How to Make a Training Video

    Let's look at the recording basics involved with making training videos. Remove any distracting background elements and record in a place that's relatively quiet. If you need props to demonstrate the task, make sure you have them all on hand before you begin. If your video involves destroying an item—e.g., cutting something or opening a package— keep multiples on hand in case you make a mistake. That will make re-recording that step much easier.

    You can make a training video with either a digital camera or your smartphone. However, some cameras and phones limit the length of a single recording. Check your device's manual, or record a test video to determine its limits. You can work around any limit by stopping the recording before the time runs out. Then immediately start recording again. You can merge the two tracks into one video during post-production editing.

    Place your phone or camera on a tripod to keep it steady while filming. If you want overhead shots, an extension arm attached to the tripod will let you position your camera over your work area.

    Make sure you have adequate light available; if you don’t, bring in additional lights to keep both you and your work space well lit.

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    Step Three: How to Make a Training Video

    Don’t underestimate the importance of good sound. Your phone or camera's native microphone provides adequate sound. But if you plan to record a lot of videos, consider investing in a good microphone. Either a free standing microphone or a lapel microphone will record much higher quality sound. Viewers will generally look past poor quality video, but they are much less forgiving when it comes to poor quality sound.

    Now that you have rehearsed your script, gathered your supplies, and prepped your lighting and sound, it's time to record your video. Don’t worry about making a mistake; simply stop, go back to natural break in your speech, and start again. You can remove the mistake during post-production editing.

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    Step Four: How to Make a Training Video

    Your employees might benefit from seeing how to perform a task from more than one point of view. If so, you can shoot that task multiple times. You can do this in one of two ways:

    • Record one view of the process with your voice, and then change the camera angle and record the process again. In post-production editing, you take parts of the second recording and edit them into the first—or add the second video as a "video-within-a-video" effect, thus showing both points of view simultaneously.
    • Alternately, if you have two cameras or two smartphones, you can record both viewpoints at the same time and save yourself a lot of time and effort in the process.
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    Step Five: How to Make a Training Video

    After you shoot your video, look at the raw footage. If you like what you see, you're ready to enter the post-production phase. A.K.A: editing. You'll find lots of free and inexpensive editing apps for smartphones, PCs, and Macs. For example, iMovie (iPhone; $4.99) is a good quality editor, and it comes free with many newer Macs. For PCs, try the Windows Movie Maker (free).

    Import your video into whatever application you choose, and then crop out any mistakes. Use the video editing tools to add a title and—if needed—callouts to provide viewers with additional information.

    If you shot multiple viewpoints you may require more advanced editing software to handle multiple video tracks and to create video-in-video effects. When you finished editing, you can render your final video and make it available to your employees. Share it over your network, or upload it to a site like YouTube to make it easy for people to watch from any location. Just be sure to mark the video private so that only people you invite can view it.

    Making your first video involves a steep learning curve, but it gets easier with each video you make.

    Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her website, HelenBradley.com

    Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

You don't have to spend a lot of money making training videos. And they're a simple, effective way to educate your employees. We'll walk you through the basic steps.

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