Pete Krause

Director of Training and Digital Assets, Henny Penny Corporation

Ramp Up Your Training Program With Video

When I started to think about training technology topics for this month’s Field Notes, my mind immediately turned to video or more specifically recorded video as the technology of choice. The reason for this is that I think video can significantly enhance and scale just about any service company’s training program, but it doesn’t take years to learn and require a third party to develop or break the bank to implement. So, with that said, I’ll try to pass along some ideas that can hopefully get your training team started with video, or provide a couple of tips to make your training videos more effective.

Video done well not only meets the needs of the visual and auditory learners, but surprisingly it can meet the needs of the hands-on (kinesthetic) learner. The trick to achieving this in video is to talk about what is being shown and show, in the same manner you would expect a tech to do it, what is being talked about. The world of YouTube has literally millions of examples of this video style and if you don’t think it’s effective, try to find someone (besides my dad) who hasn’t repaired something on their car or around their house with the help of YouTube. While video might not meet all of your training needs like training a new tech from the ground up, it provides several benefits that can help you scale your training program. For instance, it’s an effective way to get new or updated information out quickly to your team, it provides a source of truth for things like your PM procedures and how to troubleshoot components. Once created, these videos can be used over and over again as you onboard new techs or accessed by techs who need a refresher. Links to your training videos can also be included on your dispatch to provide just-in-time training right before the service call.

Now the gear you’ll need to start your video program is pretty simple. You’ll need a smartphone and a gimbal (a gyroscopic camera stabilizer) which helps eliminate camera shake when you follow the action. Get a good wireless microphone like the Rode Go that clips on the collar of your trainer and plugs into your smartphone, and then pick up a couple of decent LED key lights to brighten things up and an extra tripod or two for stationary shots. This simple setup really does an excellent job of capturing good video to use for technical training and you can get it all for under $1000 (not including the cost of your phone). You can make videos by using your phone only, but the gimbal lets you follow the action without the annoying camera shake and the wireless microphone provides professional-quality audio vs the audio you get using just the mic built into your phone. Good audio is just as important as good video.

While you don’t need a YouTube superstar to do training videos, you should try to have someone on your team who can communicate clearly, knows their stuff, and can put their thoughts in logical order. Have that person rehearse what they are going to do a couple of times and then have someone capture their training using the gimbal. Don’t stress about making things perfect. If your trainer messes up a little during recording, just leave it, or if they mess up quite a bit, don’t stop the camera. Just let it roll, and have the trainer start with what they were going to say again. It is much easier to cut things out of a longer take than to try to take several short clips and figure out what order to put them in later. Strive to make the content short and to the point and use close-ups so techs can see what is being talked about clearly on a smartphone.

Once you have your video file or files, editing doesn’t have to be fancy. Just cut out sections of a video where there is dead space, bigger mistakes, or things that add no training value like watching someone unscrew a screw for 45 seconds (show the first couple turns and then cut to show removing the screw). This type of editing can be done with tools you probably already have like the video editor that comes pre-installed with Windows 10, or with iMovie on your iPhone. There are tons of how-to edit videos on YouTube for both products that will get you editing quickly. Once edited, you can upload the finished video right from your phone to a service like Vimeo. Vimeo costs about $20 a month and stores your videos in the cloud where you control whether your content can be found via web search or if it can only be accessed by a private link once uploaded.

Putting this video to use in your training program doesn’t have to be fancy. For example, you could email video links and a couple of test questions to your techs for an update showing how to troubleshoot a new error message recently added to the software. Once they submit their responses, you could track completion on an Excel spreadsheet. You can get more automated than this if you wish. For example, if you want to create a test that is graded automatically, you could use a test-making app like EddApp or others to create your tests and then include the link for that in your email. If you have a larger team of techs, you may want to think of implementing a tool like a learning management system (LMS) system. These systems house your video content, let you set due dates, automatically track technician’s progress, and automatically grade tests, but are a much larger investment.

So hopefully there are a few things that you can take from this to either get started with video or add value to what you are doing already. Once you have the basics down, then it’s not uncommon for your trainer to start thinking of ways they can improve their content for the next video. That might be adjusting the lighting, adding a backdrop to make the equipment or part stand out better, or just eliminating their “ums” and “ahs” (which I am bad at) from the next one.