DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON VIDEO
You probably didn’t expect me to write a heading like that, huh? I’ve written a book that explains why video is really good, so why would I say not to waste money on video?
I guess what I want to say is when you don’t make good use of this technology, it’s a colossal waste of money. It’s a misuse of resources, and it’s a drain on your time.
As cool as video can be for learning, it’s actually uncool for some types of learning. And even when you use it for the right kind of learning, if it’s done poorly, it’s a waste of time. Let me elaborate.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PICTURES
First, video sends primarily visual messages. We have a shot of a man walking with a limp and we know that he has hurt his foot. A young woman looks at her watch and then the camera cuts to her running through a parking lot, so we know she is late.
Video is a good learning method only for content that is easy to convey visually. The pictures have to be relied on to tell the story. When it comes to video, people watch more than they listen.
So if you can’t easily teach your topic with pictures, don’t waste your time, money, and resources on video. Video is not good for complex or detailed topics, such as accounting or HR compliance processes. It is good for topics that involve psychomotor skills, such as changing a tire.
IT’S ALSO ABOUT CHANGING THE PICTURES
Second, video needs to be made up of smart pictures. Let’s say we’re teaching someone to change a tire. We cannot just sit the camera on a tripod and leave it there for ten minutes. We need to change the shot constantly to keep our viewers’ attention. That means showing the process of changing the tire from different positions. Doing a close-up and then cutting to a wider shot.
The reason some people don’t watch C-SPAN is because they become bored if the picture doesn’t change regularly. Compare a press conference on C-SPAN to one on CNN or FOX News, which gets a lot of viewers. They are constantly changing the shot.
This is the reason filming an education program can be so ineffective. People get bored watching a lecture after half a minute. This is the least ideal video learning environment.
People often ask me at conferences, “How can I make seminar and lecture videos more interesting?” I tell them they can’t. All they can do is make them less boring. The tricks for doing that are a conversation for another time.