The awful history of training videos & how to make great ones with CX

November, 15 2019

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We all know it. Training videos have a history of being not just dull, but downright insulting, as well. To ensure that you really understand why we had to use the word awful twice, we’re going to take a look at some of the worst training videos out there, discuss why they’re so bad and look at how we can make them better...

A short history of training methods

People have been training others to do jobs for a long time, and this training has been handled in several different ways:

  • Instructional practices were developed within a particular community or an individual trade to show workers how to do one specific job. As more knowledge accumulated, more individuals were able to pick up skills on their own or from others, in an informal manner.
  • On the job training (OJT) was the first kind of systematic instruction. Someone who knows how to accomplish a specific task shows another person how to do the job. In today's world, OJT is still around because when a person knows how to do a task, he or she can train a fellow employee, as well.
  • Apprenticeships were in place in and referred to as early as 2100 B.C., and expanded during the Middle Ages.
  • The classroom as we know it appeared during the Industrial Revolution. The goal was to educate trainees on how to do the tasks required in the factory.
  • Vestibule training, in the 1800s, took place near the job site but in a particular room big enough to hold machines and as many as ten workers and their trainer.
  • In the 1940s, on-job-instruction training was designed for supervisors in defense plants so that they could teach their workers in various job areas.

All of these kinds of training have one thing in common - they mean that everyone doing the training has to be in the same room at the same time. But, in the modern world, that’s not always possible. Fortunately computer-based training (CBT) was introduced in the 1980s. CBT allowed for greater flexibility, more knowledge acquisition and instruction in newer fields.

The use of computer interaction and video has made it possible to offer training to employees while at work, at home, and even during a break. Useful and creative videos can be a significant addition to training - the possibilities are endless and the delivery is flexible. 

Terrible training videos

As excellent as video training is, though, there are correct ways to do it. For a start, video producers need a good level of experience and understanding to come up with an on-point video. At the same time, companies must make sure that their video emphasizes the messages they want to convey. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always gone to plan in the past. Here are some examples of where training videos have become truly awful…


The Unintentionally Hilarious and Poorly Recorded Training Video

If a video is crudely photographed, poorly lit, or seems to have faded with age, the message will possibly get lost on the audience. The Service is Selling, and Selling is Service video is hard to look away from, that's for sure; a bit like a train wreck you might say. It seems the producers were trying to emulate a rapping video but fell short of that vision. The audience was probably transfixed, but not in the right way – they’re more likely to see the video as a source of amusement than valuable learning material.

The Insulting Training Video

This customer service training video misses the mark in so many ways that it's difficult to single out the worst example of rudeness. The lesson seems to be targeting how not to treat your staff as a manager, but dwells for so long on how you ‘would never treat your customers’ that the whole point gets lost. The examples of what bad treatment is are also so obviously wrong that the viewer is left feeling insulted - most people know that treating people poorly because of their age, disability or gender is wrong.

All in all, there’s so much focus on how not to treat people that this video fails to actually train anyone on what they should be doing. Telling your audience what they’re doing wrong is not the same as telling them how to do it better. As a viewer, you’re left feeling insulted and with no more knowledge than when you started watching.

The Derogatory Training Video

This training video gets a C- for being sarcastic and an F for being ineffective. The idea that women, simply because of their gender, cannot understand how to purchase a video game, but also must accept dumbed-down information is laughable and insulting. What’s more, it distracts viewers from the purpose of the video by making them indignant about the derogatory messaging in it.  The audience is going to walk away with negative feelings towards the company, not great ideas about customer service.

How to Make Awesome Training Videos with CX Appeal


As we already know, videos are one of the best education mediums in existence. Humans are suckers for visual and aural input. Videos grab the audience's attention, generate emotion in viewers and build trust among workers. What’s more, they don't have to come across as cheesy. Here are some ways our terrible examples could be changed to make sure that they are actually effective as training videos.

create exceptional customer experience through video

Swap generalised, fuzzy messages for clear, targeted ones

There are three things you need to decide: what you require employees to know, how to change employees’ behavior and what workers care about while on the job. And, to make sure your video is successful, your viewers need to leave with an understanding of what it is they were supposed to learn - something that was lacking in our awful example videos. To avoid these kinds of catastrophes, you must know your audience well. Which ones of your audience are college-educated, who has had excellent training in your industry? Deciding on and maintaining your core message throughout the video is imperative. If you get this wrong you run the risk of offending your colleagues, or going over their heads.


Don’t patronise your audience 

One thing our example videos all had in common was that they got their approach wrong. If you were engaged as a viewer, it was because you were horrified by what you saw, not because you were learning. Plenty of thought is required to ensure that your message is presented in an engaging and exciting way. Whether the video is for training, demonstration, or receiving information about the company, emotion will strengthen its base and make it more memorable. This could mean making it funny (actually funny, not embarrassing like our examples), sad or thought-provoking as appropriate.


Avoid wobbly transitions and terrible quality by using trained creatives 

Another problem across all of our example videos was that they looked pretty home-made and not at all professional. How likely are your employees to take a training video seriously if it seems like an unprofessional joke? 

The first lesson here is to make sure you use an experienced, professional video producer who can make something that your employees will be able to view as proper learning material. It might seem easy to farm out your video production to an agency. Sometimes this can be the right choice - after all, professional video experts are just that: experts in creating great, effective video. However, don’t underestimate the value of an in-house creative team, especially if the video is being made to teach and encourage.

If your company is creating lots of video, then one obvious benefit of an in-house video production team is that the cost of your videos will be lower. But another, bigger advantage is that in-house creatives work for your company. They understand what you do, how it works and how people will respond far better than an external agency - however expert - is likely to.


Know your audience: Check that your video training is working

Read the comments for example video three and you’ll see that actual employees of the organization that produced this video are horrified by it. Avoid this kind of impact by checking how your audience receives your video. 


Donald L. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., came up with an evaluation model that is as accurate as it was in 1959 when he created it. The model is called The Kilpatrick Four Levels™.

Level 1: Reaction - How much do participants react favorably to the learning event?

Level 2: Learning - How much do participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, and attitudes based on their participation in the learning event?

Level 3: Behavior - How much do participants apply what they learned during training when they are on the job?

Level 4: Results - How many targeted outcomes occur as a result of the learning events and subsequent reinforcement.

In other words, measuring these different areas will help you to work out how much of an impact your training videos are having. Don’t be disheartened if it takes a while to find the right formula - just keep asking your employees for feedback. And remember, they’re probably not going to be as awful as our examples! 

Just a Few More Tips

  1. Identify your specific goals and choose the project leaders that are best for this video.
  2. Allow those in charge of content to create freely.
  3. Keep your videos concise, simple, and sleek.
  4. Use each training video as a chance to learn and improve your business.
  5. Try new techniques.
  6. Question what works and what does not, consistently.
  7. Don't become predictable: keep your videos fresh.


Key takeaways

  • There are loads of examples of bad training videos out there, but you shouldn’t let this put you off using them as they’re highly effective if done right.
  • To make sure your training video is clear and to-the-point, decide on your message and emphasise it throughout the video.
  • Find a way of appealing to your audience to get your message across - but if you make your video funny, make sure it’s in good taste!
  • Always make sure a professional creates your video, or your employees won’t take it seriously.

    If you need help increasing the amount of video you’re producing, companies like IPV can help your business increase its video output by as much as 50 percent. Chat to us about this, as well as spending less on storage and working remotely.

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