Between you, me, and the confines of this space, we can all admit … outside of those of us in the safety bubble, safety programs, procedures and protocols we have to teach our workers come across like a lead balloon. Not sexy, in other words.

I certainly know it can be tough to get people engaged and involved, and it’s equally tough to keep them engaged in gathering information that is so important to their well-being and productivity, but can be so very technical or very boring.  While I could have a young lady prance around in a bikini at the safety seminars and workshops I produce in order to get and keep engagement, that would likely be the worst kind of engagement – because the audience would be engaged with Bikini Girl instead of me.

[Image courtesy of Bill Rice from Flickr, via a Creative Commons license]Thanks to technological innovations, companies can make safety-training videos in-house, which can enhance the training program for workers by increasing their retention and understanding of the material being presented.

However, in lieu of that, I try to have activities and examples that get audience interaction and engagement – and I try to make things fun while being informative. And a big part of what I do has to do with visuals.

Of all the senses, in my experience it seems that people process information better – and retain it more successfully – when they see someting rather than just hear it or touch it or smell it. And for many of us, that makes total sense. Think about it – when you are training a worker on how to use certain equipment safely, or you’re teaching them the safest way to do some work-related activity, do you not find the most effective way to teach is to show the worker what to do, and then have the worker show you his or her grasp of the technique by doing it himself or herself? Do you notice that workers seem to retain information and are trained faster when they see what to do, rather than being told how to do it?

With that being the case, how come we have not been very active in producing video training? Well, there had been one very prominent reason – cost. In order to make a quality video that can be respected by viewers, it can cost a pretty penny for professional video, audio and editing work. However, that does not have to be much of a excuse any longer, as technological advances in the field over the last decade or so have provided us rank amateurs an opportunity to make high-definition video and quality audio productions right on our laptops or desktops thanks to advanced media software and liberal use of the cloud or flashdrives for storage.

These videos could stand alone in their own training session, or they could be incorporated into a PowerPoint presentation to break up all of the monotonous bullet-point slides; these videos could actually bring life to the bullet points and demonstrate visually what the bullet points are really trying to say. These videos should have two vital parts – first, the concept that is being explained, and the second is showing the concept in the context of the work environment – so the trainee can understand why the concept is important for it to know and understand.

While you may find stock training videos in your industry available, there are a couple of very good reasons to produce your own videos or clips – one is for the full creative control that you would have, and that you could incorporate a concept into your specific workplace; and another is that you can incorporate local laws, procedures and guidelines into your training, since laws and regulations tend to vary somewhat from place to place – and stock video rarely covers it.

If, after reading this, you think you might want to try your hand at making a training video, I want to emphasize that making a quality video isn’t just setting up a camera, turning on a microphone and demonstrating an idea or concept. To do a quality job, you have to consider four steps to this process:

* First, create a storyboard;  in other words, figure out what concepts or procedures you want to demonstrate, sketch the clips you will want to shoot and come up with a proposed script of narration for each clip or the full video. This sets up your plan, and planning is everything when it comes to these videos.

* Second, shoot the video, gather accompanying photos or graphics and record the audio for the narration.

* Collect all the elements on the video and edit it for coherency and length as well as the important content – there may be some unnecessary stuff covered that could distract from the main point of the clip or video, so don’t be afraid to cut it out and save it for another training video later, or have the trainer mention it as a side note in the training session.

* Save the clip or video into a .wmv or other compatible format so it could be used in a PowerPoint presentation or streamed as a stand-alone video.

In my next post, I will go into a bit more detail into these four steps so you can create your own professional-looking training videos or clips and enhance your entire safety training program for your company.