ATD ICE 2018 – Session Recap: Diana Howles

Session: How to Avoid the Top 10 Mistakes in Instructional Videos

Diana begins her session by explaining that she loves helping clients use multimedia effectively. 

The trend is forecasting that approximately 82% of all internet traffic will be video, by 2021. This means that we will need to leverage video within our training materials. But we need to ensure we’re doing this effectively. Not just for the sake of creating video.

Diana plans to show us 10 mistakes we make within instructional videos, because “we don’t know what we don’t know”, which is one of my all-time favourite quotes. 

Common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Visual and Audio Distractions
  2. Inadequate Lighting
  3. Poor Audio Quality
  4. Formal Reading of Script
  5. Rapid On-Camera Movement
  6. Lack of On-Camera Presence
  7. Awkward Positioning in the Frame
  8. Static Visual Content
  9. Long and Boring Openings
  10. Losing Sight of Intended Audience

She provided examples for each element, such as:

  • Not cutting off bodies on-camera at awkward angles
  • Bringing several wardrobe options to ensure there are no visual distractions based on wardrobe (e.g., creation of floating heads)
  • Avoiding background distractions (e.g., things behind the individual on camera, or open doors/closets)
  • Ensuring nothing is obstructing the video frame
  • Use settings conducive to the person on-camera (e.g., instructor in a classroom instead of outside).
  • Ensure the speaker is front-lit. Backlighting (e.g. speaker sitting in front of a window) will create a shadow over the speaker.

Diana also emphasized the importance of scripting your talking points so that you know where you’re going, but not sounding like you’re reading from a script. There are studies that have shown that conversational delivery is better for learning than reading formally to the audience.

She discussing being cognizant of on-camera presence, such as:

  • Direct eye contact toward the camera lens
  • Create a likeable and personable connection
  • Maintain high energy/topic enthusiasm
  • Ensure you’re maintaining a perception of expert credibility
  • Maintain a pleasant and natural smile
  • Use conversational and personal tone
  • Maintain a balanced pace and speaking rate

She explains that in video, you should ensure your speech is short and to the point. Avoid reading full scripts verbatim on-camera. To avoid long-winded intros and outros, Diana recommends shooting these sections of the video last, once the speaker has warmed up to the video-recording process. This tends to facilitate concise intros/outros.

On camera, objects appear as if they are large as they move toward the camera, so be conscious of this, especially with hand gestures/movements to maintain proportions.

Don’t lose sight of your intended audience! A good example of this is not using acronyms without defining them first. This is something that is the bane of my existence when I review written content, because not all individuals reading the content are familiar with the acronyms, so listening to someone talk at me in acronyms in a video would overwhelm me with confusion.

Overall: This was a great session, and really hammered home the importance of being conscious of a lot of basic information that may get lost in the shuffle of creating instructional videos, in order to raise the quality of videos and ensure the learning takes centre stage.

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