Nailing the length of your training videos is just as important as creating high-quality training content. A two-hour lecture might be packed with all the information your employees need. But, the likelihood of them sitting through it is slim. For such a long video, your employees are probably splitting it into chunks. Watching each segment for as long as it keeps their attention. It goes without saying that this isn’t a terribly efficient structure for training your employees.
Though inefficient, and frankly somewhat frustrating, it is understandable. Nobody likes to be talked at for extended periods of time. It isn’t engaging, interesting, and isn’t an effective strategy for training even with undivided attention. This is because most people can only digest information in forty-five minute segments. Any longer, and the information is likely to go in one ear and out the other.
While longer training sessions could be warranted in some circumstances, the advent of training videos has made long-form lectures unnecessary. What’s more, opting for short-form training videos is often significantly more effective. Bringing your employees up to speed quicker, and at less cost to you. That being said, exactly how long should a training video be?
What is a training video?
A training video is, simply put, any video that aims to teach its viewers how to perform a skill or an action. Provided a video fits this description, it can be considered a training video. While this term is often used in the context of employee training, a range of other videos can also fall under the category. The most notable are YouTube video tutorials, but training videos encompass customer service and customer education videos too.
How long should a training video be?
The most accurate answer to this question is it depends. Every video is unique, having its own topic to cover, an audience to view it, and a platform to be posted on. Each of these variables, and the plethora of others left unmentioned, can impact what the ideal length of a training video should be.
While there isn’t a definitive answer, there is a rule of thumb to follow. Broadly speaking, viewers gravitate toward training videos that are shorter than 20 minutes long. With videos between 3-6 minutes sporting higher rates of engagement. That said, this doesn’t mean that sacrificing necessary content to slip under that time limit is the way to go. Sometimes guidelines need to be bent in order to deliver quality content, after all. Ultimately, the key lies in striking a balance between length and valuable content. Each video will have its sweet spot, where adding more content, regardless of how valuable, will only end up being detrimental to the video. There is no science to find that sweet spot, however.
The importance of video length
The length of your training video is important to get right. But, it isn’t the determining factor in the success of your training video. Unsurprisingly, your video is only as good as its content, with poor content resulting in a poor video. No matter how long or short it is. As such, you should invest the majority of your efforts in creating excellent quality content. Then center other aspects of the video around it. Your audience will appreciate a longer video with more substance, as opposed to one slapped together with a minute-long duration.
But how can you ensure you nail the content every time? The answer is surprisingly simple – place yourself in the shoes of your audience. This is important when making any kind of video, as your audience’s enjoyment dictates the success of the video. In employee training, however, it is paramount. Consider what your employees need to take from the video, then focus on including information only relevant to this aim. Then cut it down even further, including information that ensures the topic is broken down as efficiently as possible.
Consider your employees
To make your training videos even better, consider who your employees are and what clicks with them. By including references that mean something to specific employees, or broaching topics in a way that connects well with certain personalities, you can better capture and keep your employees’ attention. Needless to say, an attentive employee stands to gain more from your content than one that has their mind elsewhere.
If you keep these two points in mind when creating your training videos, you can develop a formula with which you can create training videos ideal for your workplace. While the length of your training videos does factor in, it should only be considered after you have top-quality content to work with.
The keys to capturing attention
We’ve mentioned that content is the most important aspect to a training video, but what exactly should you include to grab and keep the attention of your viewers? Generally speaking, the most important thing is to give your audience what they expect to see. This is particularly true for entertainment, but it also applies to training videos too. Put simply, if your content doesn’t match what’s on the cover, your viewers are more likely to be disconnected.
In addition to showing your audience what they came to see, keep these three main points in mind:
- Keep it simple – This is one of, if not the most, important qualities in a training video. While it might be tempting to flex your scholarly muscles when teaching your employees, it often is counterproductive. By using jargon or unfamiliar language, you are making it more difficult for your employees to understand the content of your videos. If your employees leave your video feeling confused, the effort that went into it is wasted, and further effort needs to be made to set the record straight.
- Get creative – Lectures might be one of the most common approaches to teaching. That doesn’t mean they are the most effective. When producing your training videos, you should add a bit of personality and creativity to ensure your employees keep paying attention. Add some creative animation. Be enthusiastic in your voiceover, tell a story, anything that stops your video from being tedious and boring.
- Add some humor – In line with the above point, one tried and tested method of making attention-grabbing, memorable content is to add humor. Everyone likes to laugh, and we often remember information better when we have something to associate it with. Tying in important information with a good joke is a surefire way to etch it into the minds of your viewers.
While there is a general guideline, there isn’t a specific length you should aim for when creating a training video. Instead, your focus should be on creating the best content you possibly can, and tailoring it to your employees. Rather than asking, “How long should a training video be?” you should instead ask, “What do I want my viewers to take away from this video?”. Once you have your answer, you can make that goal the focal point of your video production process, with video length being an afterthought.