Flipping Your Training from Boring to by Beth Hughes Return


Imagine it’s Friday at 2pm, and you have until the end of the day to meet your annual compliance training requirement. You get ready to settle in for an afternoon of mind-numbing page-turning that’s a necessary part of the job. But what if, instead, you stopped at the breakroom for a soda and some popcorn, then crashed on the closest comfy chair to binge-watch some videos on your phone?

At Handshaw, we’re creating training that brings the binge-watching concept into the learning and development space. They key is telling compelling stories that engage. One of the primary ways we accomplish this is by developing short, animated videos. Applying creative design features and innovative methods that break the mold of traditional e-learning development results in content that not only makes learners excited about learning, but also has a real impact on business results.

Providing learners with “binge-worthy” training can have the following results in your organization:

  • It generates buzz – This approach provides learners with a new experience, and as we all know, people share experiences that impact them in some way. Learners are familiar with training that provides content, but training that tells a story is typically a novel approach (no pun intended!). When learning objectives are wrapped in a narrative, learners get to know the characters and their stories, and can more easily make the connection to their own job and work environment. When learning and applying a new skill is fun, and that positive experience is shared, buzz about training in your organization is born. You can be intentional about creating buzz with a little creativity and forethought in your design (who doesn’t love a good Easter egg?).
  • It can modernize your content – If you’re in the training industry, two words you probably hear every day are “millennial” and “microlearning.” Delivering your content as binge-worthy, animated videos can assimilate these concepts into your learning culture. Millennial audiences require fast-paced, relevant content, on demand, and delivered through current technologies in order to be fully engaged. Short, narrative-based videos paired with a planned implementation strategy allow you to accomplish all of these at once. In addition, animation brings a playful, relaxed style more amenable to a millennial audience, rather than a more formal presentation mode that traditional video often portrays. By keeping the videos between 3-5 minutes each, your training lives within the microlearning space. This means content more easily fits into your learners’ daily work, because they are able to access it more easily when they need to on whichever devices they have on hand.
  • It increases the knowledge and skills of your learners – Yes, this is always the main point of a learning intervention, but what if learners voluntarily took their training past the point of requirement? When given access to fresh, relevant, and relatable content, learners want to continue to the next video. While they’re finding out what happens to the next in the story, they’re learning additional knowledge and skills applicable to their performance. Ending each module (or “season”) with a cumulative event increases the likelihood that your learners will binge-watch episodes all the way to the finale. We like to end each “season” with a highly interactive, comprehensive activity that ties all of the concepts together and wraps up the narrative…or doesn’t (cliffhangers never fail to disappoint!).
  • It can reduce overall learner time – Producing short, animated videos can reduce your total learner time. At Handshaw, we recently completed a project that reduced 11.5 hours of traditional e-learning to 2.5 total hours of content without reducing the number of performance objectives. This is possible because both the 3-5 minute time limit and the narrative-based model both require the designer to pare down the content to pure, elemental concepts so that each takes much less time to teach, resulting in videos that are straight to the point. Of course, lack of depth could risk learner comprehension, but your curriculum can also contain supplemental materials like job aids and reference guides to provide a deeper dive of the content.
  • It can reduce costs – Just imagine how much reducing the amount of content you produce by 80% can save your organization. By producing such small segments of content, you can capitalize on a rapid development cycle, as well. Within a very short time frame, your first set of videos can be available to your learners. You can even have a teaser published within a couple of hours. Also, selecting an animated style for your videos is much more cost-effective than using live actors. Props become graphics; the editing process becomes a few tweaks in the animation software. And if you are a content provider, you are more likely to gain new clients and retain existing clients by providing them with fun and engaging content that everyone is talking about.

If you’d like to learn more about how to create training videos that encourage your employees to spend an afternoon binge-watching, let us know! Reach out to Beth Hughes at beth.hughes@handshaw.com and join the conversation.


About the Author

Beth Hughes has over 15 years of experience working with clients to identify needs, craft solutions, and build and implement learning interventions that meet clients’ business goals. She focuses on developing curriculum-level programs with comprehensive, blended learning designs. Beth is a Certified Performance Technologist by the International Society for Performance Improvement and serves as Handshaw's Vice President of Professional Services.