Improve training effectiveness with video

Richard Smith demonstrates the value of video as a training tool.

Effective employee training is critical to the success of any business. Worldwide, firms spent over $150 billion on corporate training in 2013, according to Deloitte’s Corporate Learning Fact-book.

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These training programmes encompass a whole range of topics, from sales techniques to leadership development. But one major issue for all is apparent; how can we improve the effectiveness of these programmes, whereby the trainee actually retains and regularly uses the concepts taught?

Video is emerging as a solution to this issue, recently cited as a key trend to revolutionise online learning. The medium has several unique benefits to offer the corporate training industry.

For example, how many times have you used an online video to help illustrate a concept to a colleague, or understand something yourself? Video acts as a powerful tool to convey messages concisely, yet comprehensively, and can be easily integrated to work alongside existing coaching practices.

Video as a mainstream engagement tool

Video usage has become fully integrated into modern life, with an estimated 204 million online video viewers in the US alone. Video continues to grow in importance across many organisations and departments too. In training, video is excelling by providing a unique learning experience offered by no other medium. Trainees can learn with total control.

Unlike live demonstrations or traditional online modules, bitesize video content can be paused, allowing the learner to reflect on points, or to look up confusing concepts, and to work at a speed that suits them. Video as a learning tool is an enabler for workplace coaching as it can be used in collaboration with your existing training strategy.

Examples of this in practice include:

  • A video introduction before a training session to enhance the latter
  • To review sales and presentation pitches. Video allows trainees the ability to review themselves or each other and carry out meaningful personal reflection on performance
  • Libraries of video content can be provided for trainees to refer to continuously
  • Live training presentations can be recorded giving trainees instant access to re-watch and review material
  • A follow up video, reviewed after the training session to ensure concepts are understood to reinforce what was taught.

Now video is not the be all and end all of training. Note that in the examples above video does not replace any traditional training procedures, instead it builds upon and supplements established learning methods.

This means the return on investment is high, as the resources and effort expenditure to record a live training presentation are minimal when compared to the benefits gained by the trainee. Especially in the age where the majority of devices we carry with us daily have video capabilities.

Video is specific and measurable

Often, the power of imagination and creativity in the learning process has a vital role. As Einstein once famously said “imagination is more important than knowledge.” However in certain training scenarios, imagination can actually become a hindrance.

There are times when you do not want your trainees to be filling in the blanks with their own interpretations; they need to have a full understanding of the information you’re trying to convey. Video allows you to deliver information factually and objectively, meaning little room for misinterpretation.

With this in mind, video is often a better option for best practice material, showing skills in action and information about specific, complex tasks.

The picture superiority effect

Part of the reason behind the effectiveness of video, especially when it comes to clearly presenting concepts, lies in the principles behind the ‘picture superiority effect.’ If you have not heard the term, it originates from experiments investigating which factors improve human information retention.

In short, the experiments concluded that concepts are far more likely to be remembered and internalised when presented visually as opposed to words.

Visual generates both image and verbal representations in the mind, as opposed to solely verbal. Words and pictures (hint: think video) improves information retention by 650 per cent when compared to solely words.

Many of the principles that are common in today’s workplace training industry have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Cast your mind back to the earliest crimson-red hematite cave paintings ca. 30,000 BC depicting prehistoric hunting strategies.

Alternatively, consider the use of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics ca. 3,300 BC for documenting religious practices.

Thus, visual learning aids have been used as collaboration and learning tools throughout human history, and video in the training industry is just a further extension.

Video is accessible and flexible

A common misconception is that video is a time-consuming and expensive endeavour. In recent years the infrastructure required to access video has reduced substantially, both in terms of cost and equipment. Video is now considerably ‘lighter’ than previously perceived.

With the rise of smartphones and high-speed internet, practically anybody can record and upload material onto a video sharing site in a matter of seconds. Of course, we would not recommend filming an hour-long seminar on your handheld device.

Technical distractions such as camera shake or muffled sound may even impair the message you are trying to communicate. But the point we’re making is clear, the tech required is everywhere and cheap.

Additionally, traditional training is often expensive due to the cost of human time. Consider the example of a trainee not fully grasping a concept. Traditionally the trainee would then take up even more time as the trainer must re-explain the lesson.

With video integrated into your coaching plan, you can reduce this development blocker by providing supplementary learning material and session recaps. Video is therefore saving time and allows the consolidation of coaching with the least amount of disruption.


We are seeing video emerge as a fundamental component of the corporate workplace learning strategy. Video should not replace your conventional training methods, but instead be used in collaboration with existing strategies that work for maximum effect. In the future landscape of visual and online learning, video is king.  

Have you considered taking advantage of the flexibility and opportunities offered by video to engage your learners?


About the author 

Richard Smith is a founder of Refract and he can be contacted at 0207 164 6176 or email


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