How to Get the Most Out of Training Videos

The battery on my solar-powered keyboard died a few weeks ago.

Naturally, I searched YouTube for a video on how to replace it. A short video helped me learn how to remove the old battery, determine what special type of battery I needed to order, and install it.

Voila! My keyboard works again.

There's a good chance you've done something similar. If so, you've discovered the secrets to getting the most out of a training video.

Training videos work best when they are short and focused on something immediately useful. Yet most people take a different approach when using training videos to learn something for work.

They succumb to the popcorn method and just watch the entire video straight through. Here are some tips to help you learn faster and learn more from training videos.


Tip #1: Make it Immediately Useful

Most people watch a training video because it sounds interesting.

The problem is our brains tend to lose information that's not immediately applicable. So if you watch a training video that might be relevant someday, you'll probably have to watch it again when that day comes because you forgot the original lesson.

A better approach is to only watch videos that are immediately useful.

Taylor needed to create a screen capture video for a work project using a software program called Camtasia. She'd never used Camtasia before, so searched the library for Camtasia courses and found one that fit.

The course walked her step-by-step through her project and she was able to complete it successfully.


Tip #2: Leverage Micro-Learning

Most people watch a training video all the way through. This can take a lot of time, with many videos ranging from twenty minutes to over an hour!

A better approach is to focus on one skill at a time. Learn that skill, apply the skill at work to reinforce the learning, and then move on to the next topic.

Most of the courses on Lynda are divided into two to five minute segments to make this easy. For instance, imagine you wanted to improve your customer service survey. You might watch this short video on establishing a survey goal.

The best practice would be to create your survey goal before watching the next segment. This makes it much easier to remember the lesson.


Tip #3: Apply What You Learn

Most people will watch a video without any specific intention to apply the lessons. They just hope a good idea or two will stick.

It seems strange to consume training without having a plan to apply that training, yet that's what people do.

A better approach is to immediately apply what you learn in a video. Taylor learned the basics of Camtasia because she actually used the software to create a project. I changed the battery on my keyboard so I didn't have to buy a new keyboard.

Many training videos have exercises or worksheets that accompany them. I try to include an activity of some kind at the end of every video segment in my courses. 

You'll rapidly improve your learning if you use these exercises to apply each lesson.


Tip #4: Skip to Relevant Topics

Most people watch a training video all the way through, even when it covers topics that are not relevant. Frankly, this can be pretty boring.

A better approach is to skip over content that isn't relevant and go straight to the good stuff.

There are literally hours of training video on Camtasia in the library. Taylor would still be watching those videos if she didn't select the most relevant segments that were applicable to her specific project!

All my training videos have titles and descriptions for each segment in the course so you can skip to the topics that are most relevant to you. This also gives you the ability to revisit key topics if you need a refresher.


Tip #5: Make it Relevant

Many people get hung up on the scenes shown in training videos. They'll say, "That video shows a restaurant scene, but I don't work in a restaurant so it's not relevant to me."

A better approach is to find a way to make that generic scene relevant to you. Don't get hung up on whether a particular scene is a precise match with your work environment. Focus instead on the skills and techniques being shared and then imagine how you can apply those in your own environment.

Doing this, you'll quickly find that customer service skills are essentially the same across most situations. You just need to adapt those skills to your specific needs.


Take Action!

I like to include a short movie at the start of my training courses that explain exactly how to get the most out of the video. Here's an example from my Serving Internal Customers course:

My suggestion is to do your homework before watching your next training video. Try to apply these tips and notice how they change the way you learn!