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What’s the point of video?

Video in learning isn’t new. I cast my mind back to the cumbersome TV on a trolley at school with pre-recorded content on Betamax video tapes. It was never a pretty sight watching the poor teacher trying to manoeuvre this contraption into the classroom. Video has been used for learning ever since video was invented. It’s nothing new.

What has changed though is the access we have to equipment and tools to make videos. Having these tools at our fingertips puts video within the reach of every organisation regardless of budget. This does however come with a potential problem. Organisations can become indulgent in this world of video production using video as the answer to everything. It takes just about a second to say, ‘let’s make a video’, the very shortest part of the entire process.

As I watch back over some of the productions I’ve been involved in, many of them last just a few minutes. Yet look behind the scenes on the making of that video and it’s taken a whole load of work to get that output. On the day, there’s transporting equipment, scouting the location, lining up subjects, capturing the right shots and getting the cleanest audio possible. It’s a busy day. Then you come to organising, sorting, slicing, dicing and mixing content in the edit to tell the best possible story. You add it up and it has taken days to get just those few minutes right.

But what is the point of that video? This essential question needs clearing up before you even think about making a start. What is it designed to do? What purpose does it set out to achieve? What do you want those watching your video to think, feel or do? What’s in it for them? What’s in it for you?

There are many reasons you might create a video. It might be to help people learn something, it might be to raise awareness of something or it could be to sell an idea or concept. It could be to encourage people to take action, feel a particular way or just for fun. Whatever the reason, knowing the point up front does two things. Firstly it saves you time having a better idea of what you need to capture, the shots to get, the questions to ask if you’re interviewing and the cutaway shots you need. When it comes to the edit, you’ve the right content for the story you are trying to tell.

So the first starting point of any video is questioning what is the point? I can think of many times where having this clear idea in my mind has saved me hours, in some cases days worth of time whilst also making the storytelling side of producing that video much more enjoyable. You’ll also find that your productions have a better emotional connection with those consuming it.

The best video productions start with purpose. So next time the suggestion is to make a video, whether that's done internally or using external providers, don’t be afraid to ask ‘What is the point?’ It’ll be a huge help to all involved.

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Comments

  • For anyone who still doubts the power of video - the legend that is John Cleese expresses his thoughts below 

    http://www.videoarts.com/why-video-arts/

  • Ady, some great thoughts as always.  Whilst I was at the L&D Show this year, I attended a session led by Nick Shackleton-Jones focusing on how to set up a corporate intranet from the L&D angle - Resources, not Courses was a key theme.

    Nick suggested two things which have stuck in my mind;

    - For things that people want to do/achieve, provide resources - crib sheets, check lists, top tips etc

    - For things that people don't want to do, tell stories - provide a video linking the human aspect to how someone felt as a result of the issue playing out/being solved.  If you can connect people emotionally to what needs to be achieved, you stand a far better chance than just providing facts and figures 

    • Great thinking from Nick as always and well captured Liz. I totally buy in to the idea that videos of stories told by people connect well. Especially when they're talking how they felt.

      Have you seen this work/plan to try it out?
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