You need not look too far outside of your own box of experiences to know that there’s almost always more than one right way to do something. Looking even further, you might notice that, not only can there be more than one way to accomplish an objective, but sometimes, combining methods can be even better!

These principles apply as much to your teaching and training methods in an office or classroom as anywhere else in life. We often think about using either video or text to effectively communicate something to learners, but they can often work synchronously if you have something that you need to show and explain the reasoning for.

Video is great for the “how” piece of the puzzle since it’s natural clarity takes all of the ambiguity out of doing something, but can bore your viewers if you pause too much to explain something. Text, however, is great for explaining a reason for something, but takes a ton of space to explain a process. Even the best explanations may still be confusing to some learners, so you need to be careful.

Let’s contrast the methods to see how it fits together:

The scenario:

You need to onboard a new sales team to learn your current CRM.

Just training with video: You make a series of videos for your team explaining your system and, in your videos, you go through how to navigate the different procedures, and also explain when and why each step is necessary.

Just training with text: You create a text and image manual that explains all of the different procedures and processes for your system, including when and why each procedure is necessary. You also explain navigation and show screen shots to go with them.

The problem: By using only one type of media, you are, effectively, taking away it’s strengths. Video is most effective in short bursts for showing visual pieces, so by spending a lot of time explaining the “when” and the “why”, you are boring first time viewers to the point that they hardly remember what they just watched. You also make it tough to navigate to one piece of the video when people want to reference it for a specific question.

Conversely, people would rather read the “when” and the “why”, because it’s something they can consume at their own pace, but the instructions for the “how” can lose clarity or become ambiguous when written out, or laid out in screenshots.

The solution: Utilize both types of media to leverage each of their strengths. Keep your videos to the point.

Instead of saying something like, “Today we’re going to talk about X. We need to do X because of Y, as well as when the client needs Z. In order to get to X, we’re going to begin back on the homepage, click here, and then enter in the information so that Sales can…” etc, etc.

Try simply starting the video at the beginning of the process and stripping out the excess, like this: “To get to X, click here and fill in the fields.” That’s the whole video. To make sure your learners get the rest of the puzzle (the “how”and the “why”) support the video with a PDF doc or description below your video that explains it.


Can’t I just show my employees how to do something?

That would be ill-advised.

You want your employees to understand as much about their role in the business as possible. Telling them why they are doing what they do will help to motivate them, and will help to solidify the things they learn so they won’t need to ask the same questions as often (see the Advantages section of my Microlearning post for more on this). Use this method to do so. Keep it concise in your demonstrations, and provide them the references and ancillary documents to tell the rest of the story.