Training Videos Are the Star of Training Manuals

Posted on July 28, 2011 by James Keil, Sr. VP of Sales

Everyone who has sat through a training video raise your mouse.

Until just a few years ago, a restaurant's options for utilizing a training video were very limited. For fun, watch these amazing vintage Wendy's training videos: we love the cold drinks and hot drinks ones. The options were to purchase an off-the-shelf solution or invest heavily in a production company to produce something custom at hundreds of dollars per finished minute. Regardless of cost or format, delivering restaurant training through video was difficult.

Enter streaming video.

Streaming video, with the option of online testing and review, has been a game changer to say the least. Players like YouTube and Vimeo have given business owners the chance to create, upload, and utilize their own training content without writing checks to a camera crew and post production. Armed with simple Flip cameras, HD capabilities on small hand-helds, and even iPhones, managers and many creative employees in the business have embraced this resource, and customized it to fit their needs with a fraction of the effort required to power up the DVD player in the conference room. While a small consumer grade camera and software is no replacement for a top-notch production studio, in many cases it's enough to meet the needs of the business.

The Rise of YouTube

In April of 2005, YouTube was born. The interface was quite basic, there were no real channels to subscribe to, and the video production industry wasn't too threatened by it. Shortly after, consumer-grade cameras came down in price and video resolution went up in quality. Editing software became easier to use and cheaper to buy. Those trends would continue at an accelerated rate, with plenty of nudging from the cellphone industry.

Today you can shoot, edit, and upload HD video for around $400 worth of hardware, iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker. There is more HD video technology packaged inside of a pocket-sized smart phone now than video producers could haul in a small vehicle in 1998. Consumers can buy cameras that clip to the brim of their hat for $100, shoot P.O.V. footage with sound in full TV quality, and have it uploaded to their channels while checking emails. Having said that, it's important to know that all amateur video is not great. Things like "shaky-cam", zoom in-out, bad soundtrack, and obnoxious cheap effects can detract from a decent video. It's always a good idea to keep your video as simple as possible.

YouTube & Training

About a year ago, I had a customer ask me what sort of restaurant training content was available on YouTube. This question prompted me to spend about a half-day digging through hundreds of channels and videos. I found front of house, health and safety, back of house and even some great compliance training.

Streaming technology has taken video training from a screw driver to a cordless power drill in the last six years. Today video can be incorporated into web-based learning, testing, and record keeping. Restaurants are creating their own content on private, password-protected channels. This way, you can keep your closely guarded recipes secure while training staff on how to prepare them. Employees can utilize streaming video training around busy schedules from any location, and enjoy smaller doses of powerful content to meet their needs.

If you own a camera, or just want to give it a try with a small hand-held device, fear not. It is important to get comfortable with the camera. The best videos reflect very little or no pressure to perform. If you're not a professional actor, it's okay to take the pressure off. In fact, it's the amateur performance that has helped to make amateur video so incredibly popular. Here are a few tips that could help you produce your own clips to upload to your private channel.

  • Be steady. Nobody wants to have to take Dramamine before watching your clip. Hold the camera very steady, or use a simple tripod.
  • Lay off the zoom. Too much zooming in and out is exhausting. Frame the subject as close as you can get it to fit nicely in the picture, and shoot.
  • Shoot to Edit. Keep it simple, and shoot clean, short segments that may be uploaded as is, or edited easily on your computer.
  • Get the best audio you can. Condenser microphones on simple cameras can be effective at close range. They can provide horrible audio if you are too far away, especially in a room that echoes. Whenever shooting a speaker or host, make sure they project their voice, and the camera is as close as possible while still framing the subject matter.
  • Have fun! Don't worry about what people think of your performance. The truth is, they'll be watching it for content.