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The words "employee training video" can conjure images of sky-high hair and Zack Morris cell phones the size of bricks – monstrosities of the '80s we'd rather leave in the history books. (This Wendy's video is a classic.) Everything in the '80s of course was big – including corporate production budgets. 

Today, in the age of the cloud and smartphones, producing training videos can be as easy as pulling out your cell and hitting record. But the real challenge remains the same: Creating compelling content that employees don't just enjoy, but actually retainDavid Kelly, a New York-based program director for the eLearning Guild and progressive education enthusiast, offers a few dos and don'ts for successful video training:

THREE DON'Ts

Don't assume a training video will break the bank.    The common perception is that creating an employee training video is a big undertaking, one many departments aren't equipped to fund. With inexpensive flip cams and smartphones, creating a short, useful video is no longer out of reach.

Don't waste your audience's time.    "Make it memorable, and keep it short," Kelly says. Bite-sized pieces of content with a narrow focus hold attention and provide a clear pathway toward mastering a skill. Rambling videos addressing too many skills in one sitting don't provide as much value, as employees' eyes will begin to glaze over a few minutes in. Thirty minutes is too long. 

Don't overlook mobile.    Optimizing videos for viewing on mobile devices should always be considered for our on-the-go workforce. Especially in industries like field service, mobile videos can be extremely useful. If you're a cable repair man, in a repair gondola 50 feet in the air, being able to watch a quick tutorial on your smartphone will save you the time and hassle of watching it on your computer. 

THREE DOs

Encourage user-generated content.    Kelly has witnessed a shift in video creation over the years – content that used to be generated primarily by training departments has taken on a life of its own with a greater focus on user-generated content. This grassroots training approach represents the fundamental shift in video production, one that benefits the end-user greatly.

Splurge on accessories.    Small add-ons such as a microphone for your iPhone can go a long way when it comes to video quality – they're minor investments that will drastically enhance the quality of your video. With all the money you saved on scrapping a production crew, it's a worthy investment. 

Get interactive.    You can almost hear the "cha-chunk" of the VCR coming to a grinding halt, but interactive doesn't have to mean watching a cheesy video for five minutes, then stopping it for discussion time. Showcasing a specific skill and then having viewers replicate said skill through a test or simulated experience may be one of the most effective training tools. Video by nature is not interactive, but weaving in these elements will enhance the learning experience.

All great ideas.  While you’re at it, why not use your socially enabled learning management system as a way to deliver, track and build social dialogue around your new video training?  Just a thought.