Instructional Storytelling Series: Video Recording

Technology: Video Recording

Description: By now, just about everyone has a video camera in their pocket. Recording a video can be as simple as using the camera on our phones to capture informal moments or as complex as setting up lighting, backgrounds, and green screens with either a simple phone camera or expensive equipment.

Typical Use: Simple video is used to record our everyday lives. We capture cute kittens and other furry creature mischief. We hit the record button as fast as we can when we see something strange, amusing, dangerous, or criminal on the streets. More formally, we interview people, we record professional or memorable events, we orchestrate an entertaining saga.

Ideas for Instructional Story: Simple video provides a rich canvas for sharing an instructional story. When highlighting people, video can be used to interview people about their experiences, show a staged life-like conflict that happens on the job, demonstrate a process, or capture moments of celebration.

Consider these ideas:

  • Create a documentary. You can use video to record the story from at least two perspectives: one for the fictional story designed for instructional use or one of the actual project itself. You can have fun with a fictional documentary and use it in a number of ways, but a documentary about the actual project is a creative way to create an evaluation report.
  • Stage a conflict. Conflict is a key reason for creating training. Conflict can be the kind where people disagree, but it can also be the problems we face with technology, equipment, a process, or corporate policy. Find out what conflict people are facing on the frontline and recreate it in a staged video. You’ll validate peoples’ struggles and get their attention for offering a solution.
  • Celebrate success. Record moments of success and have fun with it. Over exaggerate a character’s fear of connecting with people at work and show how that character successfully approaches someone at their desk to say hi. Or record actual success of the team successfully meeting the goal of 1,000 perfect cogs assembled.
  • Demonstrate a process. Sometimes a job aid or e-course is more work than it’s worth. If the process involves physical movement, show it in a recording. What’s easier to follow when you’re learning a new dance move: written instructions and static visuals or a video recording? In the context of a story, show it being done wrong, what the effects were, how someone intervened to do it right, and deep insight on how working with someone enhanced the learning experience.
  • Evaluate success. Evaluating success in a training program developed using instructional story design is done from a variety of angles. One of those angles is from the participants. Using video to interview participants can capture human feedback where surveys and data fall short. They fill in the gaps and can then be used in a documentary that tells the ‘evaluation’ story for the project.
  • Set the stage with a cliffhanger. Setting the stage in instructional story design is something you do with words, visuals, and in some cases, a physical space in the field or at a workstation. The physical environment of an experience can serve as a trigger to more easily [recall that experience later]. Use video to record a precarious situation in a physical space where people might encounter that situation, and then “light the fuse” to leave people wondering what might happen next. Get them talking about it and drawing their own conclusions that can be addressed at the next team meeting or follow-up training session.
  • Collect micro-stories. Strategically designed questions can draw out personality that people at work can be notoriously good at hiding. When a cultural shift, teamwork, or communication are an essential component of the training program, record people’s short story answers to questions like: Who is your hero? What do you remember about your first pet? Did your family have any fun traditions? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? The stories you get from questions like these tell you a lot about who you’re working with and where people can find common ground.

Want to be part of the story? Here’s your invitation:


Interested in learning how you can use the power of story to design your training experience? Sign up to receive the latest articles and exclusive updates for an upcoming book on the topic.