For the last 15 years, I’ve been developing and administering educational programs within the mortgage industry. Program topics have ranged from simple pricing overviews to full-blown, multi-day new-hire orientation programs that touch on the whole of a company’s policy, procedure and product offering. In that time, one thing has become clear: most companies view employee and/or client education as a necessary evil, not as an opportunity.
“Make it mandatory” is a good way to get info out to everyone who needs it, but there is a big difference between distributing information and educating. If you want that information to be retained, you must go the extra mile.
Below, we will explore the most popular forms of corporate education, and how this “new norm” we find ourselves in actually presents an opportunity to improve your educational strategy.
Live Classes And 'Lunch Learns'
Let’s be completely honest - once the free food is consumed, nobody wants to be here.
Many people believe in-person training is the most effective way to get their message across to a target audience. I challenge them to take a close look at what they are presenting. If the best way to get your point across is by traveling from place to place (or flying your audience to you) so you can hold people captive, then your presentation is probably lacking.
Our “new norm” seems to be phasing this option out. Thank goodness for that!
Let’s focus on the next option as an alternative.
Webinars And Live Streams
This is one of my favorite ways to educate. It’s live, so it allows you to relate to your audience in real time. Plus, you don’t have to give up the Q&A session at the end, which usually ends up being the most valuable part of the entire session. Webinars are also a much more effective use of your time, as you can reach anyone, in any location, unlike in-person classes. Plus, the cost to hold one is almost non existent.
5 Tips For Conducting The Most Effective Webinars And Live Streams:
- Keep it short and sweet. Stick to high-level overviews. Fine details will put people to sleep.
- Engage your audience. Don’t demand their attention… earn it. Make your webinar the single most entertaining thing going on.
- The presenter must be authentic and not take themselves too seriously. Fake energy levels and robotic speech also will turn people off quickly.
- Time management is huge. Keep topic-specific webinars to 45 minutes max, with a 20-minute presentation and a 15-25 minute interactive Q&A session. Attention spans are short, so use that to your advantage.
- Record the webinar for distribution after it’s over. Attendees will appreciate having the option to re-watch the parts they missed or want to dive more into.
It’s hard to beat a quality live webinar, especially if you have a stream that allows your audience to see you while you’re speaking to them. Just don’t forget this isn’t simply for informational purposes. If you make a legitimate effort to entertain your audience, you message will be received (and retained) much more effectively.
This is the next best thing to a webinar or live stream. It may not educate your audience as effectively, but it can come close. It’s more convenient, as your audience can watch at any time. Personally, I’ve gained a lot of traction with prerecorded video and it can be used for many different things, if done right.
Unlike a webinar, you aren’t engaging with your audience in real time. But you lose the Q&A session at the end. You will need to makeup for those losses in other ways.
5 Tips For Creating The Best Educational Videos:
- Entertain. Let your personality show. Be as authentic, relatable and entertaining as possible. The goal is to have everyone who clicks “play” to stay for the entire video.
- Over-simplify as much as possible.
- Pretend you are making this video for people who know absolutely nothing about your industry. If they would understand it, you audience will find it a breeze.
- Edit out the fluff. Taking the time to edit your video goes a long way. I even edit out louder breaths and pauses between sentences. This results in a faster pace, which draws your audience in and keeps them there. Also, it makes the overall video shorter, which is always a good thing.
- Audio quality is key. It sounds odd, but the visual aspect of a video doesn’t matter much. Use your smartphone to record. As long as people can see you, it will suffice. However, if people can’t hear you, they are gone. You don’t need fancy equipment. Just make sure you come across loudly and clearly.
- Get creative - really creative. Most people click on educational videos expecting the same boring PowerPoint presentation they saw at the lunch-and-learn. Surprise them. It will pay off.
If you don’t have much experience with this and want to give it a shot; start with topics that don’t change often, like a company policy or procedure. You’re going to put a lot of effort into creating a great piece of video content and this will ensure that it’s accurate and useable for a long time to come.
Audio Recordings And Podcasts
This is something that most don’t even think about as an option for educating their staff, but there are huge benefits here.
Your audience can listen to this while at the gym, walking their dog, cooking dinner, during their commute, etc. It doesn’t get more convenient than this. The more convenient it is to consume, the better the odds are that your message gets across effectively.
These are recorded as audio-only, with no camera necessary. This cuts down on your production time, allowing you to get the info out more quickly.
Plus, you may already have a podcast and don’t even know it. If you have a recording of a live webinar, or a completed educational video, simply save an audio-only version of it. Voila! You have a podcast episode to upload or an audio recording to distribute.
One Important Takeaway
The most important message I can share doesn’t actually have anything to do with pandemics, the “new norm” or any other current event.
You’ve probably picked up on this by now, but I refer to the group we are trying to educate as our “audience.” This is not a coincidence. These beautiful people we’re trying to reach are not our “class.” They are (usually) not obligated to attend our sessions and we are not doing them a favor by sharing the information we have to share.
These people are our audience, and they should be treated as such. While there will always be a certain amount of necessary information to convey, let’s prioritize that down the list a little bit. Our audience was kind enough to give us some valuable time out of their day. Let’s start by entertaining them. You just might be surprised at how much you’re able to educate them in the process.