3 Ways to Make Your Lessons Stand Out and Engage Learners

67% of employees perform better when they are communicated with visually compared to text.

Whether you are training employees or teaching students, it can be hard if you rely too much on text.

Have you ever had to sit through a boring presentation for a class or compliance training?

It’s awful.

We’ve all been guilty of creating text-filled presentations. 

But it can be difficult to effectively communicate this way when you’re not seeing people face-to-face and have fewer individual interactions with them.

If you want people to listen and understand what you have to explain to them, you have to make it interesting.

To help bridge this gap, you need to create images and videos to help others learn a new topic, product, or skill.

That way, you’ll have both audio and visual instructions to help people of all learning preferences pick up on your material faster and more accurately — and they’ll actually enjoy it.

In this post, we break down the best ways to use images and videos to educate others.

Here are three of them:

1. Keep visuals purposeful and relevant to your audience

If not done correctly, visuals can potentially distract from rather than clarify information for your viewers and leave them confused and overstimulated. Images and video should work to simplify the concepts you’re teaching and make learning faster and easier for audiences. 

Don’t just place images or videos into your lessons for the sake of having something colorful. Each visual should have a clear purpose and enhance the learning experience for your viewers. 

Not all visuals work the same way for all audiences. It’s important to tailor your content to the specific needs of your viewers in a way that makes learning the material as clear and efficient as possible.

For example, if you’re creating an online course or walking viewers through a product, you wouldn’t use the same visuals and instructions for your beginner lessons as your advanced lessons. 

Both groups will require different levels of explanation and terminology.

In fact, you’ll likely need to create two completely different sets of visuals and corresponding instructions. Make sure that you take each audience’s unique situations and perspectives into account. 

Remember to avoid wordy slides: that’s the fastest way to lose interest. Which Excel tutorial would you rather click through?

Odds are, you chose the first one. 

“We’re in a bullet-point using, emoji sending, Instagram scrolling, ever-distracted society. We are an image society these days, and people want to see it quickly and they want to move on,” says Kati Ryan, founder of A Positive Adventure

Moral of the story? Keep slides short and sweet.

2. Use different visual elements throughout your course

Not sure what to include in your image or video elements? We’ve got you covered! Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Image and video templates

Creating how-to content or tutorials can be made much easier with templates. All you have to do is pop in new information and add it to your presentation.

This is especially useful if you’re an instructor for multiple topics or courses and need to quickly update presentation information. Just swap out the text or elements from the previous walkthrough and insert the information for your current one. 

That way, you don’t have to worry about the little details of each slide anymore: they’re pre-created for you! If you don’t want to create your own templates or need some help starting out, TechSmith Snagit and Camtasia offer great image and video templates for everything from basic walkthroughs to online quizzing. 

Animated GIFs

As people become busier, it’s the author’s job to make sure that created content is scannable and easy to follow. Nobody likes long, drawn out instructions.

GIFs are being used more frequently than ever in professional and learning environments to convey information.

Here are just a few reasons to use GIFs for instruction:

  • GIFs are easier to follow than a series of still images.
  • Animated GIFs are easier to create than a polished video (and have less expectations from your audience).
  • GIFs play automatically.
  • You can explain a process without any narration.

You can use GIFs to answer questions, give comparisons, demonstrate processes, provide entertaining answers, and more. 

The good news is that it’s never been easier to get high-quality GIFs. You can use sites like GIPHY and Tumblr and get premade, ready-to-roll GIFs. Those are great spots to go if you want to add a quick GIF to your lecture or presentation, but if you want a custom GIF to show something on your screen, you can even create your own animated GIFs.

Bonus Elements

You can also consider color coding or fun patterns to sort your information. That way, your viewers will be able to easily remember the topic you’re on and easily organize their note taking.

3. Include yourself in the content

The goal of using images in your presentations is to engage your audience and help them learn more efficiently. Studies show that people learn much faster and have better retention when provided with both visual and audio information. 

A good way to frame your audio content is by thinking about your audience’s experience as much as possible. How would you want to be taught the information? It’s likely that you’d respond well to some more personal touches. 

Great video voice over audio starts with these elements:

  • Audio clarity and volume
  • Pacing
  • Vocal tone and inflection
  • Pronunciation

You don’t have to have a “great voice” to make great audio. Just be yourself! Viewers will appreciate the authenticity and engage more with your content. 

For an extra personal touch that will really help boost engagement, consider including your webcam in instructional videos. People are more engaged and learn better when your face is visible to them. 

You’ll also be able to showcase your personality and be spontaneous with recordings to make them more memorable. 

Additionally, webcam recordings help with accessibility: those with hearing impairments or watching in a room with background noise will be able to read your lips and better understand your messaging.

As always, make sure to provide captioning for any images or videos that you create!

Not sure how to record your screen? We can help with that! Here is a step-by-step guide with detailed instructions to get the ball rolling. 

Bonus! Focus more on learning than cool effects

With all the amazing technology out there for video creation, it can be easy to get lost in the movie making aspects of video production and ignore the learning part. 

Remember that your top priority is education, not entertainment.

Even if a visual isn’t ‘red carpet ready’ in terms of effects, if the information is clear and presented in a memorable way, viewers will much prefer it to a heavily edited but confusing piece of content. 

While throwing in some cool transitions and effects here and there can help make your content stick in viewers’ brains, don’t get hung up on the flashy options your software provides. Focus on providing viewers with clear, memorable instructions that will set them up for success.

It could be as simple as recording an existing PowerPoint presentation that you have. 

Anyone can make effective visuals for training and teaching. Even if you don’t have much experience.

What’s most important is that you simply take your viewers’ perspectives into consideration and adjust your teaching to fit their needs.

Now that you know what to focus on when creating visuals, you don’t have to be intimidated by making images and videos for your online courses. 

 Go out there and educate!

Kara Swanson

Marketing Content Specialist at TechSmith. I know way more about tea than any human being ever should.

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