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How to Create Relevant Training: An Interview with Bob Pike

Bob shares his thoughts on various training topics, including the importance of creating relevant content.

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Many of us, whether we consider ourselves, trainers or instructional designers or not, will be asked to create training materials at some point in our careers. 

It’s a part of many of our jobs and functions, yet, there’s more to it than just putting together a PowerPoint presentation. 

At TLDC (Training, Learning, and Development Conference) we talked with 14 experienced learning professionals to hear what advice and thoughts they have about creating training content. We want to give you insight into what training is, to where to start, thoughts about measuring success, and how to use images and videos to effectively train your customers and coworkers. 

So, we created an entirely free course in the TechSmith Academy that walks you through just that. 

We’ll post highlights from each interview here on the blog, but to get a real in-depth look, consider hopping over to the TechSmith Academy and checking out the full interviews all in one place. We also have tons of other practical tips and expert advice on creating more engaging content with images and videos.

In today’s post, we’re excited to share insights from legendary trainer and expert, Bob Pike.

Want to watch the entire interview?

Watch to the full, nearly 30-minute interview on TechSmith Academy for free. Get advice from Bob on various training and learning and development topics, including the importance of creating relevant content.

Watch Now

Lessons learned

1. Create relevant content

A lot of people that we talk to and hear from aren’t necessarily trainers, but they end up in that job of doing training. 

You might be a tech support specialist or an engineer, but you have the knowledge you need to share with your customers and coworkers. Regardless of what you’re trying to teach, you want your content (and your overall message) to be relevant. 

At TechSmith, our research found that THE most important factor in creating effective instructional videos is relevance. And the number one reason people stop watching a video is that it doesn’t provide the information they were looking for.

And Bob backs up that point. 

“[The training content] should always be relevant. The big mistake that I see a lot of accidental trainers if you will, or even newbie trainers, is they think, ‘Well, I’ll do an icebreaker.’ 

So they’ve got people running around the room of the card [saying] ‘mine says salt, and I’m running around the room looking for pepper.’ 

But half of the group is gonna really enjoy that because they’re informative learners, they’ll do anything. Whoa, that was interesting. How are you gonna use them? I don’t know, I don’t care, it was interesting.

But the other half are gonna be very practical learners, and they’re going, ‘Okay, what does salt finding pepper have to do with customer service?’ 

Well, nothing. So I could’ve been 20 minutes late for this class, and not missed anything I’m supposed to learn for my job. 

So I always want the opener to be relevant because that way even the practical learner says, ‘Okay, I see the point’ … [they] go, ‘Okay, now I see what class is about, and it’s gonna be useful.’ 

Because otherwise, they walk out, [and] because we remember first things best, they go, “Well, we started with a stupid game,” and that’s what’s in the forefront of their mind.” 

So, whether you’re training in-person or creating a YouTube video, you want to focus on being relevant as early as possible. 

Engagement through the beginning of your video plays a big role in whether viewers will continue to watch. In 2016, Facebook found that 45 percent of users that watched the first three seconds of a video will stick around for another 30 seconds. 

So, your intro HAS to be good.

2. Measure for success

YouTube is the second largest search engine. And to no surprise, we found that when people want to learn something new by watching a video 98% of people search for it — either on a public video site (like YouTube) or through a traditional search engine (like Google). 

And a lot of people create instructional videos and make YouTube videos specifically to share their knowledge and help others learn something, which is all really fantastic. 

While in the corporate sense, the motivations behind creating training materials are usually more practical, and it’s a lot more important to know if it’s successful. 

One thing we asked Bob was how does someone know if the the content they create really hits the mark and does what it needs to do? What do you recommend?

“Well, I think it actually has to start with why am I making this to begin with. Because if you say, ‘Okay, why are you making this video? Well, I’m making it because people don’t understand how to do this.’ Then my question will be, “How do you know they don’t understand? 

Well, we have this kind of scrap rate, or we have this kind of defect rate … and say okay, so we’re gonna create a video, and one way we can measure whether this video helps is that even though there may be some peripheral things going on, the primary thing that we’re doing to remediate this is we’re creating this video, and what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna watch scrap rate.”

So now we create the video and people that are involved in the project watch the video. And 60 days later we go, ‘We’ve cut scrap in half.’ I think the average manager would say, ‘You know something? The video worked.’

But only because you had a conversation upfront that said, ‘Okay, what are we trying to solve, and how do we know it’s a problem, and then what would good look like?’ 

So that you’ve got a benchmark going in rather just saying, ‘Well, success, 100% of the people watched the video. Okay, well, actually all you’ve done is told me that we now used up 120 man-hours, but if you tell me that scrap’s gone down 10%, and that’s a saving of $22,000 a month, say wow, that 128 hours of watching video was a pretty good investment, and the 10 hours it took me to do the video was a fabulous investment, ’cause we’re getting $22,000 a month return every month for a one-time investment.’

So I think that’s what you really need to do is you’ve got to be … think more about metrics, and what problem are you trying to solve, rather than I’ll just create a video and for what? I mean it’s gotta solve a problem, it’s gotta improve performance, and you have to have that conversation before you start.”

Key quotes (TLDR)

Don’t have the time or energy to go through the entire video? Here are our top takeaways from Bob Pike:

Authenticity trumps quality

(6:40) We really have people expecting video to be very dynamic. And I don’t think that people that are just starting in video can do that. 

So I think the alternative is to say:

 “People are gonna realize that this video was genuine.” 

So I don’t think that everything has to be a Hollywood production. You don’t have to know how to use green screen now. But if it’s authentic and people see that this is a practical video and I’m gonna get things that are gonna help me do my job better, help me do my job differently, I think that that resonates with people.

Show concepts multiple times

(12:41) We know that if people are exposed to an idea one time, at the end of 30 days, they retain less then 10%. And if they’re exposed to that same concept six times with interval reinforcement, at the end of 30 days, their retention is over 90%. 

So we know we need to revisit key ideas. 

But if I were to say to you, “What we’re about to cover is so important, we’re going to go over it six times … well, people will just shut down. But if you’re revisiting content, and the participants are doing it, they don’t even realize it.

Be the guide, not the hero

(18:22) I believe the purpose of training is for people to leave impressed with themselves not intimidated by the instructor.

So it’s not about the instructor being the hero and don’t you wish you can be like me? It’s like I can do that, I can do that.

And so we empower them, we inspire them, we equip them. And so I think whatever media you’re using in training, it’s all about is this gonna help empower, inspire, and equip those participants so they leave with the confidence that I can do a better job.

Making videos is a must

(19:44) I mean think about it … if you go back to 451 BC, like a protegé of Confucius said, “What I hear, I forget, what I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” So obviously the visual has a bigger impact.

My wife does a lot of sewing … and so she created these little snap purses where I cut up pieces of tape measure to make the snap closure, and then she builds it.

Well, she got the instructions and said, “I can’t understand this.” She goes on YouTube, watches a video for about 20 [minutes] and said, “Okay, now I see what they mean!.”

And again, the person making that YouTube video is not sitting there with a whole production queue. It’s like I’m a sewer, I’m a quilter, here’s how I make this. And she just goes through it step by step. And it’s a great how-to video which was perfect for what my wife needed.

And I think that that’s the kinda thing where given a choice, do you wanna watch a video that takes you step-by-step through how to do it, you wanna read a book? 

I’ll take the video any day.

Get to know Bob

After serving as a pastor for three years Bob began his training career in 1969 with Master Education Industries. Starting as a sales representative and trainer he received nine promotions in 3 1/2 years and was Sr. VP of Marketing. He was the company’s top salesperson while spending more than 70% of his time designing and leading a three-week intensive Master Training Academy for new distributors. 

He has designed and delivered more than 600 training programs of one day or longer in his career. 

Bob’s clients include IBM China, Covidien Asia, Saudi Aramco, Saudia Airlines, the Defense Security Agency (US), Pfizer, and many others. In the past 24 months alone Bob has worked in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai, and China. 

His personal mission is to help people “Unlock Learning and Unleash Performance”.

Want to watch the entire interview?

Watch to the full, nearly 30-minute interview on TechSmith Academy for free. Get advice from Bob on various training and learning and development topics, including the importance of creating relevant content.

Watch Now

Justin Simon

Global Content Strategy Manager at TechSmith. I play a lot of golf and watch a lot of football.

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