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More Effective Roleplay Videos

Actually they're not role-plays, they're video dramatisations. Role-plays are just that- learning while you play.

You wouldn't create a printed manual written by someone with bad grammar (no matter how much they knew about the process), which described "sort-of" the right way to do things, full of typos, and all set out in one page-long paragraph.

And yet this is just the approach some business have to training videos which feature dialogue and human interaction. They're satisfied with using their own staff with no performance experience, ad-libbing dialogue, and all recorded from one locked off camera.

The danger here is that the audience, apart from having their attention distracted from the message by bad 'acting' (when you don't want them thinking about anything other than the message) will, at best, think that it's OK to only come close to the benchmark standards, and at worst, not understand what the message is.

If you're planning to record dramatizations for induction or training videos the last thing you want to do is present anything other than the ideal example.

So here are 5 considerations for an effective, worthwhile training demonstration video.

1/ Content don't try to do too much with your video. Apart from a summary of the key points at the end and lower 3rd captions where appropriate, leave out text, redundant narration and any other information which is covered in written manuals.

Keep the video medium for the content and message it's most suitable for. It'll have more message cut-thru and impact and more point of difference form the written and verbal training.

2/ Scripting realistic and absolute. Two issues here: firstly the script needs to be delivered the way that 'real people' speak- not 'manual speak'. Secondly, and possibly most importantly, it needs to be checked and signed off by all interested parties and then never deviated from except in exceptional circumstances (i.e. it's later found to be wrong!).

Allowing performers to ad lib the script opens the door for longer, less productive shoots while the 'best' dialogue is achieved, and also ending up with a message that's 'pretty close' to what you actually want the audience to hear. With all the effort and expense going into the training programme and video why not deliver the message accurately?

Here's a good reason for hiring an experienced script writer- someone who can not only write for natural spoken delivery, but who also has a system for managing the scripting approval process efficiently.

3/ Actors that's everyone in the video. In most cases experienced actors/performers will be the best option for most productive use of shooting time and for delivering the most natural and believable performance.

This is because they aren't self conscious about taking direction, are being paid to get their lines right first time, and don't come with preconceived ideas of how the message should be delivered (which may well be the wrong way!).

Auditioning, and using staff for roles of customers, extras and even key characters is fine, and a good idea, as they get to see what's involved in making the message clear. They can also help with creating the right atmosphere or pointing out problems with the script which hadn't been considered (although ideally the scripting process has involved them earlier on to avoid this).

A good director should be able to get a useable performance out of most people, but a great director will get the right people performing in the first place.

4/ Duration keep it short. The audience can remember a maximum of 5 things before they forget the first so don't try to pack too much information into one module- 2 to 3 points maximum if at all possible.

5/ Bullet points/graphic message reinforcement make the most of the visual medium. Audiences are used to taking in information via a number of senses at the same time and the more senses they use the more they understand. So watching, hearing and reading key words or short phrases at the same time is effective use of the video.