When it comes to eLearning, not every topic needs video for the program to be effective, but some really do. Video can often play an important role in how quickly and fully you can learn and retain information. Studies have shown that learning by watching substantially increases retention rates.

How do you know when you should use video for your eLearning program? Here are three indicators:

Indicator #1: Whenever “Let me show you how it’s done” gets better results than explaining the process

Here’s an example. In my experience producing training videos for Burger King Corporation, we found that when we added video to the eLearning mix, restaurant employees learned how to prepare sandwiches much more easily than without it.

There was theory and purpose behind the preparation steps for each sandwich, and Burger King needed their employees to prepare them in a consistent, standardized way.

Originally Burger King performed training using a PowerPoint style, where the trainee read the instructions, and then reviewed diagrams of how each ingredient was to be added to a sandwich. For example, many sandwiches include mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, and cheese, and Burger King had specific instructions for applying each of these ingredients.

Although the trainees understood the ingredients, we found that they still had trouble applying this learning to preparing actual sandwiches according to directions. When we added video to the training, the trainee saw exactly how to swirl the ketchup and mustard in a circular motion, how to overlap the pickle slices so there would be a pickle in every bite, etc.

This combination of watching the actual steps in a video, combined with applying these procedures in a Burger King kitchen, usually with a trainer present, really helped these trainees learn the process and retain the information.

Indicator #2: When the process is visually complicated 

Let’s say you’re training someone who is not particularly technical on installing parts into a computer. That can be a very intimidating and complicated process for most people. One wire or connector in the wrong spot, and the computer may not function.

Explaining something as complicated as this by using words on the screen or still images can be helpful, but many people will still find the material too difficult and confusing. When you add video to the training, the learner gets to watch exactly how to disconnect or attach a connector. It adds substantially to their confidence, level of understanding, and the ability to complete the task.

We’ve all turned to YouTube for demonstrations on how to do something complex and beyond our technical ability. Viewing the actual process, especially from various angles, can make all the difference.

Indicator #3: When there’s real technique involved that’s more easily demonstrated

One area where this can work well is sales or customer service eLearning. Role playing scenarios fall into this category, since proper demonstration is key. For sales training, using video to demonstrate how to deliver a sales presentation by using actors and customers can be very effective. This allows the learner to see and hear behavior, such as proper tone, facial expressions, and body language, that is more easily demonstrated than talked about.

One of our clients successfully used video to help their granite countertop sales force meet customer objections and close more sales. We used their organization’s top sales person, along with actors playing customers, to show how to present the products. We also used a reality show style, to allow the actors/customers to explain why certain sales strategies used by the sales person worked.

At Burger King, we used video roleplaying scenarios to teach front-counter and drive-thru employees how to deal with a variety of situations. We were able to teach topics such as how to deliver quick and friendly service, effective handling of complaints, upselling meals, and even dealing with robberies or violent situations in a restaurant.

We used very memorable situations, and often paused the video in the middle, asking the trainee to answer the question “What would you do here?” We found that this interactive technique was very helpful in the learning process.


In summary, if you look for these three situations, you’re more likely to consider using video as part of your eLearning courses for appropriate topics. Please remember that the higher the video quality, the better the retention. Make sure you use a production company that can consistently give you good-quality video.