Have you thought about how to expand your delivery options out to the new horizons in the new reality? Video offers choices you might not have considered before the pandemic but you may need to expand your thinking, your skills, your budget, and your development suite to use them.

Before the pandemic, the norm in many if not most organizations for instruction, coaching, mentoring, or any other kind of teaching was to do it in person: face to face in the same place, and at the same time for all involved. During and after the pandemic, we aren’t likely to all be in the same place at the same time anymore for anything if we can help it. So instead of being up close and personal, we are remote and our senses of time and presence are changed.

Recorded video replaces “Come to the classroom now for a seminar”, “Come over here and take a look at this”, and “Stand next to me while I show you how to do this”. Those were the format for well over half of formal learning activity and for informal, peer-to-peer learning. Video conferencing software can replace some of those but not all of them, and not all of the time. We need to add to our ability to use recorded video to provide the instruction, coaching, and other activities that support learning according to the availability of employees who are working from home.

Think about the applications. How many of these could you provide today in recorded form, available 24/7 for all employees?

  • Video podcasting
  • Video explainers to teach theory or to provide an overview
  • Video demonstrations
  • Video support for learning soft skills
  • Video interviews and panel discussions
  • Video orientation, walkthrough, onboarding

All of these require intentionality, planning, equipment, and skills. Some individuals and organizations may possess some of these requisites, while most others will possess fewer or none of them. And doing any teaching in any of these forms will be far less successful when done “off the cuff”—without preparation. All of them are liable to the hazards of “live TV” or “live radio” broadcasts in which anything can, has, and will go wrong.

In this article, I will offer some considerations to think about before you begin buying hardware and software or as you consider whether the equipage you already have will be sufficient for your contexts. Specifically, you will need to have a plan that covers the use cases as they apply to your most likely needs for equipment, software, scripting, facilities, and production. Technically, this all relates to pre-production planning, and the discussion here anticipates what will be needed in order to record video using a camera and to produce media that can be used by the learner, with or without the guidance of an instructor.

Equipment needs

Depending on your exact use case and budget, you will need to think through your requirements for:

  • Camera(s)
  • Lens(es)
  • Microphone(s)
  • Lighting
  • Something to mount camera(s) on for steadiness
  • Cables and other equipment needed to connect and direct audio signals

Cameras, lenses, and support

Some of the best advice you can get about equipment for video in support of learning is in this article by Steve Haskin.

Don’t rule out smartphones: they get better every year, the newest versions include multiple lenses built in, and that saves a lot of budget. However, as Steve advises, smartphones may not give you the flexibility you need for applications that are more demanding than the basics.

Microphones and related gear

Better audio makes better video. My article on the topic is here.

Lighting 101

This is the basic information you need about lighting for video, including placement of the lights when shooting.

Scripts and storyboards

Write the script first! Max Yoder explains why.

Once you have the script written, you can develop storyboards and begin to think about shot blocking if you will be shooting on location. There is more than one kind of storyboard, though.

There is storyboarding for learning design and flow. This applies for any eLearning development, whether it involves video or not.

For video storyboarding, there are apps. These are most useful when your video will have action in it (demonstration, soft skills, walkthroughs) rather than for video podcasts or panel discussions that involve static sets and static people. Here are some suggestions (there are many others, at prices ranging from free to professional, as you will discover by doing a search for "video storyboarding apps"):

Technically, shot blocking is not storyboarding but it provides an essential element (scene composition) for planning your video production.

Blocker by AfterNow (iOS)


You are going to need a "set"—a place to shoot your video. This can be inside an office, in a studio, or it can be at an inside or outside location. For demonstrations, you will need a table. For interviews and panel discussions you will need at least a couch and a chair. Sketch the arrangement (in a plan view, like a floor plan). This will help you decide on your shots and angles. You can pick a place with a nice-looking background, or you can use a green screen indoors. Shot blocking software can be very helpful.

With the diagram and your script, you can also begin to identify locations for lighting and for cameras (in most cases, you will want two cameras, one for wide shots and one for close-ups).

Green screen video

Sometimes the only way to get a nice-looking background is to use a green screen and put a nice-looking background on it.

Going further

Once you get beyond this stage, you are ready to get into actual pre-production and production, and that is a topic for another article.

You may also want to consider joining The Learning Guild on August 5 & 6 for the Multimedia for Learning Online Conference. While this conference is largely concerned with graphic design, you will also find sessions on:

Register now for this online conference and get ready to bring new energy and design ideas to your L&D projects! If you are interested in attending this online conference, but are unable to attend on either August 5 or 6, register anyway and you’ll receive access to the recorded sessions and handouts after the event.

You can also get a Learning Guild Online Conference Subscription to access this and all online conferences for the next year, plus much more.