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TrainedUp Tips and Tricks

How to write compelling course questions

One of the reasons online courses are so effective, and way better than just posting a video to YouTube, is that you can ask followup questions. Those questions make a huge difference in information retention, engagement, and enjoyability.

When you ask followup questions, you’re forcing your audience to process the information in a new way. That processing helps to store new information in long term memory.

Internalizing new information also helps to apply it to realworld situations, making the new information more practical and useful down the road.

Not all questions are created equal. Crafting good questions should start with a goal in mind and use relevant language.

If your goal is to verify that your team watched a training video, then ask for them to parrot specific information back to you from the video. For example, “Name 2 of the 5 things Greeters should do on a Sunday morning.”

If your goal is to help your team remember something specific, ask them to apply it to a real world situation. For example, “In the video, I talked about having a positive attitude as a Greeter. How can your positive attitude help shape a visitors experience?”

Bad questions can derail a team member’s experience and cause them to not retain information. For example, “The video discussed welcoming language that Greeters can use. Tell me about your family life.” First, this question is off topic and confusing. Second, it’s far too open-ended.

Making great webcam training videos

Webcam videos can be some of the most engaging online videos. You can keep your audience’s attention with simple, easy-to-produce videos done right from your desk.

Webcam videos are engaging because they’re personal and informal. They are more authentic than high-production videos and your team will feel like they’re in a room with you.

If you doubt the effectiveness of a personal webcam video, just take a look at the phenomenon of vlogging to see how many people love this format.

Lighting and Sound

Your webcam videos don’t need a ton of prep, but there are two simple things you can do to make sure they look and sound good.

  1. Use good front lighting. That means the primary light source should be in front of you, not behind you. My favorite way to do that is to position yourself with a window behind your computer. Natural sunlight is the best lighting for video. You can also use inexpensive lighting kits or a simple ring light that clips to your screen.
  2. Use a microphone. Your team needs to hear and understand what you’re saying in order to learn. Built-in microphones on laptops are horrible, so use a separate microphone when recording webcam video. A pair of earbuds with a built-in mic is good, but having a separate USB mic is even better.

Preparing Yourself

The technical aspect of recording great webcam videos for online training is easy. You might find that preparing yourself to present your training material is harder.

When getting ready for a new training video, here are a few tips.

  1. Make yourself look nice. Brush your hair, check your teeth, wash your face, unwrinkle your clothes, and maybe check your makeup, ladies. Sitting in front of a camera is like sitting 3-4 feet from someone, face-to-face.
  2. Have your notes handy. Most people won’t want to write a script and read from it for training, but having notes handy so you know what to cover will help you avoid awkward pauses, stumbling, and unnecessary repetition.
  3. Clean up your desk. A cluttered desk can be a source of distraction for you even if your team members can’t see it on video. A clean workspace means your mind can focus on the training at hand.
  4. Grease your chair. There’s nothing more annoying that watching a video of someone moving around in a squeaky chair. Most people move while they talk, so reduce distractions before they start by taking some WD-40 to your chair.

Planning your course from scratch

Creating online training is probably only one small part of your job. Most ministry leaders don’t have formal education or experience in developing online curriculum. That means planning your courses might be difficult, but don’t worry.

When it comes to planning, I like to take a light-touch approach. Most of what you’re planning to teach is probably stuffed inside your head already. It just needs to be organized to be able to present it clearly.

Planning your course, therefore, just needs to be a process of organizing your thoughts and giving yourself enough guidance so teaching it is easy. That means we’re going to create an outline and fill it with enough context to help you on camera.

Creating Your Training Outline

Your outline for your course doesn’t need to be epic. In fact, it should be as lightweight as possible to start. The more concrete things in your outline that you have written down, the less natural your video will seem.

Here’s an example outline for a Greeters course.

Course Title: Introduction to Greeter Ministry at Freedom Church

Module 1: Welcome to the Team

  • Explain the mission of the Greeter team
  • Explain the importance of being a Greeter
  • Give an overview of what is covered in this course

Module 2: Schedules and scheduling

  • Introduction to scheduling tool
  • Expectations for accepting and declining service requests
  • Expectations for communicating vacation (absent days in the future)
  • Expectations for finding replacements for last minute cancellations

Module 3: Appropriate attire

  • Reason for having a loose dress code
  • What is the best 
  • type of clothes to wear
  • What to avoid (ball caps, short dresses, ratty t-shirts, low-cut blouses, dirty clothes, etc)

Module 4: Greeter language and culture

  • What is our culture of hospitality
  • What does the Bible say about hospitality
  • What are some phrases we use to convey hospitality (“Welcome to Freedom Church, can i help you find anything?” or our church’s mission statement)
  • What are some phrases we avoid (“I don’t know” or “The bathroom is that way”)
  • Alternative phrases (“I’m not sure, but let me find out for you.” or “The bathroom is this way (as you show the way)”)

Module 5: Next steps for new team members

  • How to get scheduled for your first time serving
  • Who to get in touch with and how to contact them
  • What to expect on your first Sunday serving
  • Who to contact with questions
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