Converting Existing Training Courses to Video? Ask Yourself These Three Questions

Many video training courses start as classroom content that needs to be converted and put online. You have a bunch of PowerPoint slides that you want to turn into a Video based course.

converting classroom to video trainingTypically, when you start to create a online course you will start from content that already exists in PowerPoint and often that content dictates how the course is structured and how it looks.

But that may not always be best way to do it.

Your content has been designed for a classroom. And it has some visual design that usually comes from a PowerPoint template with specific colors, schemes, and fonts. So, you’ll tend to allow the existing content to determine how you create the video course. What you should do is take a step back and ask yourself these questions.

  1. What would the course look like as a video?
  2. What content really needs to be in the course?
  3. What will the learner end up doing with this content?

These three questions help to drive your new course design that is more appropriate for video.

Here’s a typical scenario. You’re client hands you a PowerPoint file and some other documents or perhaps you have been teaching the course yourself for years in a successful classroom setting and now you want to convert it to a video training course.

Easy enough.

In this scenario, you typically open up the existing PowerPoint file and make decision on a slide-by-slide basis. You’ll start with the first slide, make some small adjustments, and then move on to slide 2. Make a few more adjustments, and then move on to the next slide.

The challenge with this approach is that you’re letting the existing classroom content and instructional structure drive how you build a video course. That may work on some occasions but for the most part it’s not ideal.

Even if the existing content looks right to you, don’t stop there. Take a step back and start with a blank screen. Then determine how the course needs to be built and what content you need.

Let’s revisit the three essential questions.

What Will the Video Training Course Look Like?

Most likely the look that isn’t right for the course is the one that comes from the existing content because you have probably used one of the existing PowerPoint templates that just doesn’t work for video. If you choose to use a PowerPoint template at all there templates that are much more appropriate for video than the one’s that come with PowerPoint.  You might take a look at this site for some ideas…

What Content Needs to be in the Training Course?

When you are the expert on your content you tend to think everything’s important. And it probably is in the proper context. But “important” content is not the same as the “right” content that is appropriate to the goals of the video training.

Not all of the information about a given topic needs to be in a course. Instead ask yourself,  “At the end of the course, what change should I expect from the learner? What does it look like if I see it?” Then build the course so the learner can practice and demonstrate that desired change.

What Will the Learner Do with this Content?

This question builds off of the second one. The content in the course is structured to meet specific objectives. As the learner goes through the course, what is she supposed to do? This question helps focus on the interactive component of the course.

Do you want her reading and reflecting on content? Is there a place for her to do something, to make some decisions? Once she’s exposed to the course content, what is she supposed to do?

What do I do with the training?

Sometimes the course content is simple refresher material and doesn’t require a lot if interactivity. But often the content is new and is tied to some sort of performance expectation. What can you do to get the learner to practice using the information in a setting similar to what they’d do in the real world?

There are many things to think about when converting classroom lectures to video but the three essential questions above are a great start.

If you can answer those questions you’re on your way to building effective video training courses.

6 Simple Tips to Revitalize Your Boring PowerPoint Slides

Presentations are all about communication and visual communication is one of the major ways we receive that information. In the culinary world there’s a saying “We eat with our eyes first”. And it’s the same with presentations. Your PowerPoint slides need to capture the viewers’ attention with clean consistent slides that engage them visually so they stay attentive until they have received your message and call to action.

In this article I’m going to show you a pretty typical PowerPoint slide and with a few simple changes how to make it into something more memorable.


If while looking at the slide on the left and reading my notes, you spot some of your own mistakes; then please be reassured that there is not a single mistake I will mention here that I have not, at some time, made myself. Also, remember that I have no formal graphic design training either and that this post represents my opinions and what I have studied over the last 6 years.

So, let’s take a look at this slide as it has a number of errors:

  1. Take a look at the sidebar. You’ll see that it and the slide title are vying for attention. It’s hard to know where to look first. It’s important to have one main focal point. Use a large photo or full bleed image.
  2. And speaking of that sidebar, it is using a good 20% of your screen space. That’s huge acreage which you can’t use for anything else. In earlier versions of PowerPoint, many of the templates have the title at the top and they often use up even more area. Don’t use these for video. Start with the blank PowerPoint layout.
  3. Your logo is also using unnecessary space. And what is that logo doing there on every slide? Do you feel that the viewers really need a constant reminder of which company is presenting to them? A logo belongs only on your welcome slide or in an animated intro.
  4. Typographically, there’s a lot going on for a single slide, including text oriented at different angles. As a general rule, no more than two fonts should be used per slide and be sure they are consistent between slides. Any orientation other than horizontal, left to right should be used very sparingly. Tip: If you need to know which fonts ‘go’ together, do a web search for ‘font families’.
  5. When using bullet points, it’s best to have them animate in one by one, otherwise consider putting each item on its own slide. Use bullet points sparingly! Slide after slide of them are tiring and result in the phenomenon known as ‘Death by PowerPoint’ in which the audience’s attention is gone after just a few slides.

What I would do with this slide (image on the right) is to create a full bleed image background with just the one message at the top in a large font. If you want, you can take each bullet point and make it into its own slide with its own image or simply speak the bullets during your presentation and then include them in the handout in the notes field. That way the audience can use the handout of the presentation slides as a reference when they get back to their jobs.

In closing, let me remind you that over the years I have made all of the mistakes I have pointed out above, some of them many times. But I like to think of myself now as a reformed PowerPoint abuser and I hope my confession can show others that it is definitely a learning process.

To learn more about how PowerPoint can be used in your videos… take a look at my webinar replay Quick & Easy Killer Videos With PowerPoint. Just select “Watch Now”.