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Leverage Visuals in Your Training Program

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Formal corporate training programs have existed for decades, but many of them are stuck in the past. Classroom training and text heavy slide decks are still used by many corporations today to teach their customer facing employees how to do their job. This approach relies heavily on text and auditory learning which may have been a great approach 50 years ago when companies had limited technological resources, but in 2018 there is no excuse for this! So, let’s explore how your team can leverage visuals (even on a budget!) and why your employees will thank you for it.

Goals of a Training Program

When you start with the end in mind, you’ll know exactly what the goals and desired outcomes of the training program are.  While these goals are unique and different for each organization, they usually fall into one of three buckets:

  • Familiarize the employee with the organization’s products/services, goals, mission, etc.
  • Provide all essential information that the employee requires to perform successfully.
  • Teach the employee new skills and test their abilities before beginning work.

It’s essential that you start here before deciding what visuals to implement in your training. Once you have a clear outline of what you want to achieve, you’ll easily be able to see your different options for implementing visuals into training.

Why Visual Training is Better

People Prefer Visual Content– According to Hubspot, 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. And the same goes for learning! Would you rather read a chapter in a textbook, or watch a 20-minute video that explains all the key concepts? If you’re like most people, you’d always choose the video, and so will your employees! Especially if they’re between the ages of 18-24. Making visuals even more important if you’re typically hiring young employees.

Increased Retention– The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and helps increase retention by 60%. This can have a huge impact for employees who are required to remember a lot of information.

More Engaged Learners– When walls of text are replaced with visuals, learners’ comprehension and motivation improves. And when learners are engaged, they’ll better understand and master challenging concepts sooner.  

We’re Becoming a Visual World– By 2019, video will make up 80% of all internet traffic, and today approximately 84% of our communications are visual. Incorporating visuals into training will help keep your program current and keep up with industry standards.  

Guidelines for Your Visuals

Keep in mind visuals can be a great way to improve training but they must be high quality visuals, and not distract the learner from remembering important concepts. We like to follow Elaine Biech’s Training for dummies cheat sheet that insists all visuals be kept:

Visible: Words on visuals are large enough, and you don’t block the view.

Interesting: Oriented to the learner, visuals make use of pictures, graphs, color, and bullets.

Simple: Information is concise, and key concepts are highlighted.

Useful: Visuals help the trainer and the learner stay on track.

Accurate: Information on the visuals matches the participants’ materials.

Long-lasting: Visuals facilitate retention and help the learner transfer and apply concepts.

Examples of Visual Training

You can get creative in how your team uses visuals in training and onboarding. Today companies use many different combinations of visuals such as:



Physical objects

Slide decks



Virtual Reality

Not All Visuals Are Equal

If visuals aren’t implemented correctly, it’s possible for them to do more harm than good. The last thing you want is visuals to distract your employees from learning, so it’s important to stay away from the following:

Bad stock photography– Some stock photography is good, but there’s a lot of bad stuff out there as well. Your employees will easily see through this.

Confusing images or videos– These types of visuals are guaranteed to distract and hinder your employee’s learning. If you’re making a video in-house, make sure it has a logical flow and that new employees will be able to make sense of it.

Low quality images– These are images that have low resolution, are pixelated, or have been stretched.

Offensive or Inappropriate visuals– Be sure to avoid any visuals that your employees may find offensive. Chances are that if you must ask if something is offensive, it probably is.

Test What Works for Your Business

Not all visuals are a great fit for every type of business. Every organization has unique training needs and will likely vary depending on the department and role of employees. You may find that a specific type of visual may work best for your team, or a combination of many. As you test different kinds of visuals, try to get as much feedback as you can to have a better understanding of what is having the greatest impact.

Start Small

For most, implementing visuals into their training can seem like a huge, and intimidating project. But you don’t need to do it all at once! Start with an area of training that employees tend to struggle with and test out a few different visuals to see which ones have the greatest impact. By tackling small pieces of training, you’ll be able to make improvements over time without the stress of doing a complete overhaul of your training at once.

Many of the world’s leading brands use visuals in training. Would you like to be one of them