How Drama works in Retail Training Video

Q: We need an instore health and safety training video, but the voiceover videos I’ve seen don’t make an impression on me. How can we do something better?

Health & Safety Manager
National Retailer

A: Compared with a dramatised training video, voiceover video is very prescriptive. It spells out the do’s and don’ts of procedure, but it doesn’t necessarily charm or persuade, which is what the retailer needs to do.

Young staff coming to work instore need a certain amount of charm and persuasion.

They also need to see memorable situations, if they’re to remember what they’re told.

Drama with a cast of actors has the impact to make new store staff remember, and directly train by example.

You can see examples of retail training DVDs with drama here

Let’s see the reasoning behind taking the “dramatic approach” in retail.

Making staff remember

Training drama acts out situations that new staff are likely to encounter in store, whether it’s an unsafe act, how to speak to a customer on a difficult topic, or how to carry out a tricky job.

With drama a whole situation is scripted in a way that covers all the learning points, but uses real people (ie actors) to deliver the story.

A convincing story puts the situation in the context of the pressures of the job in a busy retail store, and adds to this the frailties of people – and the values of the company. Because of this it appears much more credible than simply using a voiceover to trot out learning points in front of a camera.

And because the storyline feels convincingly real it naturally gets paid attention to, is absorbed, and is remembered.

Leading by Example

We all know that many young staff feel the “wrong” thing is better. Many of their peers they meet socially will actively encourage the “wrong” thing as the best attitude to take.

Drama training video corrects this attitude problem by showing the “right” thing, and showing the right thing working successfully, in an emotionally satisfying way.

This is leadership by example, and is important in the retail environment.

By showing how, in a dramatic real way, new store staff gain the confidence and the attitude to want to do the right thing for themselves.

It’s the example of real people acting out believable situations that staff are more likely to copy. This copying-by-example is at the core of leadership.

How to Make a Retail Training Drama

Like any other training video, it all starts with a list of bullet points showing the learning points.

With a voiceover video, this is quickly translated into a voiced script with dubbed footage, shot instore, of the correct procedure being shown.

This is shown to colleagues who’re expected to believe and remember what they’re told.

Often this works. But retail training design is about delivering certainties. So moving up a gear to drama might well be the best option.

Producing a training drama on video requires a skilled scriptwriter who can translate the bullet point content list into real speech with real characters in real situations.

You’ll need a director who’s used to producing instore drama videos. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a director from a TV soap. But certainly someone with a strong background in corporate training drama and retail. Likewise for the camera crew.

This sort of crew shouldn’t cost a lot more than a voiceover video crew. It’s more a case of simply finding the right people, rather than taking the first crew that turns up.

Editing drama requires special skills, as timing is all in any drama video. But as with the director, there are plenty of editors who can do this kind of work.

Where your budget will need to increase is in hiring actors. And your video will take longer to shoot too, probably a day or two longer, as shooting drama on location instore is slower.

Because of this you could allow up to 50% or more budget than a comparable voiceover video.

But drama in retail training video works. And with many retail training designers it’s the accepted best-method to deliver training.

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