Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage,” but when that stage is your training video, should your colleagues be the players? Before taking the leap and giving employees their “fifteen minutes,” you need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and determine how each approach could help or hurt the effectiveness of your compliance curriculum. At PharmaCertify™, we have differing opinions based on first-hand experiences developing compliance training and corporate video programs. Here’s where two of us landed.

The Case for Using Employees as Actors
Lauren Barnett, Compliance Content Specialist

One obvious reason to use employees in your compliance training is the cost. Actors, even non-union ones, are expensive. Depending on the level of the skill the actor brings to the table, the cost of talent can be one of the top expenses in your video. A video shoot can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the requirements of your project, so using the “free labor” you have at your fingertips can have a significant impact on the overall cost of the project.

Businesses and industries often have their own jargon. Add the medical or product-specific lingo that may need to be included in the training, and understanding the script for your compliance video could be like learning a new language. Your colleagues will be more authentic when delivering jargon-laden lines on camera. Actors won’t have the contextual experience with the language to deliver lines naturally or with confidence. Your learners do have familiarity with the language and they’ll notice when the actors aren’t comfortable and the learning will suffer.

Finally, using employees from the compliance department, or other departments the learners only interact with on a remote level, humanizes those departments and has the potential to build a stronger rapport between compliance and the rest of the company. Too often, the compliance department is seen in a negative light, or as the “police,” who are just waiting for employees to do something wrong. A truly effective compliance training curriculum addresses that concern, and includes components designed to portray those responsible for policy and training as partners who are there to support, encourage and inform. Using team members as actors in the compliance training is one major step toward that goal.

The Case Against Using Employees as Actors
Sean Murphy, Product and Marketing Manager

You may see your coworkers as free talent, but they aren’t professional talent. Acting is an art and a skill, and the fact an employee “was in a play in high school,” doesn’t necessarily mean that colleague is a trained actor. Good actors, even those working in local theater, have typically trained for years in their craft. You might get lucky and have a gem or two in your free talent pool, but when you use someone who is not comfortable or experienced, you run the risk of the key messages being lost behind the bad acting.

You also have to consider the cost to the business in lost productivity when employees are spending their time trying to convincingly read lines. Video shoots are time-consuming (especially when multiple takes are required because the actors are not professionals) and often require the actors to be “on set” for a number of hours. When your colleagues are pulled away from their jobs for that extended period of time, others may have to do their work, or they will at least have to book extra hours to make up the work they missed.

Finally, yes, employees can add an air of authenticity to your video, but it comes with the risk of your learners focusing on the fact they are watching “Bill from Marketing” in a video. Your key training messages may be lost because the learner’s attention is focused on the fact that is “Bill from Marketing,” instead of the subject matter. Additionally, if the audience includes vendors, they won’t know Bill, so he’s just another actor for them, so any authenticity is lost, and if Bill isn’t a good actor, he’s now a distraction as well.

What’s Your Verdict?

Using colleagues as actors can add an element of authenticity and fun to your training videos and can certainly help with the budget department. Before moving ahead in casting colleagues, it is important to consider the training goals of the video and determine if using colleagues will serve those goals or will simply be a distraction.

Now, we want to know what you think. Have you tried using your coworkers as actors in your compliance training? Did it work well? What were the pitfalls? Do you agree with Lauren or Sean? Who gets the bragging rights this time? Contact Sean at smurphy@nxlevelsolutions.com to let us know.