Everyone has sat in orientation or a training session at work at one point in their career.  In the past, it would consist of the facilitator popping in a VHS tape and pressing play.  You knew you’d have the next 30 or 40 minutes to take a nap.  But if you happened to stay awake, you’d see a lot of full-screen slates, cluttering the picture with way too many words.  You’d see a talking head, blathering on for what seemed like years.  And, if you were really lucky, you’d watch some horribly acted-out scenarios, especially if they involved sexual harassment, alcohol/drug usage or the “bad employee” character’s antics.

Someone must’ve set the standard at some point, saying training or instructional media had to be informative first and foremost, and the entertainment value was not a priority.  We all know what the issue is there – they created boring, unmemorable content that in turn was less effective than simply having someone read out of a manual at the front of the room.  Some of the really bad videos would be remembered, but the distraction of the unintended hilarity may have outshined the learning points.

Fast forward to today.  People are more avid, savvy users of video content from across a variety of platforms.  Many of us are bingeing the same shows, seeing the same movies in theaters, and watching the same clips on YouTube.  Regardless of what your client wants to create the content for, the audience is almost always going to be that savvy viewer who hand-picks content from a plethora of media, and has a higher standard for entertainment.  Why veer away from that consumer need?  Steer into the skid.

“Edutainment” is just what it sounds like.  It’s a blend of educational material and entertainment.  When I was a kid, my mom used to put my pills in a scoop of ice cream in order to get me to take my medicine.  This is no different; you’re spoon-feeding your audience the information they need, hidden in a scoop of entertaining content.

Without going too far down the rabbit hole, adult learning specialists will tell you that heightened states of emotion create a more lasting memory.  That’s why we sometimes over-romanticize the “good old days,” remembering the laughter and fun times.  Or why someone involved in a traumatic event remembers the details more precisely.  Whether it’s fear, joy, sadness or anything that arouses our emotions, we need to tap into that when it comes to edutainment.  Your audience will remember the information because of how it’s embedded in the rest of the video; be it funny, sad or even scary.

We remember the great commercials, the horribly bad commercials and the jingles.  We remember laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe the first time we saw that funny movie or clip.  We all cried the first time we watched E.T.  Admit it.  Why not utilize those emotions and make a more impactful, educational or informative video?  Entertainment isn’t the distraction, it’s the catalyst for retention.  Throw out those VHS tapes and let’s make something memorable.