Reading user manuals today tends to be forgotten in favor of explanatory videos. The reflex is to watch an explanatory, informative video, or a tutorial when you need to quickly solve a problem. A video of this type is used to present a product or service, its operation, and its use and to give advantages and reasons on a particular subject. Let’s discuss this complete guide of 20 tips for creating an explainer video in depth.
Companies use video as an educational tool in all sectors:
- Marketing: Explanatory, promotional videos…
- E-learning: Learning videos
- Human resources: Employee training videos
Instructional videos should have a few important qualities: be easy to follow, visually dynamic and engaging, and meet the needs of a target audience.
This article lists various tips among 5 main steps for creating your explanatory video:
Plan your explainer video
Before production begins, you need to take a step back to imagine the content you want to create. How will your video benefit your target audience? What kind of video do you desire to make?
1. Learn about your desired audience and their discomfort points
Maybe you have a general topic in mind that you want to cover, but you’re not sure what part of the topic is worth focusing on for the video. In particular, you can ask your target on the subject to determine what they understand and where their knowledge gaps lie. These are the most useful and relevant topics for your instructional video.
2. Set a clear learning goal
Based on the knowledge gaps uncovered during your research or reflection, define a clear learning objective for your video. This lens is your guide for the rest of the video creation process. Every decision you make about the video should serve its learning purpose.
3. Choose a video format based on your topic
Depending on the subject of your video, some formats work better than others.
Animation: It is possible to express any abstract concept or idea with visuals and metaphors, as long as it can be represented. For example, the Big Bang Science video below entertains viewers through various realities as the speaker explains the complex subject of science communication.
Live action video: This type of video shot with a camera depicts life as we see it. It’s the best format for explaining how to perform an action that viewers need to see, like cooking a recipe or knitting a scarf.
You don’t necessarily need video knowledge to create a useful explainer video. Nowadays, it is quite possible to make quality videos at home without highly specialized equipment.
Screen recording: This is the best format to show how to use software or an application.
Example: An HR training video that explains how newcomers can set up their corporate email accounts.
The video below is an example of a tutorial video with a screen recording, which uses a combination of live action to explain how to use a feature of the iSpring Rapid Learning software.
One type of instructional video is not better than another. It just depends on which one makes your topic the easiest to understand.
4. Determine your video budget
Planning a video is only productive if you are realistic about your resources for the project. Your budget largely depends on the video format you select and whether you decide to create it yourself or hire a professional.
5. Set a short target video duration
Micro-learning tends to prove that we remember what we learn better when we watch shorter videos, no longer than two minutes, to be exact. If your subject matter is complex or complicated, consider creating a series of short videos to reduce cognitive overload for viewers.
With this planning, you know the basic details of your explainer video and are ready to start writing a script.
Write your instructional video
It’s time to organize your ideas into a script after brainstorming your video. This document describes everything that happens in your video: dialogue, visuals, music, etc. You’ll use the script as the basis for storyboarding and shooting your video, so it’s important to take this writing step seriously. Use these tips to script a video that’s both engaging and educational.
6. Tell a story
People lose focus when presented with a long list of facts and figures. We recommend presenting the information in a story that allows you to have a framework to remember the content you present.
For example, an HR training video on recognizing negative workplace behaviors might show a storyline with a discriminated character.
7. Think in pictures and storytelling
Video is primarily a visual medium, so be mindful of how you can explain concepts using images and motion when writing your script. If you have a visual idea, explain it in the scene description box in your script and describe the idea in your storyboard (see next section).
Reduce reasoning load by restraining on-screen text as much as possible. If you can’t express the idea with a visual, explain it with narration instead.
8. Consider branching scenarios
In e-learning, we often create instructional videos with different branches of scenarios, a form of learning where we choose the path of our training.
The learner decides the course, chooses an answer, and clicks a call-to-action button, which makes the video play out uniquely.
If you are creating a video with multiple learning paths, be sure to write separate scripts for each scenario to avoid confusion.
9. Make them laugh
An educational video does not need to be serious. Your audience will appreciate a few jokes and sight gags here and there as a little break from the lesson. For example, you can use a pun in your training name or create a fun character to be the narrator.
This instructional sales training video includes some subtle jokes to put a smile on the face of the intended audience.
Once you have made a script, you are prepared to translate those concepts into visuals.
Create the Storyboard for your educational explainer video
Storyboarding is the process of visually representing each shot of your educational video, whether through a drawing or a computer program.
By viewing each frame, you can spot the visuals in your video and decide which frames serve your learning purpose.
10. Don’t worry about the artistic side
It doesn’t matter if you only draw diagrams. As long as you can communicate the main actions in each frame, your storyboard will be useful. Here is an example:
11. Merge Your Storyboard and Script
Make your video’s progress clear by including your script in a column next to your storyboard drawings. If a viewer gets lost, they can refer to the dialogue and descriptions in your script column to figure out everything that’s going on at the time.
12. Report where the video is going next
Viewers are more likely to focus on your instructional video if they have an idea of what’s next. To make your video easy to follow, include visual signals in your storyboard like character words and header or actions text.
13. Organize your scenes with templates
This template can save you time and give your storyboard an organized and uniform look:
14. Speed up creation with animation software
Don’t want to draw your storyboard by hand? Use animation software to create your storyboard. You will be able to quickly create each image with decorations, accessories, and characters by drag and drop.
If you plan to use animation for the project, you will be able to create your video from these storyboard images, reducing your production time.
Create your instructional video
Now is the time to move on to the technical creation of your video.
15. Minimize cognitive load
Learners can only process a certain amount of information at a time. To avoid mental overload, limit the quantity of sensory content you present at one time. For example, do not present information through narration at the same time as loud music.
16. Record a professional voiceover
If your video includes dialogue or narration, use quality equipment or consider investing in a professional voiceover. A skilled voice actor can use the correct voice accent to express ideas, so their voiceover will make the content more understandable.
17. Add interactivity
Interactive videos allow learners to click, drag, hover, and perform other digital actions to interact with video content rather than just playing it.
Thanks to e-learning, we can insert quizzes and other interactive elements into instructional videos.
Adding these features boosts engagement by forcing the audience to stop and demonstrate their knowledge.
Broadcast your instructional video
No matter how well the production phase goes, a high-quality video will have no impact if it doesn’t reach viewers.
18. Choose a video host that matches your learning goal
YouTube may be the most popular online video host, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best place to live your video. The platform makes sense for marketers who want to reach a large audience, but you might prefer to host your video elsewhere.
HR and e-learning professionals will most likely prefer a more secure and customizable learning management system (LMS) as an alternative.
19. Make sure your video is compatible with devices
Enable people to watch your explainer video in any learning environment by optimizing your video for all devices. Giving people this ability increases the likelihood that they will watch your video and expand their knowledge.
20. Set up an attractive thumbnail
When someone decides if they want to watch a video, they instantly look at their thumbnail. Choose a clear and compelling image that reflects the subject of your video. These instances are both engaging and appetizing:
Creating an engaging educational video requires holistic thinking. You are trying to inform and engage viewers at the same time, so you need to be aware of multiple factors at once: your learning objective, technical constraints, distribution tactics, etc.