How to make a great instructional video

Instructional video production focuses on easy to follow, engaging videos, that help teach how to use a product or learn a new skill. Forget reading user manuals—people today watch instructional videos when they need to quickly solve a problem. Organizations today are tapping into this preference by using video as an educational tool across industries. Engaging instructional videos must be easy to follow, visually dynamic, and speak to a target audience’s needs, among other important qualities.

Planning for instructional video production

Before production begins, you must take a step back to envision the content you want to create. What will be the takeaway of your video for your target audience? What type of video do you want to create? With this brainstorming, you’ll be ready to create a great instructional video that is both compelling and substantial.

Learn about your target audience and their pain points. You may have a general topic in mind that you want to cover, but you aren’t sure what part of the subject is worth focusing on for the video. Find your angle by interviewing members of your video’s target audience about the topic. Determine what they understand and where knowledge gaps are—the latter will be the most useful, relevant subjects for your instructional video.

Why do you need a video on your website?

Set a clear learning objective. Based on the knowledge gaps discovered during the interview process, set a clear learning goal for your video. This objective is your guiding light for the rest of the video creation process. Every decision you make about the video should serve its larger learning goal.

Pick a video format based on your topic. Depending on the topic of your video, some formats will work better than others. Animation or Live-action video? A screencast, or digital recording of a computer screen, is the best format for showing how to use a software or an app. An HR training video might be a screencast to explain how new hires can set up their company email account, for example. One type of instructional video isn’t better or worse than another—it just depends on how well the style serves your subject. Select the format with visuals that will make your topic the easiest to understand.

Set a short target video length. According to microlearning research, we better remember what we learn when we watch shorter videos—no longer than two minutes, to be exact. If your topic is complex or complicated, consider creating a series of short videos to reduce viewers’ cognitive overload.

Writing your instructional video

With this planning, you’ll know the basic details of your instructional video and be able to begin scriptwriting. After brainstorming your video, it’s time to organize your ideas into a script. This document describes everything that happens in your video—dialogue, visuals, music, and more. You’ll use the script as a basis for storyboarding and filming your video. It’s important to take this writing stage seriously. The script is the foundation of the instructional video production. Use these tips to write a script for a video that is both engaging and educational.

Think in images

Video is primarily a visual medium, so be mindful of how you can explain concepts through imagery and motion as you write your script. If you have an idea for a visual, explain it as a scene description in your script, and depict the idea in your storyboard (covered in the next section).

Prioritize imagery and narration over on-screen text

Trying to process graphics, narration, and on-screen text at once can be overwhelming for viewers. Reduce cognitive load by limiting on-screen text as much as possible. If you can’t express the idea through a visual, explain it with narration instead.

A word about explainer videos

Make them laugh

An educational video doesn’t have to be completely serious. Your audience will appreciate a few jokes and visual gags here and there as a light break from the lesson. For example, you might use a pun in your lesson name or create a funny character to be the narrator of the lesson.

Professional voiceover

If your video includes dialogue or narration, consider investing in a professional voiceover. A trained actor is able to use vocal emphasis to express ideas. Their voiceover will make the content more understandable for viewers. Alternatively you can record your own voiceover, as long as you are able to speak clearly, articulately in a noise-free environment. You will likely have to record several takes until you get a workable version.

Engage learners with well-planned instructional videos

Creating a captivating educational video requires big-picture thinking. You’re trying to inform and engage viewers at the same time, so you must be aware of multiple factors at once. Your learning objective, technical constraints, distribution tactics, and more. Instead of trying to remember every area, return to this post, and follow these easy tips every time you make an instructional video. Once you have a set goal and your recording, we’ll add the professional touch to it and help you bring your video to the next level. Instructional Video Production made easy.

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