Instructional videos are a powerful tool for anyone looking to teach colleagues, employees, and students. Whether you’re an employer, an educator, or a content creator, videos are an effective way to engage your audience and deliver information in a way that’s easy to follow along and understand.
After all, this TechSmith survey found that 98% of people who use video at work say it improves the effectiveness of their message.
While it’ll come as no surprise that instructional videos are a great way to teach people to do things like how to make a Youtube video, they can also help people learn completely new skills like video editing.
However, instructional videos can be used for more than just educating viewers, as videos can also help you grow your business. By providing educational content to potential customers, businesses can establish themselves as industry leaders and earn the trust of their audience. Moreover, having video content on your website can work to increase traffic to your site and boost social media engagement.
With such a wide range of uses and benefits, it’s no wonder that video content is the number one way people prefer to share knowledge and learn new skills. In fact, research shows that people prefer to consult video content when looking for answers to specific questions. Additionally:
- 83% of people prefer watching videos to accessing instructional or informational content via text or audio.
- More than half of online shoppers use video to help make purchase decisions.
- Two out of three employees complete tasks better when instructions are provided visually and absorb information 7% faster.
- More than 70% of YouTube viewers turn to the platform for help solving problems.
In this guide, we’ll discuss why video is important, what makes a good instructional video, and show you how to create different types of helpful videos — from explainer videos to video demonstrations — in ways that will captivate your audience.
By reading this guide, you’ll also learn:
- The most popular types of instructional videos
- Common mistakes people make when creating instructional videos
- The best software for making instructional videos
- The best way to make instructional videos in 7 steps
- The actual cost of making tutorial, training, and explainer videos
What is an instructional video?
In a nutshell, instructional videos are visual tools that teach viewers how to do something, or explain a subject, process, or concept.
The best instructional videos are designed to be engaging and visually appealing through the use of visual effects, text, and audio. An instructional video might also feature a number of animations, graphics, and on-screen annotations to highlight key points and make the information more focused and digestible.
Of course, the benefits of instructional videos aren’t solely for the viewers as they’re actually really easy (and pretty fun) to make. Once you start creating your own instructional videos, you might also find that they can help simplify your concepts, ideas, and processes while making both the teaching and learning process much more personal.
The most common types of instructional videos
The great thing about instructional videos is that there is no limit to the topics they can cover. For example, an instructional video could be a product demonstration, a how-to guide, a software tutorial, or a safety procedure – the possibilities are endless!
So let’s take a closer look at some of the most common types of instructional videos.
Microvideos are brief and concentrated instructional videos that center on teaching a specific and narrow topic without going into too much depth.
The term “microvideo” is really just a fancy word for “short video.” They’re designed to be super-concise and are typically less than one minute long. As with many types of video content, microvideos can either be highly polished or very informal, depending on their purpose and audience.
Plus, microvideoscan deliver a targeted message without an overwhelming amount of information. By focusing on one particular topic, microvideos help viewers quickly learn a new skill or gain knowledge on a specific subject.
When to use a microvideo?
You might use a microvideo whenever you need to teach or explain a simple concept in a few steps. For example, a microvideo could be perfect for explaining how to use a new software feature. On the other hand, more complex concepts could be broken down into several logical steps with a series of microvideos for each one.
Some instructors shy away from long-form videos as many argue that microvideos offer the same outcomes, but with better audience engagement. This strategy also allows for more control over the pace of learning and makes the content easier to consume.
While microvideos are most often used to teach a skill, they can be used to share knowledge or information or teach soft skills.
If you’re working on an online course, you might also want to check out the 8 Surprising Ways to Use Microlearning Activities in Your Online Training Course.
Usually between two and 10 minutes long, tutorial videos (sometimes referred to as “how-to” videos are the go-to instructional method for teaching a process or giving step-by-step instructions.
Unlike microvideos, tutorial videos typically explain more complex processes and will often give direct instructions and follow-along guidance. Sometimes, what makes the best tutorial videos are interactive elements, such as quizzes, which help captivate the viewer’s attention.
As with all video content, understanding its purpose and the people who will be viewing it is key to knowing how polished it needs to be.
For example, if you’re making a tutorial video for an audience outside of your organization, such as customers or clients, you’ll probably want to make sure it has a little more professional polish. On the other hand, if it’s a tutorial video for staff training or internal communication then it can be as formal or informal as you need it to be.
When to use a tutorial video?
Like microvideos, tutorial videos can teach just about anything and there aren’t any rules for deciding how or when to use them. Essentially, if there’s ever a time that you need to teach a process or share valuable information on how to improve a skill, a tutorial video will always be useful.
Training videos are a more specific type of instructional video to those that we’ve covered so far. They are a powerful tool for improving employees’ workplace skills and addressing interpersonal topics that are important for maintaining a healthy work environment.
While there are some clear similarities to tutorial videos, training videos are more focused on improving job-specific skills and covering work-related topics such as compliance and health & safety training.
Training videos are also more likely to use footage of real people, which could be used to create examples of real-life situations. This could also help the trainer connect with the trainees. However, as with most video content, there are no set rules and this isn’t a requirement for creating a training video.
Visual aids such as animations and graphics can be just as useful for creating engaging and informative training videos. The most important thing to remember is that the best training videos will help businesses improve employee knowledge and performance while promoting a positive culture of learning and development.
When to use a training video?
Employers, trainers, and HR teams might use training videos when onboarding new staff, introducing new processes or technology, and providing refresher training.
However, businesses can use training videos to teach employees about any subject or process. This type of instructional video is used a lot in situations that lend themselves to live video, where the interpersonal connection can enhance knowledge retention.
An explainer video is like a modern-day elevator pitch, and like an elevator pitch, the best ones are short (between 30 seconds and a few minutes). They’re also designed to quickly capture the viewer’s attention and simplify ideas, products, and services.
These videos are a popular way for businesses to introduce and explain complex (and sometimes even simple!) concepts in an entertaining and visually engaging format. While it’s not always necessary, some explainer videos will use a combination of animation, graphics, and voiceovers to help grab the viewer’s attention and convey information.
One of the primary advantages of explainer videos is their ability to communicate information in a way that’s concise, engaging, and entertaining. By using a combination of storytelling, animation, and visuals, explainer videos can help to establish a clear and memorable message that resonates with viewers.
Additionally, explainer videos can be easily shared on social media platforms, making them a cost-effective and efficient way to reach large audiences.
When to use an explainer video?
On a fundamental level, businesses use explainer videos to introduce a new product or service to prospective customers to help them understand how it works and why it’s valuable. It’s a simple idea but once you’ve got a well-polished explainer video ready, there are many different ways it can be used and shared.
For example, great explainer videos can double up as marketing material and be used across adverts and social media. Businesses might also feature their explainer videos on their website so that it’s the first thing prospective customers see when shopping online.
Lectures or presentations
A recording of your lecture or presentation is an effective way to expand the reach of your content and offer viewers the flexibility to learn at their own pace.
With the added ability to revisit sections they may have missed or didn’t fully understand the first time, viewers can pause, rewind, or fast-forward as needed. By providing this level of flexibility, you can ensure that your instructional content is more accessible while encouraging a deeper understanding of the material.
This type of instructional video also doesn’t need to be complicated to create. You could, for example, create a simple visual and audio presentation featuring just your slides and your voice. Or, for something more professional, you could set up a camera (or cameras if you plan on recording your own TedTalk!) to complement your presentation.
When to use a lecture or presentation video?
There are a few reasons why you might want to record a lecture or presentation. First, you might want to make it available to a wider audience or be able to share it with people who couldn’t attend the live event. Second, you might want to review your content and presenting style at a later date.
Screencasts are videos created primarily from screen recordings that aim to teach someone how to complete a task or share knowledge. For example, you could even create a screencast demonstrating how to make an instructional video with a screen recording!
While screencasts aren’t a specific type of instructional video, they can be used to create all the videos mentioned in this article. Generally speaking, they’re usually quick, informal, and intended for smaller audiences than tutorial videos.
The beauty of screencasts is that they allow the instructor to quickly grab information from their screen to answer a question or clarify a concept. Because they can be produced so easily, with minimal production value, many screencasts tend to be considered “disposable” videos, serving a specific purpose for a short time.
But that’s not to say that screencasts can’t also provide long-lasting value. For instance, a well-crafted software tutorial screencast may prove to be useful for months (or even years!) and could be used to onboard new team members or educate customers.
When to use screencasts?
Screencasts are great for sharing quick instructions in an informal format. For example, if you know your audience is going to be small and the stakes are low, making a quick screencast is a great way to visually communicate an idea or help answer a question or solve a problem.
The best software for making instructional videos
With so many different software packages to choose from, finding the right tool to capture your screen and edit your videos can be a daunting and difficult task, especially if you’re new to creating instructional videos.
However, tools like TechSmith Camtasia are perfect for beginners and professionals alike as it’s easy to use and provides a range of advanced recording and editing tools. This makes Camtasia great for creating all types of instructional videos, as it’s easy to get to grips with.
With Camtasia, you don’t need any advanced video editing skills, but if you do want to learn how to edit like a pro, we’ve got plenty of helpful tutorials to get you started. You can even download a free trial of Camtasia to start recording & editing and get a feel for the software.
How to make an instructional video
If you’re wondering how to make an instructional video, there’s one thing you need to remember: Always have a video plan.
As with any creative process, ensuring you have a well-thought-out plan for what you want to create and how you’re going to create it is crucial to making a successful instructional video.
Taking the time to really think about the purpose of your video, your audience and the information you want to convey will help you get started, but let’s take a look at some of the other steps you should consider before recording your footage:
Step 1: Find the right software and equipment
Firstly, you’re going to want to make sure you have all the tools you need to actually record and edit your footage – this is an important step in making sure you’re happy with the final version of your instructional video.
Understanding your audience and the purpose of your video will help determine the hardware you need. For example, you can probably create a 30-second screencast with the built-in camera and microphone on your computer or laptop. However, if you’re going to film an hour-long presentation for hundreds of people, you might want to consider investing in more sophisticated recording equipment.
When it comes to the software you use to edit your video, Camtasia is great for recording and editing both short and long-form video content.
Step 2: Determine and get to know your target audience
The more you understand your audience, their needs, and their interests, the better equipped you’ll be to create an instructional video that engages and captivates their attention.
Things like age, interests, language, and even geographic location can all play a part in knowing how to best communicate with your audience. For example, an educational video about dinosaurs is going to be very different for a class of 10-year-olds than it would be if it was for a group of paleontology students.
While it sounds obvious, you can always learn a little bit more about your audience. This is another important part of creating instructional videos that your audience not only learns from, but also enjoys watching.
You might also consider asking your audience questions to better understand what they need help with or are most interested to learn, as this can help you focus your content on the very topic they want to know more about.
Step 3: Write a storyboard and script
Once you have a topic and know your audience, create a storyboard to outline and visualize what you plan to show.
Creating a storyboard ahead of time will help you make an instructional video that is clear, concise, and interesting to your audience.
Some people get creative and draw detailed pictures, but you don’t have to be an artist. Your storyboard can be as simple as this:
Quick sketches and stick figures are perfectly fine for live video. If you’ll be recording your screen to demonstrate a process, use a series of simple screenshots to show what you plan to display with the narration.
After storyboarding is done, it’s time to write a script.
Even a simple script will help you be more efficient, saving both yourself and your viewers time. Plus, you’ll also be far less likely to forget something.
It’s helpful to match your narration to what will be happening on screen during your video. If you were creating an instructional video about using the default calculator on a Mac, your script might look like this:
You don’t need to start with a blank page. Using a general script template can help you write a successful script in less than 10 minutes.
Step 4: Record your narration
With your script in hand, it’s time to record the narration. Camtasia comes with a built-in, easy-to-use voice recording feature that is a great option. Still, you can take your voiceover and narration recording to the next level with TechSmithAudiate.
Audiate transcribes your voice in real-time – as you record. This means you can edit your audio just as you edit the text in a document.
With Audiate, you don’t have to stare at a waveform all day to figure out exactly what you said and where. Audiate even automatically finds and deletes all of your “ums,” uhs,” and other hesitations for you.
Already have a voiceover recorded? Import it into Audiate, and the program will transcribe it for you.
You can save your edited audio file and import it right into Camtasia. You can even export the edited text as a transcript or SRT file for captions.
Even if you’re comfortable using professional audio recording software like Adobe Audition, Audiate is the best (and easiest) way to record voiceovers.
Next, get your hands on the best microphone you can find. Even a middle-of-the-road mic (like the one connected to your headphones) will provide much better sound quality than the one built into your computer.
Step 5: Record your video
Depending on your instructional video’s topic, you might need to capture a recording of a process happening on your screen, demonstrate something in real life, or both.
Recording your screen for an instructional video
First, clean up your computer screen and close any unnecessary applications. Turn off notifications that might pop up before you start recording. Follow these directions to get a crisp, clear screen video.
Then, open the application you want to record and conduct a few practice walkthroughs of exactly what you want to show your viewers. This practice will help you get smooth cursor motions, and you’ll have less editing to do in the end.
After a few run-throughs, open the Camtasia recorder and capture your screen just as you practiced. Remember, if you make a mistake, pause and start again from that point. You’ll be able to smooth things out when editing later on.
If you want a simple way to increase engagement and help viewers connect with your content, try adding a camera recording to your screencast.
Recording an instructional video with a camera
There are a lot of similarities between recording your screen and creating a training video with a camera. You still need a plan, a script, and the right tools, but stepping in front of the camera brings new challenges.
Here are a few things to consider when creating an instructional video that includes camera video:
- Don’t get overwhelmed by equipment. In the video above, we only used five tools: a tripod, smartphone, phone clip, a clean backdrop, and lights.
- Make sure your recording space is well-lit. You’ll either want to record in an area with a lot of natural light or add some video lighting to your equipment list.
- Place your camera on a tripod, and position it as close to your subject as possible while still getting everything you need in the shot. Being close to the subject will help you get the best possible audio when recording with a smartphone camera.
Step 6: Edit your video
Most people feel like they need to be a professional video editor to make a nice-looking video, but the truth is that you don’t need expensive editing tools or a lot of knowledge to get started.
In Camtasia, you can cut out mistakes by selecting them with the playhead, then clicking cut. To trim extra footage from the ends of your recording, drag the end of the clip in.
Add your audio narration to the timeline when you finish editing your video. You can use clip speed and extend frame to sync the audio and video in your project.
Here are some simple video editing tips to improve your instructional videos:
- If you need more time explaining a concept, split the clip and use extend frame to freeze the video.
- To speed up a boring part of your recording, add clip speed, then drag the handles to speed it up.
- Add interactive elements like callouts, arrows, shapes, lower thirds, or sketch motions to highlight key points in your video.
Step 7: Add a video intro
Use a video intro to lead viewers into your content, but don’t get too crazy. Keep your opening simple and to the point.
Viewers want to get to the substance of your video. They don’t care about anything other than what you promised to teach them.
A good intro clearly lays out the topic and quickly explains what viewers can expect to learn.
To create your own video intro in Camtasia, you will need to add some space at the beginning of your video. Hold the shift key on your keyboard and drag the playhead to the right.
Then, open the media bin and select the Library tab. From the “Motion Graphics – Intro Clips” folder, drag the intro you like onto the timeline.
Step 8: Promote your video
After you’ve spent all that time preparing, recording, and editing your video, you’re probably going to want to share it with the world – and you should!
Posting your videos online, sharing them on social media, and sending them to your friends, family, and colleagues are all great ways to promote your instructional video. However, there are other ways to expand the reach of your videos and grow your audience.
Here’s a quick round-up of just some of the ways you can promote your instructional video:
- Create an engaging title, ideally one that’s optimized for search engines, and try adding relevant keywords to the video’s description.
- Promote the video on your social media with links and short clips.
- Share the video in forums related to your video’s topic, but be sure to explain why it’s relevant in your comment.
- Share the video with your email list and give some insight as to what went on behind the scenes.
- Include links to your new video in your past videos, both in the old video descriptions and on the videos themselves.
- Embed the video on your website or blog and write a post that either summarizes or expands on the topic.
- And finally, tell people about it! Sometimes the best way to promote your content is with some good old word-of-mouth, so share it with your friends and family, and encourage them to share it within their own circles.
By following these steps, you’ll be sure to maximize the reach of your video content. Who knows, your next video might become a viral sensation and people might start coming to you for the best instructional video examples.
Instructional video mistakes to avoid
While creating videos is, in many ways, easy and straightforward, it’s still possible to make mistakes. If you’ve read this far you should be more than ready to go and make your first instructional video, but you should also consider the most common mistakes people make so that you know how to avoid them.
- Focusing on equipment: Don’t get distracted or overwhelmed by fancy equipment if you’re just starting out. It’s much more important to master the basics and focus on developing your video creation skills.
- Striving for perfection: While it can be hard to let go of your need to perfect every little detail, being a perfectionist can also cost you a lot of time and we believe it’s much better to release a video that’s engaging and creative than to spend an unnecessary amount of time on things most people probably won’t notice.
- Targeting the wrong audience: Make sure you know your audience and create your video with them in mind.
- Explaining steps too broadly: The point of an instructional video is to provide clear, concise, and specific instructions. So be sure to thoroughly explain each step and include visuals to make everything easier to understand.
Now that you know the most common mistakes to avoid, you really are ready to start creating successful instructional videos.
Making instructional videos, the FAQs
If you’re wondering how long an instructional video should be, research from Techsmith found that viewers generally prefer shorter videos, between 1-6 minutes long. However, longer videos of up to 20 minutes may be more effective for certain topics and audiences.
TechSmith Camtasia is a user-friendly screen capture and video editing tool that offers a range of features to help you create high-quality tutorial videos, from simple demos to more complex projects. With Camtasia, you can easily create and edit your videos with a variety of tools and effects, making it a great choice for both beginners and experienced content creators.
You don’t need professional equipment to create a professional-looking and effective instructional video. All you really need to get started is a computer, a camera, and a microphone – in fact, the webcam and microphone built-in to your computer will usually be good enough for most instructional videos.
The costs of creating instructional videos can vary widely depending on the equipment and software you use. However, it is possible to create high-quality instructional videos on a budget — or even for free! — by using basic equipment and affordable software, such as Camtasia.