7 Things You Must Do For Successful Instructional Videos

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If you work in software training or support, you know how important it is to create helpful content for your users. 

According to a recent TechSmith study, 53% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week (up 152% compared to 2013).

And there are tons of options out there to add video content to: User documentation, support articles, entire knowledge bases.

But one of the best ways to help your users is to create videos.

Making an instructional video is a great option because it allows learners to absorb the information faster and retain more of the knowledge. 

TechSmith research has found that 67% of employees perform better when they’re communicated with visually compared to text alone. They’re also able to complete the tasks 7% faster.

In order to create effective videos, you need to make sure the content is relevant and engaging to your audience.

I put together a few tips we use at TechSmith to make sure our training and support videos are successful.

1. Make relevant content

Good training always goes back to the audience first. Before you can make an engaging video, you have to make sure it’s relevant. 

You can have a highly-produced, beautiful video, but if it doesn’t resonate with your audience, all of that polish will fall flat. 

So, before you start creating your video, ask yourself a few questions about your audience:

  • What do they need to learn?
  • Why do they need to learn it?
  • What are their problems?
  • How can I motivate them?

Once you answer these basic questions you’ll be well on your way to creating a more relevant video for your audience.

2. Make your video engaging

A recent study from TechSmith took a close look at video viewing preferences and found that while video viewing frequency has increased in both instructional and informational videos, most people stop watching a video without finishing it. 

In fact, the main reason people stop watching videos is that the content doesn’t deliver the expected information (35 percent), or the content is boring (23 percent).

This information validates that videos can be effective for training and teaching others, but the content needs to be relevant, engaging, and, well, not boring. 

With advanced tools and technology and increased immersion into video culture (i.e., Netflix, YouTube, etc.), there is no need to continue to make static, boring videos. 

Frankly, you can’t afford the status quo if you want your training to be effective! 

Thankfully, there are several different techniques at your disposal to help make your training videos more engaging.

3. Use B-Roll

B-roll is supplemental footage intercut with the main shot to help tell the story. 

Adding b-roll to videos is a simple, yet effective technique to make your instructional videos much more engaging. B-roll gives the viewer something else to look at as it breaks up the monotony of a single camera shot. It also keeps the video fresh, and increases the overall quality of your videos. 

B-roll, while supplemental, still should be related to the main topic and help build understanding, whether through context or supporting ideas, or providing reference visuals. 

Finally, b-roll often is thought of as video footage, but can include photographs, animations, charts, infographics, or other visual elements.

4. Add interactive elements

Interactive elements are fantastic for engaging your audience and keeping boredom at bay. 

For example, you can insert quizzes directly into your videos. 

This encourages participation and engagement from viewers. This also helps ensure clarity of communication and understanding of the material, as it lets viewers apply the knowledge they learned from the video.

Hotspots are another great interactive element. A hotspot is an interactive piece of content embedded within a video that viewers can click on. Hotspots allow viewers to engage and interact with videos in real-time. 

They give viewers the ability to dig deeper, learn more about a particular topic, launch a Website, or replay a portion of the video.

5. Keep the video fresh

Use different camera angles, insert some on-screen text, or try to engage and provoke thought from viewers by inserting a relevant movie clip. 

It’s important not to get too carried away with the number of things you’re changing on the screen, as it can create some confusion with viewers. 

Try to use different camera angles or insert some on-screen text in your videos.

6. Know your audience

Always be mindful of your audience when you’re editing your videos. Try to create videos that will be engaging and help meet the viewer’s learning needs.

Even if you spend just a few minutes thinking about your audience before you make your video, it will be more relevant and better received.

7. Measure your results

Make sure you know which videos are driving success and which ones aren’t. 

Not every video player and hosting site track the same metrics, but many of them have similar data points for you to review. 

Dashboard example of a YouTube video.

Here are a few common video metrics that are available and that you should track to measure your results:

  • Plays/Views
  • Unique plays
  • Watch time
  • Audience retention / engagement

What next?

These simple techniques are not only effective for creating engaging videos, but they are also inexpensive (if not free) to implement.

I encourage you to experiment with your camera. Get creative! Creative videos are the most memorable and most engaging. 

By approaching the learning in a creative way, not only will you engage your viewers, but you’ll also help them better retain the ideas and concepts you present. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to keep a clear focus on the goal (in this case, learning something) when creating an instructional video. Be sure the video you create serves the need of the goal, is interesting, and uses interactivity to keep viewers engaged. 

After all, a video is only effective if people actually pay attention and watch it.

Now it’s your turn. You can start to make instructional videos for free by downloading the free trial of Camtasia today.

Matt Pierce

Matt Pierce is a Learning & Video Ambassador at TechSmith. In this role speaks and teaches about video creation and visual communication. A graduate of Indiana University he has ten years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith. Teach him something @piercemr

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