Video is one of the most popular ways to deliver and consume content on the internet.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all encourage people to watch and share short, informal videos. It’s no secret that video is important. And this makes employees particularly receptive to video in corporate learning programs.
The Ultimate Guide to Easily Make Instructional Videos
In this post, I’ll guide you through key steps to creating engaging training videos. We’ll discuss the types of videos you can create, and how you can edit them in ways that capture and keep employees’ attention.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Pick your topic
The first thing to do when creating training videos is to select a useful, relevant topic. Nowadays people are incredibly quick to abandon videos that don’t provide the information expected, so selecting a topic of interest and importance to your audience is critical.
To select the right topic, first, define who your audience will be.
Then develop a thorough understanding of your audience and their needs. Take time to do research that identifies the topics they’re most interested in or most need help with. Tailor your research methods to the location and size of your audience.
If internal training is your assignment, then you might conduct interviews with employees.
If you’re creating documentation for external users or a larger audience, then a survey might be an ideal way to collect information.
Consider the availability of online forums and other resources as a way to guide you as you refine your topic.
Hone your topic to a single, focused idea. If you’re having trouble doing that, consider breaking it into two topics, with the second building on the first. A series is an excellent way to make training videos that are useful and easy to digest.
Step 2: Choose a format for your content
The next step in creating an engaging training video is to choose a format. As you start to work on the video, consider the resources available, your timeline, and stakeholder expectations.
Different types of training videos take different levels of time and effort to complete. Here are some formats you might choose for your training video.
A screencast is a recording of your computer screen. If you are training people on a new software or computer system, this will likely be at least a part of your video. Screencasts can range from informal to highly polished productions.
A microvideo is a very short video – five to fifteen seconds – that demonstrates a single process or idea. Sometimes microvideos don’t have narration but instead rely on visuals or text on the screen. This might be a good choice if you have a number of simple processes to teach that don’t take up enough time to warrant creating a longer training video.
For live training, consider recording it to create a presenter video. Then, you can edit the recording and use it as part of your learning program.
If you’re training people on processes, a product demo video may be the right choice. In these videos, someone usually acts as a “host” and shows the viewers how a particular product, service, or process works. Many of the DIY videos on YouTube use this format.
In a role play video, a scenario is acted out to help viewers picture and better understand the way a particular interaction should go. They are good for training viewers on how to handle things like sales calls, technical support processes, and other social interactions. It takes a bit of acting, but if you’re training soft skills, this format might be the best bet as it helps viewers picture actual circumstances and situations.
Animated explainer videos use text and graphics to get their message across. They take some technical and artistic know-how to create, but they’re great for engaging your audience.
Interactive videos are a newer format. One way to think of these is like a “choose your own adventure” video where viewers are asked to respond to situations and then see how things play out depending on their decision. They can be a good way to get your viewers involved. If you want people to experience how different decisions play out, you might give this a try.
Step 3: Script and storyboard
I’m sure when you think about your video a clear picture emerges in your mind. The scenes layout in order, the visuals are neat, and the words just need to be said aloud. Of course, if you go straight to recording your video without any prep work, it becomes clear that all of these things are not as organized and perfect as they appear in our imagination.
I know because I have done it. Just because we can’t go straight to producing a video, doesn’t mean we don’t truly have a great video in mind.
The first and most important prep task is to write a script. Start a document in your favorite word processor and start writing what you want to say.
If you’re doing a screencast or microvideo that involves screen recordings, go through the process you plan to show. It might help to think of how you’d explain the process if someone from your audience was sitting with you.
After scripting, create a storyboard. A storyboard demonstrates the visual sequence of a video through simple sketches or images.
I usually capture a few screenshots or take pictures to get a concrete idea of what I want to show in my video. Your storyboard shouldn’t take long to put together, and you don’t need to agonize over sketching anything beautiful. Stick figures work just fine.
Step 4: Recording and editing
Alright, once you’ve done all the prep work, you can start recording. You don’t have to be a video pro to get great video, either. Anyone can record an excellent screencast with just a little practice. And you probably have the technology in your pocket (Hint: smartphone camera) to record a great video if you’ve chosen to do a role play or demonstration video.
Once you’ve recorded your footage, there are a number of ways to edit your video so it’s visually engaging.
Leverage existing assets and templates
TechSmith Assets is a great way to start work on your video. Use intro, outro, and lower thirds templates that can be edited to match company and brand standards to get started. Then pick from over 800,000 resources, including motion backgrounds, animations, images, and music to get the media you need.
In screencasts and other videos, annotations are a great way to draw attention to particular things. Arrows and shape callouts can even be combined with animations and text to keep viewers’ attention where it needs to be.
Placing text on your video helps you keep things visually intriguing while hammering home key points. Use it in lower thirds graphics to introduce speakers or emphasize a point or idea.
Make text and shapes move into your video or along the screen. Animations are excellent for keeping visuals varied and intriguing in your learning videos. Custom animations are one option, but Camtasia Behaviors are an easy way to quickly add creative movement to text, shapes, and other graphics in your videos.
Show the speaker
Don’t be afraid to show the narrator in your videos. In screencasts, this is done by recording your webcam and then switching to that footage at opportune moments, usually the beginning and end. Just be sure you’re looking at the camera!
Add some interaction
Interaction is a technique that is gaining traction in corporate training videos. With interactive hotspots, you can send viewers to a specific point in a video, ask them to respond to input or guide viewers to the next step in a series.
Step 5: Review and iterate
Once you’ve got an early draft video, one of the best things to do is have stakeholders or colleagues review it. A video review will let you know whether you’re on the right track and allow for course corrections, if necessary, before you near a final piece. It’s always easier to make changes earlier in a project.
Additionally, having other sets of eyes take a look is the best way to ensure there are no mistakes like typos or design flaws in the final product.
When you’re ready to get a review, upload your draft video to TechSmith Video Review, which makes it easy to set up an efficient and effective feedback loop. Then, invite people to review it or enable the public link to send to a group of people. Reviewers can leave comments, mark up the video with shapes, arrows or text, and respond to one another, all within Video Review.
When reviewers have finished providing feedback, use their comments to iterate on your initial video, checking the suggestions off as you address them in your project. Once all of the feedback has been incorporated, go back through the feedback loop, uploading the new version of your video for another round of feedback.
Feedback and review are two of the most effective ways to make a great video, so take your time on this step. It may make sense to go through it two or even three times to make sure your video is just right.
Step 6: Produce, host, and distribute
Finally, we’ve made it to the last step of creating a top-notch training video: production and hosting. This is the prime time when we make the video available to our viewers.
The first thing to do is to produce the video. Producing your video renders it from the video editor into a video file. You’ve likely heard of different video file formats, especially the most common and widely used MP4. Unless you have a reason not to, I suggest producing your video as an MP4 at the same size you edited it. For more information on producing a video with Camtasia, check out our tutorial on producing and sharing.
Once the video is produced, it’s time to host it.
Hosting is how a video is made available to viewers. YouTube and Vimeo are examples of hosting sites, but there are a number of other ways to host a video, and it’s important to choose the one that works best for you.
If you want to make your video public, I would suggest making a YouTube video. YouTube is great for learning content. However, if you want it to be available only to people at your company you can host it on your company’s LMS or internal website.
Another option is to use Screencast.com, which allows you to host videos and images, and then share a link with others. If you created your video with Camtasia, you can even produce videos straight to Screencast.com, YouTube, or Vimeo.
Now you’re ready to make your own training videos!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.