5 Quick Tips for Making an Effective How-To Video

How-to videos are the guides of the 21st century. Who wants to read a boring manual when the same information can be presented on the screen in an entertaining way?

You have probably already seen a how-to video - also known as a video tutorial, instruction video or “how-to” video. You already know: these videos show how to fold a swan out of a napkin, clear a blocked drain or operate software, among others.

How-to videos are perfect for people who find it easier to study visually - or for people who just don't like reading. While good instruction videos create a bond with the company, bad tutorials are more of a deterrent. If you want to create a really good video tutorial, you should consider a few things below;

1. Choose an Interesting Topic

Your content should appeal to as many people as possible. It's even better if there aren't many videos on this yet. There are basically two types of video instructions:

- Tutorials for internal purposes. These videos are usually very short (2-10 minutes) and are often used as an answer to a specific question or for employee training.

- Tutorials for the public. These videos cover topics that are of interest of to the public and are often published on platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. Which question can you answer to which there is still a need for information on the Internet?

In both cases, it is important that the content addresses their respective target groups effectively and offers them added value.

2 . Give Clear Instructions

A good instruction video is clear and easy to understand. In order for your tutorial to meet these requirements,

  • Identify learning objectives that will serve as a framework for your video,
  • Explain step by step what to do without deviating from the topic, and
  • Make your video instructions as short as necessary to get your content to the point.

Concentrate on one to three learning objectives - too much information in the same video tends to be confusing and can quickly overwhelm your comprehension. What information should your viewers take with them at the end of the tutorial? If you want to cover a larger topic, it may be better to create several video tutorials, each one focusing on a narrow learning objective.

3. Organize Your Video Instructions Logically

In a good how-to video, the individual sections merge logically into one another. It is best to present your instructions in the order in which you want the user to perform them. In this way, the viewer can easily understand your instructions and, if necessary, even let them run alongside.

Even if it is difficult; try to block out your own knowledge. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is first confronted with your topic. Take the viewer by the hand and guide them step by step through your process.

If the topic is irrelevant; focus on contexts like; Which steps are interdependent? Is there a logical connection between individual sub-topics?

Furthermore, even the most exciting topic can put your audience to sleep if it's presented too slowly. However, you must not jump from step to step too quickly or leave out important explanations. Put yourself in your audience's shoes: What prior knowledge do your viewers have? What do you have to explain in more detail, and what do you only need to mention briefly? With a little preparation, you can better control your presentation pace.

Script: Write a script to guide your spoken commentary. It prevents you from stalling while recording or dealing with things too quickly. Record exactly what you want to say when and how. Is a Step Complicated? Go into detail. Is something easy? Then don't waste your time on unnecessary explanations. A script is also ideal for getting feedback on a planned video at an early stage.

Voice-over commentary: Record your voice annotation separately. Speak naturally and neither too quickly nor too slowly. Many people automatically get faster when reading. Deliberately hold back, even if it sounds unnatural to you. Remember that it often takes longer to show than explain it. Take a short pause in speaking after each sentence, step, and substep. This makes it easier to synchronize audio and video later during editing.

Cursor movements: The movements of your mouse on the screen should be smooth and not too fast. This helps the viewer to follow your cursor. Practice the movements on a few test passes before recording. If necessary, you can speed up motion sequences later.

4. Take into Account the Absorption Capacity of Your Target Group

Our brain is only able to receive things to a limited extent. You must not overwhelm your audience! Too much information at once makes it difficult to process what you have learned.

If you want to avoid smoking your audience's minds, you need to determine beforehand how familiar your target audience is with the topic being discussed. In case of doubt, you prefer to go for the motto “less is more” - if necessary, you can go back to important details in a follow-up video. So you have new material for your learning library right away! At this point, hitting the right tone is also important.

effective how-to videos

A good instruction video is engaging and informative. Exaggeratedly enthusiastic or overly monotonous language distracts from the learning content and has a turn-off effect on many viewers.

Your choice of words affects the tone of your video and should therefore be recorded in the script.

  • Describe things factually and neutrally.
  • Avoid superlatives and judgmental statements.
  • Stick to the facts and don't unnecessarily adorn your stories.
  • Your voice also affects the sound of the video. Read your script calmly and clearly - just as if you were explaining the subject to a friend. Try to sound optimistic.

Tip: Smile while reading! That makes you more friendly and enjoyable.

Don't forget to get feedback - preferably from someone who is not familiar with the subject. This is the best way to determine if your video is resonating with viewers and if you've successfully conveyed your teaching goals.

5. Give Your Video the Professional Finishing Touch it Needs

A good how-to video is not only characterized by its content but also by a professional sound quality, an interesting visual language and an appealing presentation.

If you want to add a screen capture to your tutorial, make sure it's sharp and not blurry. Another practical tip; With a screencast software like Camtasia, you can do recording, synchronization and post-processing within one program.

Your video should be easy to understand, even at medium volume. Use transitions and other effects with caution too. You want to underline the content, not distract from it. For guaranteed success, it's also best to choose the right platform to post your video. Where is your target group most likely to find it?

In many cases, the answer is YouTube. For company videos, your own website or an internal learning library can also be considered. You can also use your social media channels. Of course, you can also upload your video to multiple platforms at the same time.