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How to Make Instructional Videos for Education and Business

/ Paige Frisone


Instructional Video_blog_header

While remote and hybrid learning have only recently become an essential part of school curricula and business, it's hard to imagine a world now without these methods. Last year, eLearning was responsible for 86% of video consumption alone. In the business world, 86% of marketing professionals feel video content directly improves traffic and engagement.

In this guide, we’re focusing specifically on instructional videos. When done correctly, instructional videos have the power to directly impact the proficiency and performance of employees and students, alike. Read on to discover:

What is an instructional video?

Woman_in_brown_blazer_smiling_and_gesturing_behind_a_laptop_against_white_wall_with_picture_frame_and_leafy_plantInstructional videos are designed to educate and offer information about a skill or subject. Image via Mizuno K.

At their core, instructional videos are educational. They should land in the 3-6 minute range, though depending on the topic, there’s an audience for videos under 20 minutes as well. Use your intuition to discern what makes the most sense. 

For example, instructional videos for Pre-K students may simply focus on how to identify instruments. Cater to the shortest attention spans and keep it light for younger audiences.

Speaking of audiences…who exactly will be watching your videos? Let’s get clear on your demographic. Consider:

  • Students of all ages, from Pre-K to grad school 
  • New hires
  • Long-time employees
  • Leadership positions

Audience factors that may influence your instructional video topic and delivery are:

  • Experience
  • Learning style
  • Attention span

While it’s true that 65% of the population consists of visual learners, that doesn’t mean negate the other 35%. Ultimately, what makes for effective learning methods is diversity. Incorporate auditory and kinesthetic processing for collective resonance.

There are an infinite number of topics you can use for instructional videos, but here are a few to get you started. For school:

  • Science Class Safety: How to Stay Safe in the Lab
  • Narrative Literature: What’s a Proper Story Arc?
  • 2nd Grade English: What Is Cursive Writing?
  • 5th Grade Spanish: Learning The Alphabet

And for work:

  • Equipment Do’s and Don’ts
  • Mandated Reporting Protocol for Workplace Safety
  • 3 Quick Ways to Establish Trust With Your Team
  • Nonviolent Communication: 5 Ways to Practice

Once you determine your demographic, their experience, learning style, and attention span, you can start outlining your video. 

6 types of instructional videos

Man with beanie hat, glasses, and striped black-and-white shirt points to music app on a tablet looking into iPhone with LED ring lightOnce you know your demographic, consider which instructional video type will most resonate. Also, choose a style that supports your content. Image via Karolina Grabowska.

The easiest way to know the type of instructional video you need? First, identify if it will be a one-and-done, or if it’s part of a greater curriculum. Whether you’re compiling instructional videos for a three-day work conference or a three-month school semester, begin to map out how many videos you’ll need in total. Then, consider how to build your story. 

Your intro video won’t have the same language as your week eight video, for example, so how can you bridge them all together? For starters, check out these six diverse instructional video options.

1. Explainer videos

Believe it or not, this hype motion graphic is also a type of explainer video. Introduce who you are, what you do, and why you matter in a short but powerful clip. Via Kevin Paul Design.

Explainer videos take on multiple forms, such as 2D animation, motion graphics, kinetic typography, live-action, and whiteboard. Commonly used in business and marketing, these videos explain how to use a company’s product or service.

If used for school, explainer videos can demonstrate certain know-hows like fire safety or home economics. If you need a place to start, customize one of our education templates for all things school related.

2. Training videos

Pair narration with compelling images and camera transitions to elevate any training video concept. Via Safety Memos.

Instructional videos parallel training videos, as one exists to instruct and one exists to train. Training videos demonstrate a chronological, step-by-step process with the intention that folks can perform certain skills independently shortly after learning them. 

3. How-to tutorial

Pair your tutorial with testimonials or inspirational commentary to evoke an emotional response. Via VISIT FLORIDA.

Unlike how training video libraries can take new hires a month to acclimate to the workplace, how-tos usually achieve outcomes sooner rather than later. In reference to this video example, the protagonist visually and auditorily describes how to fly a kite. By the end of the video, the hope is that everyone can do this on their own.

For other specific topics like this—how to do a fire drill, CPR, or how to fix a broken computer—how-to tutorials are the way to go.

4. Screencast

Give an immersive and interactive walk-through of products and tools with screencast videos. Via WeVideo.

Screencast videos are an interactive and hands-on way to teach folks how to use a product or system. Companies like WeVideo maximize screencast videos to onboard new users. Just one walk-through video can benefit new students or clients for years to come. Of all instructional videos, this one can make or break someone’s customer experience. 

The goals for screencast videos are to:

  • Familiarize users with new concepts
  • Encourage independent learning
  • Foster confidence in new skillsets
  • Increase customer engagement, retention, and referrals

If not for business, screencast videos can also help students illustrate their thought process behind projects, assessments, assignments, and lessons.

5. Microvideo

This video tells a captivating story in under 15 seconds and without narration. Your turn! Via Visit Navarra.

Microvideos are short and effective clips that convey a particular message and call to action (CTA). They last only a minute max, like what you’d find in conventional social media marketing. Pop in, jam pack with info, encourage action, and done! 

Using 15 seconds when you could technically use a minute speaks volumes. Don’t oversell, just land on a predominant communication method: slideshow images, narration, music, or text? You decide!

6. Lecture and presentation

Insert an encouraging recruiting video like this one before, during, or at the end of your presentation to emphasize company culture and rapport. Via Ivan Monitoring.

Last but not least, lecture and presentation videos. While you might initially hear a crowd groaning in your head, there’s a reason these methods are learning classics. When paired with video, lectures — both in-person and online — become engaging, interesting, and even something to look forward to. 

If you’re crafting a presentation instead, be sure to support video assets with other compelling design elements like eye-catching slides, text, and captivating transitions. You can also screen record lectures or presentations for longer-lasting access. (Our online video editor makes these kinds of edits simple.)

Best practices and what to avoid

Woman adjusting cell phone sitting within standing ring light, background is blurred and ring light in focusHow to refine your delivery? Clarity, confidence, and control. Image via George Milton.

Before jumping behind a camera, there are a few more things to consider. 

Do: Have strong lighting, appealing backgrounds, video access, and a microphone (preferred but not required). 

You can use your phone or computer, paired with natural light or an LED ring as shown above. 

Don’t: Overthink post-production 

So long as you have an accessible video editor with diverse capabilities, you can screen record, add music, leverage green screen, and more—all in one place!

DO: Speak to your audience directly. 

Make your demographic known by way of your chosen language, graphics, colors, and level of sophistication. Unclear audience = unclear content. 

DON’T: Expect to nail it on the first take. 

Take your time, channel your inner expert, and let it flow. If you flub (and it’s expected), you can always edit and trim clips later on.

DO: Take advantage of video templates

If you’ve never made a video or need some design inspo, start with pre-designed templates to set the tone for any environment.

DON’T: Overcrowd your video with sensory overload. 

All the tricks are at your disposal; use them wisely.

DO: Be slow, steady, and confident. 

Remember, this is an instructional video; it’s your job to introduce new concepts. But, give your audience time to process by examining your delivery. Embody a slow but steady demeanor with cool confidence. How you present will dictate whether or not your audience can trust you as an authority and expert source of information.

DON’T: Be aggressive. Assertive, sure. But not everyone loves negative reinforcement, lecturing, or being talked at. Work to make your instructional videos inviting, cooperative, and informational at once.

DO: Consider your budget. 

Budgets can dictate how much you invest in a particular project. Aim to be cost-effective with DIY methods.

DON’T: Spend thousands if you don’t have to (and you don’t have to!). 

How to make instructional videos for both educators and business

Woman gesturing with both hands while speaking in front of a laptopBegin your instructional video with a script. Then, record, edit, add video assets, and you’re set! Image via SHVETS production.

There’s a writing rule that’s been etched in many minds: Don’t write how you speak. Why? Modern day language has slang, speech stumbles, word gaps, and filler-words that don’t make for quality writing. 

However, with instructional videos, you’re speaking to an audience and you do want it to seem as though you’re having a conversation. So long as you adopt the following traits, it’s okay to be less formal in your videos than you would be in a thesis paper:

  • Professionalism
  • Cohesion
  • Relevance
  • Expertise

So. Yes to conversational writing, no to excessive “ums,” “uhs,” and “likes.” And if you’re going to show your face on camera (we encourage it), be mindful of your body language. Nonverbal communication dominates human personality and perception, so make sure you’re present, standing (or sitting) tall, and have a warm, friendly presence. 

Sweet! Now, to create your video in six swift steps:

  1. Establish your audience. Determine what topics to cover, what type of instructional video to use, and how long to make it.
  2. Build an effective script to record. This will also help dictate the video length.
  3. Record narration. For more on how to master screen recording with audio, check out these screencast tips.
  4. Record your video. Whether you choose to record yourself walking through a product or illustrating a real-life scenario, capture relevant footage to string together. Again, don’t stress about mistakes, as you can always edit in the next step.
  5. Now, edit the video to your liking. Hop into an online video editor to adjust audio volume, transition length, speed it up or slow it down, add captions, interactive arrows or highlights, and more.
  6. Share your work with the world. Download to desktop or upload to website, email, or social media for optimum engagement. That’s it!

So long as you’re intentional about each design element, you won’t go wrong. Insert brand colors, logos, and strong messaging for a home run video. Then, next time, you’ll be twice as fast and 100 times more proficient at the art of making instructional videos.

Take comfort in the fact that it’s just you and the camera. Record, compile, complete! Then sit back, relax, and watch your hard work pay off. You got this!