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Women In Tech Series

How to make instructional videos: 16 essential tips

How to make instructional videos: 16 essential tips

The bright light is blinding. You feel the cold stare of the camera pointed directly at you.

‘I hope I don’t fumble my words’ you think as you begin recording your latest instructional video. Anyone who's had to record a digital lesson or online course can relate.

Producing a punchy, engaging, and interesting video lesson or tutorial is tough. Reading blankly off a script is a surefire way to lose students.

The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to make a great instructional video, and you don’t need to do them all at once. When you’re building your online course, make sure every one of your lessons includes a few of the tips we’ve provided below.

By switching up your video style, incorporating new elements into your production, and approaching topics from different angles, you’ll be well on your way to making video content that viewers love. 

1. Switch up your video setting

Who wants to watch 50 instructional videos of a head talking at the camera? Same background, same bookshelf, same clock that looks like it isn’t moving. 

That’s a bit of a stretch, but freshening up your surroundings keeps your students engaged.

Bonus points go out to anyone who can make a change of scenery relevant to their video. If you’re a personal trainer, recording lessons in a gym or park is a great way to add visual flair to your video.

Teaching astronomy? Head outside with your telescope. Show your students why it’s your passion. 

And remember to mix up the length of your video tutorials to keep students engaged. 

Now, we’re not saying to make one-and-a-half-hour videos, that would be too long. 

But changing up the times slightly creates curiosity in your content. 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes.

2. Be front and center

Being visually present in your instructional videos and online tutorials is vital for building trust with your students. So is body language. It can help you communicate complex problems to your students even if you don’t know it's doing it.

Stand up when you’re recording your instructional videos. Being seated relaxes you. We all slouch naturally, and it signals to our students that what we’re saying isn’t important. 

Standing up promotes movement, you’re more animated and driven. You’ll be blown away by how much more energy you get when standing and sharing your knowledge. 

Make sure you’re not holding a script or anything that will distract you. It may sound tough at first. But once you have the confidence to stand up and look straight into the camera, you’ll realize your presenting technique has improved tenfold.

If you’re camera shy, that’s cool too. Take an audio-only approach to your videos instead. Then spend extra time making images, animations, and slides. Anything that can turn your audio into a  super vibrant and engaging video tutorial.

3. Make a roadmap to success

Let your students know the journey you’re taking them on. When does it start? Where will they end? Where are they now?

When making a big online course, it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. 

At the start of each lesson, reference the stage that your student is on. Remind them what you’ll cover and how that helps them achieve their ultimate goal. This easy tip gives your video lessons a sense of progression. And it encourages students who skipped lessons to go back and catch up. 

4. Write a script

Winging it sounds easy. But when you start recording, you’ll find all your information leaves your brain. And when you can’t recall what you wanted to say, just think about how your clients feel listening to you. 

Properly preparing a lesson before recording is the best way to avoid this happening. A script can be your entire lesson written down or just the highlights. 

Pro tip: Investing in a mobile teleprompter can help you nail that buttery-smooth delivery that professional online teachers make look so easy.

5. Tell a story

Punctuating your lessons with a personal tale will captivate your students and show them real-world examples of how your teaching can change their lives.

As a creator, it’s easy to forget how difficult you found your subject when you first started. 

By empathizing with your student when you're communicating a difficult topic, you’re showing them you understand their frustrations and give them the confidence to continue learning.

Pro tip: Start your next video with a personal story. If the story relates to the lesson you're teaching, and you can explain how this lesson improved your life, you’ll have an audience salivating to watch the rest of your video.

6. Keep the on-screen text to a minimum (use images!)

Keep your on-screen text to a minimum. Avoid reading off your slides and writing large blocks of text.

Why? Because people read faster than you speak. You’ll end up losing people and having them skip through your video. 

People are visual learners. They like to see things. Make sure your instructional video isn’t just slides of text you’re reading out loud.

Create a script, yes! But while you read, show images related to your lesson or go over a demonstration.

You’re producing a visual medium… so remember to make it visually engaging. 

That includes adding props and demonstrations to your lessons. If you can use cutouts, props, or models to make a difficult subject easy to understand, you’ll keep your students' attention for longer.

7. Break up content-heavy screens

This tip is really for coding experts and anyone who requires a lot of text in their instructional videos. Yes, you need to get the coding in there, but try to break up your lessons with a few more visuals to reduce the amount of time a student is looking at a screen, through a screen.

This is a great opportunity to use other tips in this guide. If you’re a javascript coach explaining functions, then a quick face-to-face demonstration of how they work with props will help your student.

Even just a few shots of you speaking to the camera can break up the lesson and stop your students' eyes from glazing over.

8. Keep your videos simple 

It can be tempting, when recording a video, to cram in as much knowledge, diagrams, and animations as possible. After reading all these tips you’ll probably want to dive into your next video and add as many of them as you can to your course.

But you don’t want to overwhelm your students. Knowledge that hits your client too quickly is one thing to be aware of. If you’re jumping around in a video with different learning aids, it can be confusing for students. They won’t know what to focus on. 

Stick with one or two learning strategies per video, that way your teaching will be front and center in the video.

9. Speak in a way that your clients understand

Make sure the technical jargon is at a minimum. You can explain the language and in-depth terms you use throughout your course but when you start, keep it simple, friendly, and understandable.

Pro tip: If your content requires a lot of industry-related terms and jargon, record a separate video where you go over the most commonly used terms. That way your clients have the resources and are ready to go forward.

10. Use lighting 

Average lighting from your floor lamp isn’t going to ruin your instructional video, but a good lighting rig will separate your course from the more average offerings in your niche.

Lighting doesn’t need to cost a fortune, either. A simple ring light for your phone is very reasonable and you can experiment with household lamps until you find the budget for some studio-quality lighting.

Pro tip: If you’re just starting out, don’t let lighting stop you from creating your own mobile app with Passion. You can share your knowledge with clients by just sitting in front of a window and recording videos on your smartphone. 

11. Make your instructional videos interactive 

Getting students actively engaged with your video course material will improve their learning experience and help them retain more information. Quizzes, exercises, and projects are a great way to test their knowledge. has partnered with Typeform. We let our users add interactive forms to all the lessons they upload.

Interactivity increases engagement gives students a sense of completion and increases the amount of knowledge retained in a lesson.  

This is also a great way for you to interact with your students. Use a form and ask for comments. That way you can teach what your clients want to learn and you’ll always have a successful instructional video. 

12. Use video thumbnails 

The thumbnail is like a book cover. It will be judged. 

With Passion, you can edit the thumbnail of every instructional video. That puts you in total control of your brand and the user experience.

13. Use double angles 

This is a pro tip for all the budding videographers out there. If you have access to multiple cameras… use them! 

Switching up your shots when you’re recording a video keeps your instructional video looking and feeling fresh. 

Don’t have two cameras? You can record a lesson twice from different angles and stitch the results together with video editing software

14. Upload your instructional videos in your own mobile app 

Where do your clients hang out? On their phones. 

Where they are is where you need to be.

And the best way to get there is by using a platform that speaks to your audience. 

At Passion, you can put your content directly in the hands of your clients by creating your own mobile app. They’ll have access to our latest video player and access to your online content when it suits them. 

15. Offer a community

Your video content is a vital part of your overall course, but it’s just one part. 

Creating a community, whether on Facebook, Discord, Twitter, or any other social media platform is important for engaging with your students.

With your own native app from Passion, you can build communities directly in your app. That means you’re in control… not the algorithm overlords of social media. 

16. Have fun

We saved this for last because it is really the most important tip for creating great instructional videos. 

Let loose and have a good time with your video tutorials. Let your personality come across. 

They shouldn’t be dry, they should be punchy, engaging, and fun for you and your clients.

After all, it’s your passion that you’re sharing. And sharing that should be fun. 

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