Instructional Video Made Easy: Tips, Hacks & Tools

Kseniya Ibraeva
7 min readNov 1, 2019

Video is everywhere, and if you aren’t creating it, you’re likely falling behind. According to Wyzowl’s annual State of Video Marketing Survey 2019, 68% of people prefer watching a short video to articles (15%), infographics (4%), presentations (4%), and ebooks (3%). In other words, it definitely worth it to try creating instructional video courses, especially when it’s possible to do without breaking the bank.

Why Video?

For a long time, a big hurdle for creating instructional video was its production cost and complexity. Traditional presentations, instructions, and articles seemed on the whole to be safer and easier to deal with.

Today, when a smartphone with a good camera is in almost every pocket, we can find thousands of video tutorials on YouTube, from how to make a burger to how to build a rocket from scratch. We got used to video content and now we expect it.

In fact, video is a top choice for teaching people how to do something. Instead of writing mountains of complex instructions, you can simply show it in action. In addition to being self-explanatory, video adds a personal feel and real-world context to the learning module. There’s even curious statistics by Forrester showing that if a picture is worth a thousand words, then video can stand in for 1.8 million words.

But it’s not only about how-tos. Video can also be a versatile tool for onboarding, compliance training, hard skills development, and even customer support.

Again, shooting a video nowadays doesn’t necessarily take expensive equipment, a camera crew, and hardcore software. After all, if YouTubers can successfully do it, you can do it too. Plus, we’ll discuss what options you have for company training and what it takes to create such videos.

The 5 Types of Video Content for Corporate Training

Before you start shooting, let’s determine the type of video that will work for your business goals.

Expert presentation

Video presentations by experts in different fields are the best way to introduce new ideas, share some concepts, and inspire people. They can be created by simply recording a live speech or performance of an expert, or intentionally created from scratch to cover a certain topic.

This type of video works just great not only for in-house employee training but also for marketing purposes. You can share expert knowledge with your potential clients and therefore build trust as a bonus.

Tip: Always record live meetups, webinars, and lectures featuring in-house and guest experts. It’s an inexpensive yet effective way to turn one-time learning sessions into reusable content.

Hands-on tutorial

Hands-on tutorials are a variation of the game “follow the leader,” which is a great example of learning by doing. Together with an instructor, learners master their hard skills. These may include diverse topics like social media management, programming, or maintenance of a CNC machine.

If you decide on creating instructional videos, this type of video is essential for any job, because it shows how to do something, how to do it right, or how it can be done more effectively.

Tip: With iSpring Suite, you can edit instructional videos without any pre-training: trim or delete fragments, add audio, and show two videos at the same time if needed.

Software tutorial

This type of instructional video is similar to the previous one, except for one detail: the focus is on teaching how to use some software or web service. As a rule, there’s no video of the instructor, just a screencast and a voice over.

Unlike standard video lectures, recording high-quality screencasts requires some special features. For example, iSpring Suite’s Cam Pro allows you to choose whether to record the entire screen, capture a certain area, or simply show an app window. You can also spotlight your mouse actions and add visual annotations so that learners can easily repeat everything you do.

Tip: Record video from your screen and webcam simultaneously to provide a screencast with live video comments from the presenter. This will make the final video more alive.

Demo video

Video demonstrations are created to showcase products in action. They can be made in the form of a video tour for software and web services, unboxing, setup, tests, and reviews of physical products such as the smartphone in the video above.

Demo videos can be a part of onboarding product training for newly hired employees or can be used for training staff on new products the company releases on the market. These videos can also be used by your sales team to help clients better understand your product, how it’ll benefit them, and how to actually use it.

Tip: There’s no need to bend over backwards chasing perfect quality for your a video demonstration. An overly polished demo may look artificial and biased.

Virtual tour

Virtual tours are a kind of brand video. They may give your viewers a tour around your company’s office or production sites, or take the form of a “meet the team” video or short interviews with the staff.

Virtual tours are great for onboarding and they’re also helpful for HR, since they provide candidates with an informal, behind-the-scenes look at your company and make it more human.

Tip: You don’t have to make a “perfect” video because the more simple it is, the more authentic it looks. Nevertheless, use a tripod to avoid the shaky and jerky effect of found footage.

What Instructional Designers Can Be Taught by YouTube Bloggers

Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every day. Just like there are plenty of things to learn from YouTube educational channels, there are just as many ways that we can learn from the techniques YouTube influencers use to present their ideas. Here are four simple things you can easily borrow right now.

1. Create playlists of smaller chunks

You won’t see a messy pile of videos on popular channels. They’re usually organized into playlists. A playlist is a collection of videos on a certain topic that automatically play one after the other.

If you have a long video, say, a recording of a conference, break it down into smaller logical parts and combine them into a playlist (or a learning path if you use an LMS). It’ll be much easier for learners to watch it in small 5- or 10-minute chunks instead of having to look for the place where they left off.

This recording of a Slack conference is divided into shorter parts and organized into a playlist.

2. Create informative thumbnails

A thumbnail is a cover for a video that can give viewers a quick snapshot of what they should expect after clicking Play. When you upload a video, it’s shown with an auto-generated thumbnail, which is a random shot that may not be informative and is often awkward (presenter with mouth open and eyes shut, blurred motion, etc.)

If you add some text on the thumbnail as an explainer of the video, you’ll ease the navigation and gain more interest from the learners since they can quickly see whether the content is relevant for them.

Thumbnails set viewers’ expectations for what they’ll see after clicking Play and how long the actual lesson is.

3. Use closed captions and transcripts

Video is a really great format to demonstrate something, but some learners watch videos with the sound turned off and others still prefer to skim through a text transcript to find the places that are relevant for them. Alternatives such as subtitles and transcripts allow people with different learning styles (or even disabilities) to choose whichever way works best for them.

Providing a text transcript allows viewers to skip right to the point that is the most interesting for them.

4. Add annotations

Annotations, or YouTube cards, are special tools that allow viewers to interact with a video. They look like small boxes that pop up during or at the end of a video which encourage you to take action: like the video, subscribe to the channel, answer a poll question, watch another video, or follow a link to a certain website.

If you use YouTube for hosting your instructional videos, or if your LMS allows it, use these features to increase learners’ engagement. If you don’t have such capabilities, you can at least recommend other videos in the description section that may also be useful for learners.

In this video, annotations are used to suggest what to watch next.

Ready to Try Creating Your Own Instructional Videos?

Since making video is now within reach for anyone with any budget or team size, the only thing to overcome, perhaps, is the wish to keep on doing things as we always have.

Don’t hesitate to try iSpring Suite for free and enhance your training with professional-looking videos like in any of the examples from this article or much better. (We’re sure you can!)

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