Everyone learns differently. Some digest information better by reading, others by practical application. A good teacher knows how to incorporate multiple mediums into their lessons to accommodate different learning styles.

Naturally, that means using video as one of those mediums.

When you’re making a video to teach your audience, you want to be clear about your goals. The point of a video is to make learning easier for your students. Video provides missing pieces that students didn’t quite connect with through text and lectures. You just need to figure out where those pieces are.

The best way to start is to know your students.

Who is Your Target Audience?

Regardless of the video, ‘Who is my target?’ should always be the first question asked. Identifying your audience starts with a basic demographic. Maybe you’re talking to women ages 18 – 34.

What does that tell you about your audience? Get more specific.

College educated women ages 18 – 34.
Married college educated woman ages 18 – 34.
Marketing professional married college educated woman ages 18 – 34

The more specific you can get about your audience, the better you can anticipate and meet their needs.

Put together a list of reasons these people would watch your video.

  • Was it included with course materials?
  • Are they looking for a practical example of a concept?
  • Does the video break up the monotony of tedious material?
  • Does it make the material easier to understand?
  • Is it a quicker or clearer way to communicate the concept?

When you can hone in on these reasons, you can better address your audience’s needs.

How Much Does Your Audience Know?

Let’s say you were trying to explain the complex relationships between two species of dolphins.

You may start off with an anecdote about the time you were out on a boat observing dolphins – as you are apt to do – and you noticed a Bottlenose Dolphin wave to an Hourglass Dolphin. But before you get much further, someone raises their hand to ask,

“Wait . . . what’s a dolphin?”

AudienceWill this be on the exam?

You have to know where your audience is coming from in order to know where to go. Advanced information for a beginner may as well be in another language.

In contrast, you don’t want to talk down to your audience. Nothing is more agonizing than being told the same information over and over again.

Fortunately, you’ve already pinpointed your target audience, so you can anticipate how much they know and what they may struggle understanding.

What Are the Learning Objectives?

Think about your video in terms of what you want your audience to take away from the video.

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Learning objectives help you find a clear goal for your video. They’re aimed at the three domains of learning: knowledge, skills and attitudes.

Objectives look something like this:

  • Identify and define key terms.
  • Understand practical applications of concepts taught in the book.
  • Understand how the process works.

Identify three or four takeaways to guide your video and keep your content focused.

What Should You Say?

You know your subject, you know your audience — Now how do you talk to them?

First, look over your material:

  • Outline the information you want to cover.
  • Break that information into segments of topics and subtopics.
  • Determine your flow of information.
  • Decide how long you want each segment to be.

Second, write your script.

Remember to keep your focus. Minds will wander if you explore unnecessary tangents. You want to provide them all necessary information while keeping them engaged.

Then, read your script out loud. Some words or phrases look good on paper, but they sound strange when spoken. Video is about conversation. Think about your audience and how you would talk to them if they were in the room with you.

What Visuals Should You Use?

Video is a game of show and tell. Your script is what you tell; graphics and b-roll are what you show. The reason video is more engaging than lectures is that a well-produced video is generally more concise.  Through video, you can see a time-lapse of a bird building a nest, a cavity filled in one minute (or less) or a solar flare in space.

Every subject needs different visuals. If you’re teaching how to create a logo in Photoshop, then a screen capture would work better than video of someone sitting at a computer.

Some explanations do well with just animations and screen captures. In fact, having a person in a video could be a distraction from your topic. Jessica Bayliss from Education Portal told Wistia that students “found seeing a person on screen distracting”.  Choose what will work best for your material and your audience.

 Make Your Video Work Hard for You

You’ve committed to the production of an educational video. Make it work hard for you. Use your video to complement other course materials, providing your students with alternative sources of information.

To make your video the best it can be, remember to:

  • Know your audience.
  • Understand how much your audience knows.
  • Keep focus by defining clear learning objectives.
  • Plan out exactly what you will say, how you will say it and how long it will take.
  • Choose the right kind of visual material for your topic.

Have you seen any educational or tutorial videos that have impressed you lately? What about those videos stood out to you?  Let us know in the comments!