In my last post, I shared eight reasons why we love the advantages of video learning here at the Instructional Design Company. So, as promised, this week, I’m giving you my ultimate guide to making instructional videos without breaking a sweat!
If you didn’t get a chance to read about the advantages of video learning, check out that article here. You’ll get all the background info you need to decide if video learning is the best choice for your project or portfolio piece.
Are you ready to make your instructional video? Then, let’s jump into my ultimate guide!
IDC’s Easy Guide to Making Instructional Videos
When was the last time you watched a video or a clip online? I feel pretty confident guessing you’ve watched video content already today! But hey, maybe you’re reading this first thing in the morning. In which case, I’m sure you’ll find yourself engaging with video in the next few hours.
Videos have become an unavoidable part of how we consume all kinds of learning. Whether it’s a news clip, an interview, or a how-to guide. Earlier today, I worked on a task in Storyline (wouldn’t you know, I was making an instructional video). To work more efficiently, I googled a shortcut for a repetitive task.
Do you think I chose the text-based, step-by-step guide for how to perform the shortcut? No way! I clicked on the first video result that popped up and learned how to use the shortcut in under 30 seconds.
Why Choose Video Learning?
Videos are the preferred mode of instruction for most learners. According to Techsmith, two-thirds of employees complete tasks more efficiently when they’ve engaged in video learning based on the task.
Making instructional videos also gets you (or your stakeholders) more bang for the buck. A video is easy to distribute, easily accessible on multiple devices, and easy to review if you need a refresher a week later.
And it’s not just learners that are more likely to engage with video. So if you’re looking for a new instructional design job, including videos in your portfolio is a great way to get noticed.
The best news is this: you don’t have to be an amazing video editor to make effective instructional videos. You don’t even have to buy expensive equipment or software subscriptions. I’m going to let you in on my best-kept secrets! Here are seven simple steps to get you started making instructional videos.
Step 1: Gather your resources
Well-made instructional videos don’t just materialize out of thin air. Just like with any course you develop, an instructional video requires tons of planning.
That’s why the first step to making a great training video is to spend some time with your resources. These resources should include:
Your training analysis: all the data you collected when you were first learning about this project (or the data you organized yourself if this is a project for your portfolio).
Your course content: this is the information that needs to be included in the video. For client projects, this will likely come from a subject matter expert in the form of existing PowerPoints, old training material, or an interview you conduct. For personal projects, you’ll have to collect this information yourself. Do your research online! Either way, you need to make sure you have all the course content in order BEFORE you start working on a video.
Step 2: Outline and Storyboard your content
Now that you have all the data and course content in front of you, it’s time to organize it! This process is the same regardless of your course format.
First, create a general outline of the course. Finalize your learning objectives and make sure they’re all represented in the outline.
Next, take the outline to the next level. Storyboarding your course will give you the blueprint for your instructional video. A Storyboard could be as simple as a list of screens or segments or be a table with photos, more detailed scripts, and screen visuals.
The more thought you put into your storyboard, the easier the video-making process will be, so I really recommend the table version for your Storyboard. You can also choose all the stock images instead of using placeholders or write out your video script to contribute to your storyboard.
Storyboarding is also the step where you see your video as a whole to make sure it really makes sense and supports your learning objectives.
The pre-work that goes into making an instructional video is crucial. If you’re just starting, I highly recommend you check out the Instructional Design Tech Accelerator program. You’ll get all the tools you need to prepare for a course build. Not to mention a more in-depth guide on developing the course using more advanced tools like Premiere Pro or Storyline.
Step 3: Choose your Tools
Now we’re starting to get into the nitty-gritty of making instructional videos! Now that you have your course outlined and storyboarded, it’s time to decide what tool or tools you’ll use to make your video.
There are some important things to keep in mind first. The specific video-making tools you choose should complement the course content. Let me give you a couple of examples:
- If your course is informational (DEI in the Workplace or A Beginner’s Guide to Internet Security): Having a spokesperson on-screen with supporting text might be an engaging choice for this type of video. Alternatively, a PowerPoint with text and supporting images can be a good fit for information-heavy topics.
- If your course is demonstrational (Navigating Onboarding Software or How to Operate a Forklift Safely): A Powerpoint just won’t cut it for this type of video. For software demonstrations, consider making a screen-sharing video. Record someone performing the steps. For physical tasks, the best video would be of someone doing that task. You can also use a series of screenshots or still images. Pair the demonstrational video or images with onscreen text instructions, and you’re good to go!
- If your course involves interpersonal communication (Conflict Management or many HR-related topics): Consider making an animated video that pulls in different characters. Instead of bullet points, onscreen text can appear as thought or speech bubbles. Animated videos can also work with informational videos.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at some FREE tools for making instructional videos.
Yep, you heard me! You’ve probably used Zoom for meetings, but did you know it’s an excellent tool for recording high-quality videos too? You can use the free version of Zoom to record a spokesperson video or a screen share.
All you have to do is start a new meeting and hit record. From there, you can read from a script, share a PowerPoint presentation, or screen share while you navigate through a software demonstration.
Another great option for recording an instructional video is to do it right in Powerpoint. If you’ve already created your slides in Powerpoint, this is a super easy extra step. Just click Slide Show, and you’ll see the Record Slide Show option.
There is an entire module of the Instructional Design Tech Accelerator course devoted to designing and recording in Powerpoint if you’re interested in an even more in-depth guide.
For easy-to-make, professional-looking animated videos, many instructional designers love Animaker. Their free version is the perfect starting place for making your first training video. It’s also super user-friendly.
You can choose from several free templates, so you’re not starting a scene from scratch. They also offer a handy tour that will guide you through your first video.
It’s easy to alter character expressions and to add text, sound effects, and audio tracks so you can customize your animated videos to match your learning goals.
When you use Zoom or Powerpoint to record a training video, those programs will capture your audio along with the recording. However, for a more professional sound, a separate audio track is recommended.
Audacity is free software that’s well-loved by instructional designers and video editors alike. You can use this tool to record and edit your voiceover. Audacity will allow you to remove background noise, even out your volume, and give you an overall more polished sound without expensive equipment.
It’s super easy to use. Plus, you can find tutorials that will walk you through all the audio editing features you need for your instructional video.
Step 4: Practice, Practice, Practice
You didn’t think the process was over once you picked the right recording option, did you? Now that you know what you’ll be using to make your video, it’s time to practice.
Read your script out loud and navigate through your slides (or whatever you’ll be screen sharing). Do this as many times as you need to! First of all, reading your script out loud will help you identify any last-minute changes you need to make.
More importantly, the better-rehearsed you are, the fewer times you’ll find yourself stopping and restarting a recording because you made a mistake! Practice makes perfect, especially if you won’t be using any extra video editing software to remove pauses or mistakes.
Step 5: Record your instructional video
Now you’ve made it! Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: if you’re using Zoom or Powerpoint, it’s time to record. Make sure you’ve got your finalized script handy. You’ll also want to plan to be in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
For audio and screensharing recordings, here’s where your practice pays off. Speak clearly but conversationally for the most engaging audio effect. If you’re recording yourself as a spokesperson, check your lighting and camera angles. Make sure nothing is distracting in your background before you hit record.
Step 6: Run it Through Quality Assurance
Once you have a draft video, it’s time to do some QA! Rewatch the video and take note of anything you want to change. Next, run it by a colleague and ask them to send you their notes.
If this is a project for a boss or client, you’ll want to record a second draft that incorporates these notes before sending it to your stakeholder. For personal or portfolio projects, send it to your friends and family and let them be your quality assurance team!
Step 7: Share with your Learner
Finally! You’ve planned and prepped. You’ve picked the perfect tool to complement your content. You’ve practiced and recorded, and re-recorded. Now, you’ve got a final product that’s ready to be shared.
I already mentioned that shareability is one of the reasons I love making instructional videos. So this is the easy part. You can now share your video with your learners.
For videos you’ve created for another company, you can post to their learning management system or intranet.
If this was a personal project, you could embed or link it within your portfolio. Consider also sharing it on LinkedIn or other social media.
Feel free to also include this video directly in any communication you have with potential employers.
Wrapping it Up
Are you ready to start making your own instructional videos? Even if it’s just a quick sample video that you can include in your portfolio, I recommend getting started on this process right away.
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