How to Make an Instructional “How to” Video

by Neil Davidson on February 1, 2013


Creating how-to videos is an excellent way of showcasing your expertise to the world.

There is no one way to make a ‘how to’ video, especially as they could be about anything from ‘how to make a pie’ to ‘how to skateboard’. There are some universally essential qualities for a good ‘how to’ video though.

I have broken them down for you into bite-size chunks.

Whether you are a business owner, someone with a skill to show off or just a very pleased customer who wants to share something useful with the world, use this guide to make your how-to or instructional videos as good as they can be.

#1. Do Your Research
Before you start planning, do you research. Find out if people are actually interested in the information you are going to share with them. Do they need to know how to tie a shoelace or is someone already covering that base?

I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find this video which has had nearly 738,000 views at the time of writing:

Also, research what types of videos others have already produced on the same topic. Use this to help you work out what works and also what doesn’t work. Learn form their mistakes, not your own.

#2. Write a Script
You, or your chosen presenter, may be great at improvisation and you might be keen to avoid your video looking too scripted or formal. However, you need a plan of what you are going to cover throughout your video. You know what they say, “it’s obvious when you know how” – if you don’t plan, you risk creating a video that seems obvious to you but makes too many assumptions – your video therefore won’t be as useful to your audience as you may think it is.

#3. Think about the Length
You don’t want your video to be so long that it bores people and they switch off. You also don’t want it to be too short, failing to give all of the necessary information. Strike a balance. Be aware of which parts of the instructions need more or less time. Consider that some parts may be more complex than others and would benefit from some repetition. However, also remember that video can be paused, rewinded and fast-forwarded – something you can integrate into how your audience interacts with your video e.g. ‘pause here while you try this step for yourself’.

#4. Choose an Appropriate Shooting Location
The location you choose will depend on what your ‘how to’ is all about. Be sure to consider the following factors:

a)    make sure you have enough light
b)    avoid locations with background noise interference that is outside your control
c)    make sure that the space isn’t too visually distracting (thing about what is in the background)

#5. Work with Someone Who Knows What They are Talking About
If you are going to tell an audience how to do something, you should know how to do it yourself – or at least be working with someone who does. If possible, work with an expert in the field you are covering and have them present the video for you.

#6. Pick a Presenter
Taking into account that it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it, it is vital that you use a presenter who works well on camera. They need to be engaging and fun to watch. You should also think about their dress code. They need to dress appropriately to your audience.

#7. Pay Attention to Camera Work and Shot Distances
Do your best to have a camera operator who knows how to use a camera. Also, look around at other videos to get a feel for what shot types are most effective and most engaging. Half-body shots generally work quite well; close enough to see what is being demonstrated and close enough to feel engaged with the presenter.

This example does a good job of using two different camera angles. You don’t need two cameras to achieve this effect. Repeat actions, recording them from the different angles and intercut the footage in the edit.

#8. Test it On People
It is easy to lose sight when you have been involved intensely in creating a video. When you think you have finished your ‘how to’ video, test it on an audience. Get feedback on what made sense and what didn’t make sense, what felt too long and which parts needed more time. This is the most reliable way to gauge how an outside audience will interpret your instructions.

#9. Promote It
After all that hard work you want people to actually watch your video. Share it with your existing networks and make the effort to share it with other networks. For example, post it on your own Facebook page but also post it to the pages of other groups or organizations that have similar or related interests.

Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

This post was written by...

– who has written 1 posts on Hello Bloggerz.

Neil Davidson is the Founder of My Web Presenters, who are a leading website spokesperson video production company. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos. They also write a web video blog with clear, practical video marketing tips.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aqib Shahzad February 2, 2013 at 4:50 am

Thanks for sharing these useful tips with us.


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