Thursday, January 17, 2013

Improve your next tutorial video

Have you suffered through some of the tutorial videos on the Internet? Anyone can create a video and it shows. But, enthusiasm is not enough. Here are a few suggestions on improving your next tutorial video.

First, you need a reasonable scope. You need to be specific when creating a video. In one hour of video, you will not be able to provide detailed instructions for everything you’ll ever want to know about your subject, such as a software product. What part of the product do you want to detail?

Be choosy. The focus of a tutorial is an important decision. Many tutorial videos try to cover too much material, provide too much detail, or wander way off topic. Shorter is better. When you have something to say, just say it. Learn to turn off the camera.

Second, you must assume certain skills are already given to your audience. Prerequisite skills can be addressed in a number of different ways. Instead of explaining every concept, point to another source of information. A video can make references to a generally available resource, such as a public library or Wikipedia.

Listen to comments. If you assume skills that some of your audience does not yet have, make yet another video to cover additional material. Instead of trying to fit everything into one video, think in terms of a video series. Provide a reasonable amount of consistency. Point of view and assumptions should be similar throughout the series. Encourage your audience to watch more parts if they are interested.

Third, understand how your tutorial will be used. Your viewers will look at your tutorial for different reasons. Some simply want to be entertained. Some are researching, working toward a purchase or download. Some may want to know more about how things are done without installing and configuring the product on their own equipment. Some may want to follow your video, step by step, on their own equipment.

Fourth, use basic manners. Avoid long pauses. Don't say "Um". Use  2x, 4x, 8x to speed a video clip that drags. Speak clearly. During your presentation, please be aware that a viewer can pause, rewind and replay. It is better for your tutorial to move too quickly than drag on and on and on.

Try some or all of these suggestions on your next tutorial video. Improve the quality of your video without sounding like a professionally produced infomercial.

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