Sometimes, it just takes a quick, informative video to learn something new. Video tutorials are “how-to” videos that describe a process or illustrate a set of instructions. One main benefit of tutorial videos is that viewers can rewind, pause, and play the video again. It’s a reliable tool that can be shared and distributed across teammates, collaborators, and more.
You’ve likely watched plenty of tutorial videos yourself, and yet there’s a certain art to creating an effective one. Now, you don’t need a film degree to put together a compelling, educational video but you do need to put some thought into it. Follow these four steps and you’ll be on your way to producing a worthy video tutorial.
1. Brainstorm and Storyboard
You can’t create a video tutorial without having a sense of what message you’re trying to get across. That’s why the very first step is a brainstorm session. Ask yourself what is the purpose of creating this tutorial and what information are you trying to convey? Who will be watching and when will they be watching it? Answering the 5Ws (who, what, where, when, and why) will allow you to get a grasp on what you need to include. More importantly, it will help you discern what information isn’t needed and should be saved for later.
This is when you’ll start to storyboard your video and outline the beginning, middle, and end. Think of how the information will be presented and the best way to present it. If you’re creating a tutorial on how to edit pictures in Photoshop, for example, including where you’ll use a screen recorder. This easy-to-use tool can make your tutorial simple to follow as you go through the process step-by-step.
Typically, a storyboard is a visual map, but you don’t need to be an artist to get through storyboarding! A simple sketch on a whiteboard or in a notebook will do the trick. Again, this is meant to be a guide, so don’t try to cram all of the information that will go into the final video.
2. Write a Script
The most successful tutorials follow a script. Going off on a tangent will lose a person’s interest, leading them to click out of your video. When preparing to record, no matter how short or long, you’ll want to write a basic script.
Breaking down your video into segments can make writing a script less daunting. Follow your storyboard and write a brief introduction followed by each step and a brief conclusion. At the beginning, let the viewer know how long the entire process should take. Think of your introduction as your roadmap, a play-by-play of what the viewer can expect in the next few minutes.
When it comes to laying out the steps, remember to go slowly and not skip or assume anything. Let’s say your tutorial is about how to complete a sales entry in Salesforce. If you immediately dictate the steps from the form, some may not know how you got to the form in the first place. Let the audience know how you got to the first step or, better yet, show it through a screen recording. And remember to use language that is accessible, as you don’t want users to have to reach for a dictionary during your tutorial.
3. Record and Edit
Once you have a clear concept and are in a good place with your script, you’re ready to hit the record button. This step is obviously the most important and may subsequently take the longest amount of time. Choose a recording location that complements rather than distracts from your subject material. Depending on what you’re filming, you may be on screen or you may just have a voiceover. In either case, make sure your visuals complement what you’re saying or the step you’re describing.
You may find that having separate tracks for your visuals and your audio will make the editing process smoother. This gives you more control when it comes to piecing together your tutorial. Also, it ensures that your voice is loud enough for everyone to hear. A tutorial with a muffled audio track isn’t helpful for anyone.
The thought of editing a video may be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, there are plenty of software programs available that will guide you through the editing phase. You don’t need to get super fancy or high-tech to create a valuable video. And if this is your first project, know that each one you create will go a bit quicker and be less unnerving.
4. Upload, Publish, and Distribute
The editing is complete so you’re in the home stretch. Uploading your video to a site is the most seamless way to distribute it. YouTube is one of the most popular options, but you may also decide to go with Vimeo or Facebook Watch. If you created a clip for your team, you may have an internal company site or channel to upload on.
Regardless, most sites will require you to include a thumbnail image for the final product. Pick a screenshot from the tutorial that is attractive but also fundamental to the project’s purpose. Name the video in a way that lets prospective viewers know what they will learn.
After it’s published, you’re ready to share and show off your hard work. If this is an internal company video, perhaps you share with your team via Slack or email. But if this tutorial is for the greater purpose, share on your social channels for the broadest reach.
With each video you create, you’ll learn more about the process. You’ll likely find ways to streamline your thoughts in a way that is best for this type of instruction. You’ll probably also find shortcuts during the editing process that will save you time. So while no two tutorial videos will look the same, following these steps will help set yourself up for success.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.