What kind of video should you create for your course?

Video is not only incredibly popular right now, it's also a great way to add more personalization and engagement to your course.

But what kind of video should you create?

There are four main types of videos in the online course stratosphere:

  1. Slide Deck videos
  2. Screencasts
  3. Animated Whiteboard videos
  4. Talking head videos

In this post, you'll learn more about each one and when to use them.

Slide Deck Videos

What they are:

Slide deck videos are typically made by converting presentations made in PowerPoint or Keynote into movies.

Many course creators start with slide decks because they're simple and easy to create. Just record audio over your slides, export as a movie, and--abracadabra--you've got course videos.

shia labeouf magic GIF-downsized.gif

The challenge is to keep the content interesting. 

When to use:

  • Use slide decks when you want to create a simple video and focus the viewer on specific information points.
  • Slide deck videos also work well when you're testing/ workshopping your content. Before you spend hours creating a video, pop your content into a slide deck and do a test webinar.

Bottom line: slide decks allow you to get your video done quickly and effectively.

Pro Tips:

  • Don't overload your slides with text, instead use text to highlight key points and explain the details in your audio. 
  • Break up the slide types to keep viewers engaged.
  • Use images and headings to help viewers comprehend & classify.

Screencasts

What they are:

Screencasts are videos of you doing something on your computer screen. I know, Captain Obvious. Here's an example of one:

When to use:

  • Use screencasts when you need to show something you’re doing on your computer. (For example, if you’re teaching how to use a software or showing your viewers how to create something in Photoshop.)
  • Anytime that you need to teach the steps or process of doing something on your computer, use a screencast. 
  • These also work great if you just need to display a photo or video on your computer and discuss it.   

Pro tips:

  • Be sure that your screencasting software gives you the options to highlight your cursor, zoom in, and animate your clicks. This will help your viewers follow along. 

Animated Whiteboard Videos

What they are:

Animated Whiteboard videos are videos that simulate someone drawing on a whiteboard to illustrate a concept. You can use a program like VideoScribe to create them. They look like this:

Because they’re animated, they keep your viewer more engaged while watching. The tradeoff is they take a little more time and patience to create.

You’re not just putting bullets and images in a slide deck. You’re creating animations and making sure everything is timed just right. Still, if you have time to experiment, you’ll probably come to love these as much as I do. 

When to use:

  • These are some of my favorite videos to create. Use them when you want an alternative to slide deck or talking head videos. 

Pro Tips:

  • Simplicity is key when it comes to these videos. Programs like VideoScribe come with built in images, so you’ll have some limitations on what you can add.
  • These videos take time to perfect. But if you keep it simple, you can get pretty far.

Talking head

What they are:

Talking head videos are exactly what they sound like: you face the camera and talk. Doesn’t matter if you’re standing or sitting or using a whiteboard. It’s still considered a talking head video.

Here's an old talking head video I recorded before I started Zen Courses.

When to use:

  • Use talking head videos when you need to explain concepts or make an emotional connection with your viewers. Welcome videos and motivational videos are two examples of talking head.

Pro Tips:

  • It’s easy for your viewers to zone out on talking head videos, so keep things interesting by adding text on screen to highlight key points.
  • Or if you’re talking about something, bring the image up on screen. Again, you can use a program like Screenflow for this.  
  • And don’t be afraid to mix things up. For example, you might have a talking head intro to your lesson presentation, then transition to a slide deck for the remainder of the lesson.

A few notes about video length

Everyone is obsessed with video length. (I've written about it here.)

The thing is, there's no one answer for how long your videos should be. It ultimately depends on three things:

  1. how engaging your content is
  2. how complex your content is (more complex, aim for shorter vids)
  3. what your audience is used to watching

You also need to consider when your audience is consuming your video.

  • If they’re likely watching it on their phone during their morning commute, you’ll want to keep your videos less than ten minutes.
  • But if your audience is used to watching longform video when they're not doing a million other things, you can get away with longer videos.

The only true way to improve your video engagement is to use a video host that provides engagement analytics and tweak your approach based on the data.

Which brings me to tools...

Video Tools to Check Out

For video hosting (with engagement analytics)

For screencasts and video editing

For whiteboard videos

For course platforms that offer video analytics:

Wrap Up

Hopefully this helps know which type of video to create for your lessons.

All in all, if you’re just starting with online courses, don’t get stuck on the details. Start where you are. 

On the other hand, if you’re ready to level up, now you know have a snazzy guide to help you take the next step.

Cheers!

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