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Apr 19

How to Easily Make Instructional Videos

David Gillham

If we asked you to give a detailed summary of what you do for work, you might say something like, “It's complicated.”

And we wouldn't blame you. Not every job can be summarized in a brief elevator pitch. But if your job really is that complicated, you might want to start creating instructional videos to help out with employee training and onboarding. After all, the average employee onboarding cycle can last anywhere from three months to a full year.

Videos can provide effective and accessible alternatives to plain text, and with the help of AI video creation tools, it’s also never been easier to create a series of tutorial videos at scale.

In this article, we’ll show how creating instructional videos for your business can increase learner retention, provide helpful resources for your customers, and establish your brand as an industry expert. We’ll also cover our recommended best practices for developing engaging and accessible video content, from storyboarding to production and distribution.

What are instructional videos?

Instructional videos guide the viewer through how to accomplish a task or use a product or service. And unlike plain text, instructional videos engage both the visual and auditory senses via dual coding.

Specifically, your average video tutorial will include elements like these:

  • Closed captions
  • Visual aids like custom illustrations or diagrams
  • Audio narration
  • And more recently, custom AI presenters

In a corporate setting, instructional videos like these are commonly used for onboarding new hires, supplementing customer support teams, and facilitating continuous workplace learning for existing employees. Here’s a closer look at how these explainer videos are used by both companies and customers.

Instructional video for companies

Many companies today utilize instructional videos as part of their onboarding and training programs. Rather than relying solely on written manuals or in-person sessions, instructional videos allow information to be conveyed efficiently through a step-by-step visual format. 

Additionally, an instructional designer can help add interactive elements like quizzes and practice activities to instructional videos to reinforce learning. 

The addition of these interactive elements is one of the best ways to increase the efficacy of instructional content, as outlined by Cathy Moore in her Action Mapping training design.

Instructional video for customers

Instructional videos are also frequently used to empower customers to help themselves through interactive guides, assembly instructions, and how-to content. This reduces strain on your technical support teams while ensuring your users are still able to get the customer service they need. For example, many software applications and devices now include instructional videos within their online help sections for easy access.

Popular types of instructional videos

No two video tutorials are the same. Some may be quick screen recordings, while others may be longer videos on how to use a certain software feature or perform a complicated task.

Regardless of the type of instructional video you want to create, here are a few of the most popular types of instructional videos to give you some inspiration.

How-to videos

As you probably guessed, how-to videos demonstrate step-by-step processes. These types of instructional videos are commonly used for technical support, onboarding new employees, and guiding customers through complex processes like using a particular software feature that has a steep learning curve.

Screen recordings

Taking a screen recording is another great way to quickly start making your own instructional videos. What’s great about them is they don’t require a significant investment of your time or money. As long as you have some basic equipment and decent sound quality, you can create high-quality video tutorials across a wide range of use cases. 

Product demo videos

Recording product demo videos is a great way to supplement and support your existing knowledge base articles on how customers can use your product. If you plan on creating instructional videos for your company, this is probably one of the first types of educational videos you’ll turn to. These tutorial videos should give your customers a live preview of what a completed project or workflow within your service or software may look like.

Here’s a quick example to illustrate our point:

The best part of this kind of video tutorial is that it allows the viewer to work through the content at their own pace. And speaking of working through content at your own pace, here’s the last type of tutorial video on our list:

Assembly & maintenance videos

This type of explainer video guides viewers through assembly processes, repairs, or routine maintenance tasks. While this may not be the most relevant use case for companies in the tech sector, it can be incredibly helpful for B2B companies in the manufacturing space or for B2C companies who build and sell physical goods (e.g., toys, tools, and equipment).

How to plan instructional video content

Planning is essential if you want to create an instructional video series for your employees and customers. Here are some key steps to follow when mapping out your video content strategy:

1. Identify your video content needs

The first step in creating an instructional video is to identify the business goals that these trainings will solve.

As we mentioned earlier, if you’re familiar with Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping training design, then you’ll know that effective instructional design starts with identifying the change in your business you want to create (e.g., increasing sales in Q4). Once you have a better idea of the kind of change you want to see in your business, you’ll know what kind of instructional content to create.

Additionally, if your teams already have several learning resources available, you should audit your existing employee training programs, technical documentation, and customer support channels. Take note of any frequent questions, common issues, and processes that could benefit from a quick video tutorial series.

Finally, if you’re still uncertain about what kind of tutorial videos you should be making, you can always survey your end users to uncover what kind of content they’d find most helpful (e.g., product trainings, knowledge base videos, etc.)

2. Research topics

Not conducting any research or producing videos with zero forethought is one of the biggest instructional video mistakes you can make.

So before you start creating your own instructional videos, do further research into the specific topics, tasks, or processes that could benefit from your video creation skills. During this research phase, you’ll also want to define clear and measurable learning objectives for what your users should understand or be able to do after watching. This will make it easier to outline the key points you want to cover in your video script so your content stays on track.

3. Create content outlines

With your research complete, you’ll want to develop detailed outlines and storyboards for each video topic. Be sure to include an introductory overview of the training video topic, step-by-step demonstrations, and a concluding summary of your how-to video. 

After you’ve created a rough outline of your video, you’ll want to get it signed off by any internal stakeholders or SMEs in your organization before you move into pre-production. Then, once your content outline has been approved, you can begin to make an estimate of how long it will take to sufficiently cover the material in your video and keep viewers engaged.

4. Schedule production timelines

Now that your ideas are fully fleshed out, you can start recording! But first, you’ll need to get your production days scheduled out. To do this, block out dedicated dates for video production on your calendar, such as the day of filming, review periods, editing sessions, approvals, and the planned publishing dates. As an extra precaution, you may want to allow extra time for revisions in case any past videos need reshooting.

But what if you don’t have weeks or months to dedicate to producing a full live-action video?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry—you’re not alone. As markets fluctuate up and down, employees have historically been tasked with doing more with less. However, as of 2024, over half of organizations surveyed report using generative AI in at least one business unit, meaning more professionals are taking matters into their own hands—using AI video tools to streamline the production process.

With AI tools like Colossyan, for example, you don’t have to worry about scheduling reshoots, hiring on-camera talent, or shooting live video. Instead, you can start producing high-quality instructional videos at scale with the click of a few buttons. The popular hotel chain Sonesta was even able to cut 80% of their video production costs by using Colossyan.

5. Set publishing goals

Establish target launch dates for your initial instructional videos as well as future publishing schedules. Consistency helps keep your library fresh and lets your users know when to expect new additions. 

If you’re publishing videos on a streaming platform, you can also refine these publishing goals over time based on performance metrics like average watch times, number of views, and subscriber engagement.

6. Market your video content launches

Your instructional video content won’t have any actionable impact if no one watches it.
With this in mind, you’ll want to bake in the marketing and distribution of your instructional content from the beginning. For example, you could promote your video content in a monthly customer-facing newsletter, on your company blog, or internally across your organization.

If possible, test your marketing efforts to see how they affect your video performance metrics—especially if you’re creating instructional videos for a larger audience. 

Creating goals and KPIs for instructional videos

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that creating high-quality instructional videos isn’t easy. Making instructional videos takes time and money if you want to do it right. 

So to make sure you get the most out of your investment, you’ll want to create goals and KPIs around your video efforts.

Not only is this crucial for ensuring your instructional videos are delivering real value to your business, but it will also help your teams understand the impact your educational content is having so you can optimize over time.

Some important KPIs to track include the following:

1. Measures the percentage of employees who complete training courses versus those who start them. High completion rates can indicate that you’ve created engaging and relevant training content for your employees.

2. Learner satisfaction: Assessed through surveys post-training to determine how satisfied your employees are with the training content, delivery, and overall experience.

3. Knowledge retention: Measures how much information your employees retain over time through quizzes or assessments administered after a period following training completion.

4. Behavioral changes: Evaluates how effectively your instructional content has influenced employee behavior and practices in the workplace. This is often assessed through performance reviews or 360-degree feedback.

5. Skill improvement: Assesses the improvement in any soft or hard skills before and after training; this is often measured through pre-training and post-training assessments.

6. Impact on performance metrics: Links your instructional content to specific performance metrics such as increased sales, improved customer service ratings, or enhanced productivity.

7. ROI of training programs: Calculates the return on investment of training by comparing the financial benefits gained (like increased productivity or reduced error rates) against the cost of the training.

8. Time to proficiency: Measures the time it takes for employees to become proficient in their roles after undergoing training.

9. Engagement levels during training: Tracks how engaged employees are during training sessions, which can be measured by participation rates in activities, interaction with content, and feedback.

Having goals in mind—like viewer retention targets or new user training completion percentages—will help you determine if your videos are worth the time and effort it takes to create them. Plus, it’s a great sounding board for whether your instructional content is (or isn’t) effective.

Creating engaging visuals and multimedia

Creating animations with real-life characters or custom illustrations that list out direct instructions are great ways to supplement the learning process and appeal to different learning styles. And to be honest, if you’re creating videos that aren’t visually appealing, your target audience probably won’t bother to watch them.

But adding visual elements to your videos isn’t just about making them look good. According to Richard Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia, structuring your videos’ multimedia elements is crucial to maximize learning outcomes.

Mayer’s multimedia learning theory is based on three assumptions:

  • Dual-channel assumption: According to Mayer, people have two separate channels for processing auditory and visual information.
  • Limited-capacity assumption: The theory recognizes that individuals have a limited ability to absorb information at any one time.
  • Active-processing assumption: The multimedia learning theory also suggests that people should be actively engaged in the learning process rather than passive receivers of information.

Fortunately, you don’t need professional-grade video creation skills to make engaging multimedia assets for your instructional videos. Thanks to the influx of new AI video technology, it’s never been easier to add multimedia elements to videos and create high-quality instructional videos.

Here are a few of the different multimedia elements you could add to your videos:

Custom graphics

Well-designed graphics, diagrams, and illustrations can help enhance your viewers’ understanding of complex concepts. Diagrams and process flows make it easier for your viewers to grasp concepts that can’t be communicated with heavy blocks of texts alone.

AI presenters

These days, anyone can capture a quick voice recording on their phone, and boom—they have a voiceover ready to go. But unless you have visuals to support your audio recordings, your viewers likely won’t stay engaged.

What if you could combine professional voiceovers and engaging videos with the click of a button?

Well, with the help of AI, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. With tools like Colossyan, you can choose from a vast library of AI presenters and voiceover recordings in 70+ languages to narrate your video. Not only does this make it easier to produce high-quality instructional videos at scale, but it also gives you the option to customize your recordings according to your specific needs.

You can check out Colossyan’s AI presenters here if you want a better idea of what we’re talking about.

Polls and quizzes

Finally, polls and quizzes introduce interactivity into your video content by formally assessing your viewers’ comprehension. Multiple-choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions challenge viewers to recall and apply what they learned. Incorporating quizzes not only encourages deeper engagement with your video content but also transforms it from a passive viewing experience into an active learning process.

Keeping accessibility in mind

One last thing before you start creating your first instruction video: It’s important to ensure your instructional videos meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 AA standards. All your instructional videos should have the following assets available:

  • Closed captions for audio content
  • Audio descriptions of visuals for visually impaired users
  • A text transcript alternative
  • Compatibility with assistive technologies like screen readers
  • Sufficient color contrast

Following these WCAG guidelines will ensure that your training videos are accessible to the widest possible audience, from your customers to your executives and everyone in between.

Using AI in instructional video content production

At this point, you may be thinking this seems like a lot of work. 

For most startups and mid-size companies, making instructional videos just isn’t a priority when they have revenue and retention goals to worry about. Fortunately, leveraging dedicated AI video creation tools like Colossyan can significantly streamline the process of creating instructional video content.

For starters, AI can assist with automated transcription, translation, and closed captioning to ensure your videos are accessible to a global audience—without any added manual effort. Even better, you don’t need fancy editing software to do this. Most AI video tools can have built-in editing suites that let non-technical users easily spin up professional quality video tutorials.

Start creating high-quality instructional videos with Colossyan

You don’t need to be a professional videographer, animator, or producer to produce and publish videos online. With dedicated tools like Colossyan, you can use AI to quickly create video scripts, generate custom AI presenters, translate your videos into 70+ languages, and distribute your instructional video content across social media platforms and beyond.

Want to produce instructional videos for your business? Book a demo with Colossyan to get started.

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