How to make educational videos people actually want to watch

How to make educational videos people actually want to watch

How to make educational videos people actually want to watch 400 300 Alicia East

No matter what their specialties were pre-pandemic, experienced video crews may see more opportunity to produce educational videos as we see schools, conferences, and other trainings and events shift more and more online. Be prepared to see more of your work shifting there, too. 

We’ve all had to suffer through our share of dry, stale educational videos. That means there’s a real opportunity to transform such pieces—to generate enthusiasm instead of eye rolls. 

We interviewed A. Troy Thomas, President and Owner of Inertia Films, about the special knack to produce something that does more than just convey the information. 

How to create educational videos that keeps viewers genuinely engaged, smiling, and clicking for more

What information do you need from clients in order to be most successful?

A. Troy Thomas: While we always need to get an idea of the technical details—the look, feel, style, platform, etc.—what we really need to be effective is to truly understand the audience and what makes them tick. That’s the first rule of effective communication.

We also want to know more about the person or company producing the video—how long they’ve been in business, what their culture is like, and what kind of project they want to produce. Beyond just the topic, we want to know what clients want to accomplish on a deeper level.   

What makes an educational video something people want to watch?

ATT: People like watching videos that present information in a new, uncommon way. Most want videos with creativity, color, relatability, music, and humor. Humor is big! As long as it’s appropriate for the content, making people laugh is a surefire way to engage them

What do you do when you know a client’s vision will bore the viewer?

ATT: We offer other options to creatively draw the viewer in but still get across the client’s ultimate message. The material is their world, but they don’t always know how to relay it. You have to go beyond the “what” with educational videos and get into why the audience should care. If they seem resistant to our suggestions, we sometimes provide examples of other videos with messaging similar to what the client has suggested and talk through what works or doesn’t work about that video. Giving them an example to start from makes it easier for them to start looking at how their own message comes across.   

What are some of the qualities of an engaging educational video? 

ATT: A video has to start with the basics of solid content, visual presentation, and creativity. Beyond that, it has to be relevant to the target audience.

Today’s audiences are used to fast-moving content. Use this knowledge to your advantage by incorporating appealing graphics, hiring dynamic presenters, and breaking up content into bite-sized chunks. 

Audiences want something creative and out of the ordinary. Make sure any critically important or unexpected information comes across clearly, but also respect people’s intelligence and think of fun, lighthearted ways to present content that people would generally take for granted anyway. 

Clients and editors must work in tandem to determine what designs and visuals will be most engaging. 

What’s the most common mistake that leads to a boring educational video? 

ATT: Simply providing the information in a standard, sanitized format is a surefire way to lose your audience. Even though the goal is to relay information, there’s a way to do it that makes audiences want to watch. 

The bottom line

Trying to produce a video that keeps audiences from falling asleep? It behooves you to go beyond pointing a camera at a talking head. Educational videos can be both informative and fun to watch. Crack that nut and you’ll never want for work.

A version of this post originally appeared on ProductionHub here. Conversation edited for brevity and clarity.

About Inertia Films, Atlanta, GA

A. Troy Thomas founded Inertia Films on a dining room table in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1993. Thomas moved headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia to leverage the post-Olympic boom in 1996 and then went on to add its first digital, post-production suite to facilitate in-house projects in 1999. From there, the company moved into a new production facility near downtown Atlanta. It includes two HD post-production suites, production offices, live shot capabilities, and a studio with Cyc wall. This award-winning company uses state of the art equipment on every shoot and continues to thrive in the film industry.  

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