A few priorities for instructional videos

By “instructional video”, I mean:

  • DIY expert shows how to insulate your loft
  • Guitarist shows how to play “Classical Gas”
  • Philosopher explains why two thinkers disagreed about something
  • Historian runs through the main events which led to World War 2

So for now at least, instructional videos are videos that show how something is done, or explain whys, whats, whens etc. The defining characteristic is that they exist to teach you something.


In order of importance, I think an instructional video should:

(1) Teach viewers what it sets out to teach them

This is the hardest one.

(2) Be interesting enough that viewers don’t get bored

This is hard too.

(3) Be concise: as long as necessary, and no longer.

This is just the result of good planning and good editing.

(4) Have audio/video quality that doesn’t cause strain for the listener

This is easy, but costs money.

(5) Provide a way for viewers to jump forward to the bit they want.

This could be something as simple as a table of contents with timecodes for each section. This is really easy, just takes a bit of time.

(6) Seem like it was made by a human

As opposed to a robot or a corporate drone. “Personality goes a long way” – Jules.

(7) Work on different devices

Any text should be readable on a phone. Easy to forget.

(8) Look / sound “professional”

Not that important really, but professional editing and multiple cameras make a good video even better.

Image credits

Sony tv set // Loft insulation

4 thoughts on “A few priorities for instructional videos

  1. Hi Nick. This post reminded me of that Edward R Murrow quote: “The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” Only points 5 and 7 make this anachronistic.

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