Some people just can’t read the instructions.
But statistics show that 5.16 billion people go online each day, many of them looking for instructions on how to do all sorts of things. Your employees are part of that group too!
Internet users spend an average of 6:37 hours surfing the web. And 47.6% claim they do it “for researching how to do things.”
If you’ve been thinking of creating instructional videos yourself, but your lack of experience prevents you from starting, this post will clear any doubt.
We’re going to show you an easy-to-replicate, step-by-step process. And you’ll be able to use it with success as early as today.
What is an instructional video & what are its most common uses
Simply, any video that teaches employees, leads, users, or customers a specific topic, concept, or skill.
Depending on the goal, we can call them how-tos, video tutorials, or even product guides. But they all break down practical, useful information that learners can replicate by themselves or use to make decisions.
Instructional videos are an effective and memorable way to get your message across. Consider creating them to show your employees how to perform tasks or to educate your customers on your products/services.
Instructional videos for employees may include:
✅ Training on using company software
✅ Training on adopting a new tool
✅ Training on safely operating equipment/machinery
✅ Training on soft skills like sales or customer service, with narrow purpose — objection handling, providing guarantees, closing a sale, handling complaints, etc.
Instructional videos for customers may include:
✅ Giving assembly/installation instructions
✅ Demonstrating how a product works
✅ Demonstrating the use of offline/online services
✅ Troubleshooting/support guides
What are the benefits of creating your own instructional videos?
Making you own instructional videos facilitates the two most important requirements in any business:
1. Training employees to be more effective.
2️. Getting in front of audiences with valuable information builds trust.
Detailed explanatory videos with any of these goals are more likely to hit the mark — as opposed to plain text or audio instructionals.
Because audiences are more receptive to video messages, videos:
✔️ Favor engagement
✔️ Improve understanding & retention with memorable visuals
✔️ Facilitate information consumption that primes people to further invest in your business
Unlike a demo, which shows a glimpse of what the viewer can expect, an instructional video shows the full process. Use that detailed process to give your viewers as much value as possible. And you can reap countless benefits.
For instance, you can create practical how-to videos and optimize them for sales.
Those videos will allow you to reach prospects, educate them in an easy and entertaining form, and build relationships with them. Essentially, you’ll give value while priming your audience to turn from information consumers to paying customers.
The 4 different styles of videos
Think of instructional videos as the next level of traditional presentations. They take the information you would’ve shared verbally or in writing and enrich it with visuals. This is where options come into play:
1. Live-action videos
Live-action videos are the most complex and expensive video type as they require studio filming with live human actors.
They’re a great choice if you’re training people to complete a physical skill. However, when your instructional training needs to cover software skills or procedural how-to videos, you might find this type of video too expensive and time-consuming to produce.
2️. AI-generated videos
AI videos are the easiest to create, requiring as little as an AI video maker and a script to plug into. Anyone can get a working video in minutes from their computer browser, regardless of their experience in instructional video creation. Unlike live-action instructionals, you can re-edit or upgrade AI-generated videos anytime.
3️. Over-the-shoulder screencast tutorial videos
Screencast videos are recorded demonstrations of someone performing a task and sharing their computer screen. You can easily create a screen recording yourself. You can add audio narration and visual elements on top of your video to enhance the professionalism and value of the tutorial.
4️. Animated how-to videos
Animated videos are typically made with 2D vectors and are accessible and easy to use. You don’t need to film in a studio with professional equipment or actors but you DO need to know how to use animation software such as Powtoon or Adobe Animate. Like live-action videos, animated training videos usually require larger budgets and longer timelines.
Making instructional videos in 5 easy steps
In any instructional video, you must:
✔️Be clear on your instruction topic.
✔️Make the demonstrative steps logical and explicit.
✔️Show real-life consequences of your audience learning and following the instructions.
Step 1: Step into the viewers’ shoes
A bit of strategic thinking before you sit down to write the script will get you far.
- What’s your video content goal?
- What’s your audience's awareness level?
- Where will they watch your video?
First, ask yourself, “what’s the goal of this training video”?
Within that question, here are some points to consider when defining your learning goals:
- Video length & pacing: Rember that outlining technical processes takes longer than product presentations. Use a slow pace to explain key concepts and quickly remind viewers of the basics they already know.
- Visuals selection: Will you use photos and 360-degree views for product presentations, screen recordings for digital tools, animations or diagrams for demonstrating processes?
- Construction elements: Can you create engagement in educational videos with interactive elements? Or an emotional connection with testimonials and quotes?
Then, ask yourself, “who’s going to be watching this training”?
There’s a lot that your target audience will influence. Here are some pointers to get your creative juices flowing:
- Information complexity: Gradually move from basic to complex if they have little or no prior knowledge of the topic. Dive straight into advanced notions if they’re well-versed.
- Language complexity & specificity: Introducing a product to a wide audience requires simpler words. Instructing a technically savvy audience requires more complex, specialized language. Refrain from industry jargon and use more general clear language if you address a wide audience unfamiliar with your industry.
- Visual details: Low awareness requires more visual aids and illustrating details at every step. High awareness requires fewer visuals that illustrate more complex concepts.
Lastly, consider where your viewer will be watching the training
When you know what constraints exist in your LMS system, it’s easy to plan for them in advance. Consider the following:
- Specs: Check the platform’s resolution, aspect ratio, and file format requirements.
- Creative lens: Audiences are used to specific video particularities on each platform. For instance, social media videos must be more visually appealing and engaging to stand out in a crowded newsfeed.
- Length: Check how long/short your video can be on the chosen platform.
Step 2: Plan your script, considering both visuals and text
The script is a map of everything when creating instructional videos.
We have a detailed guide on writing video scripts for training videos you can check out:
You’ll be prompted to write down the essential information that will support your video creation. And then you can expand on it using a simple, three-column table like this one 👇
For every piece of information in the audio column, provide supporting visuals. And don’t forget to adjust your tone, language, and visuals to your audience’s awareness level, instructional goal, and the platform that’ll host the video.
Step 3: Choose your editing software
Think of the best tool you can use to easily turn your script into a professional instructional video. Ideally, it should be user-friendly, beginner-friendly, and even budget-friendly software.
iMovie, for Mac users, or Windows Movie Maker, for Windows users is worth exploring. But know that while they have a short learning curve, they also come with minimal resources.
Then, you can look into AI video makers, which are easy to use and typically include more built-in features. A tool like Synthesia gives you 140+ AI avatars, 120+ languages, and even 60+ templates to select with one click.
Step 4: Choose a video template
Use the software you chose to select an instructional video template and start customizing it with your visuals and script.
Not sure which template will serve you best? For starters, let’s show you one that breaks down a presentation into five simple steps 👇+
Step 5: Create your video with the chosen software
To make instructional videos with no experience can be as simple as hitting the Generate button.
That’s what it takes to make your video with an AI video maker like Synthesia that gives you all the necessary tools in one place.
For reference, this guide shows you the steps to making an AI video in 10 minutes even as a beginner.
7 common mistakes beginners can make when learning how to create instructional videos
Information overwhelm is a challenge to anyone trying to create a video tutorial.
But you can skip unnecessary stress and detours by simply focusing on what to avoid:
1. Don’t choose complicated software for no reason
It’s costly, time-consuming, involves a steep learning curve, and can easily swamp you. What’s worse, even if you’re willing to spend the time learning the software, experimenting with advanced tools might give you videos that look unprofessional and turn off your audience.
2. Don’t create an unnecessarily long video
Try not to overthink video length. Keep it as simple as you think it needs to be. And when in doubt, default to the shorter option because, obviously, you'll make mistakes as a newbie. And the shorter the video is, the fewer mistakes you'll make, and the easier it is to fix them.
3. Don’t deliver vague instructions
Instructional videos empower viewers to repeat the same steps by themselves after watching them. When you’re too vague, your audience might not be able to get the results you’re promising and become frustrated.
4. Don’t use distracting elements in the video
Visuals are powerful elements in instructional videos. Yet abusing them could work against you. Try to use only the ones that help demonstrate your steps. And ask yourself if they’re simple or sophisticated enough for your audience’s knowledge.
5. Don’t avoid using a human face
A human face engages viewers and makes them invested in the content you present. Not using one will make you miss all that, plus the personalization, trust, and credibility of human-like interactions. Simply put, you’re missing out on making the audience listen to what you say and decide to follow your lead.
6. Don’t have poor sound quality
Poor audio can distract and frustrate your audience, preventing them from understanding your instructions. Low-quality sound is often associated with low-quality videos and low-quality products in consumers’ minds.
7. Don’t forget to optimize for silent viewing
Some viewers watch videos in public places. Others have hearing impairments. If you don’t allow people to hit the play button and watch the video instructions in silence, you’re turning away many potential viewers.
6 useful tips for first-time instructional video
Next to knowing what not to do, a couple of tips on what you should aim for:
1. Do pay attention to the learning objectives
The learning objective is your north star. For everything you do, make sure it aligns with the objective, so you convey a clear, consistent, and effective message.
2. Do check your step-by-step instructions thoroughly
Instructional videos require a linear storyline. Give your audience step-by-step instructions on getting from A to B. Skipping steps isn’t an option.
3. Do use a framework to write your script
Scriptwriting without a framework will take you longer, require more revisions, and torture you with guesswork. Use a framework to work more efficiently and make sure you don’t leave anything out.
4. Do choose a production tool with lots of templates
Templates are excellent helpers for beginners. A template gives you something to work on, and it’s easy to customize and edit if you’re making a mistake. And you will make mistakes.
5. Do consider using text-to-speech for your voiceover
Use text-to-speech if you don’t have the best acting voice yourself or the money to pay an actor. The clarity of the voice-over will determine how easily your viewers understand the information you provide and make the video feel more professional.
6. Do test training content on a small group of learners
This is best practice for all high quality instructional videos. Whatever you create, first test on a small audience. Then, get feedback on it, improve your instructional video, and test it with another segment. Don’t cast a wide net right from the start.
Create your first instructional video today using only your web browser
You may have no experience in how to make an instructional video, but now you certainly have the knowledge.
And within the next five minutes, you can start getting some experience and even watch your first instructional video, done by you, in your web browser.