8 Clever Explainer Video Tips Based On Scientific Research

Elly Henriksen
November 1, 2023
Table of contents

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There are many different types of explainer videos, but how do you make a killer explainer video that’s a true show-stopper?


Over the years, there’s been many styles of explainer video, from the original PowerPoint presentations of the 90s to Dropbox’s rustic animation video of 2008 to the impressive videos crowding our feeds daily.

Did you know? 🤯

Dropbox’s explainer video resulted in 70 000 new users overnight 🤯.

Since then, industry experts have spent millions of hours researching how to make better videos. We’ve distilled that research into 8 tips that you can use for your next video. Let’s dive in!

Tip #1: Start explainer videos with the problem you solve

People buy on emotion. If someone watches your video, chances are that they’re sitting with a problem and looking for a solution.

To best connect with someone’s pain or problem, marketers frequently rely on the PAS formula: problem, agitation, solution. And for a good reason, it works. 

So why does PAS work so well?

It’s all to do with our monkey brains not thinking too far into the future. For example, that we’re far more likely to buy a painkiller than a vitamin. It makes sense when you think about it — pain is acute, while a vitamin, at best, is a nice to have. 

How to use the PAS formula for your explainer video:

  • Lay out the problem or pain. Tap into the viewer’s mind and show the problem. This is your hook. Make it vivid; make it vocal. Empathize with their struggles. Address their pain points.  
  • Stir the agitation. Remind them why those pain points are so annoying. And what could happen if those annoying pains went away… 
  • Give the solution. Reveal your product or service as the superhero of the story. 

Tip #2: Write your explainer video with clarity and brevity in mind

A well-written script is the foundation of a good explainer video. But it’s not always easy to do. A 60-90 second explainer video can take even a professional copywriter 16 hours to write! Why? 

Because there’s a lot of brain power that goes into making an explainer of these three things: 

  1. Clear and concise 
  2. Persuasive 
  3. Actionable 

But here’s the good news. Psychologists and behavioral scientists are on a mission to discover what makes our monkey brains tick. 

Tip 💡

If you’re new to using behavioral science in your writing, check out the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely.

Inside you’ll find more than ten unique experiments that will help you understand how we make decisions. And how you can use that knowledge in your explainer videos.

What research says on choosing the right words: 

  • Incorporate questions to connect with your viewer.
  • Use simple, easy-to-understand language, and don’t get bogged down in the jargon or technical terms as they confuse watchers.
  • Use analogies, metaphors, or visual puns to simplify complex ideas in your video content.
  • Use second-person language instead of using first-person to form a connection (e.g., Turn “I” into” You”).

Limit abstract explanations — research shows concrete descriptions are better understood.

Tip #3: Edit your script in three steps

Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” delivers a wealth of knowledge on how to write for maximum impact. While this isn’t scientific research per-se, Stephen King’s stories have sold 350 million copies and been adapted for comics, TV, and even film. He knows how to write something insanely popular. 

You can often get stuck editing and re-editing, which is why Stephen King’s editing advice is so easy to follow: 

“For me, the answer has always been two drafts and a polish.”

While editing each draft of your explainer video script, ask yourself the following: 

  • Is this story coherent?
  • What are the recurring elements? Do they form a theme?
  • What is it all about?

Tip #4: Keep your explainer video under 2 minutes

The best explainer videos don’t explain how a company works, its history, or its ethos. All it needs to convey is that your company can be trusted to solve a customer’s problem.

Explainer videos that are too long, detailed, or slow-paced will lose the viewer. If you need more time, consider the goal of your video. Could your goals be more effectively reached with two explainer videos instead of one? 

What research says on explainer video timing

  • The average attention span of a human is only 8 seconds. Make sure your explainer video gets started quickly to hook the viewer.
  • This case study shows that good explainer videos run for about 60 to 90 seconds
  • Aim for a word count of about 150 words per minute. This allows for enough time for the user to understand and for additional graphical elements.

Tip #5: Don’t rely too heavily on voiceovers

Did you know? 🤯

Up to 78% of people prefer watching videos with the sound off. This means you should create videos that people will understand, even if there’s no audio.

A voiceover isn’t always necessary. And you certainly can’t guarantee that the viewer will be watching your video with the sound on. Most professional explainer videos will consider this and create videos that still make sense with the sound off. 

With an animated explainer video, you can get away with just cartoon animation and a background music track. For other styles of animated explainer videos, such as whiteboard animation, you can include text elements in captions or as part of the actual video. 

In a live-action explainer video, like Dollar Shave Club, captions are your best friend. Video platforms like YouTube can automatically add captions to your explainer video. 


Tip 💡

If you decide you do want a voiceover, try generating one using text-to-speech video maker like Synthesia.

As a bonus, you can automatically generated closed captions for those viewers that mute videos.

Tip #6: Features tell, benefits sell

You know how your product or service works. The features are ultimately the solution.

But, for the customer, it’s the benefits that matter. They want to see how you can improve their life.

The pioneer of persuasion, Elmer Wheeler, coined the phrase in the mid-1920s, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” It’s tried and tested, and many still use this as part of their marketing strategy.

You want them to love the product first. And then, fall in love with your brand and envision how your product will make life easier.

Tip #7: Optimize for your target audience

Vertical videos are the new king of social media. 

But before you flip things vertical, know your audience.

If the target audience is on your website using desktop devices, a standard 16:9 is still the best format for video explainers.

However, social media is a different ball game. For example, vertical videos show higher engagement on Facebook than horizontal videos. 

This case study


In the fast-paced digital age, video templates are an invaluable resource. They are professionally made, yet you still have creative control to create a quality video.

Tip #8: Use a human face in all animated explainer videos

An advertising study showed that human faces in video thumbnails can increase viewership dramatically. 

The study showed that ads featuring faces or face-like objects are more likely to capture viewers’ attention and be remembered than ads without faces. Furthermore, ads featuring faces increased brand recognition and preference among viewers.

For a more successful explainer video, add human faces. Even if you’re using 2D animated videos, a smiling human face is a powerful tool to improve engagement. 

Ready to make your own professional explainer videos? 

There are plenty of tips, tricks, and tutorials out there to help you create your own explainer video for your product or service. Did you know that you can create an entire video with just a written script and a template

Synthesia is an explainer video maker that uses AI to generate human AI presenters.

See how you can use Synthesia to create your own explainer video. 👇


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