You need an action plan for making great videos consistently and quickly. We're here to tell you that:
1) You don't need to start from scratch.
2) You can win video creation right from the planning phase (before considering picking up a camera).
What follows is a masterclass in something called the FOCA framework.
FOCA is your secret to successful video-making. Specifically, videos that teach someone a useful skill or convey helpful information. It lets you write scripts faster, plan production better, and create videos people watch and remember. It's a transformational tool in your back pocket.
Whether it's YouTube videos, how-to video training, or any other kind of video, you get bulletproof results if you FOCA. And today, we'll show you how to use this framework like an expert.
Let's dive in 👇
What is the "FOCA Video Creation Framework" & why does it make videos so much better?
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe," said Abraham Lincoln.
For a video creator, FOCA is how you sharpen your axe.
It's the framework that gives you clarity and structure for every single video. Here's an overview of the 4-step video design process that helps you get the result you're after:
- Foundation: Who is your audience? What do they know? What do they need to know?
- Organization: How do you structure the information to convey it to your audience effectively?
- Content: What information do you need to include in the video script? What visuals will support that information?
- Action: How do you close the video to increase information retention and make your viewers take action?
You can use FOCA for video training with the following goals:
✅ For onboarding/upskilling employees
✅ Compliance and regulatory communications
✅ Explaining a task, product, or feature
✅ Clarifying a complex concept
The framework will help you better take your ideas, messages, and video goals and turn them into:
✅ Perfectly planned training curriculums
✅ Streamlined production schedules
✅ Engaging how-to video content
✅ YouTube videos that hit the mark with audiences
✅ Micro-training or instructional video courses
✅ Effective how-to video content
While the steps are simple, nuances come at each stage of the planning process. Below, we'll unpack the FOCA framework and give you, for each of the four steps, 1) The essential information with an introductory webinar and 2) A three-step downloadable PDF.
"F" Foundation: How to nail down the basics of video content creation
You want your videos to live beyond the act of watching them. You want your audience to watch the entire video and walk away inspired and motivated to demonstrate the knowledge you shared.
But to drive action, you have to meet your audience where they are and speak their language.
To do that, you need to get clear about your audience profile, outcome, and format.
Step #1: Write your audience statement with a strong motivation
Figure out who's your audience and everything else will fall into place much more accessible.
💎 Grab a piece of paper and answer the following questions:
- Who's sitting in the chair: Who's watching your video?
- What's their motivation: What makes them watch your video — is it because they want to, have to, and need to?
- What's their prior knowledge: What do they know already?
- What they must know: How much information must you include in your video?
When you know these details, you know what information to provide, in what tone of voice, and with what desired outcome.
💎 Next, write an audience statement that answers the above questions with emphasis on their action and motivation:
Step #2: Write your outcome statement with a clear deadline
A clear outcome helps you decide what content will drive engagement, how to outline that content, and what CTA to use.
You have to determine the following:
- What your audience should do with the information you provide.
- How your audience should apply the new knowledge after watching the video.
And you can sort this out with one question — "What is something the viewer can do that would let me know they watched the video?"
The outcome is a tangible objective. It can be as small or as big as you want it. But it has to be verifiable and happen within a specific timeframe.
Think about asking to pass some knowledge check — to complete an assessment checklist or physically demonstrate skill/competency — or to move on to the next video in a video training series.
💎 Write an outcome statement using a simple formula:
Step #3: Choose a format based on the type of video you want to create
The format you'll use to convey your message acts as a skeleton — a structure of bones that supports and contains your video body.
Just like major bones make the foundation for a body, major parts make the foundation for your video. No matter what type of video you create, it's helpful to think of your video in four major "parts":
- The hook: What can you say that will invest your audience and grab their attention?
- The intro: What will you cover in this video that speaks to your audience's motivation and will keep them engaged?
- The key topics/moments: What issues will you include if it's an explainer video? What key moments will you mention if it's a storytelling video?
- The CTA: What action do they need to take? What should they do once they finish watching the video?
💎 Write down the specifics of the four major parts of your video.
Click the link below to grab your 1-pager and see the particularities of each short video
"O" Organization - How to structure your ideas to be understood in a video
Videos are attention-heavy products. You want to provide as much info as possible. Your viewers try to spend as little time as possible watching your video.
So it would be best to have the right mindset when approaching content organization. You want to convey the essentials in the shortest possible format.
Here's how you stay on point: You validate video as the best format for your idea.
Not every piece of information for your target audience can or should be presented in the video.
Your idea is "fit" for video if it's brief, actionable, and if it keeps the information simple. Also, it likely falls into one of the following categories:
- Telling a story: Case studies or customer journeys.
- Showing the unseen: Capture something at micro/macroscopic levels.
- Demonstrating a process: Show how to perform specific actions.
- Teaching a skill: Show how to improve particular skills.
- Facilitating a mobile experience: Make the information autoplay on the screen instead of having the viewer scroll through lengthy mobile pages.
Still not sure about your video idea? Ask yourself:
👉"Is this content relevant to what the target audience expects to see in their moment of need?" If it's irrelevant, it will kill engagement right from the start.
👉"Am I giving too much information, details my audience either doesn't need or already know?" If your idea involves giving too much information, you'll make viewers zoom out and disengage if it's not brief enough.
👉"Can I get this message across in a shorter format?" If it takes you too long to make a point because you're saying too much or overcomplicating things, you'll lose your viewers again.
Now, let's take a closer look at how you can pack your idea is relevant, concise, short professional-looking videos👇.
Step #1: Write a great hook
Online videos only have 5 seconds before your viewers may decide to click away.
Here's what makes a good hook:
- Familiarity: When you introduce yourself right from the start, you're fostering a sense of intimacy that your viewers are more likely to respond to.
- Directness: When you aim straight for the solution to their problem, you show what's in it for them and make them stay. This especially counts for how-to videos and instructional videos.
- Curiosity: When you introduce a gap in their knowledge and get them curious, they'll want to stay more to fill that gap.
- Surprise: You're taking the curiosity gap a step further by saying something your audience honestly didn't expect and, again, making them stop and wait for more.
An attention-grabbing hook that activates emotions will keep the viewer watching, giving you the time to introduce the meaty points of your video content.
💎 Try filling out the below prompts to write powerful hooks for your video ideas. These prompts can be used for everything from a how-to video to an explainer video:
Step #2: Break down your topic and support points
Delivering on your hook involves a BIG decision. You have to determine the critical point(s) your video will include, coming up with the minimum acceptable chunk of information.
💎 Ask yourself: "What's the smallest possible chunk of knowledge my audience needs to understand this topic?" The FOCA framework gives you two formats to answer this question:
How do you choose between the two? You take the information you've gathered in the Foundation stage and break it up into:
1️⃣ Need to know: You stick to essentials. Works best for the "1 key topic" format, like when you teach a skill. It allows you to go micro, really deep, and expose one essential piece of information.
2️⃣ Nice to know: You add a few extras. Works best for the "3 key topics" format, with high-level information. It allows you to go macro, really broad, and provide an overview.
Step #3: Evaluate and consider how you can re-size the content
Time to validate your choice and re-size your content to avoid the three most common mistakes video creators make at this stage
😞 Too much information
😞 Insufficient information
😞 Insufficient examples
And you do it with the "re-sizing filter" in the FOCA framework, which walks you through 3 evaluation points:
1. Re-sizing for time: How long does your audience have to watch this video? If they have 2 minutes to watch, but your video is longer, trim it. Extend your video if they have 10 minutes, but your video is shorter.
2. Re-sizing for simplicity: You're an expert in the topic you present. But your viewers are first-time learners. Could you give this information more simply? And could you break down this information into smaller chunks?"
3. Re-sizing for action support: Will your viewers be successful with the information you've given them? If not, you need to go back to the planning board.
"C" Content: How to write scripts and visuals that make your video more engaging
A solid script and supporting it with the right video quality and engagement elements are crucial.
Step #1: Draft a winning video script
A winning script successfully delivers the message. It keeps your viewers engaged without overwhelming them. It moves them through a space where they hang on to every word you say, pays attention, and understand your message.
The good news? You've done half of this job in the Foundation and Organization stages. And once you nail the script, you'll find it easier to select the visuals and your pacing.
How the 3 "foundation" elements work in script creation
Audience: You know who you're talking to… so you know how to speak to this person → So you get your tone right.
Outcome: You know what you want them to do… so you know what to say to lead them there → You structure your information in the right chunks.
Format: You know what structure to use… so you know what elements to insert → You gain clarity.
How the 3 "organization" elements work in script creation
Hook: You know what to say first… so the hook is the first line in your video → You have one line in your script already written.
Key Topic(s): You've decided between "1 key topic" and "3 key topics"... so you know what structure the video will have → You can move those structure elements into your script and start building text content on them.
Support: You've figured out what kind of support you need to add — stories, data, examples, infographics, or screen recordings → You can pinpoint where these visuals will land on your text script to support the key topic(s).
The 3 elements of a winning script: Tone, information chunks, and clarity
Element #1: Tone
The tone can vary from friendly and conversational to serious and authoritative. Your choice should be evident once you profile your audience.
💎 To introduce that tone into your script:
- Make sure you're writing a strong opening
- Re-write the hook with a question or strong statement that fits the tone
- Use "you" and "let's" often to keep it conversational
- Review your script for elements of style when you're done writing
Element #2: Information chunks
Chunking information will make watching your video an easy ride.
💎 Consider using two to three-sentence chunks at most. Then, break it down further into:
- Intro, finish the sentence
- Benefit, finish the sentence
- Remind of Benefit + Takeaways
Element #3: Clarity
Clarity ensures your video stays on track with the information it must provide and your audience understands the message.
💎 Whether you're looking to educate, entertain, or persuade your viewers, you need clarity, and you can achieve it by:
- Using simple direct language without jargon
- Cutting any word that requires explanations
- Keeping information concise
Step #2: Choose supportive and expressive layouts
Getting the visuals proper means choosing images and layouts that support your ideas. If you miss the mark, you risk detracting your audience from your message 🙈.
Templates will help you because they're created with design principles in mind. Visualization will be easier this way, whether you're using a video maker with built-in templates or a framework to create your own templates.
Next, you have the elements that drive your script. The audience, outcome, and selected key points should give you clues on the visuals that can back them up.
💎 Match the message in your script to what you're showing on the screen. Check out the visuals below to help you decide what to show and when.
Our brains are hardwired to get excited by and respond to faces. Whether it's an in-house presenter, an authoritative instructor, or a friendly AI face, their presence makes a perfect emotional anchor for your content.
This person the learners will connect with — also known as a talking head — can supercharge your video if you use it:
✔️ At the beginning and the end of the video, and in all the places where you want to heighten emotion
✔️ For delivering a key message or asking an important question
✔️ For making your viewer reflect on your content
Text emphasis scenes
These text elements on the screen can act as engaging visual elements. They cue the viewer that you're moving into a new visual space, and you're introducing information they need to note.
Consider using text emphasis scenes:
✔️ For important standout information and stats
✔️ To define key terms, provide directions, or list steps
✔️ To summarize processes or complex ideas
Stock footage/recording scenes
Stock videos or images can speak a thousand words, which is excellent for visualizing abstract topics. And recording scenes are the perfect "show, don't tell" approach.
Consider filling the screen with a large image or video box whenever you want to:
✔️ Increase engagement
✔️ Add movement to the video
✔️ Show your product
✔️ Help viewers visualize a metaphor or concept
✔️ Make a point without text or the avatar doing all the speaking
✔️ Show screencasts for specific tasks or record demonstrations
Infographics are an alternative to text emphasis scenes. Their visual format allows you to summarize information by highlighting data.
Consider inserting an infographic scene in your video to:
✔️ Present data-driven content
✔️ Help viewers visualize numbers easily
✔️ Introduce statistics that support your key points
Step #3: Edit for pacing and add engagement elements
When editing videos, the pacing is the rhythm and speed of mixing audio and visual elements. If you've ever watched a good commercial, you know how those have a great handle at pacing with their multiple camera angles.
When the pacing is too slow, your viewers get bored or disinterested. If it's too fast, they could fall behind.
💎 The FOCA framework introduces a key concept for getting the right pacing called "Jingle the keys." It suggests you insert an engagement element every 20-30 seconds and variate your actions in one of the following ways:
Change the talking head
When the avatar has a lot to say, keep viewers engaged by changing the frame of the presenter. Introduce a torso medium shot and draw attention to it as you reach a key point by switching to a close-up scene.
Insert stock footage
Many creators make the mistake of leaving the avatar on-screen longer than needed. Avoid giving your audience avatar fatigue by switching to stock footage. Just make sure the footage you select makes sense and that it serves the script.
You can pair text that moves on the screen with what the avatar is saying. Just keep these movements subtle so that you won't tire the eye.
"A" Action: Help your learners take action
In the Action stage, you wrap up the video and connect it to the next step in your viewers' journey.
Before driving the much-desired viewer action, 1) Recap the key information and 2) Remind them of the benefits of taking action. Here's how these steps contribute to a more successful call to action 👇
Step #1: Recap: Connect the dots from the beginning until the end
Always do a recap, no matter how long or short your video is. This way, you bring the viewer's focus back to the essentials and increase retention.
💎 Creating your recap can be as simple as:
✔️ Listing key points if you've chosen the "1 key topic, 3 supports" format
✔️ Stating the main point if you've chosen the "3 key topics, 1 support for each" format
✔️ Showing a visual summary if you've had a data-driven presentation that you can fit into an infographic
Step #2: Remind of benefit: By doing [task], you get [result]
Reminding the benefit brings the power of the takeaway action you'll suggest next in your CTA.
💎 You don't need to write new content but reframe the hook. When you tell your viewers, "By doing [task], you get [result]," you engage their motivation and prime them for action.
Step #3: Establish the depth of your CTA & make the next step irresistible
This video is only one step in the learning or engagement process. With this mindset, you know the CTA is critical for making audiences react. But writing a compelling CTA requires that you:
- Practice deep empathy with your watcher
- Align your CTA with your audience's status
- Match your CTA with your viewer's motivation
Misalignment between where your audience is and what you ask from them can make or break the success of your CTA.
💎 Before choosing your CTA, determine your audience's level, the depth of your call to action, and the type of call to action you should choose:
The 3 levels of audience
1️⃣ Interested: Broad segment of people who need information that will raise awareness and ramp up their interest.
2️⃣ Informed: A narrower segment of people with a clear interest in the Topic, demanding to know even more.
3️⃣ Invested: Small segment of people who care deeply about your subject matter and are truly invested in it.
The 3 depths of Call to Action
1️⃣ Surface-level: It's the minimum possible action. Works with interested audiences, but you haven't piqued their curiosity too much.
2️⃣ Moderate: A slightly bigger ask than surface-level. It requires a bit more of their time and effort. It's more likely to work on informed audiences.
3️⃣ Big ask: An ambitious ask that goes beyond what they do on their devices and impacts their behavior. It's more likely to work with invested audiences.
The 3 types of Call to Action
1️⃣ In-stream: An in-stream CTA is a surface-level ask for informed audiences. It's about keeping them in the stream, nudging them to the next piece of content. Great for training videos or for keeping them on a journey. You can frame it as:
- Follow us to the next section
- Click the link below
- Hit the Next button
- Here's what to watch next
- Let's keep working together
- Join me on our next video
2️⃣ Social action: A social-action CTA is a moderate ask for informed audiences. It requires a slightly bigger ask because of the diligent effort AND because it makes the viewer align their social reputation with your message. There's no other video coming up next, yet you're getting them on a journey whose outcome you can measure and reflect on. You can frame it as:
- Use the hashtag…
- Follow us @...
- Post a picture with you showing…
- Tag someone who needs to know this…
- Ask your team lead to…
3️⃣ Do your part: A do-your-part CTA is a big ask for invested audiences. It involves a strong emotional appeal and even a mindset shift because you're asking them to change their behavior in the world and be an ambassador for your message. It takes a strong familiarity with your viewers. You can frame it as:
- Join us in our commitment…
- Do your part…
- Let's work together and…
- Spread the word on…
- Be the change…
You don't need to aim for one specific audience level or obsess about creating content for invested audiences only. Know your options and assess what CTA will work best for your audience.
Free Certification: Become a Synthesia-certified FOCA expert
You're the one people turn to.
Want to gain extra confidence and stop worrying about providing your team members with the correct answers? Take the free course to become a Synthesia-certified FOCA expert.
This training contains:
- Around 1,5 hours of micro lessons you can take whenever you want
- 20 micro lessons, only 5 mins each
- Regular knowledge check tests
- Certification test
By getting your certification, you'll know how to use FOCA to create videos with AI technology.
The recipe for how to make a good video in any format you need, fast and consistently, is now yours.
Use the FOCA framework for either development or video review & grading. Whether you create or look at your existing videos to improve them, you don't need to do any guesswork.
All the more reasons to go here and 👉 become a Synthesia-certified FOCA expert 😎