Getting a tutorial or how-to video right comes down to planning it well. There are good reasons as to why and how you should plan your video in general, for example so that your shoot runs efficiently.
It’s particularly important to plan a tutorial video so that it’s clear and achieves its objective of teaching people a new skill. So, for optimal results, consider these best practices on how to plan a tutorial video.
VARIANTS of the tutorial video
The tutorial video structure
Here's a great example of a tutorial video made by Shootsta.
To plan out your ideal tutorial video, you’ll need a:
The basic structure of a tutorial video has 6 parts + relevant cutaways.
As with any video, the introduction is where you grab and keep your audience’s attention. Let’s breakdown what that looks like for a tutorial video:
Within 3 seconds, grab attention: Start with a strong visual, a bold statement, or a provocative question to engage the audience’s interest. This hook should focus on the problem your video solves, or on the solution itself.
e.g. “Everything you know about baking is wrong.”
e.g. “Watch this tutorial, and your life will get a whole lot easier.”
Within the first 10 seconds, set the scene: Introduce yourself and establish your topic. Keep it short and to the point.
e.g. “Hi, I’m Martha. I’m the Learning and Development Manager at Example Business, and today I’m going to show you how to use our new portal to book a training session.”
Within the first 30 seconds, communicate your key message: Establish the problem or need you’re addressing, then give a very brief outline of your topic.
e.g. “What a lot of people don’t know about the new portal is…
What I’m going to show you is that there are three steps to using the portal: Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3.”
Clearly explain the preparation steps the viewer should take before starting the process. For example, this might include organising access to software, collecting the right tools, or checking safety equipment.
e.g. “Before you begin, make sure you’ve organised a login for the portal, and that you have a few moments set aside to focus on the task. You’ll also need to ask your line manager about the right user permissions for you.”
Be clear and concise as you explain your steps. The more simply you can explain each step, the more likely it is that your audience will understand and retain the information.
Avoid jargon and keep your language simple. If you have to use a technical term, take a moment to explain it in layman’s terms as well.
e.g. “Make sure you have an appropriate amount of headroom, which is the amount of space above your talent’s head in the frame.”
Use signposts in your language to let your audience know where they are in the process.
e.g. “The first step is…”, “After that…”, “For the third step…”, “Finally…”
If the process you’re showing is something that has a tangible result, the Reveal can be an effective way for the viewer to compare their finished product to the best-practice version. For example, if you’re making a recipe video, the Reveal might show the finished dish, with somebody taking a first forkful. If this isn’t relevant for your tutorial, for example in a video on safe work practices, you can skip straight to the Recap.
Visuals are king for the Reveal, though of course your voice-over can continue to point out features of the finished product if you choose.
Engage with the finished product, showing it in action or being enjoyed. One example of this is the recipe video, where the reveal is the moment where you see somebody taking a first forkful of the finished product.
Reiterate your steps to reinforce the process. This section won’t always be necessary, but it’s especially useful to spend one or two sentences on a brief recap if the explanation for each step has been in-depth.
e.g. “So, remember: using the new portal is as simple as logging in, clicking the menu, selecting from the dropdown, and pressing save. Easy!”
6. Call to action (CTA)
Make sure you have a clear call to action at the end of your video. You can learn more about calls to action in our article on how to create an effective call to action.
Relate your CTA to the process you’ve demonstrated
e.g. “Now that you know how to set up your account, sign in and check out the new tool”
e.g. “Give this recipe a try tonight and post your photo in the comments!”
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