Three Effective Uses of Explainer Videos
Clarity and style go a long way when explaining.
Video and animation are powerful communications tools; they combine visual learning, audio learning, and demonstration into one potent package. But building a good explainer video requires much more than equipment and will; it's all about using the medium to its full effectiveness. Here are three examples of the explainer video to mull over as you're building out yours.
Let's start with Steven Johnson's discussion of the creative process, because it's a superb explainer for a few reasons. The first is simply the title: Where Good Ideas Come From. It's simple, it's succinct, and it's a topic everybody wants to know about. And while it's selling a book, it's a highly informative video.
Now, let's watch the video ... with the sound off. Why? Look closely at the animation. You can follow the video closely just by watching it without the sound; it combines detailed art and text to make the video easy to follow and communicate its concepts.
That's the power of a good explainer; even with one of its channels of learning closed, you can pick up what it's trying to say. Turn the audio back on and watch; it's a great video on its own.
Next, let's look at explainer videos as an educational tool. Here's a video laying out how overtime works in America and some recent proposed changes to the law:
This particular video packs a lot of information into a surprisingly short time frame, and it works not least because it's sequential; it starts at the very beginning of the concept of overtime and works through to the modern day and why the rules need to change. It also underlines that a good explainer video doesn't have to necessarily start with the film idea; the speaker is U.S. Department of Labor Chief Economist Heidi Shierholz, and the video is based around various educational materials the Department of Labor has put out in the past.
Let's follow up with a video that's both explanation and demonstration:
What's great about this particular video is that it's not just a visual presentation and an audio presentation that complement each other: It's self-demonstrating. The animation is ideal, but where it really stands out is that it constantly reinforces its points in subtle and direct ways. Notice in particular, the use of color to pop out specific ideas and emphasize why graphics matter, and that the art is packed with detailed examples to get viewers started. It's a good way to both get attention and inspire audiences to use the video.
So, what are the key points of a good explainer video we can draw from these examples? The first is that to use every aspect of the medium; have visual elements, graphic elements, and audio elements. Your explainer video needs a specific, clear structure that allows audiences to follow along and gives them a guide to the conclusion you want them to reach. And that explainers are most effective when you plan out how you're going to use audio, text, and visuals so that they can work independently and together.
Done right, an explainer video is a powerful learning tool. So if you've got something you need everyone to understand, consider using video to explain it to them.
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