Video tutorials are a great way to demonstrate how to use a research tool or to explain a research concept. But what makes them effective? In this blog, Lauren Orav shares four best practices she developed while making video tutorials for Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General.

  1. Avoid vague language
    In your video’s narration, avoid using phrases like “Click here” or “look at this section.” Vague directions increase the viewer’s mental load and can impede their learning. They can also create problems for viewers with small screens or viewers with vision impairments.

    Write a video script that is clear and concise so your viewer can concentrate on learning! Replace vague terms like “here” “this” and “that” with more descriptive ones that tell your viewer exactly what you mean.

Instead of…

      • Click here.
      • Look at this section.
      • Hover over this one.

Try saying…

      • Click on the search icon
      • Look at the section titled “Case Law”
      • Hover your mouse over the word “Options”
  1. Keep it short and to the point

    Videos that are short and sweet are more appealing to busy clients. Ask yourself: if you have an urgent problem that needs fixing, are you more likely to watch a two minute video or ten minute video for help?

    While drafting your script and storyboard, decide on your desired video length. While there are differing views on the best tutorial length, most best practices currently recommend videos that are between one and two minutes long.

  2. Make a series instead of a long video

    Some topics are too big to describe in just two minutes. If your tutorial idea requires a longer video, consider breaking it down into smaller videos that address specific parts of the larger idea.

    Consider a viewer who needs help downloading a case. They will not want to sit through ten minutes on other database functions to find the one part they need! Creating a series of short tutorials instead of one long video makes it easier for your clients to locate information about specific tasks and ideas.

  3. Plan it out – and then rehearse!

    Before you record anything, create a script and storyboard. Creating the script and storyboard together makes you consider how the audio and visual elements will work together to communicate information to the viewer.

    Once you think your script and storyboard are finished, rehearse with a colleague. One of you will read the script aloud while the other handles visuals. Time how long it takes for you to rehearse. You may discover that your video will be longer than you were expecting, or that the script is missing information needed to explain your visuals.

    After your first rehearsal, you will probably need to make revisions. But that’s okay! It’s easier to make changes during the planning process.

-Lauren Orav, Web-Services Librarian, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General