5 tips for better how-to videos

Better Video TutorialsIn less than 90-seconds, you can learn a lot. Just head online and you’ll see thousands of how-to videos that cover everything from changing your oil to baking a pie. But what’s the trick to keeping your audience watching? It’s all about the time. And less is more when it comes to videos. 

Viewers want clear and concise how-to videos. And while YouTube’s algorithm favors longer videos, people who are looking for information from videos want to get it quickly. The trick to building a shorter video is knowing how and when to adjust your video speed. 

1. Get organized early 

Create a script before you ever hit record. Getting organized with a script eliminates the need for reshoots. 

Try using the scripted recordings feature in the Screencast-O-Matic recorder. This feature helps you organize your thoughts into digestible sections.

All you need to do is type in your script, narrate your audio, and then record your video.

PRO TIP: To save more time, you can import your script text and/or import an audio file like a voiceover.  

2. Capture views from every angle

The best how-to videos are shot in front of a stationary camera. Use a tripod or your web camera by recording with the screen recorder

Play with camera angles by mounting a camera above your workstation. For example, if you’re cooking, set up a camera above your stove.  Or add perspective by setting up multiple cameras at different angles. 

3. Play with the speed in your how-to videos

One easy way to shorten your full-length video is by playing with the speed of sections of your recording when you’re editing. Portions of the video with narration should be kept at a natural speed. However, you can speed up the remaining segments to save viewers time.

Increasing the speed can be critical to creating concise how-to videos. Customize your time-lapse by adjusting the speed. You can go up to ten times faster than the standard play rate with the speed tool in Screencast-O-Matic

In cooking tutorials, for example, nobody mixes the ingredients in real-time. That portion of the video is always sped up in the video editor using a speed adjustment tool. 

A well-edited video tutorial goes between real-time content and time-lapse to keep the movement quick and at a good pace.

PRO TIP: Pick a speed rate and stick to it. Each portion of the video that features a time-lapse should be consistent in its speed. Sticking to this rule will give your content an even flow. Avoid jumping between real-time, eight times faster, and two times faster.

4. Add emphasis with slow motion 

Playing with speed effects is also a creative way to highlight more complex parts of a how-to video.

Use the speed tool to create slow-motion moments. Experiment with slow-motion by recapping a portion of your tutorial, adding a dramatic effect, or adding emphasis in areas of your video. 

  1. Use the speed tool to recap important portions of your tutorial. For example, a dance tutorial might feature the moves in real-time and then again at a slower speed so viewers can correctly see the nuances of the movements.
  2. Add dramatic effect by slowing down the frame rate of quick-moving options. It’s a way to get artistic with a short video. Think of a person running, the clip may start in real-time and then transition to a slower rate to set a new tempo for what’s to come next.
  3. Slow video in areas where special attention is needed. Adjusting the speed adds extra emphasis to the important spans of your tutorial.

PRO TIP: You can easily find and fix silences in your video.  The video editor detects silences and gives you the choice to speed up or cut those sections of the video.

5. Extend a moment in time

Go deeper in your video tutorial by extending a moment in time. Use the pause tool to make time stand still. It’s a smart option if you want to feature a breakout within your tutorial. Pick a frame, add a pause and customize the duration. 

Pausing a frame is the best option if you want to add overlays like arrows, text, or highlights to a specific frame. But be careful to watch your time. The pause extends the current frame for the customized duration adding to your total runtime. 

The freeze-frame tool is similar, but it won’t impact your timing.

The freeze-frame captures a specific frame much like the pause tool. However, this tool replaces the previous video portion. It will not impact your audio.

PRO TIP: Make it seamless! You can use an easy transition like a fade to go from one section of your video to another.

Experimenting is key to creative how-to videos

The best how-to videos leverage useful editing tricks. So don’t be afraid to experiment.

Use a combo of editing tools to keep your tutorial no longer than 90 seconds, especially when creating tutorials for the workplace or classroom. 

Your audience will thank you for it.