The Basics of How-To Videos

How-To videos are a great way to share your knowledge on nearly any topic and demonstrate the steps involved in completing a project. Whether your how-to video is about tying a scarf or proper tree pruning methods, the same basic planning and implementation approach applies.

1.    Items you need: Gather a video camera, tripod (optional-depends on the type of demonstration), items to accomplish demonstration (tools, recipe ingredients, art supplies, etc.) and friend(s) to shoot video and/or participate in a demonstration.
2.    Choose a topic: Make sure your how-to video is on a subject you are familiar with and can easily demonstrate.
3.    Plan your demo: Determine the best way to present your topic by breaking it down into manageable steps.
4.    Write a script: Start with an introduction and work through all the steps required to complete the project.  A brief follow-up summary of the steps can be part of the conclusion.
5.    Memorize script: If you do not have access to editing software or are uncomfortable speaking off-the-cuff, memorizing your script will give you confidence and help move the demonstration process along more smoothly.  If the demonstration does not require your face to be on camera, a voice-over recording of the script can be added as an audio track on editing software.
6.    Choose a location: Pick one or more locations for your video, making sure there are adequate space and lighting available.  Watch out for busy or distracting backgrounds and check for echos when inside a large or somewhat empty room.
7.    Plan your shots: Decide how each step will be shot (angles, zoom, special effects)
8.    Place your props: Have everything you need for your demonstration in place prior to recording.
9.    Walk it through: Do several walkthroughs of the demonstration and make final tweaks before shooting begins.
10.  Time it: Instructional videos are generally most effective when completed in 2-6 minutes.  Longer demonstrations can work if the project is more complicated, but keep the process moving along to hold viewer attention.
Producing Video
1.    Speak clearly: Enunciate your words and clearly explain the process
2.    Avoid excessive zoom: While close-ups may be appropriate for certain segments of your video, repeated zooming in and out can be dizzying to the viewer.
3.    Be creative: If your initial shot plans come off a bit mundane, look for ways to add interest.  Remember-your video needs to be just as entertaining as it is informative.
4.    Be engaging: Infuse personality and charisma into your demonstration. Develop a style that sets you apart from other presenters and helps you build a following.
Editing Video
1.    Organize footage: Look over your footage and place it in the order that best explains the process.
2.    Include visual aids: Add onscreen numbers or titles to reinforce each step as it’s demonstrated, and include onscreen captions to emphasize important points made in the script.
3.    Add music: Though not required, music can enhance a how-to video.  Add a track to your editing timeline and preview to determine if it works.  Keep the volume low enough that your voice is clearly heard over the music.  If the music is distracting try another selection or go without.
4.    Give credit: Create a name for your how-to video then design title and credit pages as visual bookends around the demonstration.
5.    Preview and render: Watch and listen to the completed video several times.  Once it meets with your approval, render it and you’re done!
Jamie Bidwell is a team member at Covideo provides video email software that helps companies build relationships quickly and reinforce their brands more effectively with easy-to-make video emails that truly communicate.

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