What makes an effective explainer video?

What makes an effective explainer video?

By Daniel Thomas

I often get asked ‘what makes an explainer video any good?’. I guess the best way I can answer that is with another question: what is the purpose of an explainer video? If you understand what its purpose is, then you can determine if the explainer video material you have is effective, or not.
So, here is what you should be getting from your explainer videos: regardless of industry or topic.

Explainer videos must facilitate an understanding of a topic by summing up core principles and key tenets in an easily digestible format.

That sounds pretty straightforward. However, to get this result, your video production team needs to adhere to three factors that fundamentally underpin this objective: The WHY, WHO and HOW.

The three essential elements of an effective explainer video

The Why

f you don’t have a firm grip on this essential element, your video will be, at best entertaining, and at worst, a waste of everyone’s time.

Your video production and explainer content team must understand why it is that we are making this explainer video in the first place. 

To do that, HR teams and marketing (the business) needs to be very clear about what the specific outcomes are that we need to achieve within the first five minutes of video content.

In order for us – your explainer video production crew – to understand your ‘why’ without ambiguity, we initiate a process of investigation. In this phase, it is essential that we elicit as much necessary information about our client’s desired outcomes, as well as make valuable suggestions as to how to reach these goals.

The Who

This is a simple (but important) task of identifying your target audience. Who is going to engage with your content and to which industry do they belong? 

It’s about understanding who your content is actually being directed towards and where it could progress from there. 

It is of importance to note that there is an interconnectedness that exists in the business we conduct everyday.

We are connected to many other individuals or organisations in the same field as we are and in more auxiliary fields. 

The health and safety explainer videos that make their rounds in engineering fields find common ground with those in construction, as well as oil and gas. That being in the use of the correct Protective Personal Equipment, ergonomics, hazard control and so on. The core structures remain the same, however the nuance depends on exactly who our consumer is. 

The question as creators then becomes, “How can we deliver the right message to the right person in the right way?”

The how

Once we know why we need to reach them, and who we need to reach, we can better move on to the ‘How’ of the matter. However, this can be tricky without the expert insights of an experienced production team, as there are many options when it comes to how you can go about this.

So, when it comes to summing up “how” we effectively communicate your topic with your audience, it gets a bit complicated. Essentially, each explainer video is unique to the purpose (why) and the audience (who) that you want to reach. There is seldom a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to effective explainer videos.

Explainer video formats.

Explainer videos come in many formats. You need to identify which format best reaches your audience and achieves your objectives:

  • 2D character animation videos
  • Live-action explainer videos
  • Screencast
  • Whiteboard
  • Stop motion
  • Explainer videos with stock footage
  • Motion graphics explainer videos

Steps to creating an explainer video.

Once you have decided which format to use, there are many steps to creating a great explainer video, and each one needs to be executed with due diligence.

  • Ideation
  • Planning
  • Script writing
  • Storyboarding
  • Video production
  • Animation

Planning your explainer video.

As a video production team, a good approach is to assess time investment in the video creation vs time to learning. In other words, how much time is needed to create the explainer video and how much time will it take to digest the subject matter. 

This begs the question – What is the appropriate measure of time for a creator to invest into developing a piece of educational content in proportion to the measure of time it takes to engage with and digest that content? 

The challenge in this, for the creator is arguably to understand the boundaries of the deliverable. 

  • What do you need to achieve? 
  • Is there a pressing demand for this information? 
  • What does the subject matter absolutely require in order to be adequately addressed? 
  • Are you spending precious time to build out a lecture when your consumer only has 10 minutes to engage with your content in between meetings?

This greatly informs us of the scope of content development. Now that we have an understanding of the timeline boundaries of the deliverable, we look at how we can source, compile and implement the required information. 

Designing your explainer video.

We then look at the all-important element of design. 

An effective explainer video is intentionally designed to capture the vital essence of a relevant subject matter while the demand for that information is still high and while an opportunity still exists. 

The process that leads us to this endpoint however, is iterative. One that allows for itself to be incepted, developed, decompartmentalised, reconfigured and optimised.

Final thoughts

When it comes to an effective explainer video, we find that the impact of a well-executed piece of content is greater than the sum of its parts. However, there are many parts, and each part needs to be planned, designed, and developed with skill.

The explainer video as a whole is made up of many smaller pieces. For us to put the puzzle together, we need to isolate the right pieces, and utilise a combination of technique and innovation to configure something that is engaging, as well as effective. The end result is a video that holistically addresses the subject matter, facilitates an understanding of the subject matter, all whilst being appealing to the eye.

Do you need explainer video content that explains, explores, and communicates effectively?

Please Contact us.