How to videos are a fantastic way of explaining to the world about how things can be put together, demonstrate, teach and even impart soft skills. They’re increasingly being used in e-learning & instructional design.

Youtube has an entire channel dedicated to How To videos on a range of topics–from How to Meditate to How to Sleep Quickly! Yet another popular online portal Howcastfeatures thousands of short videos on a variety of topics that one can barely imagine. They’ve even built a nice business model around it! These short, crisp videos really make learning very simple.

Our experience in making How To Videos was when Sriram Bharatam, founder ofKuzabiashara wanted us to produce short videos that could be hosted online for the benefit of Small & Medium Enterprises in Kenya. We produced over 200 videos which have been hosted online and have been received quite well. SMEs in Kenya watch these videos on their mobiles too. Watch this video to get an idea of the kind of videos we produced in 2011.

But then, how does one go about producing a HOW TO video? Here are some tips:

To make a How to Video you will need:

  • An idea & research
  • A script
  • Video Camera & Audio Recorder
  • Video Editing Software
  • Video Hosting Service

If you are producing a video for a client, get a very clear picture of the basic idea. Brainstorm on the idea with your client. Next, knowing a lot about the topic helps. Research a lot. Make sure your research hasn’t left out crucial points. It helps if you are making several such videos. One can also crosslink these videos so they can learn from one and move on to another related video. Have the script written in the popular AV format. When you write the script, make sure you explain the process in steps. Add tips where necessary to add value to your video. Check this video to get an idea. This will give you an idea of where you’d like to shoot and the properties needed for the shoot.

I’d also suggest bunching scripts that can be shot in one place for easier production management.

Based on your research, develop a script. Keep the script short and simple to understand. Keep the video short. People don’t like long winding explanations. Introducing a bit of humour isn’t harmful. But not in all cases!

For shooting, although we used a Panasonic P-2, there are smaller and cost-effective camcorders that can record full HD video–some even in low light conditions. If you have a DSLR that can shoot video, brilliant! Go ahead & shoot with it. You’ll probably thrown in a couple of CFL lamp-based lights to keep it light and portable. Remember to record the ambience sound along with the video. You can always remove it during editing.

You will need an audio recorder to record the narration. I used the Zoom H4N and I must say, it recorded brilliant audio! While recording the narration, remember not to speak very fast. Speak clearly and yes, remember to record the narration in a silent place. No fans, no air-conditioners.

If you are making videos on how to use software, I’d recommend a screencapturing software Mac (free) and Windows (free & paid licenses)

Get hold of an editing software that will do simple transitions, effects and graphics. There are a number of options available. Only ensure that the editing software supports the video format you’ve shot your footage on. Edit your video to the script/ audio narration. Don’t go overboard with transitions and effects. Remember, keep the video to a max of 2-3 minutes.

Once you have edited the video, upload the video onto a hosting service like Youtube. You may want to choose a paid service for better control and analytics (although Youtube too offers many of these features).

The videos can also be outputted in mp4 format and used on memory cards/DVDs and distributed among interested clients.

Of course, don’t forget to share it with the world using social media!

Watch this video for a step-wise tutorial on how to produce HOW TO videos:

Happy producing!

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