Tips for an effective explainer video

“Wait, I can explain!”

Whether you are a Kanye West fan caught listening to Taylor Swift, a TV fan who doesn’t like Breaking Bad or just a manager trying to explain something to customers and employees, this is something you may have said.

And at times like these, don’t you wish you had a simple, clear, high quality video that eloquently did the explaining for you? Follow the simple tips to make an effective explainer video that will do just that.

Start With The Script

Perhaps more than any other form of video, explainer videos are all about the script. If you are writing your own script, pack it with all the information you can, but keep it simple, straightforward and in a logical order.

If you are working with a certain wonderful production company, we have a team of fantastic, hugely talented and very humble writers that can work with you to create the perfect script. Just make sure you give us as much information as humanly possible, and we’ll refine it into a thing of beauty.

Our explainer film for Vungle’s in app video ads relies heavily on an information-packed script with simple visuals to illustrate the message.

Understand Your Concept And Goal

There’s nothing worse than an explainer video made by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t expect your video to turn out well if you don’t understand what you are even trying to explain.

There’s also nothing worse than an explainer video without a clear purpose. Are you telling customers how to use a product? Employees how to work the new elevator? Employees how to work at all?

Make sure you know exactly what you are trying to communicate before you put fingers to keyboard.

The BBC came to us to make a film explaining pregnancy.

Get Animated

As mentioned in this blog entry, animation can help your video in many ways. Specifically, it can help make complicated concepts more straightforward. We managed to explain the life cycle of an ad in one short explainer video with a lot of help from our lovely in house animators. And believe us, that is one complicated life cycle.

Whether you use animation alone or overlay graphics on a live action video, animation can help you explain things simply and clearly.

Know Your Audience

We say ‘know your audience’ in nearly every blog post, but there really is nothing more important. A video without an audience is like time without a clock: no one would watch it. So if your audience is partial to convoluted wordplay, feel free to borrow that line. If your audience is stringently stoic, keep puns to a minimum.

But you have to know more about your audience than their sense of humour. A good explainer video needs to appeal to your audience and speak to them. Put yourself into your audience’s shoes by asking yourself some questions: How much do they already know? How much do they need to know? How much do they want to know? How much is too much? How much is that doggy in the window?

Asking these questions is useful, but be careful not to talk down to your viewers. I know we’ve said “there’s nothing worse” about four times now, but there really is nothing worse than a patronising explainer video. When someone becomes patronising whilst explaining something, it can be very annoying. I know it’s difficult for you to understand but I am sure you will get there eventually! You can do it, reader!

Our video for the Sky Services App was aimed not at the app’s eventual users (Sky customers) but at Sky Customer Services workers. These employees already have a deep understanding of how Sky works, so our video targets specific problems this app can solve.

Have A Final Recap

This is not essential, but a final recap can help hammer an explanation home.

Let’s condense our tips down into simple messages:

  • Have a great script and a great video will follow.
  • Understand what you are trying to explain, and how you want it to be explained.
  • Use animation to simplify complicated concepts.
  • Know what will connect with your audience, and what will speak to them. (But don’t be patronising or treat them like idiots.)
  • Have a final recap in case they still haven’t understood.

If you follow these simple steps, you should end up with a video that is concise, informative and explanatory. In other words, all you could ever need from an explainer film.