How to make more engaging online course videos (10 tips)
If you’re an online course creator, you probably care about whether or not your students complete your course because you want them to experience the results your online course promises. Not only that, but students who have a good experience and get results from your course are more likely to share it with others. One of the ways you can ensure that this happens more often is by making more engaging online course videos and in this video, I’ll share 10 tips to help you do just that. Let’s get into it.
Hello creators! I’m Ben Toalson from Podia, where we empower creators like you to make a living doing what you love.
The more engaging our online course videos are, the better the experience for the student and the easier it is for them to complete our course. As course creators, we want our students to get the most out of their time with us and make it to the finish line so they can reach their goals. With that in mind, let’s get into these tips.
Tip #1: Outline and script your videos
For me, winging it on camera leads to a lot of filler words, rambling, talking in circles, repeating myself, and repeating myself. If you’re like me, rather than going off the cuff for your online course videos, try working from an outline or a script.
When you outline your content, it’s a lot easier to create a clear structure — a beginning, middle, and end. Humans like structure, especially when they’re trying to learn new content.
And if you can, consider turning your outline into a script. This will keep you from using filler words and make it easier for you to say only what you mean to say during your lesson. When your lesson videos are structured and clear, it’s easier for your student to relax and stay engaged.
Tip #2: Create open loops
An open loop is a copywriting tool where you open a story but then wait to conclude or close the story until later in the article or video. I once used this technique while hiking in the mountains with my dad in Colorado. He was so impressed, and I’ll never forget what he said to me, but before I share that with you, I have to tell you that this is a made-up example loosely based on a real experience.
We’re wired with the need to know how a story plays out. You can use this to make your online course videos more engaging by introducing a story and then interrupting it with a lesson or hinting at future concepts or ideas you’ll be covering. Your student’s desire to know “what happens” will naturally get them more engaged.
Oh, and in the made-up story, my dad said, “That’s great, son. Now can you close the loop on this hike? My dogs are barkin.” He probably said something like that.
Tip #3: Get in front of the camera
There are different ways to make online course videos. You can do slides, screenshare, both with voiceover, but videos where your student can see you are way more engaging. Humans like to see other humans, and even if you don’t feel completely natural on camera, it’s still going to be more engaging than if you didn’t show up on screen at all.
When you’re on camera, your student can see your facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language, which allows them to feel more connected to you and to the content you are teaching them.
Check out this video if you need some tips for feeling more comfortable and confident on camera.
Tip #4: Use slides/graphics
What’s more engaging than videos where your students can see you? Ones that combine videos of you with interesting graphics and slides.
Graphics and slides give you an opportunity to present information in a more tangible way for your student. For example, I can say that work meetings in the U.S. account for about 25 billion hours of lost work time each year, but it’s even more impactful if I throw up the number 25 with nine zeros after it. That’s a big number.
If you don’t use graphics or slides to represent info, your student has to work to structure that information in their heads. When you design graphics or slides, you can structure info in a way that makes it easy for your student to visualize the information.
Tip #5 Use demonstration B-roll
And just when you didn’t think we could possibly make our videos more engaging, I drop this tip on you. Demonstration B-roll are cut-away shots where you are demonstrating how to do what you are teaching. Examples could include overhead shots of the teacher drawing or crafting something, shots of the teacher setting up equipment, or shots of the teacher performing an exercise or dance move.
This can break up the monotony of the talking headshot and show your student a real-world example of what you’re teaching. This is instantly more engaging because when your student can see you demonstrating something, it makes it easier for them to visualize themselves doing it.
Tip #6: Edit your videos
This tip may seem obvious if you’re going off the cuff, but do you really need to edit if you’ve read from a script or an outline? Yes, and let me explain why. Even if you’ve read from a script and don’t have any filler words to remove, you probably have sections where there’s a bit of a pause between paragraphs, or the beginning and ending of your videos may include a few seconds of silence. You might also have sections where you did more than one take of a sentence or paragraph.
Editing gives you an opportunity to remove bad takes and extra silence between sentences. It helps your videos flow more smoothly and keeps them a bit more concise. While editing, you might even find sentences or paragraphs that are unnecessary and can be cut to make the information in your video clearer.
Tip #7: Make your videos shorter
When creating online courses, one of the temptations is to overfill your course, module, and lessons with too much information. Sometimes a lesson video needs to be 9 minutes, 15 minutes, or even longer. But it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you can break your video into smaller, more digestible pieces.
Maybe your video lesson includes a six-step process that can be broken up into three separate videos. Your student will still learn the same information, but you’re less likely to lose their attention.
Students generally find it easier to stay focused for shorter durations of time, and you avoid the need for a student to pause in the middle of a lesson. There’s no perfect length of time because every lesson is different, but the 3–9 minute length is a good starting place if you’re uncertain.
Tip #8: Make intro videos
Intro videos set expectations for your student and prepare them for the content in your course and modules. You can use an intro video at the beginning of your online course to thank and welcome your student, and to explain the structure of the course. At the beginning of each module, you can acknowledge your student’s progress, preview the content for that module, and share what you hope for them to learn or accomplish by the end of it.
Intro videos make your other video content more engaging because they help your student anticipate what they will learn and help them imagine what will be possible if they complete your video lessons.
Tip #9: Provide companion materials
When I was in third grade, my teacher would pass out fill-in-the-blank worksheets to go along with his lessons. They were really effective at helping keep our attention because we didn’t want to miss one of the blanks. You can do something similar for your online course videos.
Rather than just publish an online course, provide some kind of fill-in-the-blank worksheet, or a diagram, or some other material that your student can use to follow along with your video. Giving your student something to do will make it easier for them not to become distracted and increases learning retention.
At Podia, you can include files, like PDFs or Word documents, that your students can download and print. You can create text sections with outline templates and links. And you can create quizzes to reward your student’s attentiveness.
Tip #10: Do it live (turn webinars into course content)
As polished as scripting is for your videos, it can be equally if not more engaging to do a live webinar that you later turn into an online course. Webinars are a great way to present information to a live audience of people who are listening attentively, asking questions, and giving you real time feedback about your material.
And the best part is, once you’ve recorded your webinar, you can turn it into an online course video that you can sell to future students. Even though they won’t have a chance to interact with you live, the energy from the live webinar will make for a more engaging experience for them.
At Podia, you can sell access to live webinars and sell the replay of those webinars to future students. Setting this up in Podia is simple.
From your dashboard, click “Create” and choose "Product”.
Then give your webinar a title, select “Webinar,” and then click “Create product”.
From here, you can paste a link to your live YouTube event where you’ll host your webinar, or you can link to your Zoom account and select a scheduled Zoom event.
Set a start and end date and time, include instructions for your webinar, and choose which reminders you’d like sent to your students.
Once you’ve set your pricing and availability, click the “Publish” dropdown and select “Publish”.
Once your webinar is finished, you can go back to the “Video” tab and drag your video replay next to where it says “Replay video”. Now, future students will be able to purchase access to the live recording of your webinar.
Check out this video if you’d like more of an overview of how you can host webinars on Podia.
Those are all of our ten tips for making more engaging online course videos. I hope the next time you make online course videos, you’re able to use these tips to make your online course a smashing success.