Teaching anything online through a video tutorial is a super useful resource. It’s great for those looking to dive into a new technology or someone who is stuck on a technical problem and looking for a well-explained solution. Whenever I would watch video tutorials, I would often find parts missing/skipped over. That’s why I wanted to start doing workshops and making tutorials — I wanted everyone to have a chance to learn whatever they wanted and not have to endure the hurdles that can come with learning something new.
Here are a few things I learned from making my first one.
Before the camera is rolling
Take a peek around on forums and blogs to see what common problems people are having. Try to pinpoint the areas people seem to need most assistance and that way you can better craft your explanations. That will give your tutorial the edge it needs to be a hit!
No such thing as freestyle when creating technical video tutorials. Jot down some key bullet points that cover the main components. Keep that list in front of you while you record. That way you can refer to it quickly and you don’t miss anything important. Avoid writing out entirely what you want to say — you want to sound natural! And most of all, make sure to practice, practice, practice. At least a few times before recording — this way you test out both your voice and the flow of your content.
Keep it fresh
Best tip incoming in 3..2..1.. clear your desktop! The best tip I got was before you press record make sure to clear the clutter on your desktop (if you have any). While you’re at it, close all programs and folders that are not needed for the tutorial. You don’t want any distractions for the viewer. Double check your wallpaper — make it something you would feel comfortable showing at school or at work. And lastly, any folders you need to open during the tutorial — de-clutter those too. It’s just eye pleasing to see an organized, clean workspace and it’s double great for making sure you don’t show any personal information.
While the camera is rolling
The Right Mic, The Right Mic, The Right Mic
Most laptops have a built-in mic and people think that’s good enough for recording videos. News flash, it’s not! They are low-quality mics so they are not clear and tend to capture the sound around you instead of your voice. It took me a while to find a good mic, and even then it wasn’t all that great. The truth is bad audio can ruin the best of videos. So test out different options to find the right one for you. Leave a comment down below if you have suggestions for a great mic (within a student’s budget).
An Optimized Acoustic Environment
The earlier section kind of touched on this, but it’s important to explicitly mention it — beware of background noise. Even the typing of your keyboard can be a real nuisance. Make sure to turn off any fans, heaters, or other devices that produce ambient noise.
Know the right balance between humor, colorful, and dry. Some people try to drop in humor and it just comes off ‘cringy’. It can be unappealing and can really turn folks away. It’s okay to provide anecdotes and examples to highlight your point as long as they are not overpowering. A good frame of reference is would you be comfortable saying this in class or at work? Avoid stories/examples that have a negative tone and do not use humor that can be classified as crass or self-deprecating. Most of all, don’t forget to have some excitement when you speak! If you’re not excited about what you have to say, other people certainly will not.
After the camera is rolling
I’m a big believer in experimenting. See what works and see what doesn’t! It’s okay to put out a not top-of-the-line tutorial. Every pro was once an amateur. But do have one or two people test it before releasing the tutorial. Getting as many different people’s feedback is great. Just because it makes sense to you, it may be too difficult for someone else. We all learn and understand differently so try to be as open-minded as possible and understand that your tutorial might not be a one size fits all and that is okay!
All in all, I hope that these tidbits can help at least one person get over the fear of putting something online. I feel fortunate to have gotten over the worrying and the need for something to be ‘perfect’ in my eyes before releasing it into the wild. I also developed a true appreciation for those who make videos as you quickly realize the amount of hard work that goes into them. It requires a lot of time and patience. So hats off to all those putting together tutorials!
So I’m checking off successfully tearing down the first pillar — concurring the fear of putting something online and I’m off to my next challenge, consistency. And continuing to do so on a regular basis!