How to Write Video Tutorials for Online Learning; Top Three Methods!
Over on our YouTube page, we had previously discussed how to make your own tutorial videos, something linked below. Probably the most important element of any tutorial, however, is the script as it’s your plan for whatever it is you wish to teach. Today, I’m going to discuss three ways you can write tutorials, which kind of content works best for each method, and some additional script writing tips to find out how to write a video tutorial.
This is probably how a lot of people script their first videos, completely freestyle. This is where you come up with a topic and just talk about it for however long you feel and then put it together in the edit. The George Lucas approach to tutorials, if you’ll excuse the Star Wars reference. Now, if you’re going for more personality-based content or maybe more general advice, guru-type content then this is a great choice. It gives you the freedom to put out a lot of information in a way that makes sense to you and creates a more intimate feeling for the audience as if they were getting advice from a friend. There are, however, some drawbacks to using this method.
The main challenge will come when you get to the edit. If you missed something you needed to mention, you’ll need to re-record, which may be a challenge as getting the exact same lighting conditions, clothing, hairstyle, etc is always a pain. Although, you can be smart about it and make these cutaways more of an aside to the audience, which is an established aesthetic and can be useful when you’re learning how to write a video tutorial with this method.
Another challenge is if you aren’t naturally the best talker and fumble over your words it can lead to some pretty rough cuts of all your good takes together. Nobody wants to be the Tekken 3 of tutorials.
The next method of writing involves creating a brief outline of your talking points. Since this requires a bit more organization, I’d like to reiterate some things from the video at the top of the page about the importance of dividing your videos into segments. With this in mind, the workflow would become video topic, segment topic, bullet points of discussion topics
For example, say you are doing a video about how to make a sandwich. You have a segment on bread, and then each bullet point could be different types of bread and while recording you’d talk about how suitable that bread is for a sandwich.
This tends to be the preferred method for a lot of online content creators when learning how to write a video tutorial. You get to pass along accurate information while also maintaining some flexibility to inject some personality into the tutorial to keep your audience engaged. It can also be helpful by allowing you to rearrange your content in your post-production process if you don’t find the original order you recorded in makes as much sense as you’d hoped. One tip while using this method is to make sure your last take is your best take on the subject you’re discussing, as this will speed up the editing process.
The final method of writing tutorials is to fully script out each word you’ll be saying in the tutorial. Much of the advice for bullet-pointed scripts in terms of organization also applies here, but you can take it a step further during the pre and post-production stages.
Since you know exactly what you’re going to be saying, this means it’ll be easier to subtitle and translate your video, thereby opening up your content to a larger audience. You will also be better able to plan out the b-roll segments for your tutorial, which in turn will give you a better idea of how long a video will take to make. So, if you’re rigid or strict on deadlines for releasing content, it’s good to know in advance if the video you are plotting is going to require an elaborate shot.
If your content needs to be accurate and detailed, like if you’re teaching someone how to put together a model or talking about history or philosophy, then it is really important to script all this out and plan in advance. This is also helpful if you won’t be the on-screen talent for your videos, just make sure you get feedback from your talent so that you can write things that fit their natural way of speaking.
I personally use the fully scripted model for most of my videos because I find it hard not having set endpoints for whatever I’m describing or explaining. I’m susceptible to going off on tangents that aren’t related to the main topic, which can just make the editing process even longer! There are, of course, drawbacks to this method.
It can be hard for people to follow a script, especially if you have to use exact phrases. In these cases try to separate things into shorter phrases. While this can make editing a bit more difficult, it can really help you or your talent not feel exhausted at the end of a recording session. Also, if you’re reading off a script, say you’re just doing a voiceover, or happen to use a teleprompter, then it can be easy to sound robotic or lacking energy. In this case, it’s important to be present and listening to yourself or the delivery of the talent and make adjustments where needed. And hey, speaking of teleprompters, adding your script into XSplit Broadcaster or Presenter’s projector mode can make a great make-shift teleprompter on your monitor.
Now, I recommend experimenting with each method and see what works best for you. You don’t need to stick to any given method, perhaps some videos work best with a full script, especially when working with collaborators and for other short and quick videos you just need a few bullet points! Whatever the case, you’ll hopefully find writing your next video tutorial script that bit easier!