Fifteen years ago, when I started working as a course creator for multinationals, online courses more or less meant text-based flip-books. At most, some screens displayed a single static image–sometimes as an explainer; sometimes as an eye candy.
Over time, the trend moved towards narration-based courses, wherein, there was less onscreen text. Only the keywords and key phrases were shown on the screen, sometimes supported by a static image. In the background, there was a voiceover narration that “taught” the content.
In the next couple of years, this strategy further evolved into the “progressive reveal” method, wherein the keywords/key phrases/images were revealed progressively and was timed as per the voiceover narration.
Next came the phase of voiceover with simple vector graphics animation and it finally rested with high-end motion animation.
In short, the world of online learning has slowly moved towards more and more sophisticated video-based learning.
Today, while the multinationals continue to create engaging videos, which are often experimental in nature, the still-evolving world of online courses offered by small business owners is serving outdated video strategies, such as the expert coming on screen and simply narrating the course.
I am not saying that this strategy isn’t effective—it is, but only when used sparingly. First of all, your audience doesn’t want to keep looking at your cutout narrating something for two hours nonstop. Secondly, this strategy makes your audience zone out due to lack of interaction and engagement.
If you prefer teaching in this manner, I recommend conducting an in-person workshop because that audience is paying to see YOU.
How can you then elevate the level of your online videos?
Think of your course not as a product, but as a learning experience. It is a journey that your student goes on. She expects adventure, exploration, excitement, variety, reflection, satisfaction.
Take a look at this video from one of my coaching students, Liz. All she has done is display the key teaching points on screen but the clever use of visuals has rendered her video looking fresh, distinct, and sophisticated. In addition, the use of ambient music has added a lot of value to the whole experience. The audience is excited because she has to match the pace of the changing visuals and to-the-point narrative.
All in all, this teaching strategy—even without any background narration—is much more engaging and effective than her coming onscreen and narrating the teaching points.
The good news is you can do this too!
At large, there are five type of videos you can easily create for your online programs.
- Talking head/VO + vector graphics animation
- Talking head/VO + whiteboard animation
- Talking head/VO + typography animation
- Talking head/VO + motion graphics animation
- Talking head/VO + screen recording (such as, software walkthrough and slides)
A point to note—as seen in Liz’s video, voiceover is not mandatory. If you can evoke an emotion using another form of audio, such as background music, go for it!
Depending on the subject and requirement, you may also choose to adopt a blended approach wherein you use a combination of two or more of the the aforementioned video types. Variety helps keep your audience engaged and interested.
I understand that video creation takes time and money, but with a little workaround, your videos can stand out from the crowd while also delivering on the promise of the course.
As a committed coach and a course creator, THAT is what you should set out to accomplish.