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Great online video classes are more than just a series of instructional videos. A powerful training video educates viewers. It teaches new topics and enhances existing understanding of a subject in a way that’s quick to understand and easy to retain. 

The best training videos are not only effective, they’re memorable. You’ll know you’ve done a fantastic job with your online video class when you not only get good feedback from your students about your videos but they also go out and tell their friends about your online course.

So how can you create great online video classes? What do you need and how do you get your students to engage? If you’re ready to dig in, this article has the building blocks you need.

How to Make Engaging Online Video Classes

Before you start making video online courses
Clear learning objectives
Presentation skills
Making a training video
Formats for your online video class
Video and audio footage
Video production values
Sell instructional videos online

Online video classes are an effective way for you to build passive income for your business. With effective training videos to rent or sell you can create multiple tiers of service for customers who are eager to learn. 

If you teach live classes or with live sessions online, video classes are an effective way to expand your business without overbooking your busy schedule. Videos are also a great way to connect with customers who can’t make a meeting work for the time you have available.

Live sessions are a great way to personalize online video classes with Selz ecommerce for digital products

Before you start making video online courses

Videos that rank answer some kind of question, but what makes online video classes great?

Hint: It’s not top-of-the-line equipment or technology, it’s what and how you teach. 

Video is the best media to make new or unfamiliar information easy and quick to understand. Because of that, it’s an effective medium for teaching the details of any business, industry or process.

Scripting or storyboarding?

When you’re creating online video classes, it’s important to prepare. If your training is complex or if you’re new to making videos, it can help to write out a script. 

You don’t want to read your script for your video unless you’re a professional actor. Reading from a script can often sound artificial, which is a turn off for your viewers. Instead, use the script as a set of talking points to keep your narration on track as you record your videos.

If you’re including multiple types of video footage or putting together an animation, storyboarding is also a helpful technique to create a structure for your instructional videos. 

These storyboarding tools can be a good place to start if you’ve never tried storyboarding.

Clear learning objectives

The biggest problem students have with online courses is staying engaged. Online students stick with an online course 5-35% less than students in traditional classrooms. To avoid high drop rates, be sure that you are setting clear and consistent learning goals.

Online video classes that are successful start with a clear structure  and learning outcomes

Many college courses start with a syllabus, so create something similar that works for you. Talk about the resources available and what students need to successfully take part in your course. Cover the timeline for completion of each lesson, and set clear expectations.

If you’ve never taught a course before look at competitors and YouTube videos online. You’ll want to make sure that your video class goes above and beyond what is already online.

Presentation skills

A great online video class shows your students how easy it is to apply the skills that you’re demonstrating. It also shows them how they can benefit from your teaching. This requires a leap of faith and some imagination on their part. To get your class to put in the effort, they’ll need to trust you, and the easiest way to build that trust is with your presentation skills.

First, they need to feel like you understand their perspective. If you’re teaching a professional online video course take a cue from your competitors. This will tell you how formal or informal you should be for your students to respect you and still feel comfortable engaging with you in class. 

Niche competitor research is important to connect with the right students for your course. Also,  you’ll want to make sure your video is at the right level for your students. Try to avoid jargon, too many technical terms or insider knowledge in your instructional videos.

Your voice changes when you smile, so keep that in mind when recording  audio for online video classes

Enthusiasm is another presentation essential. When you record, smile as you share your lessons. Even if you’re not on camera, your smile changes the sound of your voice.

The speed of your voice matters too. Your pacing should be fast enough to keep listeners and viewers engaged, but slow enough that your students don’t miss important information.

You may have heard the phrase “show don’t tell.” When you’re on video it’s important to gesture with your hands and use the space the same way you would during a conversation with friends or an in-person presentation. Overly stiff gestures are just as uncomfortable to watch on video as they are in the classroom. 

Mix dry technical instruction with storytelling to keep your students engaged. For professional or business courses, case studies and situational examples are an easy way to bring in interesting and relatable stories.

Making a training video

The more ways you can show the practical application of your online video classes the more effective your results will be. There are a few simple strategies you can use to set the right tone in your training video.

State the topic of each video at the start and repeat it as the video goes on. This reinforces to your student that they are watching the right video to learn what they want to know.

You’ll also want to find ways to encourage interaction between your students. Some classes add a message board to encourage conversation. Others build in activities between videos like worksheets, quizzes or surveys.

Another way to improve the online video class experience for your students is to bring them together to apply their knowledge in a group setting.

A meditation class is an example  of creating a welcoming environment  when you're selling instructional videos online

For example, the highlight of my last meditation course was a silent retreat. In addition to my fellow class members, students who’d completed the class in the past could participate in any future retreat.

As a student, this made me feel like I was part of more than just a class. It made me feel like I was part of a community. This feeling led me to tell many more people about my meditation class experience than I would have otherwise.

So, find ways to build touchpoints and learning benchmarks between video classes. These little details can help build anticipation and increase student investment in your video class.

Video online courses can help students succeed by recording a short intro video to increase student engagement

Quick note: Before your first live session or video class ask your students to record a 30-second introduction of themselves. Then, edit these videos together and send them to the group before that first class. This can help your students get to know each other. It can make them feel more comfortable with each other and more likely to interact.

Formats for your online video class

There are many different formats you can use to create great online video classes. These formats include:

Speaking to the camera

In addition to traditional classroom presentation ideas, think about trying a walkthrough with on-screen diagrams or a visual virtual whiteboard.

If you’re not comfortable on camera, ask a friend to be the face of your instructional videos. Online video classes with a human touch are more engaging, so it’s important to include a person speaking to the screen in your online videos, even if it’s just for a short introduction.

You can also bring in other experts to keep your class involved. This could include sharing links to TEDTalks or YouTube videos you appreciate or asking an expert colleague to share a case study or lesson in your next video class.

Speaking directly to the camera helps students pay attention when you're making a training video

Screencast 

This video instruction format shows what is happening on your computer screen as you do it. Screencasting is especially effective for step-by-step instructions.

Role-playing 

This format involves acting out different real-life situations to show your students how to apply their knowledge. Another option that is similar is testimonial videos. If you are teaching business or exercise courses, this video footage will show your students that you understand their concerns and the outcomes that feel out of reach at this point. This is effective footage at a tough point in their learning journey to keep them engaged.

Animation 

For more abstract concepts or situations where role play isn’t workable, using text and graphics to communicate ideas is a great option.

Slideshow 

Delivering a slide presentation with video can make this traditional classroom format more dynamic and interactive.

Experiment with formats

Online video classes are convenient, partly because students can watch them during whatever time of day works best for them.

Students watch a live video session to improve interaction and student engagement with Selz ecommerce

That said, another way you can increase engagement is to incorporate real-time events into your video instruction. For example, if your course covers current events, ask your students to watch your video class right before a specific news program. Or, say you’re teaching a class about astronomy, prep a video class that covers the next lunar event and ask your students to observe the lesson alongside the event in real-time.

Video and audio footage

Your time is valuable.  It takes a lot more time to correct an error with editing and it does to get the recording right the first time. It can be tempting to rush to video recording and then correct errors in post-production. 

It’s a much better idea to over-prepare during the pre-production phase or to do a test run before recording. So, be thoughtful and well-prepared before you begin collecting audio and video footage.

A few other pro tips:

Use a tripod for a sturdy camera. Too much camera movement can make a viewer motion sick or lose interest.

A tripod is an essential piece of equipment for online video classes

Limit distractions on your set. Keep in mind that there may be things in your home that you’re used to but that will be very distracting for your students.

For example, I had an apartment on the same street as a popular train line. I had to toss many sound recordings because the train was audible in the background, even though I didn’t notice it at the time of recording. 

Video production values

We’ve covered how to light your video in this recent article. There are a handful of other video production values that can have a big impact on the success of your video class.

First, you’ll want to create short intro and outro videos for your brand and add them to each instructional video. This visual messaging reinforces the role of your business and helps protect your video content. Many video tools also make it easy to add a logo to your video classes.

Next, use consistent text and visual cues to emphasize information on screen. If you use different fonts or symbols every time, these additions could be more distracting than helpful.

Graphics on screen should be easy for mobile users to see when you're creating video online courses

Simple is good  

When editing, try the Coco Chanel trick of removing one extra thing to make sure that your video is easy to understand. It can be tempting to think that more is more when it comes to your online class, but editing is the secret to a great online video class.

The length of your video is also important. Try to keep each video in your online video class to 6 minutes or less for maximum engagement. 

Sometimes the most helpful way to produce a quality video is to watch other quality videos. These Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager training videos each have something that makes them helpful instructional video examples.

Instructional video examples

Pros: He offers clear and consistent graphics and a clear outline of the learning outcomes for the video.

Cons: After the halfway point he rushes through a few of the options and variables. It makes sense that when you are very familiar with a process you might run through some parts of the process because they are second nature to you. But if you are teaching online video classes you need to look at every step and detail from the perspective of someone who is just starting out.

Pros: This video has strong graphics and branding that make it clear who is making the video and what they will cover.

Cons: Because he didn’t run through every step before he started the tutorial, he uncovers a problem and he gets a bit lost in this problem before moving back to instruction. 

Then, get a second opinion

Most people get another pair of eyes to look over a blog or website before it goes live, and your video should be no different. Ask a friend or colleague to look for typos and obvious flaws.

It’s also a good idea to ask them to make note of moments in your training video that are difficult to understand or that distract them from the purpose of the video.

A fly looking for stardom is funny in the short term, but in the long run it can affect how successful your training video is. You can make it easier for anyone reviewing your video to leave comments by creating a short form they can complete online.

Sell instructional videos online

Once your online video classes are complete, post them on your website for prospective students to rent or download. 

When you sell courses from your own website, it improves your ability to personalize the educational experience. You can also build an email marketing list to share new classes with happy former students. Since you want at least 25-30% of your business to come from return customers, a great email list is essential!

Getting students to come back for more is the secret to success for engaging online video classes

If you’re selling online courses from your website, you also rely on positive reviews from your students. A great way to collect positive and detailed reviews is to send personalized videos to your students with your request.

Video is also a great support tool. If your students are frequently asking the same questions about how to access your course or how to download course materials, think about posting an explainer video in addition to your list of FAQs.

These suggestions are just a start to the creative ways you can create great online classes. 

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.