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What are the essential ingredients for an effective explainer video?

Explainer videos serve a variety of purposes in today’s digital age. With technologies and processes evolving all the time, content like this is essential for keeping people up to speed.

An explainer video will generally pair voiceover with simple visuals. The aim is to explain a concept in a way that is as efficient and easily-digestible as possible. That may seem simple enough, but distilling a complex idea into a short video is trickier than you may think.

So, what are the crucial components for a really effective explainer video?

A lightbulb moment, such that might be enabled by an effective explainer video

An effective explainer video needs... a straightforward script

One of the hardest parts of an explainer video is the script. In the pre-production stage, a writer will need to consider:

  • How do I fit all of my ideas into a video of (at the very most) around two minutes in length?

  • How do I present them in a way that keeps the viewer engaged in a topic that they may know next to nothing about?

Academic Joselita Salita wrote an article about these challenges for the journal Medical Writing. Though Salita is writing for scientists, her insights are applicable to anyone looking to make a specialist topic more widely accessible. Some of her tips include:

  • Avoiding jargon as much as possible.

  • Identifying the exact audience you are writing for. What would they most want to know about your field?

She also delves deeper about structuring information in a compelling and narrative way:

“[Scientific writing] has a pyramid structure in which the information starts with an introduction and ends with the discussion and conclusions. In contrast, a lay summary has an inverted pyramid structure in which the reader is first told about the conclusions and is then led in the opposite order to the more detailed background information … Writing plainly on what, who and where can be dry, whereas answering why and so what can make your writing more compelling."

There are lots of tools that can help to keep track of how accessible your writing is, too. Hemingway Editor is one example. It grades the readability of your writing in real time – providing advice on how to keep sentences snappy and to the point.

Engaging, distinctive visuals

One of Joselita Salita’s writing suggestions is the use of visual aids as a way of reinforcing your message. This, of course, is where an explainer video has a big advantage over purely text-based content.

In many of the explainer videos we work on, we make use of the animation expertise at our disposal. This allows us to complement the script and hold the viewer’s attention with an eye-catching sense of visual rhythm, pace, and narrative.

Take a look at the video we worked on for the finance company Certua, for example. You can see how we use their simple and memorable hexagon logo - guiding this icon smoothly through the various stages of their life insurance journey.

As a tool for illustrating key points, distinct visuals can serve many purposes. If you have to use acronyms or specialist language, for example, kinetic typography can help clarify what these terms mean.

A clear and effective voiceover

Finally, there are many things to consider regarding the voiceover of your video. Think about tone of voice, for example. What would best suit your brand and the subject matter of your video? A formal and authoritative voice, or something more casual and relaxed?

Generally though, clarity is everything when it comes to getting your information across. Ensure that the voiceover artist is speaking sharply and clearly. And make sure that the recording is free of intrusive background noise.

From animation facilities to a voice recording set-up, we can assist businesses at every stage of developing an informative and engaging explainer video. If you’re interested in working with us or learning more, feel free to get in touch with us via our contact page.

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