Tagged: video

Tips and Tricks for Capturing Quality Video with Your Smartphone

Social Content Marketing revolves around two goals:  Getting audience attention, and Keeping it. And the most effective way to do this is through video.

This information isn’t new. With the growing popularity of social media, marketers have found that videos of original content are up to ten times more likely to be embedded or shared than similar static social posts.

And a convenient way to get this content is sitting in the palm of your hand.

Your smartphone is capable of doing more than making calls and surfing for cat videos. You can shoot short-form, highly engaging video content perfect for Social Media simply by following these five guidelines.

Blog1. Turn, turn, turn

Do. Not. Shoot. Vertical. Video.

Websites, computer screens, televisions, movie theaters — even our own eyes — are engineered to be wide screen. Vertical video is squeezed between two black bars, giving the impression that your audience is missing out on the big picture. And it just looks bad.

Shooting horizontally, or in landscape, allows your smartphone to capture more of the picture, including backgrounds often missed in vertical shots.

And shooting a landscape will actually make your picture better too. By turning your phone, the video capture loads more resolution, allowing the video to be utilized on any platform, easily edited or even incorporated into existing higher resolution video.

Switching to landscape mode may also help with stability because it nearly forces you to use two hands.

2. Check Your Audio

Smart phone microphones are built to provide good sound quality for calls, but this does not transfer well to video, particularly when shooting at a distance.

And easy fix is to use an external microphone, which can be as cheap as $10.

Not so easy to fix is distracting background noises like traffic or voices. Even quiet sounds such as air conditioning fans can muddle your sound quality. To avoid these sounds coming through on your final video, film in a quiet, carpeted room if possible, setting the external microphone as close to the action as possible.

On outdoor, live-action or loud demonstration shoots, consider utilizing post-production music additions via a smartphone app.

3. Go Slow and Steady

Shaky-Cam may have made 90s horror films unique and exciting, but that camera trick doesn’t belong anywhere near your social media.

The most effective method of ensuring steady video is to place your phone on a tripod. These range from anywhere between $8 and $50 and are specially made for smartphones.

For shots that require mobility, invest in a gimbal. These handheld stabilizers hold your phone on an axis, allowing it to remain stable while providing a more fluid moving shot.

Gimbals can run anywhere from 50 to 400 dollars, so if you’re not ready to invest just yet, try this: start filming from a sitting or kneeling position, supporting your elbows on your knees to stabilize your hands.

If you need to pan, first stabilize your elbows on a solid surface such as a chair or table. Then pivot slowly, keeping you your elbows stationary. And although most mobile phones have a zoom function, the quality is better when the camera is moved closer rather than zooming in.

4. Switch on the lights

If you have ever had your picture taken with a smartphone’s flash, you know all too well that the photo is not likely to be flattering. But capturing video in low or poor light is not an option with a smartphone. They just simply are not advanced enough to capture video without adequate light. That’s why images and videos shot in low light look so grainy.

Consider investing in a lighting kit that includes a soft box. A soft box works by producing an even and soft light that reduces shadow without over lighting a subject. These start at $75, and an inexpensive starter kit with three lights can cost about $150.

For a more portable light source, an external LED flash and video light may be the answer. These wireless lights usually charge through a USB port and are easy to set up with any smartphone or tablet. These usually start at about $30.

5. Adapttangerine002

As useful as you smartphone may be, it does have limitations. But these can be overcome with add-ons that amplify your phone’s abilities.

For instance, if your content tends to center around live events such as races, sporting events or nature videos, consider investing in a lens adaptor. The adaptors can be used as external zoom lenses, fish-eye, wide angle, macro, filters…the list goes on.

These lenses run from anywhere between $50 and $500, but are worth it if you are looking for particular shots time and time again.

An external lens filter kit can give you special effects without utilizing an app or expensive hardwear. These small adaptors can split images into twos and threes, take closer video and add color easily, all for about $40.

Video Marketing Tips for Success

Are you using video to enhance your marketing plan? If not, what’s holding you back? Here are three great video tips that can help you get started or improve your current video strategy.

  1. Keep Your Content Short

As any filmmaker can tell you, editing is one of the toughest steps. Condensing your content into a few minutes can be a challenge.Unfortunately, viewers have short attention spans so you have to keep it short, especially in the beginning. As you build your video library and measure viewership, you’ll start to see where there is demand for longer in-depth videos.

When it comes to social media, short-form videos are a great asset. These videos are ideal for sharing on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In this format, customers can quickly view a message as they scroll through their social media feeds. Brands can quickly send a message that will be seen by a larger audience.

2. Create an Emotional Response

To help you start, channel your inner storyteller. Make sure you show the stories behind your product and get to the heart of how your product relates to real people. Emotions evoke a response from viewers that will stick with them much longer than an ad telling them to go purchase a product or service. Consumers want to feel like they are a part of your brand and they like to buy from companies who make difference in the world.

3. Make Your Videos Engaging

Did you know that 80% of online visitors will watch a video, while only 20% will read text? Video in itself is more engaging than any other medium in advertising. Consumers are constantly bombarded with others vying for their attention. From sales pitches, case studies, product information and more, your audience is almost numb to advertising in these forms. As marketers, we risk being so eager to push information at buyers that we forget to think about whether they’ll enjoy it.

You can evoke emotion and establish a connection with your viewers in ways not possible with written word. Get your audience talking to you and about you in a positive way.

Increase Your Video SEO Ranking By Understanding Retention

Youtube-Buttons-73-26-

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine available on the web?

With thirty million visitors per day and over one hundred hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, getting your video noticed can be a real challenge.

So, what does it take to get noticed? To answer that, you will need to understand how YouTube ranks its videos.

One of the most important factors for ranking is content that can hold the attention of your audience.

YouTube ranks your video based on how people engage with it. This engagement can be measured by video retention, comments and shares to social media.

When it comes to video retention and watch-time, the longer people view a video and stay on YouTube because of your video, the better your video will rank. Your video can be of any length, but if you choose to make longer content, but make sure that it’s something that will hold the attention of your audience.

By looking at YouTube’s analytics, you can find the audience retention tool. Here’s how:

1.Log in to your YouTube account.

2.In the top right, select your account > Creator Studio.

3.On the left, select Analytics > Audience retention.

4.Click the name of the video and play it.

You can use the Audience Retention Report to get an overall measure of how well your video keeps its audience. Use the report to see:

•Average view duration for all videos on your channel

•Top videos or channels listed by watch time

•Audience retention data for a specific video for different timeframes

•Relative audience retention for a video compared to the YouTube average for similar videos

Keeping your video at a length that matches the average view time for your videos can help increase your audience retention.

For example, if you have a video that is 10 minutes long, and your viewership goes down by 75% after the first 3 minutes, you may want to shorten your videos down to closer to 3 minutes.

It’s also important to note that likes and dislikes, view count and amount of shares plays a role in how you are ranked when searching YouTube. Social media shares will help get your video out to your audience, which hopefully will lead to more views.

Bottom line, the more views and the longer your audience stays tuned in, the higher your video will rank on YouTube. Follow these tips, and you should start seeing results.

Looking into the Future: 7 Social Media Predictions for 2016

 

2015 was a huge year for social media innovations. Marketers once again saw changes to their algorithms, leading to a need for increased paid promotions. Facebook also continued their policy of curtailing posts that seem too promotional, making the number one social media site even more difficult to to budget for.

Twitter’s growth really began to stall in 2015 after seeing its peak growth in August 2014. Marketers began to shift their focus from this platform to another emerging and popular site, Instagram. With its 400 million monthly active users, Instagram became the new hot spot for reaching an audience in 2015.

But 2015 has come to an end and the changes to the social media landscape happening more and more frequently. Here’s what to expect for 2016.

     1. More Powerful Social Media Searches

In November, Pinterest announced a new search tool allowing users to zoom in on specific objects in a Pin’s image and search for similar objects or patterns. It works like Google Image search, allowing users to find products in a new way. In 2016, expect other platforms to catch on to the idea of new and improved ways to search for content and technologies to change the way we use these sites.

     2. Live Social Broadcasts

Periscope didn’t exist in 2014, but by the end of 2015 it had become Apple’s iPhone App of the Year. With more than 10 million users, Periscope’s unique live broadcast abilities have become the new way to interact with consumers. In 2016, Periscope will continue to grow, so expect to see other sites (Facebook!) to find ways to capitalize on this new technology.

     3. Buy! Buy! Buy!

Leave it to Facebook to find a new way to take our cash. In 2014, Facebook started a trend in social media that we felt through last year. Buy Buttons have recently become part of the interface of Instagram and Pinterest, so expect to start seeing these ads more often in your feeds and your budget.

     4. Video at the Forefront

Humans are visual beings, and we like videos. It’s the easiest way for us to learn and retain knowledge. Cisco estimates that by the beginning of 2017, 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, so marketers need to be starting a budget for video production for 2016.

     5. User Privacy Concerns

In 2015, about 32 million Ashley Madison users found out the hard way that privacy isn’t necessarily guaranteed online. With one of the largest hacks on record still fresh in their minds, social media users are now looking for assurances that their private information is, in fact, private. Expect to see major increase in protections offered from Facebook, Instagram and any other sites that store personal information like birthdates and credit card info.

     6. Incoming Messages

According to Forbes, the frequency of incoming messages are up almost one third from 2014. Consumers are catching on to a new way of connecting with companies, so expect to keep seeing an increase on incoming messages throughout the platforms. Don’t be one of the estimated 82% of brands who do not respond. Pay attention in 2016 and engage in a new way.

     7. Easier Publishing on Instagram

Instagram can be a time-consuming nightmare for social marketers simply because it must be used in real-time and is exclusive to mobile devices. If nothing else changes from last year, let’s hope Instagram has made Post Scheduling their New Year’s Resolution for 2016.

Meet Your New Website Driver: Video

 
video-productionWe’ve talked about video in social media in this space previously: Why video is important and how to use video. Regular readers already know we think believe video should be a vital part of any social media campaign, but what about your website?

Good for you if you’ve been using video in your social media. Don’t overlook your website. Videos are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Here’s a couple of ideas you may want to incorporate into your website marketing.

People Want Answers

Have you ever found yourself researching a topic on Google and discovered there were not only articles about your topic, but videos? Admit it; you probably went to that YouTube video before you clicked on an article. One great way to bring in new traffic to your website is to address those common questions your business gets with a video. People learn twice as fast when they see and hear what is being explained.

Think about how many times you’ve answered a customer’s question by demonstrating or showing them the answer. Make that demonstration into a video and post it on your website. However, don’t stop there. Include a link to that video on your social media sites with the question. It’s an easy way to increase traffic to your website and get the post shared. Which leads us to our second point.

Videos are More Likely to go Viralviral-marketing-word-mouth-38123871

When was the last time you read a news article that was “viral?” When it comes to viral content, it
seems like nine out of ten viral items are video. Yes, there may be text with the video, but the item went viral because of the video.

You may be thinking that your video may never see a million views. There’s more. The concept of
something going viral has more to do with how rapidly it is shared than how many actually see it.   Viral content is something shared with a wide network of people. Your video may not reach a thousand views, but however many see it you can leverage. If someone shares your video, they are more likely to return to your website and begin a relationship with you. Isn’t that more worth boasting about than having a million views?

Embed Everywhere

One of the great things about video is you can host the video on one platform – like YouTube or Vimeo – and then link to the video on your website and your social media sites without having to upload the video multiple times.

Embed the video in your website. YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites provide you with the URL to the video. On Facebook, including the URL address in your post will automatically create a special image and link to the video (or page). Just paste the full URL (include the “http://” part also).

If you run across a video you like that is relevant to your business, include it in your social media posts. It’s a great way to show your audience you follow others and that you value other content as well as your own.

Don’t Forget Email

Another area you can use videos to increase traffic to your website is through email marketing. We’ve discussed that in this space also. You don’t want to include the actual video in your email. The size of the video file is most likely going to be larger than most email servers will allow you to send. However, here’s a way you can include it in your email.

Take a screen shot of your video paused on frame that shows a key point. Include the image in your email. Make the image link to the video on your website (or YouTube channel). If that’s not an option for you, include the link to the page on your website (or social media site) with the video. Include a note in the email that the viewer can find more information by following the link.

If you haven’t gotten started in using video, be sure to check out our series of beginner tips for creating a video.

No More Silent Films

If you want to make great looking videos and use a quality camera, like a DSLR, you are half way to audio-volume-high-hiyour successful venture. However, don’t overlook one very important piece of the puzzle – the sound.

Unless you are in the business of shooting silent movies or music videos, audio is rest of the story. In most cases, your audio will probably be someone talking. Hearing the speaker clearly is every bit as important as camera framing, scene selection or lighting in a quality video.

This post covers tips to help make the sound in your video be as compelling as the rest of the production values.

Why Does My Audio Sound Bad?

You should never rely on the built-in microphone of your video camera for recording a person speaking – no matter how expensive your camera. The audio recorded from speakers in the camera’s built-in microphone will sound very hollow. It’s not the best choice for recording the human voice.

The reason is that the camera’s built-in mic picks up every sound around it. It picks up not only sounds from the front of the camera, but also sounds behind the camera. Any sound your camera operator makes, the servo-motors in the camera – for the zoom lens and such, and the fan from your heating and cooling equipment, will all be heard.

If you have a DSLR camera, it most likely has a separate mic input that accepts an 1/8 inch plug. Use this for recording your audio. The only time you should use the built-in microphone from your camera is for recording ambient background sounds of your environment.

Lavalier Microphones

atr7000_lavalier_1_sqThe ideal microphone for recording a single person speaking is a lavalier mic – one that attaches to clothing. The design of a lavalier mic is specifically for recording the human voice.   This is the type of mic television newscasters use.

Clip the mic on the clothing about 6 inches from the speaker’s mouth – usually about the second button on a shirt or blouse. This positioning avoids picking up room noises or anything in the background that is not a part of the video.

There are two types of lavalier microphones – wired and wireless. A wired lavalier mic is good to use when the speaker is close to the camera. A wired lavaliere has a long cable that plugs into your camera. The price range for a good wired of lavalier mic ranges from about 30 dollars to 100 dollars.

A wireless lavalier microphone is a good choice if you have a situation where the on-camera speaker is required to walk around for a demonstration or is a great distance from the camera. The wireless mic eliminates a situation where the mic cable might pull the camera or cause a trip hazard.

A wireless mic has two parts – a transmitter and a receiver – in addition to the microphone itself. The subject wears the small transmitter. The receiver is at the camera. Wireless microphones start around 150 dollars and can cost up to a thousand dollars.

Whether you use wired or wireless microphones, depending on the manufacturer, you may need an audio adaptor. This box-like piece of equipment converts the large plug (called an “XLR” plug) to a plug that fits into your camera.

Handheld Microphones

There may be videos that require several people to speak on camera.   This is a good situation for your SM58-2moderator, or lead person, to hold a handheld microphone in front of each person who speaks. This would include the moderator himself.

There are wired and wireless handheld microphones. The prices start at just under $100 to several hundred dollars.

For all microphones – lavalier and handheld – the price is based on the frequency response of the mic. Usually, the more you pay, the better sound quality you will receive.

Don’t Forget The Headphones

shure-srh440-studio-headphonesWhen you record a speaker, it is always a good idea to have your camera operator, or another person, monitor the sound as you record your video. You must use headphones to monitor the sound. With headphones, you hear only what is recorded. It also allows you to listen carefully for any extraneous background noises. Most cameras have a headphone jack for listening as you record.

Remember, sound is an important part of every video, don’t leave it to chance!

Getting Started with Video

Last time, we talked about the prevalence of video in social media. In this blog, we want to give you some simple tips for getting started making your own social media videos.

Start With the Obvioussmartphone-camera-prevent-living-in-the-moment-8-13-2012

Obviously, your first and most basic need is a camera. You don’t need to break the bank with the most expensive camera on the market. Just keep in mind that cameras with more options will cost more. You can spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousands.

However, don’t forget you may already have an acceptable camera already – your smartphone! Anything from an iPhone 4 or later will work, as will almost any smartphone with a camera. Just look at what can be done with a smartphone and some great accessories!

The number of megapixels and the camera’s sensor determines picture quality. Generally speaking, more megapixels, the better the picture quality. Back in 1999, the average digital camera had less than 2 megapixels. Today, you can find cameras with 16 megapixels and more. However, the number of megapixels means nothing if the manufacturer has achieved it by cramming those 16 megapixels onto a small sensor.

Instead of going into a detailed technical discussion about pixels, you can easily determine if your smartphone camera is adequate by shooting a quick video with a couple of smartphone cameras you have available to you. Shoot the same scene and watch them back on a computer to see which looks best.

A smartphone is an easy way to get started; however, if you decide to get serious about videos, you will want to purchase a video camera.

Other Camera Options

For the budget-conscious, the GoPro is perhaps one of the most versatile cameras on the market. GoPro cameras starts at about $200. One drawback is you need to have plenty of light. Outside images will be great, but inside scenes will almost certainly require artificial lighting. Another drawback is you cannot connect a microphone to the camera.

Canon 5DAnother camera option is a “pro-sumer” camera. Most are HD capable. These also have zoom functionality – something you will not get with a smartphone or a GoPro camera. Prices start at around $150 and go to as high as a thousand dollars depending on the options.

If you are serious, about video, you should consider a DSLR camera. Most DSLR cameras are still-photography cameras that also shoot great HD video. There are two especially nice features about DSLR cameras. One is the ability to change lenses, which gives you more flexibility when shooting your video. The second is that the cameras have better sensors, which are helpful when shooting in low light situations.

DSLR cameras are a bit more complex to operate because of multiple settings, and they are a bit more expensive. You’ll find them priced starting around one thousand dollars and range up to three thousand dollars or more.

Steady As You GoGitzo-GT3530LSV-6x-Carbon-Fiber-Tripod-Legs

The next thing you will need is a tripod for your camera. A tripod is vital for a steady picture. No matter how steady you think you are, any scene from a hand-held camera for more than a few seconds is going to shake or move and cause the center of focus to move about on the screen. This is very annoying to watch and a major reason why many quit watching a video before its conclusion. Sure, some stabilization can be achieved in post production, but it’s not always a sure fix.

You can find all types of tripods for just about every camera on the market. From a smartphone to the most expensive DSLR cameras, there are several types of tripods available at a range of prices.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Finally, if you plan to record someone speaking while on camera, you must have a good microphone.   The built-in camera microphone does not work well for this. The built-in microphone will pick up every sound in the room. From the heating/cooling fan to someone walking in the room to sounds outside, a camera microphone picks up everything. Generally, these extraneous sounds are as loud as or louder than the person speaking on camera!

shotgun micIn these situations, you must use a good microphone that plugs directly into your camera. There are hand-held microphones and also lavaliere microphones that attach to clothing. With adaptors, most will fit a smartphone or a DSLR camera. Quality wired microphones can cost around $100 or less.

If you plan to have someone speaking in most every video, you may want to us a wireless microphone. You can find wireless microphones priced from a hundred dollars to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the company.

Now you are ready to shoot video and get the most out of the picture and sound quality.

Video Lighting Tips

When planning a video shoot, it is important to plan the lighting. The reason is simple – the camera does not perceive light as well as the human eye. Generally speaking, anytime you shoot video indoors, the shoot will require artificial lighting. As we talk about lighting, we are not talking about the normal overhead office or shop lights.

Don’t Be Blue

If you only use the lights in your office or shop, you will find florescent lights tend to cast a blue hue over everything and regular incandescent lights tends to make everything have an orange tinge.  This means you probably need a video lighting kit. Ideally, you should use lights specifically designed for video, or still, photography. However, there are ways around using a lighting kit, but more on this in a moment.

Indoor Lighting3-point_lighting-CHcrop

No matter what lighting you use, you should know about the three-point lighting concept. This is the basis for the lighting of most all indoor videos.

The main light source, or strongest light, is your key light. The key light is near the camera and slightly to one side. The second source of light is a fill light. Place this light on the other side of the subject to soften most of the shadows. This light is generally the same power as the key light. The final light in 3-point lighting is the back light. This light helps separate your talent from the background on video.

Shooting Out Doors

If you are shooting outdoors, your key light will most likely be the sun. Shoot during the morning or early afternoon with the sun behind the camera and to one side. This avoids having your subject look directly into the sun. You don’t really need a backlight when shooting outdoors. However, you should use a reflector for your fill light. You can find a 40-inch professional-type reflector online for $50 or less. A good alternative to a reflector is a large piece of white poster board. The type you find at most office supply stores. Use a reflector to bounce the light from the sun onto the darker side of your talent.

If you do not have access to a lighting kit, here are some tips to take advantage of the available light. Since most videos shoots occur during the day, there are times you can take advantage of the sun even if you are indoors. You can use the sunlight from a window or doorway if the windows or doors in your building allow you to take advantage of the sun. If so, plan your shoot near a window or door to take advantage of the sunlight.

You might also be able to take advantage of the sun by positioning your subject in the shop near an open bay door.

It is important to remember to position the window or door behind the camera. Never shoot toward the window or door as the camera will adjust for the brighter outside light and your subject will appear as a shadow.

Lighting Alternatives

If you cannot take advantage of the sun and do not have a light kit, try using some of the lights that you might already have in the shop. Work lights put out a lot of light. Just be careful in how you use them. Work lights tend to concentrate light in the center with much less light toward the edges of the lighting pattern.

If you use these types of lights, you will want to avoid lighting ‘hot spots’ in your scene. The camera will always adjust to the brightest portion of the scene. This will make some areas dark in the scene. Work lights with a reflector behind the bulb tend to produce move even light.

Work lights are great to help fill in areas you want to show in the background.

Speaking of the background, if want to show something important in the background of your scene, be sure there is enough light on that background. This will make it that area appear clearly on camera.

If you think your shop or office has good lighting, shoot a test video. Set up your camera and gear in the locations you are thinking of shooting your video. Have someone be in front of the camera if you plan using a spokesperson. Watch your test video on a computer or TV. It may surprise you how dark the setting looks on camera, compared to how it looks to your eyes.

YouTube Advanced Tips for Small Business

Youtube_logoIn this post, we look at some YouTube advanced tips for small businesses. I have some advanced tips you can use to help make your business stand out and get the most out of YouTube.

If you are already posting videos to YouTube, you should Customize Your Channel! Customizing is well worth the time it takes to set up. You can add your company’s branding, customize the colors to compliment your company’s look, and add information and links.

When you set up a channel, it offers users the option to subscribe to your content at the click of a button. YouTube visitors also have the option to search just your uploaded content on your channel. The channel structure also allows you to highlight uploads, playlists, favorites or all videos.

With your custom channel in place, it’s time to Organize Your Content. Make your content viewer-friendly rather than just offering a stream of video uploads. Create playlists to group relevant videos together, or lump older content into time-related folders if appropriate. You could have a playlist of customer testimonials. Another playlist might be tips and tricks your employees have for your customers.

Remember that YouTube offers users the option to embed entire playlists into external sites, so give the creation of them, their titles, and description some decent thought. Be sure to check out our video on captions and tags for more on this subject.

using_youtube_analytics_sourcesYouTube offers every user free analytics data via the “Insight” button on every uploaded video. Be sure to Use YouTube’s Free Analytics Tools. Do not overlook this free-to-view information. It can offer you some valuable info on not only views stats, but demographics, community, and the most useful — “discovery” data — info on how users came across the video, including the links they followed to get there. This can be helpful in deciding how and where to display YouTube videos on your website. The tools are there – be sure to use them.

My final tip is perhaps the most important. Promote Your YouTube Videos. Don’t assume viewers will come to you just because you have a YouTube channel. Someone once said, “not advertising is like winking at a beautiful person in the dark. You know what you are doing, but no one else does.” YouTube visitors will not automatically think to look you up on YouTube. After all, there are those adorable animal videos!

Every time you post a video that is relevant for general sharing, you should blog about it. Then tweet it and mention it on your Facebook Page. Twitter and Facebook are easy through YouTube’s account settings that automatically publish news of a new video if you have linked up the social services. If you haven’t linked your YouTube account to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, do it now!

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.03.45 PMWhile on the video in YouTube, click the “Share” button. YouTube has some of the most common social media sites listed. Just click the button for the site to which you want to add the video. For blogs and other social media sites not listed, click the box below the icons to copy the HTML code. Sharing the video on your social media sites as well as your own website will help push users towards your video content.

One last tip – don’t shy away from allowing embedding of your videos on other sites — the more views the better.  So get out there and make sure your videos are seen! Good luck!

How to Write a Great Tutorial

Tutorial written with white chalk on a blackboard.We know that tutorials can be pretty boring to watch or read. It’s hard to keep an audience focused if the subject material is drab and dull. With a little effort, we are going to show you how to turn your boring tutorials into something engaging in just 5 steps.

First you will want to start with the why. Learning anything new requires effort, so to get people interested and willing to put in the effort, you must tell them why they need to listen to you. The why tells your audience where they are going and why their efforts will be worthwhile. Paint a clear picture of the destination. Your audience will understand that your guide will help them in a way that they couldn’t be helped without your content.

Next, you should include vivid examples and a bit of fun. While you are explaining to your audience the differences between features and benefits, use cheeky examples like this: An ergonomic saddle, which is a feature, prevents a sore butt, the benefit. You can also turn your examples into a story to liven up the explanation.  Simple stories add drama to your tutorial and make your audience curious about what will happen next.

Also, use metaphors to spruce up your tutorials. Metaphors help your audience visualize an abstract concept by relating it to something concrete. They also help associate a new idea with something they already know. Pick one theme and look for connections. Like how developing a blogging voice is like chefs creating their signature dish. There are endless options of metaphors to use, so use them to simplify your explanations.

overcoming-hurdles-study-adviceNext, keep your audience interested by introducing a few problems.  Everyone is trying to avoid making mistakes, so they will pay special attention to problems to avoid them.  Answer the problems you bring up with your material. Teach your listeners how to jump hurdles.  Your content should be able to advise your audience about the things that may go wrong in your how-to.

Finally, edit your text or script to be sharper and more attention grabbing. Your words need to capture attention, express emotion and get your point across.  Consider more emphatic and sensory oriented word choices. Tighten your text as much as you can, and then tighten it again.  Make sure your words have a dynamic rhythm. Long sentences have a comfortable flow, but shorter sentences are more fiery, drawing attention to each word. It’s important to read your text aloud during the editing process so you can determine the rhythm. Switching back and forth between long and short sentences keeps your audience on it’s toes.

A good how-to inspires it’s audience to implement the ideas presented. Consider what might stop your listener from following your advice and take away that obstacle. By encouraging your audience to overcome their doubts, you will establish yourself as an authority. What are some other ways that have worked for you to keep your followers engaged? Does this change how you might think about doing things in the future? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.