Familiar Format with Great Impact – Explainer Video as Learning Medium

How to make a lasting impression with short videos.

Familiar Format with Great Impact – Explainer Video as Learning Medium

Have you ever watched a video explaining how to get started with a program that's unfamiliar to you? Or have you ever watched a short video showing how to tie a necktie? I'm pretty sure you're already nodding to yourself. And how am I so sure of this? Because explainer videos work. And why am I even asking you this? Because it's worth taking a closer look at the explainer video medium.


The Explainer Video – Briefly Explained

A quick browse of good old (German) Wikipedia reveals: explainer videos are "videos that explain how to do something or how something works, or explain abstract concepts and relationships." (English translation of the German Wikipedia page). The intention here is to convey a specific topic in a way that's appropriate for the target audience and are as easily understandable as possible. This can be on anything – a service, a product, a natural phenomenon, instructions for how to book a ticket, or even a physical formula... Essential in this form of explanation is the presentation of the video: central here is the storytelling and the use of multiple senses (i.e. the appeal to different human senses, and a correspondingly simple explanation).

Storytelling serves to embed the subject matter to be explained in the reality of the viewer's everyday life. The content of the video should be directly linked to a common situation that's familiar to the viewer, so that they feel addressed personally and can identify with the subject – a real "aha" moment hits you!

This effect is further enhanced by multisensory technology. In an explainer video, simple language, a speaker's pleasant voice, simple illustrations or moving images and suitable music are used. The "aha" effect is thus multisensory, so the viewer becomes more attentive and the intended message therefore sticks.


A Wide Variety of Subjects – With the Same Structure

In contrast to the wide range of content options and the different types of storytelling, an explainer video always follows a similar structure. The video, which is typically between three-and-five minutes long, can be divided into five sequential phases:

  1. First, the initial situation is described. Typical concerns or problems are presented – and at the same time, it's made clear why this situation requires a solution.
  2. The solution follows directly in the next step: in one sentence it's explained concisely why this one product is the right one for the specific problem, or why this one mode of operation is the best one. Alternatively, a resolution of a phenomenon described at the beginning can also be found at this point.
  3. Building upon the resolution, the background is explained and the "why" and "how" are presented to viewers (again, concisely).
  4. The fourth part of the video is the summary. The initial problem and solution are summarised once again and the advantages that have now resulted from solving the problem are demonstrated.
  5. A concluding "call to action" summons viewers to do something specific. This can be, for example, an urging to go to a specific website to find out more about the solution.


Explainer Video – a Learning Medium for the Future – and also Commercially Successful

The mmb Learning Delphi Trend Study from the mmb Institute for 2017/2018, in which a total of 61 e-learning experts were surveyed, defined a clear trend towards success with explainer videos: "[...] 89 percent of respondents consider them to be commercially successful for the future. This is the highest level of approval for any other digital learning tool. Many providers are already using explainer videos as a "standalone form'" (mmb Learning Delphi 2017/2018, page 3). It was only in the previous year that this medium was even included in the list of possible e-learning formats, and even then, explainer videos were rated as successful by 70% of respondents (refer to mmb Learning Delphi 2017/2018, page 7).

The most current edition of the Trend Study (from Winter 2020/2021) also confirms this assessment. 90% of the experts surveyed attribute key importance to the medium of explainer videos as a form of learning for companies (refer to mmb Learning Delphi 2020/2021, page 7).

It can therefore be stated: explainer videos promise great success, both internally as a form of learning for employees, and externally as a product explanation video, for example.


Technical Documentation and Explanatory Videos – From a Single Source

Now that you've read all about the various advantages of the medium, you might want to get started right away. After all, creating a three-to five-minute video sounds absolutely doable, and you have all the information in your head anyway! But precisely because the video is so short and needs to grab your target audience in such a short amount of time, it needs to focus on only the essentials – presenting just the essence of the subject – and that's precisely what can prove to be a real challenge.

This is where the creation of technical documentation comes in handy. Here, too, it's a matter of grasping a subject holistically, working out what's critical, and preparing it in a way that's appropriate for the target audience. The appropriate explainer video for the subject can therefore be seen as a kind of by-product of the technical documentation and complements it in a very meaningful way.

What could something like this look like? Check it out for yourself! In our video entitled "Die Technische Dokumentation der Zukunft" ("The Technical Documentation of the Future" and narrated in German), we explain with the help of simple drawings how the digitisation of technical documentation can have a positive effect on production.


But an explainer video doesn't have to be so minimalist in design; it can also be an engaging animation. Such as in this video – we explain the principle of "Embedded Help" (narrated in German):

So you see, the presentation of an explainer video can be pretty much designed in a free-form way. Whether it's with simple drawings, suitably prepared illustrations, a healthy mix of text and graphics or even real people being filmed – whatever suits your explainer video subject matter and appeals to your target audience in the best possible method.

And, what do you think, could the medium of explainer video be something for your company to actually consider? Or would you still rather search for a tutorial that explains explainer videos in more detail? But let me tell you: you don't need to spend time looking for such a tutorial – we're happy to personally advise you. Just give us a call!

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