3 Essential Steps for Creating Superior Instructional Videos

Updated: June 3, 2019


When it comes to producing accessible instructional videos, many professors don’t know where to start. In order to create a quality video, you must plan and have the right equipment.

There are 3 steps in video production: plan, produce, and publish. Many elements go into each step, but taking the time to make these decisions will save you time and money in the long run.

Step One Plan

1. Plan

Creating a video is as easy as turning on the camera and talking to it, but in order to create a quality instructional video, you must dedicate time to planning it out.

Why are you producing this video, and who is it for?

First, you must define your audience. Your audience during a live lecture is different than your online audience. Think about who you will be talking to and adjust your presentation.

Next, identify the objective for your video. Defining a clear objective will help you stay on topic, condense the information, and keep your viewers engaged.

Once you’ve defined your audience and objectives, it’s time to decide what you are going to record.

Finding the right length for your video

Humans lose focus easily, but who can blame them? We have a lot of distractions. Therefore, in order to keep your viewers engaged, try to make your video around 7-10 minutes long.

A good practice is to create an outline or write a script of your lecture. Then you can use your outline to practice before and make adjustments.

When creating your script, remember to keep it timely, especially if you want to reuse your video. For example, instead of saying “two years ago,” say “in 2015.” Furthermore, try to tell a story. The best instructional videos are ones that are conversational, so the audience can recognize what they should get out of the lecture.

Don’t forget the logistics

Another element to consider in the planning stage is how are you going to record the video? Will it be you in front of the camera, slides with a voiceover, or a mix? If it’s you in front of the camera, what will your background be?

Lastly, think about what you need to do to meet the accessibility requirements. Will you need to say what’s on the screen, or will you create a separate audio description recording? Who will caption your videos? What other formats do you need to convert this video into?

Taking care of all the logistics before you begin recording will save you an incredible amount of time and ensure your videos are of the highest quality.

Now, before we move on to production there is one more important step: practice. Yes, it’s weird to talk to an empty room, but if you practice, you will get more comfortable delivering the material and it will help you create a smoother lecture.

Step Two Produce

2. Produce

So you have your video all planned, now it’s time to create the perfect studio and get the camera rolling.

Lights, camera…microphone?

Most people don’t realize this, but the most important piece of equipment in producing your video is not the camera, but the microphone.

Invest in a great microphone and don’t rely on the camera’s built-in microphone. A great microphone will ensure your brilliant lecture is captured and your students can understand it. In addition, you will save a lot of time and money when it comes to captioning. Clearer audio is easier to caption.

In terms of the camera, pick one that records in HD. An HD webcam is acceptable unless you are recording outside.

Lastly, don’t forget about lighting. For the sake of preserving your beauty on camera, don’t rely on overhead fluorescent lights. Instead, use lamps and experiment with the camera to find the perfect balance.

Now, this may seem like a big investment in equipment for a video, but remember, when creating accessible content, the quality of the video is what matters most. You want your students to have clear images and great audio.


Yes, fashion matters, so try sticking to season neutral clothing and avoid patterns. Flannel looks great in person but can be distracting on camera.

Ready, set, action!

So, your studio is set, and now it’s time to record. But how much time should you spend in the studio?

If you have a 10-minute lecture, you should give yourself an hour of studio time. Technology is unpredictable and the first recording may include mistakes or time consuming “uhm’s.”

So, give yourself plenty of time to record, listen, rerecord, and adjust.

Step Three Publish

3. Publish

When it comes to editing, you need to watch every minute of the video. You want to cut any unnecessary breaks or tangents. It’s also important to edit before you caption because you don’t want to create captions that you end up deleting.

If you do your own captions, make sure they are compliant with the WCAG 2.0 AA standards. You can also hire a third-party vendor to do your captions and transcriptions.

It’s important to note that you are legally required to caption all online video content under the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

With your completed video on hand, the last step is deciding where to publish. Choose a video sharing platform that is easy for your students to access on their mobiles, computers, or tablets.

Now, publish!

There are many elements to consider when creating an accessible instructional video. Your goal is to create a quality video so that all students can understand the content. It can be uncomfortable at first, but with practice, you will begin to feel more comfortable with the process!

For more tips watch the full webinar below:


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