How long should your online course videos be?
Here are 3 simple tips for getting the perfect online course video duration.
Us human beings have incredibly short attention spans, and it’s getting shorter and shorter as we continue to be bombarded with information and distractions.
Successful online instructors get to the top, because their students enjoy their courses, watch all of the videos and complete the course.
If your online course videos are longer than they need to be, or do not meet the points below, your students are less likely to enjoy and complete your course.
The fact is, that there is no ‘set’ duration that is good or bad, right or wrong; nor does the perfect ‘duration’ just come down to the actual number of minutes your video is.
Here are three simple tips to get the perfect online course video duration to maximise your student engagement and completion:
- Keep to one key point per video
As online instructors we can often be tempted to over-deliver and over-explain.
This means that sometimes we address multiple points, concepts or principles in one video, and ideally we want to be avoiding this as far as possible.
To get the most out of your course videos, cut them down so that you only have ONE, singular point being made in each one.
There are a number of reasons for this, and some I discuss in this article too. But in short here are the top reasons why:
- People’s attention and concentration spans are short. If you are discussing multiple concepts in a video it is likely to take longer, and you could lose your students simply because they get bored or distracted.
- Our brains can only process so much information in one go. By providing less information per video, you actually help your learners remember more
- By having one key point per video, you actually end up producing more videos. This shows the true value of your course to your potential learners when they read through your course outline.
- When you have one point per video you can better use them for targeted marketing (read more on this here)
- Make sure every video answers a question
People want information, they want practical tips, they want to know ‘HOW’ to do something, or get a certain result.
If your videos waffle on with content that does not answer their burning questions or tell them HOW to do something, they will very quickly turn off and will be unlikely to return.
By focussing your attention on turning every video into a ‘How To’, you can make your course even more actionable and valuable to your learners.
By turning your video lecture into the answer to a question you do a couple of things:
- Enables your learners to see the immediate reason and value in watching each video
- You can use each individual video to answer that specific question in social media groups and online forums as part of your marketing
Answer the question as concisely as you can and cut out all unnecessary content. If it doesn’t answer a question, ask yourself if you really need it in your course.
What is ‘unnecessary’ video content?
Although the following components can add significant value to your course when used in the right places, unless they directly make a point, answer a question or reinforce an example, keep these to a minimum in your course videos:
- Talking about yourself for too long (unless your story makes a point, or it’s your ‘about the Trainer’ video)
- Talking too much about your opinion (unless it adds value and your students want to know it).
- Talking about people or situations they don’t know or cannot easily relate to
When you are preparing your video, ask yourself if every word directly contributes to answering the primary question that video addresses. If it doesn’t, cut it out.
If what you have cut out is valuable, then make that another video lecture.
- Try to answer the question in 2-9 minutes.
I said earlier that there is no ‘right or wrong’ when it comes to video length – as if it takes 30 minutes to appropriately answer a question and it’s delivered in the right way, then so be it. However, statistics show that the average viewing time of online videos is between 2-9 minutes.
Therefore, if you want your students to get the most out of your videos, try your best to break your content down into videos within this timeframe.
It doesn’t mean your videos are ‘bad’ if they are longer than this, it just means that your students might not get all the way to the end of it and could miss critical content that you share.
Not only does having shorter videos make your course more digestible, a course simply looks more valuable when it contains 6 x 5 minute videos, rather than 1 x 30 minute video – even though it’s exactly the same length. It’s all in the psychology.
As you are preparing your video, ask yourself: Can I answer this question in a more concise manner?
People hate fluff and despise their time being wasted; so if you can answer a question in 2 minutes, for the love of your students sanity, please don’t answer it in 3 or more minutes!
I have struggled with this in the past, as sometimes I have a tendency to get too technical and advanced with the way I explain things.
Here is a simple tip for making sure your explanations are as simple and straightforward as they can be: It’s called ‘The Man in a Bar’ test.
Simply imagine that you are sat at a bar, sipping a nice cold beverage of choice, when the man sat next to you asks you the question you are trying to answer in your course video.
How would you explain it to him so that he understands?
I find that the ‘man in a bar’ test significantly simplifies my explanation, makes it much more accessible and shortens it to it’s most efficient version.
So, there are 3 simple ways to get your online course videos to the perfect duration.
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