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4 November 2021

Video. Text. Image. 5 advices for a perfect explanatory film

Have you ever wondered why explainer videos are so effective? Psychology provides us with very simple explanations for this.

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**Have you ever wondered why explainer videos are actually so effective? What is behind the term "dual coding"? And how can psychology help us in the design of explainer videos? With these psychological hacks, you can easily create a successful explainer video.

Learning and presenting content with multimedia opens up entirely (but now not really) new possibilities due to the greatly advanced digitalization. The basic principle here is that

subjects are presented simultaneously in words and pictures

, which leads to a

deeper learning effect

. But why is this so and how can you use this fact for the design of explainer videos? To approach this question slowly, we first need to understand how information is received, processed and stored.

The structure of memory


Our memory is divided into three parts: the

sensory memory

, the

working memory

, and the

long-term memory

. Sensory memory is often referred to as "ultra-short-term memory" because stimuli are represented here for only a few seconds. Working memory is where all


processes take place; it is where new information is processed and, if necessary, passed on to long-term memory, as well as where information is retrieved from long-term memory. In long-term memory, in turn, all our knowledge is stored in structures that can be thought of as a network. Related information is thus interconnected there.

To ultimately be stored in long-term memory, information passes through various stages of memory.

The goal of any explainer video should be for the conveyed content to be stored in long-term memory. But for this to happen, the information must first pass through sensory memory and working memory. How can you imagine this process?

**The process of learning

The sensory memory - Gaining attention

Sensory memory is the adapter, so to speak, between the flood of information that floods our sensory organs and our memory. Information is held in sensory memory for only about two seconds, where it briefly reverberates. If we pay attention to the information, then it is passed on to working memory where it is processed. The rest of the information is lost. Everyone knows the situation when listening in class and trying to take notes. You repeat what you have heard in your head like an echo so that you don't forget it. If you get distracted for a moment, the information is lost.

So our first learning for explainer videos is that you have to manage to get the


of the recipient. A good method can be, for example, to give a prospect of what knowledge or what new information the viewers will take away from the video at the end.

In order to keep interest and attention, the information conveyed in the explainer video should not simply be named. To ensure that the recipients take away as much as possible from the video, the

context should be enriched

and the content should be packaged in a story, for example, or explained using an example.

The working memory - using capacity optimally


In the next step, the information is processed in the working memory, where all active thought processes take place and the new information is organized and integrated. For this, an exchange with the long-term memory must take place. However, working memory also has a

limited capacity

and cannot process an infinite amount of information at the same time. This point is very important, because in many explanatory videos the mistake is made that too much information is presented in too short a time and the viewers are overwhelmed as a result. This can be prevented by a simple trick.

Frühlingssonne tanken.

Until 23.04 we will give you free subtitles in two languages of your choice for your video. Go international with videobakers.

The information presented in a video can be either

visually or verbally "encoded "

, meaning the information is either "seen" or "heard". To avoid overloading working memory, there is a trick here: make the best use of the two codes. And now we're getting closer to our initial question: what good is multimedia for learning? We can probably all remember more bad PowerPoint presentations than we care to remember: the speakers put far too much text on the slides, which they also present at the same time. How much of it sticks with us? Almost nothing.

It is more efficient to just speak the text and support it with images. So it is best when

language is not processed visually (as text), but auditorily


, because then other channels are available for parallel processing. In this case, then, when information is "dual coded", we can take in the information both visually and auditorily, leading to deeper processing. Deeper processing, in turn, leads to a greater likelihood that the information will be absorbed into long-term memory.
This principle can be exploited in explanatory videos.

Through the

pictorial representation

of processes, interrelationships or mechanisms of action, which are simultaneously explained by the person speaking, the modalities of seeing and hearing are optimally utilized ("modality effect"). It does not matter whether it is an advertising film or a mathematics course. This psychological principle can be applied to any type of explanatory video.

Individual captions can make the video clearer. But again, the principle applies: no more than necessary.

In addition, the

video design should be kept quite simple

, because every unnecessary detail costs attention and capacity of the working memory, which in turn is missing for the processing of the central message ("coherence principle"). Exactly this simple design is one of the characteristics of good explainer videos, which can be implemented in different video styles.

The long-term memory - tailoring the explainer video to the target audience


Now we come to the final step: how do we ensure that the information now processed is also transferred to long-term memory? The storage of information is called

"encoding. "

Attention also creates an important basis for this. But how else can we influence that the central message of an explanatory video is stored in the long term?

For example, we can help our recipients to link the newly learned content with information already present in long-term memory. This is called

"encoding richness. "

If we know what prior knowledge our recipients already have, we can build on it. This gives our audience the opportunity to connect the newly learned knowledge with existing knowledge.

Define your target group and adapt the content to them so that it reaches long-term memory and you can impart knowledge in a sustainable way

Therefore, it is important to know exactly for which target group the explainer video is intended. For example, if we want to explain how a microwave works, it is sufficient for laypeople to know which buttons to press for which function. If the explainer video is aimed at physics students, of course, completely different information is interesting, which goes into much more depth. With unnecessary information we overload and overstrain our target group. Therefore: keep it simple!

Take home message

So we can take the following tips for the design of our explainer video:
  • Adapt to target audience:

    Find out what prior knowledge your target audience already has and build on it in your explainer video. This will help your viewers retain the new information in the long run.
  • Attract and retain attention:** Give your viewers a good reason to be engaged in the video. Otherwise, the content of your explainer video will get lost in the mass of information that comes at us every day.
  • Speak text instead of show text:

    To make the most of the capacity of the working memory, do without text in the video. It is better to speak the text and support it with images.
  • As few details as necessary:** To avoid overwhelming your viewers with unnecessary information that can overload working memory, focus on the central information and avoid details.
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