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4.6 Review tips to increase engagement in instructional videos

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This guide contains guidelines and techniques that you can apply to your videos to increase engagement and encourage students to watch videos from beginning to end. Although the following are suggestions and not all of the tips may apply to your content, the aim is to incorporate elements into your videos to make them more meaningful, memorable and motivational.

1. Create a captivating introduction

Hook your students' from the start! A great introduction will show the viewer why they must watch the video and should not miss out. One of the first things you can do in your intro is explain why the information is essential to them and why they should pay attention  communicate the important end goal of the video so they know why they should watch until the end. Is the information relevant to an upcoming assessment? Will it help them further understand a complex theory? Perhaps through the video you are going to answer a question that has challenged many students.

Try this: One way to get students interested to start is to ask more thought-provoking question that intrigues the general curiosity in a student. An example question could be “Why does a fox have a bushy tail?” If the content is framed in a more interesting way, students are more likely more eager to watch an entire video

2. Use an energetic, enthusiastic, friendly tone of voice

In order to get your students excited about a topic, it helps to sound excited about it and have a friendly, conversational tone. When you have a “talking head” shot, it’s easier to convey physical excitement for a topic, but when you are recording a voice over PowerPoint, students can only hear the tone of your voice. Students will pay more attention and their intrinsic motivation will increase if the teacher is more energetic and enthusiastic in their delivery (Patrick, Hisley, Kempler, 2000). In addition, a friendly, conversational voice rather than formal style simulates social discourse and allows student to feel engaged in a conversation rather than a passive listener. (Mayer, 2001)

Try this: Before recording, rehearse and plan your “script” (even if it’s conversational) so that you’re less nervous and more comfortable delivering your message with enthusiasm!

3. Use humour

When creating an instructional video teaching is always a priority, however, a positive and fun lesson with a dash of humour can further engage your students. There isn’t a need to be a comedian, but studies show that adding in some humour makes students learn more, sustain interest and enjoy the process of learning more (Buskist, Sikorski, Buckley & Saville, 2002).

Try this: Start by adding in small elements: Do you have related cartoons, puns or jokes that you can share in your videos? Go ahead and include them to make your content more memorable.

4. Include storytelling elements

Storytelling has been used for thousands of years to transfer information and knowledge, so why not try using the same method to transfer information to your students? Although, storytelling is not often used in science type courses, research shows that stories are easier to remember and comprehend and audiences consider them more engaging than being presented with facts and figures (qtd in Dahlstrom, 2014). Storytelling allows a learner to create a connection and identify similarities between the topic and their own experiences and knowledge.

Try this: Try to incorporate an industry news story with real-world problem that your students can discuss and collaborate on.

5. Use intentional messaging - WITFM (What’s in it for me?)

Students should be able to see the direct relationship between watching the video and success as a result. They shouldn’t have to wonder if viewing your videos will benefit them, so it’s helpful to have the benefits be clearly stated. These could be framed as how the content benefits them academically, personally or as a graduate working in the industry.

Try this: One way of showing this messaging is by providing real life examples of an application, which helps students build a bridge between lecture content and the real world. By showing this, students come to understand the relevance of the content and see the value in watching more, thus increasing their intrinsic motivation (Keller, 1987).

6. Use relatable images with text

People learn better from text and images than from text alone (Mayer, 2001). Thus, incorporating a strong and meaningful visual will have much more impact than words alone do. It’s often easier to remember information that has been presented with a meaningful visual, especially if visuals can help provide context.

Try this: Using a meaningful image helps a student relate to your content because it allows them to envision a common experience and place the information within their own reality. Use imagery from your students’ environment or the setting that they could be working in to help them relate to the message. Or if you are describing a data set or change in data, then incorporating simple diagrams or charts, makes the information easier for the viewer to visualize and approach.


Mayer, R. (2001). Principles of Multimedia Design. InMultimedia Learning(pp. 183-194). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139164603.012

Patrick, B., Hisley, J., & Kempler, T. (2000). “What’s Everybody So Excited About?”: The Effects of Teacher Enthusiasm on Student Intrinsic Motivation and Vitality. The Journal of Experimental Education, 68(3), 217–236.

Buskist, W., Sikorski, J., Buckley, T., & Saville, B. K. (2002). Elements of master teaching. In S. F. Davis & W. Buskist (Eds.),The teaching of psychology: Essays in honor of Wilbert J. McKeachie and Charles L. Brewer(pp. 3039). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Michael F. Dahlstrom. (2014). Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS,111(Supplement 4), 1361413620.

Keller, J. M. (1987). Strategies for stimulating the motivation to learn.Performance + Instruction,26(8), 17.


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