Tips for more engaging Udemy videos

What makes a course great?   There's no cookie cutter answer, but we can agree that great courses have: a personable instructor, good pace, interactivity, clarity, visual engagement, limited distractions.

Are your videos achieving those "golden rules of teaching"? Let's look are some tips to help you make more engaging Udemy videos.

Add some live action to your screencasts

Too often courses are a just voice and a screencast. But people learn better when they can connect with the teacher. And while a tiny picture-in-picture is better than nothing, it doesn't achieve the effect of a proper fullscreen view of the instructor - like here in this video:

This video starts with a mid shot of the instructor, then a view of the screen, and then the screencast. It's a great way to establish contact with the audience before diving into the content.

Splicing live action and screencast is not hard, as long as you get a proper camera, lighting and sound. We'll link to more how-to resources on this topic very soon.

Try greenscreen and compositing to break monotony

The next step is to blend both the teacher visual and the content visual into a single image. It is achieved by filming on greenscreen background and replacing it with graphics.

A few seconds into the video, the background is used to illustrate key points of the video and keep the user engaged.

There are many resources on the web to learn greenscreen (such as this funny one). But basically it's about proper lighting of the greenscreen to avoid shadows and attain good color contrast, and experience using software like Final Cut Pro and After Effects to key out the background and correct for possible errors in prod.

Animate your illustrations

Going back to the old classroom days. Teachers would hand write / draw on a blackboard. The ancestor of modern animation, you could say. Today the options for animations are endless: stop motion, kinetic typography, motion graphics, frame-by-frame animations...

Let it play for a few seconds, you'll see how they recorded hand-drawn illustrations at a slow frame rate and are playing back it at normal speed.

We'll update this post soon with a link to useful how-tos for stop-motion animations.

Try kinetic typography and motion graphics

Kinetic typography is a form of text animation. It typically involves After Effects (or other equivalent software). Doing it well can be a lot of work, but the results are very engaging. Often the animated text is accompanied with animated illustrations, from stock designs or custom designs. It's important that the animations stay subtle enough so as to not distract.

Have a look a few seconds into this video, how the letters (philosophy are animated) - that's kinetic typography

Kinetic typography can be a lot of work, and it's probably better to team up with a motion designer for this.   You'll find great motion designers here

Myth: Animations are way out of my budget

For sure, Disney-like animations are extremely expensive. The work of huge teams, drawn frame by frame... But you can animate your illustrations and engage your audience without breaking the bank. Take a look at this example for $150:

Corey Nichols

edited by

The instructor provided the slides, and he used Videopixie to get them animated. Total cost: $150.

As you can see: there is a wide variety of video technique to get students engaged. For the most part they are not expensive to implement and quite effective. Don't hesitate to discuss your video with our community of 600+ video pros. It's free and we are all happy to engage - especially since we'll learn from you in the process ;-)

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