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How Long Should Instructional Videos Be

Alma Elliott
2023-08-25 21:06:27 • Filed to: Creative Video Effects

In an era where attention span can be in short supply, it can be difficult to determine the correct length of a video. How long does a video need to be to provide the information needed without boring the viewers? The simplest answer to this question is that there is no ideal length for all videos and very many factors have to be considered when determining the video’s length.

What is clear is that the viewers definitely have a preference and this preference will vary depending on the genre and the content. In this guide we hope to help you determine how long your instructional video should be.

How Long Should Instructional Vides Be?

Studies have shown that many viewers want the informational and instruction videos to be less than 20 minutes with a preference of about 3-6 mins. When we analyzed 50 of the most popular instructional videos online, we found the average length to be 3.13 mins.

But there is a caveat; the ideal length of a given video should be determined by its content and target audience. It is also worth noting that we saw different lengths in YouTube and Facebook videos.

Even the videos that you create will have varied lengths. Sometimes, you will need to create a longer video and other time a shorter video will be more ideal. But this in no way means that there aren’t ways to ensure that each video you make is just the right size.

Video Success Isn’t Determined by Length

Whenever the question of video length is brought up, the default right answer is always shorter is so much better. But while you should keep the length in mind when crating a video, it may not be a good idea to remove content from the video just to make it shorter.

A recent study has shown that more than 50% of viewers prefer videos with a length of about 5 to 6 minutes. This is not really surprising since most people don’t have the time to spend time watching videos online.

What is interesting is that the second highest preferred length for videos was 10-19 minutes. This is a clear indication that viewers might be open to watching longer videos of the content is what they were looking for. The study also analyzed more than 100 videos that the participants categorized as great videos. Of these 100 videos, 22 were about 10-19 minutes long and another 22 were about 3-4 minutes long.

It was our conclusion therefore that people are open to watching longer video and will even categorize them as great. Therefore, the length of the video is important, but it doesn’t determine the success of the video.

Content on the Other Hand Determines Video Success

The content should determine the length of the video and not the other way around. In this way, video is much like cooking, the amount of time you spent on the video will be determined by what you are making. The dish and how successful you are at making it will determine the amount of time it takes to cook.

Because the content determines the length of the video, the following two questions can help you zero in on just how long your video needs to be;

  • What do my viewers need to know?
  • How can I cover the topic in the most effective and useful way?

Once you have the answer to these two questions, you have your video. It may seem like they simplify this process too much, but they can do more than just help you determine the length of the video; they also help you determine the content to be included in the video.

How to Make Your Videos the Right-Size

The question of how long an instructional video needs to be is really asking what is the best way to keep a viewer’s attention for long enough to give them the information that they need. In a world where attention spans keep dropping, it can be easy to try to remove some of the content to make the video shorter.

But the same study we alluded to before also found that the reason why someone may stop watching a video often has nothing to do with the video length. In fact, up to 83% of participants said that they would continue watching a video of they are genuinely interested in the topic.

Rather than think about the length of the video, you may want to focus on creating content that will be engaging and interesting to your audience. To create the best content, there are certain things that you will need to know, including the following;

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the problem that you can solve for them?
  • What are their goals?
  • How can you help them accomplish these goals?
  • What is their skill level or what do they already know?

These questions will help you determine the goals of the video and help you know how you can make the video to address your audience’s need in the most effective and efficient way.

You’re Now Ready to Plan the Video’s Content

Once you have determined your target audience’s needs, you are ready to plan the video’s content accordingly. But when you are excited about a certain topic it can be very easy to go on and on about it, making the video unnecessarily long.

The most important thing to remember when creating any kind of content is that you are trying to address a specific problem. This is all the content of the video should do and when you find yourself veering of topic, it may be time to reign in the video and edit out sone of the content.

Make sure that one video addresses a single problem. If your audience have more than one problem that you can solve, you can always create more videos ways. Rather than create one long video, consider creating multiple shorter videos that can be distributed as a series.

How to Get your Audience’s Attention and Keep it  

Since length doesn’t determine the reasons your audience may stop watching your video, you may be wondering about some of the things you can do to capture and retain their attention. When a person is not getting the information, they need from a video, they are more likely to stop watching the video whether it is one minute or thirty minutes.

It therefore follows that the only way to retain the viewer’s attention is to make sure that the video is actually giving them what they came for. You can only do that by creating content that not only solves their problem, but is also interesting and engaging.

But there is also the issue of capturing their attention in the first place. In this case, your video’s title and description can go a long way. The title should describe exactly what the viewer should expect when watching the video. It can be tempting to use click-bait titles but even if one million people click on the video, but less than 10 actually watch the video to completion, they are unlikely to interact with your brand.

Other than the title and the description, there are other things that you can do to retain your viewer’s attention. These include the following;

  1. Be Interesting

Using a story telling technique to deliver the content can make even the most complex topics seem interesting. Inject your own personality into the video to allow your audience to identify not just with the content, but with you as well.

Using real -life experiences is another great way to make videos more interesting to the audience. When you can, add visual aids like images and icons to explain the concept.

  1. Use Humor

When applicable, making people laugh is one of the best ways to keep them engaged. But this will obviously depend on the type of content you are making and the kind of audience you are interacting with. Something that is funny in your own country may fall flat to an international audience.

  1. Use Plain Everyday Language

Unless your content calls for the use of specific jargon, you want to make sure that your video is easily understandable to the average person. Avoid using long, drawn out sentences that the audience may find boring.

The takeaway is that there is no such thing as the prefect video length. Rather than spend time thinking about how long your video needs to be, take the time to make sure it is informative, engaging and above all solves your audience’s problem. This is the only way to keep audience watching the video.