Let’s say I want to watch a video to learn how to cut curved sections into paving stones. This is a natural thing to turn to YouTube for, since watching people using the tools communicates more than text ever could. While viewing a video with a promising title, here is a bunch of stuff I could do without. All these comments can be generalized to improve ALL YouTube How-To content. Because almost all of it is terrible. The best ones spend only about 1/3 the time on topic.
So! Stuff I DON’T want:
Content – Information I simply don’t need
- Why you pulled up your old pavers
- Why you decided to do the project yourself
- Other challenges of the project
- What the other parts of your patio will look like
- You only have to tell me about different-sized hammers once
- I did not just click a link about cutting stone to watch a man stand around talking and gesturing, even if it was the best-edited video in the bunch
Editing – Annoyances standing between me and what I want to know
- I don’t want to look at your leg while you cut interminably at the stone, just out of view.
- I don’t need to watch while you adjust the camera angle
- I don’t need to listen to you apologize for taking so long to get the camera angle right
- I don’t need to watch all five minutes of the cut in real time while the sound of the power tools screams through my speakers
- I don’t need to wait for the power tool to stop spinning before you speak again. (Except the one guy who made that a humorous moment.)
Quality – Sure would like to see what you’re doing there…
- The camera should not be six inches off the ground for most of the important parts
- Selfie stick is not as good as tripod; tripod is not as good as cameraman.
- Plan for loud noises or silences
Credibility – Are you serious?
- Stonework with large power tools while wearing flip-flops? Really?
- You’re really cutting stone that’s braced only by piling other stone on top of it?
- You just said “this probably won’t fit.” Why am I watching you again?
- While you mumble and fiddle, I’m finding another video.
Every damn second of a video about cutting curves in pavers should be about exactly that. That’s not to say you can’t have relevant side information — safety, tips for marking the curves to cut — but ultimately it’s not a video about you saving money by not calling a contractor. It’s a video about cutting curves in pavers. (Or it’s a video about breaking down a chicken. Or whatever.) Remember what you are teaching, and make your video 1/3 the length of your original “cut”. (Most aren’t cut at all.)