Create a punchy promo video for your online course

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The above is an example of what I was able to achieve as promo video for my Udemy course on Practical Knowledge Modelling. I was able to quickly create the video by observing and applying a simple set of steps and workflow to come up with, what I believe to be a decent promo video (given the feedback I’ve had from people who’ve watched it). In this post, therefore, I will document my thought process behind creating the promo video and share it with you. I hope you find the info useful for your needs!

Making a similar promo video makes the following assumptions:

  • You are creating the promo video to market your course as a product
  • You develop your promo video after you finish composing your course materials. Like that, you have content and assets to reuse for making your video
  • You are quite creative, have a good attention to detail and know how to use a bunch of creative, timeline and presentation software (like the ones described below)

 

You need a few software and basic equipment to get cracking. So, here are the tools of the trade:

  • PC or laptop. Note that if you own a Mac, then you computer comes with a range of useful creative and timeline applications like Garage Band, iMovie, etc., which means you won’t need to use some of the additional software mentioned below
  • Text editor or Microsoft Office Word. That’s for typing up your script for your promo
  • A decent microphone and a quiet room. In my case I used the Blue Yeti microphone
  • Sound editing software. I used Adobe Soundbooth but you can also use a free tool like Audacity or you can jump that altogether and simply use Camtasia Studio (just make sure to toggle the mic function when recording with Camtasia Studio)
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint. That’s for composing your graphics and animations
  • Free graphics and icons. There are a few websites out there where you can grab free resources but the one I used was Flaticons
  • Techsmith Camtasia Studio. This is a timeline application that allows capturing screen videos and doing video editing using a very easy-to-use and straightforward user interface. This is where everything will come together before the final video is published

 

Step 1: Punchy statements

The first thing I did was to come up with 4 to 5 punchy statements to market the course. In my case, I identified the following 5 statements that would warrant the attention of my audience:

  • “… improve the way we manage knowledge”. This statement captures a problem or need that will be addressed in the course
  • “… graphical and computer-aided methods to represent the structure of knowledge”. This statement informs on what the audience will gain
  • “… inner workings of developing knowledge models". This statement informs on what the audience will gain
  • “… clear, accurate, visual and formal”. This statement captures a few punchy adjectives that convey a differentiating factor
  • “… take action now! Don’t let knowledge go to waste!”. A final thought-provoking statement that grabs the attention of the audience. This statement prompts for an action and invites the audience to take the course

 

Step 2: Voiceover script

The next thing I did was to flesh out and write down the whole voiceover script to use in the promo video. Something I had in mind at that point was timing. I didn’t want the promo video to last more than 90 seconds. So I had to make sure that the total number of words in the script was going to be around 200 to 250, taking into account that the pace of delivery was going to be 140+ words per minute. In other words, going below 140 words per minute would make it feel a little slow for a promo video. Below is the first paragraph of the script:

Knowledge is present all around us: in our heads, on the Web, in documents, embedded into products, processes, systems, and so on. But tangible knowledge that you can consume at-a-glance isn’t! What if there was a better way to capture knowledge and use it to share understanding, train people, represent subject matter and more, generally, “improve the way we manage knowledge?”
 

Step 3: Decompose the voiceover script

The next step I took was to decompose the voiceover script into smaller chunks of statements that I could assign possible media (e.g. graphics, existing videos created for the course, etc.), animations, and transitions to. This was a necessary step for me to have a rough idea of how the video could come together while ensuring that it had sufficient dynamic content to keep the audience focused. Below is the output of that activity for the first paragraph of the script. Think of it as a quite crude storyboard for the promo video and note that it doesn’t need to be the definitive plan when composing the video. It’s more like a “sketch” of what you need.

Promo Video Storyboard

Step 4: Background music

This is an optional step but, because I wanted to incorporate music in the final video, at that point in time, I already had in mind what track I wanted to use. I looked for a track that aligned quite well with the way the script unfolded.

Step 5: Compose in PowerPoint

I then used Microsoft Office PowerPoint to compose animations that I knew would be quite complex or probably impossible to achieve in Camtasia Studio. The purpose of these slides were to create animations that I could then later screen-record using Camtasia Studio and include when composing the final promo video. Note that several of the graphics used on slides were simply reused from those previously collected for the course materials. Below is a screenshot depicting the creation of these animations in PowerPoint.

creating animations for promo video using PowerPoint

Step 6: Record and edit voiceover

With all the prep work done, now comes the fun! Basically, that’s where all the recording and editing comes in. The first bit of recording I did was that of the voiceover. I used a Blue Yeti microphone and recorded the script at a pace of delivery of about 140-150 words per minute. I then edited the clip in Adobe Soundbooth (a free tool like Audacity would do the job too), exported it to MP3, ready for use in Camtasia Studio.

voiceover recording and editing in Adobe Soundbooth

Step 7: Record and edit animations

The next thing I did was to record the animations I made in PowerPoint by using the screen recording feature of Camtasia Studio. The procedure is really simple. You just need to open Camtasia Recorder and start recording, toggle your PowerPoint presentation to slideshow mode, and record your sequence of animations. Once recorded, save the file for editing later in Camtasia Studio in the next step of the process.

Step 8: Compose in Camtasia Studio

With all the assets ready, it was time to actually put the whole promo video together. I achieved that by overlaying the voiceover track, music track, recorded PowerPoint animations, video tracks previously mastered for the course, any additional graphics, text elements, etc. Then, I used some very straightforward but detailed editing methods to achieve the effects I wanted. Below is a list of the main methods used:

  • Cutting, using transitions (e.g. gradient wipe and glow), extending frames, etc.
  • Zooming in slowly where you have static pictures that are displayed for slightly longer
  • Using quick and burst zooming at key points during the video as a means of capturing attention
  • Tilting the orientation using the visual properties in Camtasia Studio
  • Adjusting clip speed as required, etc.

 

PromoVideoCompositionCamtasia

Step 6: Export and upload

From Camtasia Studio, the final video was then exported to MP4 and uploaded to my course on the Udemy website.
 
So, these are the core steps I took to create my promo video. In a nutshell all you need is a bit of planning work, some creative flair and a process on how you go about writing your script, assembling your assets, recording and, finally, composing them into a great promo video! And if you want to learn more about Practical Knowledge Modelling, check out this link!
 

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