This advice of course comes straight from me. It is not verified by science, nor much experience. It is simply my opinion and what I have experience in creating my videos.
Original article on the MIT Blossoms newsletter here.
TOP 7 CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE SCIENCE VIDEO
- Exciting - Start off your video with something exciting! I’ve learned this the hard way. It feels more natural to me to introduce a topic step-by-step like, “In this video, we are going to learn about acceleration and Newton’s laws.” But this will not captivate your audience. Instead, try an intro that features exciting footage, or promising claims. Don’t worry if your viewers are confused at the beginning of the video. Your goal is to inspire curiosity and intrigue, then explain.
- Concise - Is your video short and to the point? If you plan to host your videos online, you will face the wrath of the internet. The internet is a difficult medium for many reasons. It is easy to click away and you are competing with short cat videos. Distill your information down to its key points. This can be done by planning your video well. I have often started out with much longer, wandering scripts and later edited them down.
- Enthusiastic - If you have made it this far in the article, you probably already have the enthusiasm for your science. Use emotional contagion to your advantage. When you are excited about your subject, it will have an effect on your viewers!
- Accessible - Striking the balance between talking down to your audience and talking over their heads is one of the hardest tasks in creating science videos. Keep in mind that while your audience is intelligent, they likely do not ponder scientific concepts every day. If you have trouble striking this balance, you can get useful feedback from your audience on social media.
- Less Jargon - When writing your script, use as little jargon as possible. A good rule of thumb is, can you explain the topic to your best friend, boyfriend, or cousin? You can always define jargon if you absolutely need it.
- Explain with Examples! - Explaining complicated concepts using every-day experiences is extremely helpful for a learner. Your viewer may never have heard of thermal equilibrium, but they are likely familiar with coffee cooling to room temperature. (See that? I used an example!)
- Involve Your Viewers - Ask them questions. Literally ask questions to the camera. If you are asking questions while doing your research, write those down and ask them during your video. Think of your viewer as someone like you––someone curious who wants to understand the world better. You can either answer these questions in your video or encourage your viewer to partake in their own learning by leaving them open-ended!