Essential ingredients for an effective explainer video
James Cresswell gravatar avitar

Essential ingredients for an effective explainer video

Author: James Cresswell | Posted on: 3 June 2021


As all of our daily lives have undergone radical change, content of all kinds has been really important for keeping people informed and up to speed. One type of content particularly suited to this time has been the explainer video.

An explainer video will generally pair voiceover with simple visuals to explain a concept in a way that is as efficient and easily-digestible as possible. It seems like a straightforward goal, but distilling a complicated idea into a short video can be more of a challenge than you may think.

So, what are the crucial components for an explainer video that works?


A straightforward script

One of the trickiest parts of an explainer video is the script. A writer will need to constantly consider how to fit all their ideas into a video of (at the very most) around two minutes in length, and how to present them in a way that keeps a viewer engaged in a topic that they may know next to nothing about.

Academic Joselita Salita wrote an article for the journal Medical Writing that advises on how to write for audiences unfamiliar with a specific field. Though Salita is writing for scientists, her insights are widely applicable to anyone looking to make a specialist topic more widely accessible. These range from simple tips – avoid jargon where possible, identify who you’re writing for and what they would most want to know – to deeper suggestions about how to structure information in a more compelling and narrative way:

“[Scientific writing] has a pyramid structure in which the information starts with an introduction and ends with the discussion and conclusions. In contrast, a lay summary has an inverted pyramid structure in which the reader is first told about the conclusions and is then led in the opposite order to the more detailed background information … Writing plainly on what, who and where can be dry, whereas answering why and so what can make your writing more compelling."


Engaging, distinct visuals

Another of Salita’s writing suggestions is the use of visual aids as a way of reinforcing your message. This, of course, is where an explainer video has a big advantage over more purely text-based content.

In many of the explainer videos we work on, we make use of the animation expertise at our disposal. This allows us to complement the script and hold the viewer’s attention with an eye-catching sense of visual rhythm, pace, and narrative. For example: in the explainer video that we worked on for the finance company Certua, you can see how we breathe extra life into their simple and memorable hexagon logo - guiding this icon smoothly through the various stages of their life insurance journey.



As a tool for illustrating key points, distinct visuals can serve many purposes. If you have to use acronyms or any specialist language, for example, you can use kinetic typography to help clarify what these terms mean, as we do in this video explaining how international students can apply for their Confirmation of Access for Studies (or CAS).



A clear and effective voiceover

Finally, there are a number of things to consider regarding the voiceover of your video. When thinking about tone of voice, for example, it’s worth considering what would best suit your brand and the subject matter of your video – whether that’s an authoritative voice, a more informal and relaxed voice, or anything in between.

Generally though, clarity is everything when it comes to explaining the information effectively. Ensure that the voiceover artist is speaking sharply and clearly, and that the recording is free of intrusive background noise.


From animation facilities to a voice recording set-up, we can assist businesses at every stage of developing an informative and engaging explainer video. If you’re interested in working with us or learning more, feel free to get in touch with us via our contact page.


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Author: James Cresswell

James Cresswell gravatar avitar
James is our copywriter and social media manager here at Ember Television. He joined us after studying an MA programme in Film and Television: Research and Production at the University of Birmingham.
Essential ingredients for an effective explainer video

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