What Is An Explainer Video?

For now, let’s forget about video.  I want to talk about explanation. You’ve probably explained something recently: Why you like a piece of music or why a news event matters to you. We are all explainers. We create understanding as a normal part of our daily communication. So much so, that we never think about it.

It’s like design. If you’ve ever made a sandwich or a paper airplane, you’ve designed something, but it probably never seemed like design to you. It just happened without much thought.

The thing about design though, is that some people have become really good at it. What is a task to some is an artform to others. Designers are the people whose focus and attention have produced some of the world’s most popular products. One only needs to look at Apple’s success to see a perfect example of great design at work. We are all designers, but some of us are amazingly good at it.

Just as the design world has designers, the world of communication has explainers.  Explainers don’t simply explain ideas, they bring focus and attention to making an idea easy to understand. Their communication is intentional and goal oriented. For them, communication is the art.

Today, explainers have amazing opportunities. Not only is the world growing more complex, but new tools are transforming how we think about making and sharing explanations. What starts in the written word can now be transformed into media. A trend we’ve seen emerging in a big way is explainer videos.

Often, these are short, animated videos with a specific goal: understanding.  They use clear and concise language along with entertaining and complimentary visuals. The video format can serve as a near-perfect package for presenting ideas, products and services in a form that not only explains, but attracts attention.

For example, Google recently introduced a project called Loon that uses balloons to offer internet access to underserved areas.  The project home page features a remarkable explainer video for the project.

Now that tools like GoAnimate are making animated videos easy, people who are interested in explanation have an opportunity to create remarkable experiences that explain and entertain. With a bit of practice and focus on writing easy-to-understand voice-over scripts, anyone can be not only an explainer, but a media pro.

About the Author

Lee Lefever of Common Craft

Lee LeFever is the founder of Common Craft, whose video explanations have been viewed tens of millions of times online and have established the explainer video industry. He can be found on Twitter @leelefever.

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Lee is also the author of The Art of Explanation – Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easy to Understand.

Filed Under: Explainer Week