Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Anticipating questions, part of Instructional Design Essentials: Creating Video Training.
In the previous movie, I discussed the important concept of understanding who your audience is. Who will be watching your training. What they'll need to bring to the table in order to watch your course and how you can best present the material that suits their level. Another aspect of understanding your audience is being able to anticipate the types of questions they might have. Now if you're an experienced live instructor and you're converting a class you've taught several times into a video course, you probably already have a good sense of the sorts of questions students may ask. And you'll want to make sure to incorporate answers to those questions in your videos.
But a prerecorded video training, there's no way to take questions from the audience. So if you're putting together training you haven't had the opportunity to present live, you'll have to put yourself in the audience's place. Each time you present some information, look at that information critically and see if you can find flaws or missing pieces to what you've presented. Some general types of questions you might ask could include, is that the only way to accomplish the task? If there's another way to accomplish it should that be considered. And other times when the alternate method would be preferable and can you provide an example. For instance, when I was working on my course covering iMovie for iOS, I noticed that it was sometimes difficult to split clips.
Which is the term for taking a single video clip and splitting it into two pieces. So I first showed a method that involves selecting clip and then swiping vertically down to create the split. Now there are two ways to split a clip. One method is to swipe down the play head with my finger to split the clip. Now I found that sometimes it takes me a few tries. iMovie seems to be pretty sensitive to making sure you don't accidentally split clips, so you really have to move your finger in an accurate straight line down the play head. Let's undo that. Another way to split a clip is again to make sure the play head is where you want the split to occur and select the clip. And when a clip is selected, you get a selection of commands down here at the bottom of the screen.
First make sure video is selected and one of the options you have here on the right is split. So you may find it easier to just have a button instead of swiping down the play head, but it's entirely up to you. So in this case, I anticipated that some viewers might have trouble using the manual method of splitting a clip. So I made sure I provided an alternative method, so they could continue to follow along. Another common question that I try to anticipate is what I referred to as the implied question. These are the sorts of questions that pop into my own head, whenever I mention certain points about a software preference or product feature.
For example, in my course on FL Studio, which is digital audio workstation software. I was talking about how to use the History panel to undo steps in a recording project, so you can experiment with different settings or revert back to previous steps. The implied question to me in this case was how many undos can you apply? Meaning, can I go all the way back to when I started the project? If I experiment too much, will I lose the ability to go back to the original settings? And so on. So this is how I address that question. Just sets this layer back to the way it was when I left the piano roll. But you can step back further, by going to your History over here in the browser.
And here, I can see several of my last changes. So I'll just click right before the last send a piano roll. And now my snare's back to its original appearance. And in case you're wondering, you can set the levels of undos under Options > General Settings. And you can see the default here is 20. Now adding more undo levels gives you freedom to experiment, but it can also impact FL Studios performance. I'll leave it up to you to experiment to see how much of a safety net you want. Generally speaking, whenever I'm demonstrating a feature, I try to show an example of how the feature is used in a real-world setting. What important limitations it might have if any, whether the feature will have any impact on other areas of your project and what options are available for that feature.
Now obviously, these are very broad guidelines and you certainly don't want to do this with every single feature or technique you're demonstrating in your video. But do your best to anticipate the questions that you feel would most logically come up, when you show specific tools or techniques. Try not to just plow through giving a tour of features. Along those lines, another sort of question I try to address is one that I feel comes up a lot when you bring up dialog boxes, settings or preferences windows. In my head, I refer to this as the okay, but what's that over there? Type of question. What I mean by this is let's say, I'm teaching Microsoft Word and I want to show how to stop it from selecting entire words when I make selections and instead select individual characters.
I would say, something like, to do this let's open preferences. And here we'll go into Edit and under Editing options, you'll find when selecting automatically select entire word. Let's uncheck that. Now as I'm showing this feature, my viewer's eyes might wander around to other sections of the preferences options. They may look below the option I just clicked and wonder, okay. But what's this Overtype mode option and why is it unchecked by default? Now these types of situations, we have to find the balance between addressing the questions you anticipate the viewer will have and staying on the topic of what you're teaching.
So if I was recording a movie that was called understanding words edit preferences, I might very well be going down this entire list of preferences and explaining what each one is for. But if I only came under preferences to show how to disable this feature, because I'm trying to show something else. Like how to select just parts of a single word, it wouldn't be appropriate to go off on a tangent at this time. But I still think it's important to reassure your students that you'll either be covering other options that are sitting right there in front of them in later movies. Or that certain options are relevant to what you're teaching at the moment. This can be as simple as saying and don't worry, we'll be getting to these other check boxes in upcoming videos.
Or now some of these options are outside of the scope of these videos, but we'll be covering the relevant ones in just a bit. Of course, if you can explain a related option quickly. I think it's okay to take a quick aside just to mention it. So I might say something like, by the way, if you check overtype mode that'll replace any characters to right of your cursor as you're typing instead of shifting them to the right as you type. Let's go ahead and close preferences. But I think the most important question to anticipate and one that should basically be motivating everything you say is simply, why. Or as I like to call it, The Why.
To me, whether you're teaching in a live classroom, writing an instruction manual or recording a video tutorial, the main question you should be answering is why. An instruction video shouldn't just be you going through a dialogue boxes or tools saying things like, click this button to invert the colors. Or use this panel to add space before each paragraph. Or hold Shift while dragging the cursor to select all the objects. These kinds of sentences are necessary to explain how to accomplish certain tasks, but you absolutely need to proceed or follow them up by explaining why you would want to do that.
Your videos should layout a problem or a challenge that the viewer might be trying to overcome and your job is to explain the situations they may encounter. And how they can use the tools you're showing them to address them. Any time you demonstrate something, explain why they should know this. For example, you'll definitely want to take advantage of this caching feature if your computer is underpowered or doesn't have enough RAM. Or you can save yourself a lot of time by simply checking this box and letting the software do the calculations for you. Don't just tell the viewer how to do something, like how to create drop caps in InDesign.
First, explain why you would use drop caps. Under what circumstances they're appropriate and when not to use them. The point is don't just list off feature after feature or just walk your viewers through a series of steps. Your viewers want to learn not just how to use a program or product. They want to learn the best way to use it and they want your input on it. Now if you feel like you're having difficulty anticipating the sorts of questions that might be asked, it's not a bad idea to visit forums where the topic you're covering is being discussed. Discussion forums can be a good place to get an idea of what specific questions or problems people are running into in the real-world.
You might even want to participate in the forums yourself, offering advice and then seeing what kinds of followup questions arise from there. So again, as you develop your training videos, take a step outside your own headspace and understanding of the material. And try to see things from your audience's perspective and anticipate the questions that might come up. In the end, you'll have a more informative video and you'll also reduce the amounts of calls or emails with questions concerning the topic you've covered in your movies.
- Understanding your audience
- Defining course- and movie-level objectives
- Scripting vs. outlining
- Deciding which visuals to use
- Preparing your computer for recording
- Handling mistakes and redos
- Sharing your movies