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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

Video Inspo to Break Through Designer's Block

It's 2022. Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably aware that video is one of the most popular tools for delivering online learning.

YouTube is now the second largest search engine, and 86% of users use YouTube to learn new things. There are 500 million views of learning content everyday (Google).

At this point in my career, I've written well over 500 scripts for instructional video at last tally. My From Data to Design course alone has 33 videos.

But when people are new to video for elearning, it can be intimidating, and it can be easy to get stuck in ruts of producing the same kinds of learning videos over and over again.

So today, I offer to you a fun list of inspiring videos whose styles you can steal for your next video-based learning project-- in no particular order.

The List

Disney's The Art of Skiing (Goofy short) - The story behind this video is that the actor that played Goofy quit on short notice. Rather than attempting match voices, Disney chose to give a different actor just one line: the iconic Goofy yell. But what I really love about this video is the scholarly narration that is juxtaposed over a character who is doing just about everything wrong. Narrators are usually happening outside of the story, but this one occasionally interacts with the character whose experience he's narrating (Goofy). Oh man, this one is a classic!

Michael Wesch's Make Super Simple Videos for Teaching Online - Michael Wesch's videos are great at connecting with his audience and storytelling. They're not just the linear lecture-style video. Despite being low production cost, they're really effective and compelling. In this one in particular, you really warm up to Michael because you see him in his home, trying/failing/learning along with the audience as he tries to teach the art of video for teaching online. It's very meta and very fun.

The Curious Mind of Christine McConnell - I mean, I loved this Netflix show so much that I wrote an entire blog post on it. Dark humor, the blending of what's supposed to be for adults and what's supposed to be for children, fantasy, misfit Muppet-style puppets, a likeable encouraging coach, all folded around step by step breakdowns of how to do everything from sew an evening gown to build a gingerbread haunted house.

Fancy Nancy - I'm spending more time than I ever had with toddler-approved TV these days (don't worry, we keep screen time to just a few minutes a week). I was never one for Cocomelon, but Fancy Nancy is one of those shows I can just get behind. The storytelling doesn't hit you over the head with a didactic lesson but weaves it in. The character of Nancy Clancy is a great role model. She's not perfect, but she embraces who she is and she says sorry when she's wrong. My favorite part about Fancy Nancy is how they teach vocabulary. Nancy will use an advanced word, like "imagination," then break the 4th wall and tell the audience what it means in simple terms, stating "that's fancy for...." She does the same with French. It's gentle, not condescending, and makes it easy to apply prior knowledge to gain new understandings.

Blues Clues - While we on the subject of kid's shows, I was an avid Blues Clues fan as a kid, even though I was a preteen when it came out. There is one major thing I like to steal from Blue's Clues and that is the "iSpy" style game they play with the audience and the instant feedback from Steve and Blue. It's totally adaptable to adult learning with just a bit of creativity!

ABC's What Would You Do? - Talk about a great format for scenario-based learning, especially for compliance. The show begs the question, "if you were there, what would you do?" and then it checks in with how people actually behave when they don't know cameras are rolling. It's mostly focused on the bystander effect but there are a lot of great ways to adapt the style of the content for learning.

Khaby Lame's TikToks - In the darkest of times, Khaby brought us laughter by poking fun at the ways in which we overcomplicate our world and did it all without speaking.

Cosmos with Neil Degrasse Tyson - I can think of few analogies that are more impactful than the Cosmic Calendar. Cosmos was beautiful, fun, and made science easy.

Miss Excel - If you can teach me how to use Excel in 7 - 20 second bites, call me impressed. And Miss Excel actually does that. I've learned lots of tips to make me more effective from her short videos, and I'm not alone because she is bringing in the big bucks now.

The Squatty Potty commercial - You know the ad team has done something right when you find yourself rewatching an advertisement for fun, and then buying the product. That's right folks! There is a squatty potty in my home. Aside from the fun characters and bright colors, the team behind this ad do a phenomenal job of teaching the audience what their product does. I mean, talking about efficient poop could either be gross or boring or both. Instead, it's full of glitter and fun. The Squatty Potty ad team is also responsible for ads for products like Poo-pouri and Lume deodorant-- a true engagement gold mine.

Jeopardy - Jeopardy made being a nerd (kinda) cool. You can't help but shout at the TV and play along, and likely, you also learned some cool facts as you did. Rest in Peace, Alex.

The News - I'm not going to cite a specific channel, but news producers are great storytellers and data presenters. They take what could otherwise be boring, disparate information and bring it to life.

Your Favorite Talk Show - Whether it's Wendy, Drew, or Dr. Phil, there is something to be learned from the format of your favorite talk show. How do they introduce subject matter experts? How do they squish everything into their segment? Is everyone getting a car? Lots to borrow from the best in the talk show industry.

And finally (but not really finally)… with the Superbowl coming up, check out the ads. Google, in particular, is great at storytelling in a way that surrounds their product without focusing directly on it and without dialogue. Remember their Parisian Love story from 2019?

Basically, inspiration is all around. Just flick on your favorite show, movie, or streaming channel and see what you can find.

And let me know... what would you add to the list?


Interested in working on your script-writing skills? Check out Scripting Voiceover for Video on the Upskill Experience.

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1 Comment

Gabby Grimaldo
Gabby Grimaldo
Feb 03, 2022

I loved the The Curious Mind of Christine McConnell and was sad when they cancelled it 😥

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