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6 Steps to Simplifying Complex Concepts With Video.

Video is the ideal medium for breaking down complex concepts, ideas, and structures. Video is useful in nearly any situation, and it is particularly helpful with e-learning, training, and anything that requires visuals or action to describe.

Professional communicators understand the importance of clear language and know there are times when the written word isn’t enough. If you’ve ever said, “Here, just let me show you,” video is an effective medium to include in your marketing plan.

These six steps will help you break down your complex topic into an easily digestible video.

1. Understand the topic by asking the right questions

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” The first step to explaining a complex idea is making sure you understand it inside and out. You do that by asking the right questions, starting with the fundamentals—who, what, where, when, why, and how—and then digging deeper.

It helps to take an audience-centric approach to content development by presenting concepts in a manner the audience will understand, not in the manner you want to explain. Keep that in mind during this discovery stage, as it will lead you to ask better questions.

2. Set the tone

The tone has to be set so as not to oversimplify, which can sometimes be boring or—worse—offensive to the audience. Remember, it isn't always what you say but how you say it that’s memorable.

The tone also needs to match the brand and the target audience. Explaining the complexities of molecular biology has a different feel than explaining the steps to bake cookies. (mmmm, cookies)

3. Cut the clutter

It’s important to know what to leave out. The message will be lost if there is too much unnecessary detail. When possible, omit technical jargon that will confuse the audience. Keep the language simple, but not simplistic. It’s a fine line to walk between oversimplifying and overwhelming viewers, but keeping that audience-centric approach will help you stay on the right side of it.

4. Create context

Context helps connect what you are trying to convey to the people you are working to reach. It helps paint the big picture before dissecting or dismantling the complex issue. That 30,000-foot view clarifies ambiguity and narrows the focus from the beginning.

Information becomes more memorable when you create context, especially if it becomes emotionally significant. Video has the ability to tell a story rather than just inform, so take advantage of that!

5. Decide on an approach

How is the material best presented? Whether it’s by deconstructing a process, illustrating a structure, using comparisons to more familiar ideas, or organizing concepts into clusters, this decision will inform the type of video best suited to your project.

There are many options to explore within the video medium, each with different benefits.

On-camera interviews showcase authenticity and build a strong connection with the audience. Experts are able to demonstrate their knowledge in their own voice. Supporting graphics or animation can help with clarity and emphasis.

Motion graphics and animation provide the opportunity to describe concepts that otherwise are impossible to illustrate or for the viewer to see. This is helpful for large- and small-scale projects, such as showing the biological makeup of a cell or detailing construction projects. This blank canvas has unlimited creativity and flexibility—a big benefit over live filming.

Whatever approach you choose, be consistent. Once you release a video to your audience, you are training them for what to expect moving forward.

6. Plan distribution

How and where you distribute your video is vital to its success.

How will your audience take in the videos? While a long, webinar-like video might work for your complicated topic, you can also release your content as a series of videos to further break down complex concepts. In fact, shorter videos will continue to trend as platforms such as Instagram and TikTok limit video length.

How will your audience access your videos? Maybe they’re hosted on your website; shared through social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; sent out to your email list; or posted on video sharing platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube. Remember the audience-centric approach—knowing your audience and where they spend their time will help you choose the best distribution plan.

Following these steps will lead you down the path to video success. If you find yourself stuck or overwhelmed, go back to the beginning and walk through it again. Remember, simplicity is key. You’ve got this!


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