Video Best Practices: Keep it Short

I presented these slides at LavaCon 2015. My hope is that people will comment with their experiences and feedback. I’d love to hear of any resources to add, especially if it comes from small businesses.

Audiences have short attention spans…SQUIRREL!

High Points


The optimum length for a video depends on your purpose or audience. Trying to grab new views off social media requires you to get attention immediately, pretty much within the first three seconds. Imagine your video is on autoplay in Facebook. You have that long as they scroll by to get their attention.

If someone is already on your site looking for answers, you have a little bit more leeway. How-to videos can also be a little longer (for example, TED Talks). In all cases, make the videos only as long as necessary and no longer.

If you have a long video, break it up into shorter segments

EdX Study by Philip Guo

This is a study from EdX by Philip Guo, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Rochester. The x-axis groups videos by their length, and the y axis shows how long students watched. In the 0-3 minute category, the students watched 0-3 minutes, so basically 100% completion rate. Pretty much the same for the 3-6 minute videos. After 6 minutes, though, viewership fell off.

Example: Techsmith Camtasia help. Here’s what I love about them. They break up their videos into a series. They publish their script along with the video. Their thumbnail is branded and easy to understand.

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