WriterAccess Podcast: Lee LeFever discusses “The Art of the Explanation Video”

Lee LeFever, a self-described “picture taker, video maker and cocktail shaker” has found an interesting niche creating short explanation videos for teachers and trainers

During a recent WriterAccess podcast with CEO Byron White, LeFever shared information about his projects that include Common Craft, which has produced nearly 80 educational videos; and the Explanation Academy, which provides tools and strategies for people who want to make similar informational projects.

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In the 21-minute podcast, he also shared his views on how and why we best learn, why the concept – and the audience – are both more important than appearance or experience, and why good writing always shines.

This podcast is vital for anyone with an interest in explanation videos. In it LeFever shares his tips, including:

  • Simple strategies to use your voice to express mood and also reduce anxiety of your audience.
  • The usefulness of analogies and metaphors in helping people understand a concept better – and why this method can sometimes be criticized.
  • Why three minute videos are best, and not any shorter or longer.
  • What ingredients can make ‘explanation’ videos work well, and what can make them fail.

“When we make these videos, we think ‘what will help the teacher explain these well to their students?’” he said. “We need to make it understandable, make it evergreen, and help the instructor use it to build a foundation so they can use it as a jumping-off point for further discussion.”

LeFever is clear that that the information in his videos isn’t especially original or proprietary – often the concepts discussed are common knowledge, but he and his team just take the effort to gather and repackage them in a way that he hopes will help audiences better understand the context – something that can be easily lost in today’s world.

“We sometimes see what I call the ‘curse of knowledge,’ where we may live and work around certain products or services, and know all the ins and outs of them, so they start becoming part of our world and our way of communicating,” he said. “But if we try to speak about them or use this language with someone who isn’t familiar, or has never heard the words we’re saying before, that’s a challenge to get them to understand. People are missing that valuable context.”

LeFever emphasized that anyone can do what he does, which is why he started the Explanation Academy.

“The goal of creating good explanations is to make things understandable, so my advice, when you’re trying to make sense of something, is to pick up your pens, go to your computer, and pretend you’re writing a letter to a friend saying, ‘I want to make this understandable for you, why don’t you try thinking about it this way.’”

To listen to the podcast, click here.


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