The average attention span online is just eight seconds. So while online videos are increasingly part of the communicator’s toolkit, how can we beat that eight second rule?

My colleague and experienced video producer Cathy Reid has written a series of short articles about producing successful online videos. The first article contained quick tips for creating successful online videos. Here’s the second article in the series.

Best YouTube duration—how long is a piece of string?

Ball of stringWhen it comes to YouTubes, less is definitely more.

Good online videos are quick snapshots that convey important messages in a couple of minutes at the most.

People like to receive information in bite-sized chunks—especially online.

In our fast-paced world, we are accustomed to news-style delivery where complex stories and issues are dealt with in 60 seconds or less.

Think of YouTubes as just one of the tools in your communications kit.

They can provide a great value-add to other more detailed material.

But many online videos are closed within the first eight seconds, and most people tune out after a minute, so it’s essential to catch your audience’s attention right from the beginning.

Don’t over-think or over-produce your video. Do keep it simple.

Here are five things to avoid:

  • going terminal instead of viral—too long and dull
  • confusing messages—too much detail
  • unclear purpose—no direction
  • death by statistics—fact overload
  • pages of text on screen—difficult to take in.

While it’s important to avoid too many words on the screen, really simple, focused text can be very effective.

In fact animation is becoming the most popular way to convey a message, as this simple and effective YouTube Designed by Apple—Intention shows.

Need to create an online video? Contact us to talk about how we can help.

Cathy Reid has produced numerous YouTube videos for government. Both Cathy Reid and Cinden Lester are former broadcast journalists who have both produced hundreds of television news stories—researching, interviewing and working with camera crews and editors to create these short, sharp videos. They draw on this experience when producing videos for government and private sector clients.


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