Loose in the China Shop

Rethinking the Business of Learning


Subscribe To Our Blog


Top Blog Articles

Distracted Learners? Teach Them in 60 Seconds

Posted by Nathan Pienkowski, Ph.D. on March 11, 2015 at 2:05 PM

To paraphrase Einstein, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – and neither will your audience. Einstein would have been a fan of the explainer video, which is a video that explains a concept, process, product or service, all in a minute or two.

For example, here’s an explainer we made about ourselves.


Sure, you could take longer than a couple of minutes if you wanted to dig deeper into whatever your topic is. But to explain to your audience the basics of anything in simple language, it doesn’t take more than a minute or two.

There’s good reason to use this approach when you want to teach your audience about a concept. Today’s typical learner doesn’t want a text-heavy manifesto. Learners prefer to consume knowledge in a form that’s short, simple, and engaging. That’s why explainer videos work. They give people a bite-sized chunk of content that is easy to digest. 

Here’s what to aim for when developing or overseeing the development of an explainer video:


Stay short.

Attention spans aren’t what they used to be. The current average attention span of a person is eight seconds. Even so, more than half of all people will stick around to view the end of a video that is less than one minute long.

Be engaging.

Roughly 60% of executives surveyed said they'd rather watch a video than read text, when given the choice. The implication? Video may have a natural advantage, but re-engaging the audience every few seconds is essential.

Keep it visual.

Ninety percent of the information that comes to the brain is visual, and the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. So use visuals to tell the story.


Pretend you’re explaining things to a sixth grader. Force yourself to strip down your ideas to the essential words and images. Simply doing this exercise enables you to turn a complex idea into something anyone can understand.

What’s your take on the trend toward explainer videos and other forms of micro-learning? Are you putting this approach to work in your company?

Topics: eLearning, Explainer Videos