12 Effective How-To Videos (and Why They Work)

12 Effective How-To Videos (and Why They Work)

People love watching videos; be it to solve a problem, learn about how a product works, or just for the sake of entertainment.

For creators, this offers plenty of opportunities to engage their audience, get their message across, and reach their content goals.

Educators and trainers, for example, can use videos as visual aid to make complex or multi-step information easier to learn and replicate.

Videos also make for excellent marketing tools. In fact, 88% of marketers claim that videos give them a good return on investment.

Video content has been proven to help brands boost awareness, engagement, and traffic. It can even help them build long-lasting relationships with customers based on trust.

One particular type of video that has risen sharply in popularity is a “how-to” video.

What is a How-To Video?

How-to videos are educational videos that teach the audience how to do something.

For example, a college professor can teach students how to solve an equation. A fitness instructor can teach yoga online. Or, a CMS software company can help customers learn how to set up an integration.

For brands, how-to videos are an excellent tool to equip customers with the knowledge and skills required to solve a problem and complete a task. Doing so can often convince customers to make a purchase by reducing uncertainty and confusion.

When it comes to style, there's no one way to create how-to videos. In most cases, this will depend entirely on your tone, voice, and what your brand is all about.

That said, here are some popular how-to video styles:

  • Animated
  • Live action
  • Stop motion
  • Text-based 
  • Screen recording

The style you pick for your how-to videos will also depend on your video’s content and goal. For example, if you’re demonstrating how to set up a software integration, a screencast may be the easiest way to share the entire process.

Get creative and think out of the box when creating your how-to video, but make sure the message is clear and you’re making it as easy as possible for your audience to learn.

Pro-tip: Use a software like Visme to quickly and easily create how-to videos. There are tons of video templates, animated characters and illustrations, and other cool editing features to help you create an engaging how-to video all by yourself — no design skills needed!

12 Effective How-To Videos to Learn From

If you’re looking for inspiration to create your next how-to video, you’re in the right place. We’ve collected 12 effective how-to videos and analyzed them to see why they work.

1. How to Make the Ultimate Chocolate Cake

This how-to video by Tasty ticks all the boxes of an engaging, to-the-point, and creative video.

It shows the entire process of baking the “Ultimate Chocolate Cake” from A to Z — from listing the ingredients, showing how to mix them, decorating the cake, and clearly mentioning the instructions at each step.

The video also speeds up at the repetitive parts so it doesn’t get boring or too long. This also makes it easier for the audience to follow the recipe till the end instead of getting lost somewhere in the middle.

Key Takeaway

Don't make your audience sit through a 45-minute video of you baking a cake, sifting through your refrigerator, and laboring away with a bowl and spatula.

Instead, utilize techniques like hyperlapses to speed up your video, and edit out unnecessary, obvious or repetitive parts.

2. How to Read Body Language

This cool how-to video by Wired is around 15 minutes long and has received over 36 million views — for good reason.

It features a former FBI agent, Joe Navarro, who is discussing the interesting topic of reading the body language of other people.

The first half of the video basically focuses on Joe’s work and his experience, which helps build trust and credibility for the audience so they take whatever he’s about to say more seriously.

He also introduces the topic by sharing the complexities involved, debunking a few myths and outlining the important cues he looks for when reading someone’s body language.

The next part is when he puts himself to the test and analyzes the body language of various people he’s meeting for the first time.

You might think that a video of a person talking about his own experience can get boring. But this video utilizes editing techniques like text captions and moving away from the speaker every now and then to keep the audience engaged till the end.

Key Takeaway

When creating a live action, interview-style how-to video, make sure you record your subject from different angles. Switching from one angle to another can help break the monotony and keep watchers engaged.

It’s also a good idea to move away from the speaker at times and add relevant videos, even if it’s stock footage, to support the points being discussed. Also, if the speaker is discussing multiple ideas and concepts, use titles and captions to help the audience keep up.

3. How to Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes

This animated explainer video by AsapSCIENCE ticks all the boxes of an effective how-to video — no wonder it has gotten over 25 million views!

So, what makes this video so effective?

First of all, it addresses an extremely common (and highly searched for) issue. This goes for any piece of content you create. If it effectively solves a problem that needs to be solved, you’ve already done half of the work.

Secondly, the whiteboard animation style makes the video engaging and fun to watch. That’s because it’s fast-moving, colorful, and uses visuals to illustrate ideas. Moreover, it uses a minimalist drawing style to simplify the concepts being discussed.

Another thing that makes this how-to video effective is that it prepares the audience for the content during the first minute. This is done by presenting the problem in a relatable way, and then outlining what the viewer is going to learn at the end of this video. This helps keep the audience hooked till the end because they’re interested in achieving those learning goals.

Key Takeaway

Use illustrations and animation to make your videos engaging and fun to watch. Also, break down your video into sections to make the information less overwhelming and easier to follow, especially when you’re discussing multiple ideas and concepts.

4. How to Make a Bed Like a Hotel

This engaging how-to video by HGTV shows a simple tutorial of styling your bed like the ones at hotels. We love the upbeat, happy music in the background that sets the mood right from the start.

The best part about this video is the camera angle — the overhead shots clearly demonstrate each step of making your bed. Plus, the video never lingers on one step for too long and quickly cuts to the next step. This makes the tutorial engaging and fun to watch.

There’s also a live action host, Ivy, who walks you through the entire tutorial in this how-to video. While she continues to speak throughout the video, it never gets boring or monotonous because her personality matches the upbeat theme of the video, and the camera keeps switching focus at all times.

This how-to video is also broken down into multiple steps, which makes it easier for the audience to follow along at their homes.

Key Takeaway

Adding background music to your videos is a great way to set the mood and make your how-to videos more engaging. But make sure you dial down the volume when the speaker starts to talk so it doesn’t distract from the message.

Also, pay attention to the camera angles. The aerial shots used in this video gave the audience a clear view of what Ivy was doing on the bed.

5. How to Start a Dropshipping Business

This video by Shopify explains everything there is to know about starting a dropshipping business in an engaging way. It breaks down the concept into multiple chapters, such as what it is, its key benefits, the possible challenges, and how dropshippers find wholesalers to source their products.

Each section is discussed in detail and tackles each possible query — enough to remove any ambiguities and encourage the viewers to start dropshipping. The talking head view adds personality to the video by putting a face to the voice.

You’ll also see that the talking head video switches to screen-sharing in some of the parts to make it easier for the audience to understand the information and follow the steps on their computers. For example, when talking about searching for suppliers on Google, the speaker shares a screen recording on actually doing so.

Key Takeaway

When explaining a technical concept like dropshipping, back up the practical points with visual aids like screenshots and screen recordings.

Add personality to explainer videos by adding a live action speaker or talking head. This makes the audience feel connected to the educator on a personal level, which helps them learn faster and retain the information for longer.

6. How to Suit Up

This interactive how-to video by Doctor Mike breaks down information into smaller sections to make it easier for watchers to understand and replicate each step.

When creating a fashion video (or any video for that matter), good lighting is essential. This video has perfect lighting that puts focus on the clothing color, material, fit, and other details.

We also especially love the flow of this video. It moves fast so the viewer doesn’t get bored even for a second. Doctor Mike quickly introduces the problem, and then shows the solutions in action using a mix of the talking head view, the action view, and still photos.

Key Takeaway

While creating fashion how-to videos, make sure that your subject is always exposed to good lighting, and you don't spend more time than necessary one each topic you're discussing — this will make your videos easier to watch and viewers will be able to follow along.

For how-to videos, we always suggest adding a personal touch to your videos. For example, Dr. Mike could have styled his suits on a dummy, but that would have greatly reduced the impact of his suggestions. Trying them on himself? That’s much more effective and credible!

7. How to Create a Project in Asana

This short how-to video by Asana is a part of their “How to Asana” playlist on YouTube. They have over 15 bite-sized videos in the playlist that educate users on how to effectively use the Asana app to achieve their goals.

This video is short and to-the-point. The intro wastes no time in presenting the problem, and the video quickly moves on to discuss the different ways Asana can help you manage projects.

We love how the video introduces the narrator’s face in the beginning to build connection with the audience and add personality to the video, but then quickly moves on to screen-sharing mode where the viewer is able to familiarize themselves with what the app looks like from the inside and how they can use it to achieve their goals.

Key Takeaway

How-to videos don’t always have to be lengthy. You can easily create bite-sized how-to videos like Asana does by crafting a short-and-sweet script, and speeding up screen recordings to quickly demonstrate an action.

Also, intros are the most crucial parts of your videos. Add a compelling intro that sets the stage and outlines what the video is about, and then don't waste time in getting to the solution. Nobody wants to see you blabber on for 5+ minutes and then come to the solution. Keep things concise — your viewers will love you for it.

8. How to Tie and Tuck a Shirt

This how-to video is by Lyss Ryann — a fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencer on YouTube and Instagram. In this video, she shows her audience how to style a shirt in several different ways.

Do you know why this simple video has received over 2 million views? Let’s break it down.

She starts with an upbeat and short intro, while talking directly to her audience, and then dives into the video by showing ten ways to tie and tuck a shirt.

The intro helps build a connection with the audience right off the bat. This how-to video is even more effective because she talks about her own experience and what makes her the “expert” at styling t-shirts.

The next parts related to the styling tips use a camera angle that actually focuses on her body and the shirt instead of on her face. These are accompanied by a voiceover, so each styling technique is verbally explained with a visual demonstration.

Key Takeaway

Live action how-to videos are great, but you don’t always need to speak when recording. You can also record a voiceover after shooting the video of yourself performing the action. This gives you time to write down a script, which prevents any errors you could make speaking on the spot.

9. How to Use Lightroom’s Advanced Color Grading Feature

This short and to-the-point video by Adobe Lightroom is part of their “In the Lightroom Minute” playlist on YouTube.

Each of these videos introduces a Lightroom feature in or under a minute, showing viewers how easy it is to use them to edit their photos.

The entire how-to video is made in screen recording style, with a talking head in the bottom left corner that puts a face to the instructor’s voice.

Key Takeaway

If you’re creating a software how-to, focusing on one feature at a time is a great idea. It makes for shorter videos that keep the audience engaged. Plus, it makes it easier for them to understand what the feature is for and how it works when they’re not distracted.

Also, creating a dedicated playlist for all your how-to videos on YouTube is a great way to keep your content organized in one place. It also helps your audience navigate through the content to quickly find the videos they want to watch.

10. How to Communicate Better with Grammarly

Did you know that 96% of consumers say they’ve watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service?

If done right, a how-to video can help you convert viewers into customers. And this how-to video by Grammarly is exactly the kind of content that “sells by educating.”

One of the best things about this video is that it shows people from different walks of life. This makes the video relatable to whoever is watching it, and can potentially prompt a purchase. 

With upbeat music, great colorful visuals, and a lively voiceover in the background, this video creatively demonstrates how the Grammarly app works in 60 seconds. Most of Grammarly’s other videos also use the same narration style and screenshot pop ups to integrate the software’s features with real-life situations and applications.

Key Takeaway

Identify the unique selling point (USP) of your product or service, and create video content around that USP to drive more views and potentially boost your sales.

You can have a great product, but if you fail to show how it adds value to your customers’ lives, your product may not see the success it deserves.

11. How to Create Social Graphics in Visme

This engaging tutorial by Visme skillfully demonstrates how to use the software to create social media graphics inside your browser.

With studies showing that almost 80% of people are convinced to buy a software or app after watching a video, Visme’s strategy to create short tutorial videos is spot on.

The video starts with a crisp, upbeat intro, and dives immediately into the tutorial. The screen recording style helps the audience follow along with each step and also get a good look at Visme’s visual editor and features.

This how-to video with a voiceover quickly but clearly explains how to use the platform to search for templates, add animations, choose fonts, resize elements, incorporate brand colors, and export graphics for sharing on various social media platforms.

Key Takeaway

If you're promoting a website, app or a software, create a how-to video to show your potential customers what your software looks like from the inside. It’s a great alternative for those iffy customers who don’t want to sign up for a free trial.

Plus, it’s a great way to highlight your app’s best features, and show your audience how they can use those features to solve specific problems and achieve specific goals.

12. How to Survive an Avalanche

This fun, animated video by Tech Insider is one of the survival videos on the channel, and shows what a person needs to do to potentially survive an avalanche.

Since live action is nearly impossible to use here, the video makes use of an illustrative, animated style to get the message across to the audience.

Captions are also used to further stress on each point being discussed, and since 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound, this is a simple yet effective way to keep your audience engaged and hung on every word (literally!)

Key Takeaway

Use animation to mimic crises and problems that can be difficult to capture in real life. Animation is also a good way to show how to tackle the problem by simulating a potential solution.

Also, do your research before creating how-to videos to really make an impact. Find the top keywords your audience is searching for in your niche, and create explainer videos that give them the answers they’re looking for. When your videos match search intent, they’re more likely to get viewed and get your channel or brand more visibility.

Help Your Audience Learn Better With Engaging How-To Videos

How-to videos can be a great way to ensure your educational message hits home.

Whether you’re an educator, trainer, or marketer, you can use how-to videos to help your audience learn faster and retain information for longer.

Plus, using video as your primary medium can help you keep your audience engaged. This is especially useful when you’re dealing with dry, boring, or technical topics.

If you’re not sure how to create a how-to video from scratch, check out these video templates by Visme. All you need to do is customize the video with your own content, download or share it online, and you’re good to go. Happy creating!

Written By: Zain Zia

Zain is a freelance writer for B2B and SaaS businesses. When he’s not crafting insightful content or making travel vlogs, he can be found on various social groups discussing soccer.


12 Effective How-To Videos (and Why They Work)