The Art of the Whiteboard Explainer ~ Best Practices to Explain Stuff Successfully

royalty free stock music

WhiteboardWe are in the age of video, and more narrowly, the year of the whiteboard. Explaining complex processes and ideas through simple graphics on a white back drop is so sublimely succinct. Take out all the long, drawn out pages of text and sum it up with simple drawn-in graphics that convey your meaning in a short amount of time and people will rejoice. But, not all whiteboards are created equal. There are some best practices to follow that the most successful whiteboards have in common.
Keep It Short:
Ideally, less than a minute because attention spans are… did I leave my oven on? The sweet spot is 30-90 seconds, after that you can count on viewers dropping significantly. This doesn’t mean talk a mile a minute and fit as much as humanly possible into the video either. You need a natural pace to allow the mind to process. There are certainly exceptions to the short timing, like when you are making eLearning type content where your viewers expect to invest some time to gain knowledge. But, for most explainers, channel your inner Memphis Raines (aka Nicholas Cage) and aim to be gone in 60 seconds.
Compel Them Quickly:
You’re keeping your explainer short already, I know. But, also be mindful that you only have a few seconds to hook them in the first place. Give them a juicy morsel to grab their attention ASAP or they’ll scroll right by and watch an animal video instead (like the dogs eating with human arms… I could watch that all day).
Aim for TOFU:
Not like the vegan staple, but Top Of FUnnel – TOFU. This is not the time for a deep dive into every detail. Explainers are intended to give that top line information – what the problem is, how you can make it better, where to go next. If a viewer is interested, then they’ll take that next step to read the 12-page white paper you carefully crafted to outline the nitty gritty. The explainer is the tasting menu of the most delicious bites to encourage you to buy the full meal.
Be Silly and a Bit Dumb:
These videos work because they simplify content to make it easy to understand and recall. Avoid being overly technical. Explain it as you would to a six-year old. Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” So, if you struggle doing it… maybe you should have someone else write your script! Add some funny stuff too. Puns or silly graphics, cheeky analogies, anything that might help your ideas stick easily in someone’s very content-overloaded brains. Think of that commercial with the unicorn pooping… it explains something very biological and scientific, but in a way that is funny and incredibly memorable.
Dive Deep on the Details:
Choose fonts and graphics that fit what you’re saying (for example, avoid comic sans when discussing… actually anything, comic sans is for kids). Choose a voice over that fits your message, but always hire Morgan Freeman if you have the option. Choose background music that keeps your viewer engaged and supports your vibe – we highly recommend our very own royalty free, stock music library 😉 These are the details that make the difference between a video that’s shmeh and one that’s a home run.
Your topic may be incredibly boring, but if you follow these tips, no one will realize it! Keep your script digestible, keep your message clear, be funny when you can, and KEEP IT SHORT! And always get your whiteboard background tracks at, because we rock and we can help you rock too.
*Please note, if this were an explainer video, it would have been waaaaaaaayyyyy too long.