How to Make Impactful Explainer Videos


There is an ongoing surge in popularity on YouTube and other video platforms that don’t just report the news but explain it. 

In this e-Master Class, you will learn how to make impactful explainer videos without compromising public media values. You will look at the best processes for coming up with great ideas, how to write powerful scripts that keep people watching and low-cost but creative techniques to bring your videos to life. 

All these principles will be demonstrated with practical exercises and exploring case studies of award-winning video journalism from the likes of BBC Ideas, Vox, and independent YouTubers. 

Who it's for:

  • Journalists, editors
  • News producers
  • TV, radio and digital producers

Topics Covered:

  • What makes good ideas and how to come up with them 
  • Scripting & structure
  • Low-cost and creative visual approaches

Skills learnt:

Audience needs: Understand what type of video explainer formats, visuals and topic treatment work well for digital audiences
Digital newsgathering: How to source relevant ideas and topics for explainers
Editorial: Guidelines for scripting and producing explainers
Social media: Understand how to use social media platforms to distribute your video content efficiently
Stroytelling: Learn what works best in digital storytelling.

Guest Speaker

Cleo Abram formerly produced for Vox’s Netflix show Explained, produced and hosted Vox's YouTube Originals show Glad You Asked and Vox's first ever daily show Answered, crafting stories through research, interviews, script writing, and more. She now has her own show, Huge If True, on YouTube and TikTok.


Trainees will be asked to do a practical exercise on scripting an explainer (please expect to spend two hours on the exercise). This will give trainees a chance to practice the principles taught and receive real feedback on their writing and structure. 

While we encourage trainees to take up the chance to practice what they’ve learned, we understand it may not always be possible because of other commitments outside the eMC. If this is the case, please discuss this with the trainer.  

Programme outline:

Day 1:

  • Welcome and overview of 3 days
  • Break outs and feedback in plenary: what makes a successful explainer?  
  • Part 1: How to come up with good ideas 
  • Part 2: Guest speaker #1 TBC
  • Part 3: Break out and feedback - exercise 1 

Day 2:

  • Break outs and feedback: your key learnings from day 1
  • Part 1: Scripting. We look at how to add humour, voice, personality, and suspense to make your explainers entertaining as well as informative. 
  • Part 2: Guest speaker #2 TBC
  • Part 3: Break out and feedback - exercice 2: Building on the work from Day 1, participants are invited to develop one of their ideas into a script, with particular focus on scripting a powerful introduction. 

Day 3: 

  • Break outs and feedback: your key learnings from day 2
  • Part 1: Visuals. Looking for cost-effective and creative ways to make your video explainers both entertaining and distinctive. 
  • Part 2: Guest speaker TBC  
  • Part 3: Participants present their explainer project to the group and collect feedback
  • Action points and summary 
  • Assessment

Meet your faculty

Brendan Miller

Freelance film-maker

Brendan Miller is a filmmaker specialising in explainers and films about politics. He has produced films for The New York Times, the BBC and the Financial Times.

He is the author of the Video Ideas email list, designed to give video journalists and nonfiction filmmakers regular ideas and inspiration from different corners of the internet.