13 How to Make a Compelling Video

Making compelling videos is about much more than merely learning how to use a camera to take videos or the steps in using a video editor to post videos to YouTube. In this last article, we will examine the importance of carefully chosen words, images and sounds and their relationship to human motivation and creation of a common shared vision. A goal of any video is to compel the viewer to act – even if that action is simply to share your video with their friends and neighbors.

Comparing Four Versions of the College in the Clouds Welcome Video
To provide an example of the importance of words, images and sounds, we have created four similar overview videos on our College in the Clouds YouTube channel. Their purpose is to demonstrate four different approaches to conveying information. 

Go to YouTube.com and then enter Collegeintheclouds in the search box. Then click on the College in the Clouds channel. Then click on the College in the Clouds Overview Videos playlist. You will see that we have four similar videos posted.

The first two videos have background music and the second two videos are the same videos without background music. One reason we posted all four videos was to help you better understand the importance of adding a background music sound track to your promotional videos. The reason background music has such a dramatic impact is because it activates our right brain as well as our left brain. We therefore feel more alive and motivated to listen to the video because the music really does “wake up” more of our brain. To see the difference between videos with and without music, click on and watch each video. Each is only 3 minutes long.

But there is another important reason we placed similar videos on our Overview play list. The first video has more emotionally driven words and images while the second video has more cognitively drive words and images. Put another way, the first video is about people and their feelings while the second video is more traditional video about the topics of our four courses. These two videos are intended to impact different areas of a person's brain. The first video is intended to impact the deeper emotional, motivational part of the human brain while the second more traditional video is aimed more at the cognitive part of the human brain. Thus, the four videos have four different impacts as shown in the following table.


Right and Left Brain

Emotional or Cognitive

Welcome with music



Learn More with music



Learn More without music

No... Just Left Brain

Welcome without music

No...Just Emotional


Below is what the play list of the four videos look like while playing the first video.


Note that the images in the more emotional video are all about people who have smiles on their faces. Here are a couple of images from the first video. The first is a picture of a happy family sharing a good book.


Rather than merely talking about how to publish a book, the image is providing a reason why to publish a book. While most videos deal with the how of doing things, there is a step before how that needs to be addressed. Motivating people is about confirming why they should take action.

This next slide is also about motivation.


The infant is important in this image for several reasons. On a surface level, it shows that even a “stay at home” mom with an infant can learn how to use free open source tools. But on a deeper level, including pictures of children and infants in your videos will bring out the importance of taking action so that our kids will have a better future. These are all images of human relationships. They all create a common shared vision with the viewer of the video.

Topics and Tasks versus People and Relationships
Next, let's look at a couple the images in the College in the Clouds “Learn More” video.


Notice that the subjects of these images are not people or relationships. Instead, they are about courses and tasks. They are centered on the objects of human action (topics and tasks) rather than the subject of human action (people, their feelings, their relationships and their motivations).

Below is another topic and task “objective” image.


These traditional object based videos appeal most to people who are thinkers and who are perhaps already motivated to learn the subject. Many teachers and those who focus on technology are left brain cognitive thinkers. Since these are the folks who mostly write books and videos, there is a tendency to focus on topics and tasks rather than on people and relationships when making videos. The problem with this approach is that the majority of humans make decisions based more on their feelings than on their thoughts. So if you want to motivate people to go from your YouTube channel to your website, you should use images and words that focus as much on people and relationships as on topics and tasks.

Creating a Common Shared Vision with your Viewers
About 100 years ago, a brilliant Russian psychologist named Lev Vygotsky, developed a theory on how children learn human language. His research led to the modern concept of the “Zone of Proximal Development” as well as our understanding of how the connotation and denotation of our words are intimately related to our experiences that we subconsciously associate with those words. But just before his tragic death, Vygotsky developed a “theory of emotion” based upon his belief that “behind every thought there is an underlying emotion and behind every action there is an underlying motivation.” If you want to motivate your viewers to act, it is therefore important to use words that bring forth their hopes, dreams and desires as well as images that draw upon the importance of human relationships. Successful marketers have long understood the importance of having a young child in an ad. Even posters to Facebook have noticed that a picture of a cute kitten gets far more shares and likes than a more important article on the need for more jobs. Remember this when putting together you next motivational video. It will be more successful if it includes not merely topics and tasks, but also people and relationships. Don't just sell the steak. Also sell the sizzle.

How to Create a Video with a Sound Track
Now that we better understand why we need to add a sound track to our promotional videos, we will next review how to create a video with a sound track. This may seem counter-intuitive. But the sound track should come first. Listen to a variety of sound tracks until you find one that you feel is inspiring and uplifting. Then download it and check out the length of the sound track. The sound track we used for College in the Clouds was one of the 150 free sound tracks made available by YouTube. It is one minute 45 seconds long – or 105 seconds long.

At 5 to 10 seconds per slide, or 5 to 10 seconds per sentence, you can have about 15 images and 15 short sentences. After creating the slideshow in a free open source tool called Libre Impress (similar to MS Powerpoint), I practiced the video several times. With both the Welcome video and the Learn More video, I was forced to delete some images and words to get the message under 105 seconds. I then recorded the image and text of the video with Simple Screen Recorder. The sound track, which was not picked up in the original video was playing in my headset as the video was being recorded. Below is what my desktop looked like just before I started the video.


I first clicked on the Start recording button in Simple Screen Recorder which was in the lower left corner of my desktop screen. I then started speaking. During my first sentence, I clicked on the background music file (Step 3 above) – which opened up my VLC Media Player in the upper left corner of the screen and started to play the music. I then clicked on the slideshow screen to move from the first to the second slide. Below the slideshow, I had a text document as a reminder of what I wanted to say. To the right of the text document was the control panel for the GUVC web cam recorder. When the video was over, I clicked on the GUVC stop button which removed my image from the screen. For the more emotional Welcome video, I did not use the GUVC web cam recorder as I wanted the viewers focus to be on their emotions associated with the words and images of the Welcome video - rather than on just watching me talk. To end the video, click on the Pause button in the SSR and then save the video (or cancel it if you want to do it over).

Because the sound track was not picked up by the video, we also need to add the sound track in after the video is created with our Simple Screen Recorder. It is a very easy matter to add the sound track with our Open Shot Video Editor.


First, create a new project. Then give it a title and set the Project Profile for HD 720 30 FPS. Then import the audio and video files. Then drag the video file to track one and the audio file to track 2. Not that the audio file started a couple of seconds after the video starts and also ends a couple of seconds before the video track ends. You can cut and splice either the audio file or the video file if needed. It is also possible to copy and double the time for the audio file if needed. Then preview the video. Then Export the video using Web for the profile, YouTube HD for the Target and HD 720p 29.97 for the Video Profile.


Then click Export Video. It will take a couple of minutes to export the video. You can then watch the video with the VLC Media Player to make sure you like it. Then log into your YouTube business page and post the two track video to YouTube.

I does not take much more time creating a compelling video than creating a traditional cognitive video. There are many free sound tracks to chose from. What it really takes is a better understanding of what will motivate folks to keep watching your videos and share them with others. Once you have created a common shared vision with your viewers, they will be more likely to watch all of the “how to” videos that follow.

This concludes our articles on how to create your own video channel. We hope you will share this information with anyone you know who would like to learn how to use free open source tools to share information with others. If you have any questions, feel free to post them on our community forum at College in the Clouds.org.