Make or Break It: Create a Dynamite Instructional Lecture that Students Love

This tutorial will help you create your first instructional lecture on Udemy. The first instructional lecture in your course is the most important. It’s where your students will decide whether they can learn from you or not! A good first instructional video will lead to more committed and satisfied students who spread the word about your course. Once you’ve learned the routine, this process can be used for all of your course lectures. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Know exactly what you want to talk about

If you’ve created a solid course outline then you already have the main focus of each lecture written down. That should help you craft your individual lectures. For every lecture follow this one simple rule:

Have one (and only one) concept for each lecture. And stick to it!


Or in other words: No tangents, no spiralling, no bloat.

Help your students focus on the concept at hand, repeat it often and make sure everything you cover is directly related to the one and only one concept of the lecture. Instructors who do this right receive very positive feedback from Udemy students.

Step 2: Make a video that is easy to follow

Students can’t see and hear multiple things at once. Udemy students prefer videos which are easy to follow, meaning they know what to focus on and don’t get distracted. Here are a few simple steps to show you how to do this:

  • Make sure your students know what to look at:
    • Avoid distracting backgrounds (e.g. too much movement in the back) or lighting that draws attention away from you – their instructor!
    • Try using screencasting techniques like zooming in or using larger font sizes for text when you want your students to focus on that really important part of your screen.
    • If you’re using images, make sure they have a high resolution.
    • If you’re using slides, don’t add more than three bullets per slide, use images when possible, and be sure to speak to every visual element so there’s nothing hanging there confusing your students.
  • Make sure your students hear the right things:
    • Make sure your audio recordings are loud enough, have a consistent volume, and are free of background noise.
    • Don’t play musical loops for videos longer than a couple minutes.
    • Pronounce words accurately, edit out all uhms, pauses, or verbal mistakes.
    • Avoid overusing the word “we.” When you refer to yourself as “I” and your student as “you,” you’re keeping them focused on who is doing what.
  • Choose your words carefully:
    • Avoid jargon whenever possible.
    • When you introduce a word that may have different meanings in other contexts (like the word class in object oriented programming for example), be sure to include a brief jargon-free definition, and refer back to that definition the next few times you use the word. Students need reminders to help them get used to the new way you’d like them to use a word they’re already familiar with.

Step 3: Review your video before you publish it

Awesome, your video is done! So that’s it, right? Not quite. After all the work of making a great instructional video, it might be tempting to just publish it and be done. But always review your instructional video before you publish. This is one-time pain for long term gain, so don’t be afraid to do retakes if you’re not 100% satisfied! Your students will appreciate the effort.

When you review it, you want to focus on two separate things:

  1. First, review the video and look for any verbal mistakes, pauses or “uhms”, and be sure to edit those out.
  2. Second, focus on the content of your delivery. Try to think like a student. Go through it slowly and see how easy it is to follow along. Watch the lecture with your intended learning goal in mind. Did you cover the goal?

If you can, review the instructional videos a few days after making them so you don’t remember every word you said.

Step 4: Get feedback

Watching your lectures from a student’s perspective is great. But if you can, get some feedback from the Udemy Studio – after you’ve made your first instructional video but before you complete the course. It will help you identify anything you need to change before it’s too late.

Once you publish your course, pay attention to what students are saying and asking in each of the lectures. Be sure to budget some time after you publish for making any corrections or re-recording as needed. It’s never too late to make your course just a little bit better.

So there you have it. 4 steps to better instructional videos. Remember your first instructional lecture is your most important, but making videos is an evolving practice: the more you do it, the better you get. Don’t be afraid to make your first one early on to get feedback, and then remake it again after you’ve produced the rest of your lectures. You might just find that you’ve really come a long way in the course of making… a course!

It’s Your Turn: Make an Instructional Video Lecture

Step 1: Choose one learning goal for the lecture you want to film. More than that will overwhelm your students who are trying to learn something new.

Step 2: Set up your studio and film your video. Make sure to follow the suggestions you learned in Step 1 and 2.

Step 3: Review and edit your video to make it just a little bit better.

Step 4: Share your video in the Udemy Studio for feedback from your peers and the Udemy Community team.

If you’re participating in the Summer Camp challenge, post your test video link in the Studio or the How-To Course discussion board with the hashtag #SummerCamp to earn points (and to receive feedback from the community, of course). Earn +5 bonus points if your intro video is live action! 

7 thoughts on “Make or Break It: Create a Dynamite Instructional Lecture that Students Love”

  1. Heidi Bransby says:

    I would be so grateful to know how to be able to edit my course main heading, and how to replace any videos that I re-do. Thank you for this next challenge. I’m game and will participate fully. Much love to you all. Kind regards Heidi

    1. Andy Morris says:

      To replace a video with a new one I just navigate to My Course/Curriculum then on the right side of the Lecture I want to replace I click on the drop down menu, unpublish the video, then next to the thumbnail click Edit Content and then click upload video. It’s that easy

  2. Vivekananda Baindoor says:

    You are saying “join us in the Studio next week for a discussion” – I am not sure I understand how to join. Are you saying be on the Facebook Page of the group and interact using text messaging or watch a Google Hangout?
    Please let me know – I want to join but do not know how!!!

    1. Udemy Instructor Team says:

      Hey there, great question! We will post in the Studio the time of the discussion next week (it’s a written discussion, like an “Ask me Anything” on Reddit). Are you a member of the group?

  3. Andy Hawkins says:


    I am setting up my first tutorial any would like to know if there are graphics, titles and art style that need to be adopted to make my videos fit with the style of Udemy’s branding?

    Andy H.

    1. Udemy Instructor Team says:

      Hey Andy, you can use whichever styles you want! For our recommendations for video creation, check out the “Producing” section of the “Course Creation” tab of the site.

  4. yamuna subramanian says:

    i have had a lot of lessons done for schools in an play way method of teaching for large audiences ..

    i like to help the learners go in their speed in an INTERACTIVE WAY USING AUDIO AS SCYPE ?

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