Should I make one long video or a bunch of shorter ones?

A lot of smart people in the training space, specifically people making training videos, have the same question. Do I make one long video or a series of short videos?

Here’s another way to think through the question:

Have you ever walked out on a movie? Plot too slow? Poor directing? Not enough Jake Gyllenhaal Scenes? I know I have. How many 6 second Vine videos have I walked out on? Zero!

Now this may be an extreme example, but it does illustrate your audience’s attention span; somehow, you’ll need to break content up into chunks. Why? To give your viewer/learner a chance to process things.

That isn’t anything new. Here’s what is:


Making training videos with chapters can be just as good as a bunch of shorter videos on the same material.

Here’s the thing, long videos can be just as effective as multiple shorter videos.

“What do you mean? Aren’t people going to ‘walk out’ on my long video?”

Yes! And in this case, that’s a good thing.

As a trainer you want to deliver exactly the right content at exactly the right moment. How in the world can you do that if you’re talking for an hour and a half? Even if something sticks most things will not.

The problem with long videos (especially long training videos) is that they try to do too much. It’s better to have someone only watch 30 seconds of your hour long video if that’s the only 30 seconds they need.

So, what’s the solution?

Give your video Chapters!

This will give your learners a way of cutting to the chase. By linking to important sections of your video with easy-to-skim chapters, or bookmarks, you give learners the ability to quickly get to the sections they need.

Here’s how it works:



Now just because you’ve added chapters doesn’t get you out of the clear, just yet. Here are some common mistakes that people can still make with chapters.

  1. Too much text: Remember how much all our learners love text documents?  Just make sure people can easily skim through it. Send it to a colleague and ask him to find a random section. If it takes him more than 15 seconds there’s too much going on.
  • Linking to the wrong spot: Link to an action or a concept. Things that are visual make good break points for your bookmark. Don’t send me to the middle of an action or step unless you want me to get lost.

All in all, long video is a decent medium for training delivery, as long as you think of it as a bunch of 90-180 second videos strung together, and not as a Martin Scorsese film .