4 Tips For Creating A Sal Khan-Style Instruction Video...From Sal Khan

This clip's not intended for you. Webmaster Sal Khan made it for profs using the EdX platform at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere. But he's so good at this stuff, you'll find great tips for your own lectures, speeches, or presentations.

Since he set out to democratize education, Sal Khan has amassed a library of more than 4,000 short educational videos on Khan Academy, which gets 5.4 million unique visitors a month. The videos have been viewed 240 million times and are incorporated into classrooms around the world, as described in Khan's book The One World Schoolhouse.

In this 10-minute video he uses his trademark "chalk and talk" style to show you how to create a Khan-style video about anything you want. The video was created for professors at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere who are using the EdX platform to create massive open online versions of their courses, designed to be accessible for free to tens of thousands of students. (It's a little-known fact that Khan was a favorite student of Anant Agarwhal, the CEO of EdX, at MIT).

"I will make my best attempt at this very meta-level task," Khan says in the video. His ideas turn out to be good for advertisers, public speakers, or almost anyone seeking to get a message across.

  • Keep things conversational. Emotionless is bad. Don't talk over your audience's head, or talk down to them either. "Not even a 6-year-old likes to be talked to like a 6-year-old."
  • Use visuals and colors—but not too fancy. Khan favors hand-drawn diagrams.
  • Prepare carefully, then speak from your heart. Khan will sometimes write a script and throw it away. He'll spend an hour walk figuring out how best to visualize a concept, then represent it in a quick sketch.
  • Keep it short. 10 minutes tops. Chunk down a larger concept into smaller pieces, to keep your audience hooked.

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For more tips on public speaking, check out my video on how to give a TED Talk:

[Image: Flickr user Steve Jurvetson]

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4 Comments

  • Hau

    I'll also add, I haven't heard him call or suggest that his videos are revolutionary. They were just a byproduct of Youtube limits and his own style, and they happened to be successful. In fact, he acknowledges that there were online teaching videos before his, DVD and VHS videos before those, and educational radio shows before all of them. However, these didn't gain traction the way Sal's videos did. All he's doing is now is telling us what he does for his own videos. Maybe somebody will find it useful, maybe not; maybe somebody makes even better videos, who knows.

  • siouxgeonz

    This is from the guy who tells us that "two plus itself times one" is two times one... he's got some good points but I wish he'd stop acting as if recording a lecture is revolutionary.