The primary place video is watched these days is on mobile devices. This means small screens and lots of distractions.  Add in changes in the human attention span, and I can’t emphaize enough to keep the total run time low to avoid viewer fatigue.

Here’s a simple idea: Keep your videos short. It is better to have five 3-minute videos than one 15-minute episode. I try to keep most client videos to less than 10 minutes (in fact less than 5 in almost all cases).

With the rise of the web, videos tend to be consumed during things like work breaks, downtime, and airplane flights. Others will use them during commutes on the morning train or the subway. Think of video as portable, on-demand learning or entertainment.

Here are some strategies to keeping the runtime down:

  • Limit the number of topics covered. How may points do you need to make?  I try to stick to one (with a hard limit of three).
  • Can the video be split? If a topic runs too long, look to see if you can create shorter segments that stand alone.  This way the viewer can download Part 1 and start watching it while they’re waiting for the rest to download or be released. There’s nothing wrong with multiple parts.
  • Get a fresh opinion.  Show the video to other people and note when they first look away from their screen or at their watch. That’s when they started to get bored.

Shorter is better… especially when you’re just getting started.


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Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. This is some of the best professional advice that I ever received. Scott and Rich took me under their wing a while back, ans this particular piece of advice stuck with me.

    This advice will help in so many ways, one of which is learning how to effectively convey information with the least amount of words. When making videos, that clock keeps ticking so the more prepared you are the easier becomes to convey your thoughts. And Believe me when I say it, I battle the clock every time I make a video.

    Before Scott and Rich I was just spinning my wheels, I still have a long way to go, but my content is much better knowing this golden rule.

  2. Richard, at 5’5″, I’m so glad that you agree that shorter is better!

  3. I’d probably have to disagree here, while, yes, many videos do benefit from being shorter I also often run into video content that seems frustratingly short because it only lightly skims the surface of the topic.

  4. Personally i like long videos where everything is explained, for example if i want to buy some item but i’m not sure if it’s good or not, i look for video reviews, and the longer the review is the better.
    I guess it depends on the type of videos you’re creating, and it also depends on who’s watching the video, some people get bored very easily when watching a video. Fortunately for me, i don’t. :)

  5. […] thing all demographics have in common is a preference for brevity. This Photo focus article argues that keeping your videos shorter rather than longer will pay off in increased views. […]

  6. […] I’ve Never Watched a Video That Couldn’t Benefit From Being Shorter – shorter videos yield better results […]

  7. Rich has qualified his first comment because an instructional video should be about qualifying and not quantifying. I’ve seen Educational Topics with 20 short chapters instead of 12 longer chapters so shorter can be an irritant just for the sake of shorter time.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Business, Cinematography, VideoLC


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