How to Make a Terrible Tutorial

  Fear not: this is not yet another post about creating engaging, educational and entertaining videos. Today, let’s discuss how to bore your audience, destroy any educational value in a 10-mile radius and leave people feeling like they’ve just wasted an hour of their lives.Ready to create the worst-ever video training to hit YouTube? Let’s lay out your scene of destruction: join us in establishing #TerribleTutorial as an art form.


Research is Overrated (aka Before You Get Started)

Research 
Research? No, thanks.

Who says you should learn about your topic beforehand? If you are serious about creating the worst video training out there, your knowledge should be patchy at best. Don’t waste time actually researching the topic and never prepare a timeline of your video. Instead, watch the latest show on Netflix and relax. There is also no need to familiarize yourself with your recording software. You will simply figure things out as you go. Bonus: Choose a title unrelated to the content, ensuring it is impossible to find by any search engine known to humans.

Make Sure There is a Plenty of Background Noise

Loud Noises 
Embrace them.

Conscientious tutorial authors make their recording room silent and use state-of-the-art equipment for top-notch sound quality. Boring! It's common knowledge that for a tutorial to be truly awful, ample background noise is needed.Are your neighbors mowing their lawn? Major construction going on in your street? Perfect! The time to hit 'Record' is now. If there are no external disturbances available, use your little cousin's Hello Kitty headset for those beautiful static and hissing noises, or walk around on hardwood floors while recording. Bonus: Leave all notifications on, ensuring they pop-up so your audience can enjoy incoming Skype calls and iMessages from your mom.

Stretch out Your Intro

Eternity 
Now that I have your attention...

Quick, to-the-point introductions are so last year. If your tutorial is to be the worst one on YouTube, make sure you spend ample time talking about yourself, your experience, and your opinion on current events (if possible, totally unrelated to your tutorial topic).Spend at least a couple of minutes on this, followed by a lengthy intro using poor graphics and long, silent slides.Bonus: Throw in a popular music track that you’ve downloaded from a dubious site. Who says dealing with copyright lawyers isn’t fun?

It's Not About Your Audience: It's About You

Big Deal 
Make sure they know.

Empathy is overrated. Making a truly awful tutorial is all about you: focus on your ego and show off your skills (or lack thereof) with confidence. Assume that your audience isn’t here to collect meaningful knowledge, but rather to bask in the glory of your awesomeness.In fact, assume your viewers already know everything you are talking about and expect them to figure out any gaps on their own.If you want to be the worst of the worst, “audience demographics” should be a taboo term.Bonus: Throw in a few snide remarks about n00bs and make fun of prominent artists to offend as many people as possible. Laugh squeakily at your own jokes.

Focus on HOW Instead of WHY

 
I mean, it's like, you know.

Don’t explain why you are doing certain things, expect your viewers to take on blind faith that your way is the only right way. Why? Because I said so, that’s why!Terrible training should be as confusing as possible: jump between topics, backtrack and make contradictory explanations. Throw in complicated, technical terms and mysterious abbreviations. If you’re unsure of particular terminology, use your own made-up words instead.Bonus: If there are multiple ways of arriving at a result, make sure to only cover one. Briefly mention that other methods do exist, but they are “for those who follow the Dark Side”. Laugh menacingly. 

Practice the Art of Snooze-Worthy Presentation

Boring 
Please, tell me more.

Got a deep, monotonous voice that makes your audience’s eyes heavy? This is a natural talent that you should exploit: make sure your presentation is 100% pitch-free and never emphasize important words or sentences. For added effect, slur and mumble key phrases.Blend your sentences together while speaking as slowly as possible, reducing the speed of your speech as you go along. This will hypnotize your audience into a dream-like state with absolutely no comprehension of what you are saying.Bonus: Calm, controlled breathing is for amateurs; to stay on the edge, speak as long as you physically can without taking a breath, then gasp spasmodically.

Never, Under Any Circumstances, Edit your Video

Editing2 
No improvements needed

If you’ve followed along, you are this close to creating the most atrocious training video since these good people decided to educate the world about customer service. The final touch is simple: do nothing at all.Don’t edit out bloopers, mistakes or tangled up explanations that go nowhere. Learn to embrace silence! Long (and we mean really, unbearably, 20+ seconds long) pauses will elevate your video from bad to nightmarish, as will coughing, loud coffee sips or annoying laughter at your own insider jokes.Leave it all in - your first take should be your last.Bonus: Avoid fancy export techniques - after all, you don’t want to spoil your audience with high-quality video or a pleasant viewing experience. Don’t be scared of exploring the dark depths of the YouTube resolution spectrum: 144p will do.


Disclaimer: The above is written from experience. We know, because we’ve made a lot of awful tutorials ourselves - before learning from experience and coming out on the other end. What did we miss? Let us know if you have further tips on how to make The. Worst. Tutorial. Ever.

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  • Yves Perera (shinsaku)

    I guess "no research beforehand" is a good point yet nothing should stop you from pausing in the middle of an explanation to go and double-check online if :
    it's better to say "rotate around" rather than "pivot around"
    or :
    what "extrusion" really is.
    ;)

  • Jonathan Fisher (jfishe25)

    A lot of tutorials on Youtube, if I find one that interests me, I mute and just watch what they are doing on 1.25 speed because of what you just discussed in the article.

  • reavenkhali

    Really low volume is also pretty cool. Sometimes when the volume is low, I crank the hardware speaker volume up to hear it with the fear that at any time a random system notification sound will blow out my ears, or that I'll forget to turn the volume down when it's done.

    You also need to talk really slow. It's got the same thrill of being stuck behind a wall of 40MPH cars on an empty 70MPH freeway. Why does YouTube even have x2 playback speed if no one makes content to leverage that feature?

  • crew
    Dennis Brown (dbrown)

    I'm so tempted now! I just may have to think of a way to make such a thing work. ;)

  • Daniel Ordonez (dannymax5)

    I always enjoy your content Pav but this one is my favorite so far!

  • Stanley Leland (wanderingmonk7)

    Great fun. But I must say after looking at your intro all day I am ready to concede and scream "UNCLE". ;)

  • Jasmine Wongus (jazze)

    Heh!! Great advice! ;) Oh boy...my first tutorial would probably have a zillion cut scenes in it. XD I guess a person could also get distracted by a phone call and answer it while recording...wonder if anyone's ever done that and kept that part of the video. o_o

  • crew
    Pavla Karon (pkaron)

    ...I guess you could then also read a couple of lengthy Wikipedia definitions out loud to spruce things up :D

  • crew
    Pavla Karon (pkaron)

    That's awesome Dan, I knew you would like this one ;)

  • John Farwell (johnfarwell)

    Love this blog post! But there is one more thing to add in my opinion. Consistent, long, and loud rambling. Like, monologue rambling for 3 minutes without a word spoken to the audience.

    But overall, yeah, all that makes for a really bad tutorial.

  • Stanley Leland (wanderingmonk7)

    Yes they have.

  • Christian Combes (chrisc)

    Ha ha, yes, so right... Thanks !

  • necro1895

    I'd like to upvote this entry. It's great.

  • anarchymedes

    Perhaps I could add to this list making a tutorial on something that doesn't really require a tutorial (some trivial trick that's no rocket science, really), or making (yet) another tutorial on something that already has, like, 10 tutirials out there (all repetitive, rather than multiple means to the same end).
    This is because I remember watching at least 4 tutorials on how to render fire in Blender (before Cycles): all repetitive.

  • seshasree

    it is good knowledge tom.

  • Dennis Russell (faithandworks)

    I think it's very important to start every single video by explaining how to download and install the program you are using. I think most people who are watching Blender/Unity/Photoshop tutorials have never actually opened the respective programs.

    PS: I desperately hope that the customer service video is a hoax. But, unfortunately, I doubt it is.

  • zemarcelo

    I realy hate the people who will explain something in the end of the pipeline, like a render trick, and then he starts setting up a scene from zero. They take 30 minutes to take to the point of the tutorial. So boooooooring.
    So grateful to the people who write int the comments bellow "The tutorial begins at 29:30"
    :-)

  • Jim McLachlan (jimmack)

    LOL. I've seen some bad tutorials in my time :-) I've done a few too.

    I hope these suggestions don't cause any offence, I am well aware of the time and effort that needs to go in to a good quality tutorial, both the content and editing. I'm struggling to put one together at the moment. I've had four or five attempts and it's just not working out. At least I haven't just posted it yet :-D

    The following may increase the amount of upset and distress you can cause with your tutorials:

    If you're explaining a long list of complex options, be sure to miss out the description of one of the most important one.

    If you come across something that you don't understand whilst recording, never, under any circumstances pause to find out what it actually is and then add that to the recording.

    If you /do/ decide to pause the recording, ignore the fact that you can edit the pause out and just ramble for a while about having to pause. Nothing more useful to hear than "I'm just going to pause the recording for a while" "And we're back."

    Constantly get words and phrases wrong and if you find one that you really like, use it a lot. eg. "Without further adieu...", "Ekspecially". Pro tip: if you've got a new word that you don't know how to pronounce, or you're not sure of the singular/plural differences, don't /look/ it up, /make/ it up! eg. "interPOLated", "This one vertisee"

    If you're not sure about how something works and your description starts falling apart, remember to clarify it in the most confusing and dismissive way possible.

  • crew
    Pavla Karon (pkaron)

    Couldn't agree more - "ekspecially" is my personal favorite! Now let me hit the pause button while I take care of something, but not to worry, I'll be back shortly...

  • Mike J. Gee (mikejgee)

    Smile... I agree too.. Here's something else I saw and heard often:

    "Oh! ... well.. where was it.. maybe.. ah.. here it is.."

    In other words: If You are unsure where to find the right function or menu-point.. never stop the training. People should notice, how the workflow should be, in order to find the right thing You want to explain or use.

    :-)

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