What makes a great lesson?

Imagine calling a coworker over to your desk to show them something cool you just learned. Would you make a slide deck? Use star-dissolve transitions? Nah, you’d just dive right in.

That’s what egghead learners want you to do. They’re looking for concise, efficient information that respects their time and shows them how to do something. Nothing fancy, just badass.

In the spirit of show, don’t tell, this free workshop by egghead John Lindquist shows what makes a great lesson: Record Badass Screencasts for egghead

It’s focused

An egghead lesson discusses a single topic. Don’t stray—stay on point and be concise.

Learners should walk away with a better understanding of the concept covered in the lesson. In just a few minutes, they should increase their vocabulary and learn through a high-quality example.

John Lindquist - Stay on topic:

Its title and summary are precise

Writing concise titles and summaries is the best way to narrow the scope of your lesson so it’s hyper-focused on a single topic. (They’re also the best way to cash—and we mean cash—in on search terms. Mentioning relevant technologies = SEO = 💰)

Your summary should quickly tell learners what they’ll gain from your lesson. You could start by writing, “In this lesson, you will learn to...” One or two sentences are 👌

Your title is the summary of your summary. It should finish the thought, “How do I...”

More on writing titles and summaries

The code example is simple and effective

The code example is arguably the most important part of a lesson. The learner should be able to look at the difference between the before and after code to understand how you’ve applied the concept in the lesson.

If your example is airtight, it will do the instructing for you. Your narration will just serve to support it. Use the “show your work” trick to see if you’ve shown enough.

John Lindquist - Show then maybe explain:

It cuts intros, outros, and stage-setting

No “hi, my name is.” No “in the previous lesson we learned about...” Each lesson should exist on its own without any stage-setting—just like this video:


This video doesn't talk about the chicken recipe it covered for the dinner course. It doesn’t explain why you may need a cheesecake-stuffed cookie cake. (Attending a party? Stress-baking?) It doesn’t explain what sugar, cookie dough, and ovens are for the .00001% of the population that don’t already know. It just jumps right in.

When creating your lessons, assume your viewers have working knowledge of the topics covered or will pause the video to learn on their own time. Don’t waste time in your lesson reinventing the wheel (or explaining what wheels are and why they’re helpful).

John Lindquist - Avoid intros and outros:

It guides the eyes

Your audience is trying to follow what you're saying. It's crucial that you keep them with you by guiding their eyes.

Highlight the area of the screen you're teaching. Use the mouse to select/click/drag or anything that creates a sense of movement to tell them "You should be looking here!" Remember, this is a video, they're here for the movement, so keep it movin'!

John Lindquist - Guide their eyes:

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