Sometimes the amount of time you are given to explain something can have a big impact on how much time is required to create the explanation. Ironically, it often takes more thought and energy to craft a short and succinct story than it does to produce a long and detailed one. The following is a famous quote from a biography of Woodrow Wilson (1946, The Wilson Era: Years of War and After 1917-1923 by Josephus Daniels, Quote Page 624,The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.) about time preparation for speeches of various lengths.

A member of the Cabinet congratulated Wilson on introducing the vogue of short speeches and asked him about the time it took him to prepare his speeches. He said:

“It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

Online marketers run into these inversely proportional time challenges all the time. Think about the time and expense that goes into creating an award winning 30-second TV commercial. We are often faced with the necessary evil of trying to pack a large suitcase of features and benefits into a small carry-on bag.

The amount of time you have allotted for your explanation also determines the type of online motion media you can use. If you believe your visual explanation goals can be reached in 10 seconds, then using an animated explainer gif to present your story may be effective. If you think you can fit your message into about 90 seconds, then an explainer video may be the way to go. If your explanation involves multiple segments and longer discourse, then you may want to publish an online course.


Let’s look at three motion media formats (animated gif, explainer video and online course) that all attempt to explain the same thing — what is Pi?

Explainer Gif: What is Pi in 10 Seconds

Explainer gifs are not limited to 10 seconds, but that’s about the maximum amount of time you have before having to move to a longer video format. The following is a visual explanation that explains how Pi is calculated by John Reid and Arpad Horvath. The explanation delivers a lot of information in a very short time and space package.


Explainer Video: What is Pi in 90 Seconds

Like the explainer gif, the explainer video is not limited to 90 seconds, but that is a common time length target that balances the need to get your message across with the attention span tolerances of your audience. People are more likely to remember what you have to say if you are able to say it in concise and clear way. The following video by VAM!Physics provides more background information about Pi and how it is derived.

Online Course: What is Pi in Long Form

Finally, if your goal is a comprehensive explanation of a concept that includes details and context, then maybe a mini online video course is the best vehicle to serve your audience. The following is the Khan Academy course segment explaining how Pi fits into the scope of geometry.

We are not suggesting that it always follows the that shorter motion explanations take longer preparation time, but often it does take some disciplined creativity to fit a meaningful message into a smaller space. If you have any great stories about fitting longer messages into compact spaces we would love to hear about them.

Sometimes Less Explanation Takes More Time to Create

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