How to create a medical-surgical explainer video

published on 18 July 2023

Where is it written that it’s your job to explain the basics of human body function?

Repetitive spiels seem to be the norm for doctors, but this may be an overlooked driver of burnout. How about teaching once (on video) and sharing it forever? Doctors are catching on. This is a simple recipe for better clinic days.

Maybe you are interested in creating engaging medical or surgical explainer videos, but the idea seems daunting. Perhaps you’ve never recorded a video, and the idea of talking in front of a camera gives you cold sweats.

Well, you're in the right place! In this blog post, I'm going to demystify the process of recording these videos and provide you with a step-by-step guide. Whether you want to share valuable information with your patients, or introduce yourself to new patients, explainer videos can be a powerful tool. So, let's dive right in!

{For a video tutorial, see our deep dive (17 minutes), or quick take (5 minutes) videos}

Why Explainer Videos?

Before we get started, let's understand why explainer videos are a great addition to your medical or surgical practice. The key benefit is that they allow patients to learn about the basics of their condition before even stepping foot in your office.

Instead of repetitive spiels during face-to-face consultations, explainer videos enable more personalized conversations. This is not only better for you but also enhances the patient experience.

Section 1: Talking Head Videos

The simplest type of explainer video is the talking head video. What exactly is a talking head video? It's simple. Just you directly addressing the camera.

Nothing fancy.

No animations, no slides, just you. It's an authentic and unscripted way of sharing information. The best part? All you need is a smartphone or laptop to get started.

At most, buy a cheap ring light from Amazon, but this is purely optional.

Steady the camera and shine some light on your face (or sit in front of a window). Press record and give your spiel one last time!
Steady the camera and shine some light on your face (or sit in front of a window). Press record and give your spiel one last time!

Setting Up Your Talking Head Video

To set up your talking head video, stack your old medical school books to position your phone at eye level. Lighting is also crucial, and while a ring light is optional, it can greatly enhance the video quality. A cheap USB-powered clip-on ring light from Amazon can do the trick. Once you are setup, you can hit record and start sharing valuable insights with your patients.

You knew there was some use for those old textbooks, right?
You knew there was some use for those old textbooks, right?

Using Cue Cards for Assistance

Worried about forgetting what you want to say during your video? Don't worry! Use inexpensive sticky notes, jot down bullet points, and use it as a cue cards. Take a Post-It, flip it over (sticky side up), and mark it with your key talking points. Stick it on the back of your phone, so your notes are facing you. As you record, refer to your notes so you don't forget the main points.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if it takes a little time to master.

DIY cue card works wonders to remember what you want to cover.
DIY cue card works wonders to remember what you want to cover.

Section 2: Screen Share Videos

Sometimes, your explanations may require visuals. That's where screen share videos come in handy. These videos are ideal for showcasing PowerPoint presentations or displaying images and graphics to support your explanations effectively.

Even if your video isn’t image heavy, you might prefer talking over a PowerPoint presentation for the memory cues. Instead of having to remember exactly what you want to say, each slide reminds you of what you want to review next, which takes the pressure off!

Creating a Screen Share Video with Zoom

Zoom is a popular and familiar platform that makes screen share videos a breeze. Start by launching a Zoom meeting with only yourself present. Then, hit the record button and deliver your presentation while sharing your screen.

Once you end the meeting, Zoom will render the recorded video, and you'll find the video file ready for upload to YouTube (more on that later).

Alternative Apps for Screen Share Videos

While Zoom is a fantastic option, there are several other web apps purpose-built for screen share recordings.

Loom offers a Chrome extension that allows easy screen sharing with a video bubble in the corner.

Vmaker is another excellent alternative, offering customization options for your video bubble placement.

Tella might be the right fit (my personal favorite) if you prefer a more flexible approach with multiple clips. What's great about Tella, is your video can be built as a series of short clips. Rather than having to get everything in one take, you can redo each section as you go. It's easy!

Explore these apps and choose the one that suits your style.

Section 3: PowerPoint Presentations as Virtual Backgrounds

If you want to take your screen share videos to the next level, consider using your PowerPoint presentations as virtual backgrounds in Zoom. This creates an immersive experience for viewers, combining your live presence with the vital information being presented.

Screenshot 2023-05-16 110210-k7qm1

How to Use a PowerPoint as a Virtual Background

To use PowerPoint as a virtual background in Zoom, go to the "Share Screen" option and choose "Advanced." From there, select "PowerPoint as Virtual Background" and follow the instructions provided. Make sure your slides are designed to accommodate this format, leaving plenty of space for you.

📺 Uploading Explainer Videos to YouTube: Sharing Your Knowledge

Once you've recorded an informative explainer video, it's time to upload YouTube (so you can paste the link into your WellPrept dashboard, or to share with patients if you're doing this by other means). Here's a simplified guide to uploading your videos:

1. Create a YouTube channel: Sign up for a YouTube account and create your own channel to serve as a hub for your video content. Good news if you have a gmail account, you already have a YouTube channel.

2. Optimize Video Settings: Choose an engaging title for the video, create a compelling thumbnail (the image people see before they use play - use Canva, a graphic design tool with numerous templates for this), and add relevant tags and a detailed video description. I recommend disabling comments for explainer videos.

3. Upload the Video: Click the "Upload" button, select the video file, and add closed captions or subtitles if needed.

4. Video Privacy: Decide on the privacy settings - public, unlisted, or private - based on your intended audience. If you use WellPrept as your dissemination platform, for example, and don't necessarily want the video publicly accessible to anyone, you would choose 'Unlisted'. 


Congratulations! You've now learned the ins and outs of creating medical and surgical explainer videos.

By incorporating talking head videos and screen share videos into your practice, you can effectively engage with patients and educate them on the basics in a convenient and engaging manner. That way you can have more meaningful conversations with them on clinic day.

Get these in your patients’ hands before they arrive to your clinic for maximum impact!

Practice and experimentation will help you refine your videos, but no need to aim for perfection. Patients appreciate seeing the authentic version of you. So go ahead, grab your smartphone or laptop, and start recording those educational explainer videos.

Your patients will thank you, as will future you!