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6 Features Every School Video Needs to Captivate & Convert
Connor Gleason

Videos are a powerful tool for telling your school’s story, but let's be honest: the storyboards, video editing software, and shooting and uploading videos onto your school’s website can feel like a huge task, especially when you're short on time.

We know its importance, and to say video content is "popular" would be an understatement: YouTube is the world’s second-most visited website, and every minute, viewers worldwide stream about 694 thousand hours worth of video—that’s more than Netflix.

So we're set on video, but what turns a good school video into a great one without a big budget or a Hollywood director?

You don't need the latest equipment or the most picturesque campus scenes to make a school video that stands out — there's an art to creating a video that resonates and motivates viewers to take action.

From the secrets to hooking your audience to making your message stick (without the fluff), here’s how to showcase your school's spirit in action and, finally, nailing a call-to-action that turns viewers into doers.

1. Start with a Powerful Hook

The first few seconds of your video are like the first few pages of a book; it's got to be good, or no one will stick around for the rest of the story. You've got seconds to make an impression, and attention spans are shorter than ever.

A powerful hook in your school's marketing videos is essential because it serves as the "bait" that captures your audience's interest right from the start, ensuring they stay tuned in for the rest of your message rather than scrolling away to something else.

Maybe it’s a student's laugh, a surprising fact about your school, or a question that makes the viewer curious, but a great hook:

Sparks Curiosity

A good hook gets viewers interested. It poses a question or presents a scenario that viewers want resolved. When you've piqued their interest, they're more likely to watch the entire video to satisfy their curiosity.

Sets the Tone

The hook sets the tone for your entire video. It establishes the mood and prepares the audience for what’s to come, whether it's emotional, surprising, or humorous, and this helps to ensure the right emotional response from the start.

Here’s how to hook your viewers:

  • Start with a graphic, sound, music, or visual that grabs your viewer’s attention.
  • Ask a question that makes viewers think or want to know more.
  • Share a story about a student or teacher that makes people feel something, like how a student overcame a challenge or how much your teachers care.

2. A Clear and Succinct Message

We've all sat through something long-winded and thought, "Get to the point!" Your video should get the message across without making viewers check their watches.

Your video needs to get to the point, especially with short-form videos. Keep it neat with simple language and clear ideas—that’s your ticket to making an impact quickly.

Here’s how to keep it simple:

  • Stick to one big idea. Viewers will most likely watch your video while distracted, so edit it and keep it to one central theme or idea. 

  • Skip the fancy words and say it like it is. If something’s exciting, just say it's exciting!
  • Cut out anything that doesn’t help tell your story. More isn’t always better. If a part of the video isn’t vital to the story, cut it.

3. Relatable Content

Your video should show content that your audience – parents, students, and teachers – cares about and can see themselves in. Whenever possible, use your people, not stock video. When prospective students and families see scenarios they recognize and experiences that resonate, they're more likely to trust.

Emotions Drive Decisions 

When there’s an emotional component, viewers can feel themselves in a video. When you tug at the heartstrings with scenes of students collaborating, celebrating a win, or even just hanging out and having fun, you capture hearts. That emotional tie can be a factor when families decide on a school.

Look at Detroit Country Day’s video, and you’ll see stories of teachers going the extra mile for students, like one teacher who knew a student was fasting for Ramadan and went above and beyond to provide her support.

Relatable Content is Shareable Content

If viewers see their own stories and values reflected in your video, they're more likely to share it with friends and family on social media. This can increase the reach and impact of your school's message, all without spending extra funds on digital marketing.

Here’s how to make your content bring “the feels" and get users to share your video:

  • Show real students in action — avoid stock videos or shots without people.
  • Let people peek into what it’s like at your school. Show real moments that are humorous, challenging, inspiring, or impactful.
  • Bring in different faces and voices from your school — showing a variety of experiences will engage a larger audience.

4. Engaging Storytelling

Stories make people want to stick around until the end, and when compared to simply using a montage of clips, storytelling in your school's promotional videos is a powerful strategy that can have a profound impact on your audience.

Make sure your video has a clear start, middle, and end. It takes viewers through events or experiences that build on each other, making the conclusion more impactful. Start with a challenge, show the journey, and end with the victory — like a student coming out of their shell because of your learning environment or supportive teachers.

A good story has a clear message or moral, too. In a school marketing video, your story should lead to a specific takeaway about your school's strengths. It should be a cohesive narrative that delivers a clear and targeted message to your audience.

Here's how to tell a good story with video:

  • Start before the action, get to the exciting moments in the middle, and then wrap it up so viewers are satisfied at the end.
  • Mix up what you show with what’s called non-linear editing. Use music, change the scenes, and keep things moving so viewers don’t get bored.
  • Timing is everything, so find that sweet spot. Don’t rush through your story, but don’t drag it out. 

5. Show, Don’t Tell

Seeing is believing, and your video should literally show the incredible things about your school, not just discuss them.

Let visuals do the talking whenever you can. Instead of telling us your school is collaborative, show a team of students building a robot. Use the text on the screen to highlight your must-know points, but let the images be the star of the show.

Here’s how to show it off:

  • Use clips that show what you're discussing. If you say your basketball team is top-notch, show them making that game-winning shot.
  • Clips of students smiling, engaged, and actively learning are better than a talking head saying it's a great place. Use b-roll or additional clips laid over the dialogue to support the sentiment.
  • Graphics and words on the screen can make your point loud and clear. If you’ve got an event coming up, pop that date and time right up on the screen.

6. A Clear CTA (Call-to-Action)

Your video should guide viewers to the next step and answer the question, “What do I do now?” 
Every good video ends by inspiring the viewer to do something—attend an open house, make a donation, inquire, or get involved. Say it and display it—both spoken and written text at the end of your video can make all the difference for your marketing efforts.

Here’s how to make a clear CTA with video:

  • Tell viewers exactly what you want them to do next. If you want them to learn more about your school, direct them to your website’s landing page so they can convert.
  • Give them something they can use. If your video’s about summer programs, offer a guide they can download.
  • Display an easy-to-remember vanity URL in your video, like or

Key Takeaway

You don't need a Hollywood budget to make a video that hits the mark. It's all about making a video that grabs a viewer’s attention, feels real, tells a story, and gets viewers to take action. Grab that camera, and show what makes your school special.

The Ultimate School Website Planner

Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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