CLICK. PLAY. ENGAGE: Why Is Video Such a Powerful Way to Communicate Research?

This excerpt from‘CLICK. PLAY. ENGAGE: HOW VIDEO CONTENT CAN TRANSFORM THE WAY YOU ENGAGE AUDIENCES WITH YOUR RESEARCH’ looks at why video is the ideal way to communicate your research.

‘Click. Play. Engage…’ is a short digital book - available for free download here - about how to tell captivating research stories using film and animation. It gives researchers and research communicators tips and advice on how to harness the power of today’s most engaging form of digital media to reach new audiences with their research.


You may have heard, video is going through something of a golden age at the moment. We can access video content faster and more easily than ever before. On our laptops, smartphones, tablets and TVs. At home, at work, and on the move.

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There is something about the dynamic nature of video that has made it the most engaging and shareable type of digital media around. That means, when it comes to the communication of research, it is one of the most powerful ways to connect audiences with your ideas.

Its potential for engagement is huge. But only when it is done right. With planning, skill and strategy, film and video can deliver meaningful messages to millions, and for a multitude of purposes - to inspire, inform, raise awareness, drive debate and influence policy. It really does have this power. And over the next few weeks I will show you how you can tap into its potential to build an engaged community around your own research.


© Shutterstock/LittlePerfectStock

© Shutterstock/LittlePerfectStock

I will not be talking about what kind of camera you should get, or whether one type of editing software is better than another. There are plenty of forums, Facebook groups and YouTube videos exploring these topics in mind-sapping detail. Instead, this series is about the craft of creating film and video content to tell research stories in an accessible and captivating way.

There is no set route to how you go about producing research videos. You can go it alone, armed with just a smartphone and a desire to get your ideas out there. Or you could go the whole hog and employ a professional team to help you create something that stands out.

Obviously, as somebody who makes a living from communicating research I would always encourage people to consider the latter option whenever budget allows (and it goes without saying that if you do need help communicating your research then I would be thrilled if you came to us). But this series is not a sales pitch. The goal is to equip you, whatever route you choose to take, with the tools to help you make the right choices, so that you end up with the most engaging content possible, using the resources available to you.

We have a voracious appetite for video content and, it seems, the more we are given, the more we want to consume.

And it’s not just cat videos! (although they’re still pretty popular)


  • Educational video content is one of the biggest success stories of the recent explosion of online video.

  • Educational platforms and channels - like Minute Physics, the School of Life, and TED-Ed - have millions of subscribers a piece and attract four times more “watch time” on YouTube than the genre that helped make the platform famous in the first place.........animal videos.

  • “Information seeking” is now cited as one of the top three reasons that people visit YouTube. A fact that has led to YouTube becoming the world’s second biggest search engine.

That means that when people have a question or are looking to find out more about a particular subject there is a golden opportunity for your research to be the first thing they find. Especially if the topic in question has not yet been covered extensively by anybody else.

Creating a video that answers a frequently asked question about a particular subject and putting it on YouTube can be a very powerful way of reaching those who are actively seeking information about that topic.


When it comes to public engagement, video also has one significant advantage over other ways of connecting people with your research: it reaches them exactly where they are, without expecting them to come to you.

It is becoming increasingly recognised that some people are not comfortable in spaces typically associated with culture and higher education, such as museums, art galleries and universities. And, unfortunately,  all too often public engagement events are still restricted to such spaces, which means that we usually end up getting the same kinds of people streaming through the doors each time.

Digital has a much greater affordance to reach people where they already are.
— Katherine Mathieson, British Science Association

Online video avoids that pitfall. It is available to practically everybody, and doesn’t require that they cross the threshold into spaces where they don’t feel comfortable, making video the ideal way of engaging otherwise hard-to-reach audiences.


The very popularity of online video means there is a vast and ever growing mass of content out there. And the competition for people’s attention is greater than ever, meaning it is all-too-easy for your own videos to get lost in the noise.

That is why I have written this book.

I know how busy researchers are. With multiple responsibilities on-the-go at any given moment. Time is one of your most valuable commodities. So I want to make sure that you don’t waste any of that precious time (not to mention money) creating videos that wind up languishing in the forgotten corners of the internet: unwatched and unloved.

Your research deserves better!

[This is an excerpt from my book ‘Click. Play. Engage: How video content can transform the way you engage audiences with your research’

If you like what you’ve read but want to know more then go ahead and download the whole book free here.]

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Peter Barker is the Director of Orinoco Communications, which he started in 2016, having spent over ten years working in broadcast television as a documentary producer/director. 

He specialises in the digital communication of research in science, the social sciences, humanities and arts.