Creating effective video highlight reels

Posted on May 31, 2023
5 min read


A critical part of turning customer feedback into action is how insights are communicated to stakeholders and the broader organization. After analyzing qualitative test results and distilling the data into key insights, teams need a way to share critical insights with others effectively. This is where the video highlight reel comes into play. A video highlight reel is a fast and effective way to share customer insight with stakeholders. It can convey what customers experience in an unfiltered way so everything is preserved in translation. 

Video highlight reels have the power to keep organizations connected to customers so they can continue to build experiences their customers love. Let’s start with the basics. 

What’s the purpose of a video highlight reel?

One of the limitations of relying on quantitative research over a mix of quantitative and qualitative research is that, despite our best intentions, data presented in charts, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations aren’t easily absorbed by people. They might nod and understand what you’re saying, but they’ll struggle to recall the details later. 

Luckily, humans are hardwired to remember stories and empathize with watching people. Weaving data into a narrative and showing video clips of real people going through something in context is memorable. That’s what highlight reels are meant to do. 

A highlight reel is a section of video clips you can create and edit on an insight platform. They allow researchers, designers, marketers, digital product teams, and more to surface key moments from longer clips of interviews and share them with stakeholders and the organization. 

Getting executive buy-in 

Another benefit of highlight reels is the ability to deliver research output in a way that is more likely to get executive buy-in and influence critical UX decisions. Some executives are reluctant to invest because quantifying the benefit of UX research and CX projects is challenging. However, once an executive team watches customers struggle with a new feature or react negatively to a proposed prototype that would have cost thousands of dollars, they’re far more likely to be receptive to the customer needs the research team is advocating for.

Overcoming the highest-paid-person’s-opinion

Every organization struggles to make decisions. That’s why an entire concept of HiPPO—the highest-paid person’s opinion—exists in office culture. This is when the highest-paid person or person with the most seniority is given more consideration in decision-making over another employee who may have an opinion better aligned with what customers want. 

Highlight reels are an effective tool for challenging your organization’s HiPPO. By showing customers expressing their beliefs, preferences, and needs directly, it’s easier to advocate for improvements that impact the customer experience and ultimately benefit your organization.

Create compelling video highlight reels with these five best practices

Analyzing and presenting results is time-consuming, so get as much of it right the first time. When creating your highlight reels, make sure you’re considering the following best practices. 

1. Set up tests to see your participant’s face when possible

When testing remotely, clearly understanding your participant is key. Seeing their facial expressions as they react to products, apps, and messaging provides essential context to what they’re saying. Additionally, it gives viewers a way to empathize with participants. 

Setting up your tests initially with the participant view toggled on is a good idea. This will prompt participants to enable their webcams from start to finish so that the video will capture a recording of their faces in the bottom corner of the screen. This will allow you to switch between showcasing your participant’s face versus their experience later. Doing this allows you to tell a richer story in your highlight reel. 

With UserTesting, participants opt-in to share their video feedback. However, asking permission before sharing video feedback outside the organization is a good idea. Include a screener question that shares how feedback will be used so participants can decide what works for them. 

Note: Some organizations have privacy considerations preventing them from capturing their participant’s faces, as this is considered PII in specific contexts. Make sure you’re following what’s best for your organization. 

Learn about Contributor View

2. Always create video clips as you review sessions

One of the best habits you can get into as you first review qualitative video sessions is to create and tag video clips as you go. Inevitably, you’ll likely regret not taking the time to make clips when you’re later looking for something you remember a participant saying or doing during their moderated or unmoderated test

3. Easily create clips with auto-generated text transcripts

When looking for an insight solution to meet your needs, consider one that auto-generates audio transcripts to make synthesis easier. An easy way to create clips in The Human Insight Platform is to follow along with the audio transcripts automatically generated when you’re watching your video session. 

When you discover something worth noting, quickly create a clip by highlighting the transcript text and selecting “Make Clip.” The platform will create the clip at the right time stamps for you to take notes, tag, and save for later. 

4. Keep your highlight reels short—less than 2 minutes

It’s hard to distill data into the need-to-know parts. After all, everything our customers and audiences say is essential and exciting, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be part of your highlight reel. A good rule of thumb is to keep highlight reels less than two minutes long if you want your audience to stay engaged. 2 minutes is just enough time to get the point across. 

Will there be instances when a more extended highlight reel is needed? Of course. However, keep it short when presenting information to a large group or showcasing a simple idea. 

An easy way to do this is to show a clip of the first presenter reading the test question and giving their response. After that, edit the rest of the participant's clips to include the response. Your audience will understand that they’re answering the same question as the first person. 

Related reading: Analyzing and sharing insights

5. Make highlight reels relevant to your audience

Just like you would for a report, consider who your audience is when making a highlight reel. Do they have context for the insight? Is this something that they will care about? If you’re sticking to less than 2 minutes, ensure the clips in your highlight reel clips focus on contributor reactions relevant to the areas or topics your audience cares about the most. 

Video highlight reel elements

Before you create your highlight reels, learn more about these common elements to understand better what makes up a highlight reel. 

Video session

A video session is typically an entire unmoderated or moderated study. You’ll watch this and use it to create shorter clips to compile into your highlight reel. 

Video clips

As you review your video session, you’ll want to create clips highlighting what participants say or do. Video clips allow you to create notes to capture insight as you review the videos. You can also tag video clips to make them easy to find later. 

How to make video clips


Video sessions come with audio transcriptions. Use them to quickly scan and locate key insights when viewing complete video sessions.

Learn more about video session transcriptions

Want to learn more?

Explore UX best practices, expert advice, user research templates, and more. 

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