© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.Although instructional videos with on-screen instructors have become prevalent in various learning contexts, their effect has been questioned because of mixed findings in the literature. This meta-analysis study aimed to elucidate the overall effect of instructor-present videos on learning, cognitive load, motivation, and social presence and to indicate potential moderators. It analyzed 20 experimental studies where participants watched an instructional video with or without an on-screen instructor. According to the findings, the effects of instructor presence on learning and social presence were not statistically significant. However, instructor-present videos had a significant impact on increasing cognitive load and motivation. Furthermore, moderator analyses for knowledge acquisition outcome revealed (marginally) significant differences in effect sizes based on human embodiment and study setting, favoring instructional videos featuring only the instructor’s hand and being watched in laboratory settings. Based on these findings, the present study provides important directions for future research and practices.