Ah, yes the maki-znak (phonetic).
What those videos didn't tell you is the back of the tongue must be raised to the roof of the mouth. (I had the same thoughts that you did when I began studying Russian in the pre-Internet days).
This causes sound to draw out a millisecond longer but its not really an extra syllable and
although one might transliterate it as such, please don't add a syllable. Example: It's not
"Tatianya" its "Tatyana."
The reason it is called a soft sign is because it comes out higher in your register than a hard sound.
In other words, if you were to sing it, the hard sound would be a lower note than a soft sound.
With n, would sound like a much less stressed second n in the spanish phrase "el nino." But its pronounced differently. Again, stick the **back** of your tongue up to make the n sound and you'll get it fast.
As for the s, I guess its the same way, although I can't do it right. Another thing to think about:
the sh letter in cyrillic isn't pronounced the same as in English. The front of the tongue goes behind the front teeth and the lips are round, while the shch letter the lips are smiling.
And by the way, Slavic speakers (at least those using the Cyrillic alphabet) do notice the difference between hard and soft consonants.