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5 Steps to Writing a Killer Video Script

January 07, 2020
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Great video content is often not improvised. A host that seems natural on camera, is probably (with a few exceptions) well prepared. Writing a video script eliminates the uncertainty of having to formulate sentences in real-time, and ensures you deliver your content in the best way possible. If you are making a tutorial video, a how-to, a top list, or any content of this type, you will find that preparing beforehand is a must.

If you follow these 5 simple steps, things should flow seamlessly during filming. You can also be sure your viewers will not be switching to the next recommended video any time soon.

Start with a brief

These key questions will help you form your brief and will keep coming up in your pre-production sessions. For this reason, consider keeping a template you can fill in each time.

Always question your purpose, recommended titles, who your audience is, what the key takeaways are from the video, and what you will ask the viewers to do by the end of the video. You can also add other questions you believe are important to your brand when coming up with your template.

Doing this will ensure you and your team are keeping goals in sight when its time to write the script.

Outline the structure of the script

Now you are ready to outline the structure of your script. At this stage, you can follow the classic 3-part structure: intro, body, and wrap-up. S tart your video script with a hook, or a promise, to gain your viewers’ attention and put them at ease.

Follow up with an introduction. Consider creating a signature intro video you can use every time (this can be your unique catchline). You can also use your branding elements to make an intro that shows up after your hook.

The middle part of the video is the main body – this is where your answers live. Stick to the main points to avoid overloading this section. Try to give just enough detail so that your viewers end the video feeling they got what they were looking for. You can provide additional resources in the video description. For example, if you are demoing a product, you can link supplementary information in the description, and cover only the most important features in your video.

The last section is the wrap-up – here you should place a call-to-action (CTA). Direct your viewers to where you would like them to go next, offer them free resources if they join your mailing list, or ask them to comment and subscribe. You can also place your CTA in a signature outro. Your CTA may also change depending on what you want to achieve with the specific content.

When dividing the sections, you can add titles in square brackets and jot down your ideas in bullet points – this process will make writing the full text much easier.

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Write the full text for the hosts

After you’ve outlined your sections in line with your brief, you will be ready to add detailed text for the hosts.

Divide the text into sub-scenes (if there are any) and number them. You can also add cues for your hosts and name your scenes; we use “stand up” to indicate scenes shot in the studio and “live shot” for other locations. When recording a voiceover over B-roll footage we make sure to annotate the section with “VO” in the script. Whenever a person speaks, we indicate their name in bold.

There is no one size fits all, create a template that suits your needs and make sure you don’t skip the next step.

Edit content

An overlooked part of the writing process, especially for new writers, is rewriting. This step can make a huge difference to your final script.

After you’ve written the first draft of your video script, review your sections. Can you make some shorter so they are easier to memorize? Or do you need to scrap sections that seem repetitive? Looking at the script from your viewer’s perspective can help you cut out things with more conviction.

Read it out loud

This will reveal areas you can improve on in your script, text, and delivery. Notice if you are having any issues with certain scenes, articulation, and pacing, and see how you can improve. If there are more hosts in your video, make sure you run through the script together.

If for any reason you don’t want to memorize your script you can use a teleprompter, or even place the script in front of you on a laptop screen. You can also use your phone as a teleprompter with the help of an app.

To keep your delivery as organic as possible, separate your script into smaller chunks you can memorize easily. And last but not least, practice as if you’re on camera, and add personal notes.

Found your voice?

When writing and delivering your script, use natural-sounding phrases as you would in a conversation. To get an idea, see how Connor starts in the video below; notice how we structured the script, and how that may apply to your content. 

Like with many acquired skills, coming up with great content for your videos, and also finding your brand’s voice will take some trial and error. Carefully crafting your video scripts will give you the best head start.

Writing a video script is an essential part of video pre-production both for beginners and professionals. If you see considerable personal reward or value to your business from video content, focus on writing great video scripts. Your videos will soon become one of the voices of your brand. Repeat and iterate for all future video content – you will be surprised to see the results.

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