An effective video always starts with an engaging script. For the past 20 years, I’ve written scripts for television news, corporate companies, non-profit organizations, and now Screencast-O-Matic. It’s taken me years to master scriptwriting and each time I sit down to write, I’m always trying to perfect what I just perfected.
A good script is the backbone of any compelling video. No matter your topic, you can always find an interesting story to tell through your script. Through the years, I’ve honed in on six key tips to make your scripts shine. Keep reading to learn how.
1) Start with an outline
An outline will help you establish the flow of your video by deciding what information to include and in what order. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the overall purpose of this video?
- Who are my viewers?
- Why should my viewers care?
- What should my viewers take away from this?
- Did I get my message across?
Next, gather all of the information, research, and quotes you have for your story. Note which details are relevant based on your answers to the questions above. These are the details that will go in your outline.
Pick out the most important details and arrange them in a bulleted list in order of importance. Once you have this, you can move on to writing.
2) Write conversationally
One of the best things I learned in my years as a television journalist was how to write conversationally as if I was talking to someone face-to-face.
Don’t think of your script as written content. Think of it as a conversational piece. Do away with business jargon, long difficult words or anything that reads like a newspaper article. Writing a script is a visual, personable approach to storytelling.
3) Write to the video
Make sure your script follows along with the visual components of your video. If you’re writing a script for a screencast and you know you want to call attention to a visual element in a certain scene, then make sure to mention that element in your script.
For example, let’s say in my screencast I added a circle around the word “video” to call attention to it. To add even more clarity, mention this in your script so viewers know where to look. This may seem obvious, but it’s an easy way to make sure viewers understand and follow your video.
4) Talk to yourself
The best script writers talk to themselves. That’s right— they actually talk to themselves as they write. This is the best way to make sure your script will sound conversational and natural, rather than stiff and overly formal.
As you write your script, talk it out loud to yourself. See if it fits the way you speak in conversation. Listen to your inflections and the emphasis you make in certain parts of a sentence. Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself changing your writing depending on how you speak.
5) Keep it short, simple, and direct
A long script means a long video, and that’s not something you want. Keep viewers engaged by making your points clearly and concisely. Using more words than necessary weakens your video, as does using overly complex words. The best advice is to keep your videos short, simple and direct.
After the first draft, go through your script again and cut, cut, cut! Make sure that every word serves a purpose and look out for these killers:
- Long words: If there’s a simple way to say it then reword it.
- Too much information: More information is not always better. If it seems like a certain detail doesn’t add much to the story, cut it, and move on.
6) Tell a story
The most memorable stories are the ones that make you feel something. As you write your script, remember that you want to make a lasting impression. Make your audience laugh by telling a funny story at the beginning of your video, or inspire them by talking about how you accomplished a goal. If you’re giving a tutorial, talk about how the thing you’re teaching helped you, and how your audience will benefit from it too.
When you can make viewers feel something, they’re more likely to remember your video and follow your advice.
Scripts are timesavers
Writing a script not only organizes your thoughts but also saves you with recording and editing time. You’ll know exactly what to say during the recording process, and you’ll have fewer mistakes to edit out later. Scripts are especially crucial for longer videos, keeping you on track so your video doesn’t end up longer than it needs to be.
Practice makes perfect
Practice goes a long way in scriptwriting, so don’t give up. Ask others for feedback on your videos so you can figure out how to improve. Keep writing, and the results will come.
Writing your script on Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic makes it easy to write and record with your script. Deluxe and Premier subscribers will find the Scripted Recordings Feature in the Video Editor. From there you can either write your script directly into the tool, or import it as a text file. Then you can easily add narration sentence by sentence.
Don’t like your voice? Send your script to a colleague or voiceover article, then import the audio to align with your script.
You can also use the tool to make closed captions instantly. Screencast-O-Matic will automatically create a captions file from your script, which will be displayed in videos hosted on Screencast-O-Matic. You can enable these for videos hosted on YouTube as well.
Watch our tutorial for more help with scripted recordings.
About Christine Umayam: Christine has 20 years of content experience working in television news, corporate companies and non-profit organizations. She has produced newscasts, commercials, sizzle reels and video productions during her time. She combines her love of video with marketing as a Senior Content Marketing Manager for Screencast-O-Matic.