An awesome video always starts with an engaging script. For the past 20 years, I’ve written scripts for television news, corporate companies and non-profit organizations. It’s taken me years to perfect script writing and each time I sit down to write, I’m always trying to perfect what I just perfected.
It’s a never-ending battle of rewrites but at the end, there’s a script that tells a beautiful story whether it’s an informational tutorial, corporate video or a demo. No matter what topic you are writing, there’s always a story to tell. Through the years, I’ve been able to focus on these six tips to keep any video you’re creating as engaging as possible. Here are my top tips for writing an engaging script:
1) Have an outline
Script writing starts with an idea broken down into small points. When writing a script, look at it in parts. Have an outline of your story and go with the flow of writing it. Before you write, identify the points or questions that will help tell your story.
Some questions to answer for yourself:
- What is my overall purpose?
- Who are my viewers?
- Why should my viewers care?
- What should my viewers take away from this?
- Did I get my message across?
From here, you can take these answers and start identifying a bulleted list of what you plan to write. Once you have this, you can start with the video script.
2) Write conversationally
One of the best things I learned in my years as a television journalist was how to write and that means how to write conversationally. I was taught early in my career to write as if I was talking to someone in front of me.
Don’t think of your script as written content. Think of it as a conversational piece. So do away with business jargon, long difficult words or anything you would read in a newspaper article. Writing a script is visual and a personable approach to getting your story across.
3) Write to the video
When you start to write your script, think of all the visual elements you have gathered. If you’re doing a screencast and want to point out several elements then write your script so that if follows your points.
For example, I’m pointing out that I have circled the word ‘video’ on my screen. In your script, let your viewer know that you have circled the word ‘video.’ This may be obvious but there are many people who forget this important facet in visual storytelling.
4) Talk to yourself
I have found the best script writers have used this technique over and over again.
They talk to themselves. That’s right… They actually talk to themselves as they write.
If you’re looking to write a script, talk it out loud to yourself. Repeat the words on your script and see if it flows with your voice and how you talk. 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 your watchers engaged by hitting the point sooner. Using more words than necessary may weaken your ultimate purpose for the video. 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: There may be times when information is not necessary. Identify those moments in the script and remove them.
6) Tell a story
The best videos are the ones that leave a lasting impression. This is conveyed through emotion. Think back to the last video you remember. More often than not, you remember this video because it made you laugh or somehow it left you with a lasting emotional response.
The best stories are the ones that you remember. So when you write your script, remember that you want to leave a lasting impression. Make your audience laugh by telling a funny story at the beginning of your video or convey an inspirational moment by telling the story of how you were able to accomplish something. If you’re giving a tutorial, talk about how you learned about the process and how students can benefit from it. Adding a human element to any video ultimately leaves a lasting impression.
Saves Precious Time
Writing a script not only organizes your thoughts but it will save you a ton of time. It’s one of the biggest benefits script writing can have. Keeping your thoughts organized in script form will reduce editing time and recording time in the long run. It’s a great time saver for those looking to create demos or longer videos.
Practice makes perfect
Whether you are creating a script for a class, work or for fun remember one thing: Practice makes perfect. You’ll keep getting better each time you write and you’ll find out what makes the most sense for you. Get feedback on your videos and see what you can do to improve. No matter what, don’t give up. Keep writing. It can only get better from here.
Writing your script on Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic takes the guesswork out of writing by helping you structure your script from the very beginning. As a Pro subscriber, you have access to the Script Tool located in the Video Editor. For those who write on a separate document tools such as Microsoft Word, you can easily import your script with a text file. Once it’s imported and ready, you can easily add narration sentence by sentence.
Don’t like your voice? Send your script out to a colleague or vendor to get your voice over done and then import the audio to align with your script. When your narration is done, you can start adding video to your script.
This feature is great for closed captioning. Screencast-O-Matic will automatically create a captions file from your script which will be displayed in videos hosted on the website. If you use video hosting services such as Screencast-O-Matic or YouTube, you can upload your captions to display during video playback.
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.