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.
A good script is the backbone of any compelling video. No matter your topic, you can always find an interesting story to tell and it starts with a bit of organization. Through the years, I’ve honed in on six key tips to make your scripts shine.
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 tell your story in a conversational way. It’s as if you were 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, if you added an overlay circle around the word “video” then call attention to it. Mention this in your script so viewers know where to look. This may seem obvious, but not often followed.
This simple mention is an easy way to guide your viewer through your video. Plus, it keeps them engaged in the topic.
4) Talk to yourself
The best scriptwriters 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 clear and concise. Using more words than necessary weakens your 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: 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 creating a tutorial, talk about how the process helped you, and how your audience will benefit from it.
When you can make viewers feel something, they’re more likely to remember your video and follow your advice.
Valuable scriptwriting advice
Writing a script not only organizes your thoughts but also saves you 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.
Keep practicing! It 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. If you keep writing, you’ll improve and the results will come.
Creating videos on Screencast-O-Matic
Screencast-O-Matic makes it easy to write and record with your script.
The Scripted Recordings feature in the video editor is a valuable tool for just about anyone. (Believe me! I wish I had this when I was on TV News). It lets you write or copy your script into the tool. It then breaks it down into organized sections. In these sections, you can add narration and video. It’s really that simple!
All of the tutorial videos you see on Screencast-O-Matic’s website are made with Scripted Recordings.
Remember, it takes practice to perfect the art of scriptwriting. I undergo many versions of a script before I begin to produce the video. I hope these tips help you and if you have any of your own you’d like to share, I would love to hear!
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 led video productions.