Video Script Writing 101

video script writing 101

Recently, despite the hesitations of some of our grumpier team members, we finally ceased resisting the pull of TikTok (see for yourself right here).

That’s because the power of video content is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore. In 2020, 96% of consumers watched more videos online and 9 of every 10 viewers wanted to see more videos from brands - you can’t argue with those statistics!

But unlocking the potential of video content is about more than eye-catching visuals. Just like your written content, best-practice video content should be rich in informational value that’s easy to understand and retain. This means your script plays a vital role in the quality of your outcome.

That’s where this blog post comes in.

Today, we’re breaking down the basics of video script writing, offering a crash course in communicating value-adding, easily digestible information through an engaging video format.

You’re just a few tips away from becoming the Tarantino of video content (with a little less violence, we hope)...

Sketch out your outline

Start by sketching out an outline for your script, asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the goal of your video?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is your topic?
  • What are the key takeaways?
  • What is your call-to-action?

This will help you build the foundation of your angle while ensuring your video content remains valuable and purpose-driven.

It’s important to remember that video content often requires input from more team members than its written counterpart - this could influence the direction of your outline.

Whether it’s videographers, animators or social marketers, if you’re not producing and publishing the visual accompaniments yourself, be sure to get the contributions of the relevant team members at this stage of the process.

With everyone on the same page, get to work on your skeleton script. This can either be inspired by new ideas or, for a more resourceful approach, inspired by your existing content.

This isn’t just a case of regurgitating your latest blog post word for word, though. Instead, analyse your blog post and extract the important actions, statistics and talking points - these will inform a well-structured script outline.

For example, check out how this blog post inspired this TikTok!

Don’t skip introductions

With your outline established, it’s time to put pen to paper (finger to keyboard doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?).

But don’t just dive straight into the action.

You wouldn’t start a blog post without a killer intro, so don’t skip introductions when writing your script, either. Much like your written content, you need to draw in your audience from the get-go to prevent them from bouncing from your video - but with an even more brief window of time.

So, look to kick off your script with a clear introduction to who you are and what you’re about to teach your viewer. This will establish both your video’s value and your speaker’s authority from the off.

Remember: a powerful introduction captures the attention of an audience. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to get creative with your introductions, taking a more light-hearted, creative and entertaining approach where this makes sense.

This doesn’t mean you need to become the next Seth Rogen - see how we pulled off an engaging introduction to this video, for example!

Focus on the three pillars

Regardless of how your script turns out, the likelihood is that you’re not going to be walking the red carpet at this year’s Golden Globes - put the tux down.

With this in mind, don’t concern yourself with the creativity of your script - focus on function, not aesthetics. A good script allows you (or your speaker) to communicate a message in a natural tone and a digestible format.

To pull this off, focus on the three pillars of best-practice script writing:

Conversational tone

Adopt a conversational tone in your script to help your speaker sound more natural in your video content.

Of course, what your conversational tone sounds like depends on your audience, so take the time to research the vocabulary and phrasing best suited to your demographic. This will help your viewer better understand and retain the information being communicated.

As a rule of thumb, though, there are a few techniques you can use to ensure your script sounds real, meaningful, and relevant:

  • Use direct address: directly addressing your viewers through the second person (using ‘you’) places them at the centre of your conversation. This can help your script feel more direct and intimate, effortlessly conveying a natural, conversational tone
  • Avoid passive voice: we tend to use the active voice in conversion. So, look to avoid the passive voice: sentences where the subject is being acted upon by the action. Not only does the passive voice sound less natural; it makes sentences longer and harder to understand, too
  • Consider rhythm and vocabulary: rhythm and vocabulary are fundamental parts of natural conversation. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we adopt certain rhythms, inflections, patterns and word choices in everyday dialogue - these aren’t necessarily the same as the ones we use when writing. With this in mind, use easy flowing rhythms and simple vocabulary for a more natural tone

Take the time for practice runs before any cameras start rolling to ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes when it comes to nailing a conversational tone. The best way to identify unnatural clunks is to expose your script to the natural inflections, rhythms and pronunciations of the speaker.

Simple structure

While the overall length of your video will ultimately be determined by its purpose, platform and audience, the general rule is: the shorter the better.

In fact, according to AdAge, “if you have not fully engaged your audience after the first 30 seconds, you’ve likely lost 33% of your viewers, and after one minute, 45% of viewers have stopped watching”.

A simple structure to your script is key to achieving this efficiency in your content. This is pretty easy to apply, too.

To ensure a simple structure, champion the fundamentals of writing for skim readers. This means keeping sentences and information concise.

A simple structure is integral to making sure your argument is easy to follow and digest, too. So, ensure information is ordered logically and simple to apply.

This means avoiding long, complex points that need plenty of explanation. If your topic requires this level of detail, consider whether the topic could be broken up into smaller sub-topics with their own shorter videos.

Concise content

To complement your simple structure, keep your informational content concise.

This boasts multiple benefits. Not only does it help you achieve that conversational tone and digestible approach, but it also helps you adapt to that simple structure and shorter length, too.

Concise content is the MVP of good script writing. But how is it done?

Simple vocabulary is a good place to start. Opt for short, basic words that’ll be understood by your average audience member, and pair with conversational hallmarks such as colloquialisms and contractions.

Then, consider the actual information you’re relaying. Avoid saying the same thing twice - it’s a waste of valuable words. Likewise, avoid going into too much detail by covering information already known by the viewer (this requires some thorough audience research).

Pay attention to phrasing, too. There’s no need to overdose on adjectives, buzzwords and fluff - these are cardinal sins sure to impact your ability to keep it short and sweet.

Following these tips when writing your next script will ensure your brand’s video content is worthy of Hollywood (disclaimer: metaphorically speaking, of course). Apply this knowledge today to ensure your business is capitalising on the exciting potential of video content.

While we can’t promise you a star on the Walk of Fame, what we can promise you is red-carpet-worthy content that helps your brand become a blockbuster of its industry. Whether it’s video scripts or content that’s written to be read, get in touch with Paragraft to learn how we can make it work for you.

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