Make a Good Video Script Great in 5 Steps

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With YouTube receiving 1 billion unique visitors each month, it’s no wonder businesses are going crazy over video. A good video usually beats a written product demo hands-down, but there are all kinds of reasons you’d use a video on your site, from telling your brand’s story to pitching your business to potential investors who might stop by. I’m not going to assume you’re writing your own video script here. Instead, I’m going to assume you need to review a script someone’s written for you. Other than the usual—Is it on-target for your audience? Does it reflect your brand values and personality? etc.—here are some techniques you can use to make a good script great.

1. Know your limits

How long do you want your video to be? For most of us, the shorter the better. While estimates vary wildly, you can expect straight voiceover talent to speak at around 160-180 words per minute; natural dialog might be slightly faster; instructional scripts a little slower. But the best way to see how long your script will run is to set a stopwatch and read through it, carefully, aloud. The other thing you’ll gain from doing that is an idea of any sticking points, where words that look fine on paper don’t work so well together when they’re spoken. If you stumble somewhere, that’s probably a good indication that the script could be smoother at that point. Flag it with your writer.

2. Keep the reading level low

We talked about the reading level of text before, but reading level is also a good tool to use to perfect a video script. When we speak, we tend to use natural language, and express things with shorter words than we might if we were writing. So aiming for a low reading level—around grade 7 or 6 if you can swing it—is one way to help make sure you (and your script writer) aren’t getting carried away with the context of writing on paper. This will also help keep your messages accessible to (almost) everyone who watches your video.

3. Start with a strong word that you want associated with your brand

This isn’t a must-have, but it’s something I like to do particularly for straightforward (that is, humorless) marketing videos. A good opening word or phrase grabs viewers’ attention. It can indicate that this video is for them. And it can show you’re on the same page as they are. Recently, I was working on a script for a product that solved a problem for health practitioners. In that case, I started the script with the phrase “Health care can be hard work,” to qualify the audience within the first second: if you’re not into health care, this video’s not for you. That said, this can be—and has been—a good technique for some funny/entertaining promo videos too, so it’s worth considering in most contexts.

4. Avoid qualifications

With video, you want to get your message across in as short a time as possible. So if you’re using a writer, the script is likely to be fairly economical with the language. They’ll try to pack as much punch into as few words as possible. Often, though, business owners will want to pad that out with qualifications. As an example, the client of the medical product I mentioned above wanted to preface the opening phrase of his script with a qualification so that it read, “Effective health care can be hard work…” Be careful when it comes to adding qualifications. I avoid them wherever I can, because they inevitably dilute the message and only make it harder for viewers to get to the point. And, as in the case of “effective”, the words we use to qualify a statement are often pretty fluffy and vague—both in terms of meaning and the way they sound when spoken. In this case, we compromised so that the opening phrase read, “Quality health care is hard work…” We added a more concrete qualification, but removed another one at the same time.

5. Give viewers something to go on with

Finally, don’t leave viewers hanging at the end of your video: give them something to go on with. It doesn’t need to be an outright call to action, or an invitation to visit your site or read more below. It can be as simple as a mention of your URL and a final shot of your logo. Whatever the case, don’t just let the video end: give users an address to use, or action that they can take next. It’s a good way to make sure you’re doing all you can to connect with viewers, wherever they may see your video.

What about your script tips?

To me, these are the five easiest checks you can make that can add real value to an already-good script. But what about you? Have you reviewed, written, or worked with video scripts? I’ll bet you have some tips of your own to share. Let’s hear them in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions about Writing a Great Video Script

What are the key elements of a good video script?

A good video script should be clear, concise, and engaging. It should have a strong opening to grab the viewer’s attention, a compelling narrative to keep them engaged, and a clear call to action at the end. The script should also be written in a conversational tone, as if you’re speaking directly to the viewer. Additionally, it should be structured in a logical way, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

How can I make my video script more engaging?

To make your video script more engaging, try to tell a story rather than just presenting information. Use emotion and humor where appropriate to connect with your audience. Also, use visuals to support your narrative and keep your audience’s attention. Remember to keep your language simple and conversational, and avoid jargon and complex sentences.

How long should my video script be?

The length of your video script depends on the purpose of your video. However, as a general rule, a one-minute video typically requires about 150-160 words. Remember, it’s not about the length, but the quality of the content. It’s better to have a shorter, more engaging script than a longer, boring one.

How can I ensure my video script is clear and concise?

To ensure your video script is clear and concise, start by outlining your main points. Then, write your script in simple, straightforward language. Avoid jargon and complex sentences. Also, remember to keep your sentences short and to the point. Finally, review your script and remove any unnecessary words or phrases.

What is the role of visuals in a video script?

Visuals play a crucial role in a video script. They help to support the narrative, keep the viewer’s attention, and make the content more engaging. When writing your script, think about how you can use visuals to enhance your message. This could be through images, graphics, animations, or even on-screen text.

How can I incorporate a call to action in my video script?

A call to action (CTA) is a prompt that encourages the viewer to take a specific action. This could be visiting a website, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase. To incorporate a CTA in your video script, first decide what action you want the viewer to take. Then, write a clear and compelling CTA that encourages them to take this action.

How can I make my video script more conversational?

To make your video script more conversational, write as if you’re speaking directly to the viewer. Use simple, everyday language and avoid jargon. Also, use contractions (like “you’re” instead of “you are”) to make your script sound more natural. Finally, read your script out loud to ensure it sounds conversational.

How should I structure my video script?

A good video script should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should grab the viewer’s attention and introduce the topic. The middle should present the main points or narrative. The end should summarize the main points and include a clear call to action.

How can I make my video script more personal?

To make your video script more personal, try to connect with your audience on an emotional level. Use personal stories or anecdotes where appropriate. Also, use “you” and “your” to speak directly to the viewer. Finally, show your personality through your language and tone.

How can I improve my video script writing skills?

To improve your video script writing skills, practice is key. Write regularly and seek feedback from others. Also, study successful video scripts to learn from them. Finally, keep learning about script writing techniques and best practices.

Georgina LaidlawGeorgina Laidlaw
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Georgina has more than fifteen years' experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. With a background in marketing and a passion for words, the time Georgina spent with companies like Sausage Software and cemented her lasting interest in the media, persuasion, and communications culture.

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