A video without a script is like a person without a spine.
Limp, confused and messy.
In other words, if you’re creating a corporate film then you’re going to need a video script.
(There are exceptions; a filmed testimonial shouldn’t be scripted, and when shooting certain events such a thing might be impractical. But most of the time a script is a must-have.)
With a well-written script you can make sure your video content gets across your message and grabs hold of your audience, whether it’s a promotional brand video or a training video for internal use.
So… how do you write a script that gives your video such structure and focus?
By following 7 simple steps that I’m going to lead you through now, and by downloading our accompanying Video Script Template to help you get started.
1. Write a Video Brief First
Yes, before you can start writing a video script you first need to knuckle down and finish your video brief. This is the document that helps you set out your objectives, your audience, and your message (among other things) — basically all the planning you need to do before creating video.
Your brief will serve as solid grounding when writing your script. It will give you clarity on:
- Why you’re making your video,
- What it needs to achieve,
- Who you’re speaking to,
- What you want them to do after watching, and
- What the message of your video is.
2. Turn Your Message into a Story
For any piece of video content you create, you’ll have one or several core messages you want to communicate (your brief will help you identify these).
The trick is translating these core messages into a simple story for your script to follow. Everything you decide will depend on the objective your video needs to achieve, and what your audience finds valuable and engaging. It’s not just about what you want to say to your audience; it’s also about saying it in a way that resonates with them.
Your story doesn’t need to be epic or complicated. All it actually needs to be is a logical progression from one point to another, where the start is things as they currently are and the end is things as you want them to be. A good story should grab hold of your audience and tell your message in such an engaging way that it guides them to a Call-to-Action for the desired action.
3. Speak in a Language Your Audience Understands
When writing your script, always talk in your audience’s language rather than your own.
Try to get outside of your own head. Remember: your video script needs to appeal to your target audience, not you, your boss or your stakeholders. [Tweet this]
Generally, you should keep the tone simple and conversational. The only excuse for breaking this rule is if you’re a bank or a hospital (and even then a relaxed tone can work wonders). I don’t care if you’re B2C or B2B, internal or external — your audience wants to hear you speaking like a human, not a robot. That means cutting jargon, buzzwords and meaningless waffle.
Your script should be in line with your brand voice, but never to the detriment of viewers. If you can include real words and phrases that your audience themselves use, you’re well on your way to a great video script.
4. Keep it Short and Sweet
When it comes to scriptwriting, less is always more. Say what you need to say and keep it as short and succinct as possible. We generally try to keep videos to between 2-3 minutes.
(This isn’t to say every video you make will be super-short. A good training video can easily be 30 minutes long. But none of that time should be wasted, and every part of the script should be concise, precise and necessary to the video as a whole.)
5. Don’t Just Use Words
You’re making a video, not writing a novel. You’ve got more than just words to play with in your script. The story in video content is told through editing, motion graphics, music, sound effects and voiceover — so don’t feel like you need to communicate everything through dialogue.
Sound and visuals should work seamlessly together to bring your story and messaging to life, and that means including all the relevant elements in your script. Note down the action that will be happening on screen, what sounds should be heard, and any accompanying voiceover.
This can be a hard process if you’re not used to it. An experienced video agency (hello!) will help to write your script, and offer support and advice throughout this entire scripting process.
6. Do Several Script Readings
Once you’ve got a workable draft of your video script, you should start reading it out. Until you’ve done readings, you won’t be able to tell how your script sounds when spoken aloud.
You want your video script to flow smoothly from line to line, rather than sounding stilted. If you can read the script naturally, without sounding forced, that’s a good sign.
Pay attention to:
- How long it takes to read your script,
- Where inflection and emphasis falls, and
- Any awkward phrases that get stuck in the mouth.
- Your readings should bring up parts of the script that need to be changed before it’s ready to go.
7. Tweak, Retweak, and Check Against Your Brief
You’ll undoubtedly have several rounds of revisions to go through with any video script. That’s just the nature of making corporate videos where lots of stakeholders like get involved.
Before you sign everything off, doublecheck your script against the video brief you wrote in step 1. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this script likely to achieve its objectives?
- Is it written in a way that will resonate with my audience?
- Does it communicate the core message(s)?
- Does it tell an engaging story with a logical flow?
- Does it use an effective mix of sound and visuals?
- Does it include a compelling Call-to-Action?
- Is it no longer or more complex than it needs to be?
- If the answer to any of these is no, go back and edit your video script until it passes on all counts. Keep pushing yourself within the timeframe you have. You might be surprised how short and appealing you can make your video while still keeping your message and story intact.