Content marketing Copywriting

Video script writing tips

If you read our blog post ‘Video script writing’, you will already know that video scripts are one of the many writing and editing services we offer here at Coastal Content. If you want to have a try at writing your own video scripts, this post is for you.

We are going to outline a selection of tips for writing engaging video scripts for a range of subjects because knowledge is for sharing.

If you end up discovering that writing video scripts isn’t for you, contact us and we can do it for you. Otherwise, try some of these tips to raise your video game.

Use a logical format

Some clients have their own way of doing things and will provide us with a document or CMS where we add the script drafts. Some clients leave us to deliver the script as we see fit.

We tend to use a simple table in Word or Google Docs to format our scripts like this:

Dialogue Scene
Hey there. My name is Jamie and I am a copywriter with Coastal Content Shot of Coastal Content logo and website Fade out
Today we are discussing writing video scripts. Shot of Jamie Switch to shot of film or TV studio.

Often we will be provided with the series of scenes by the client but occasionally we will provide an idea of what to show or collaborate with a creative team to create both at once. Either way, this table is a typical way to show the dialogue in action.

Keep the introduction short and sweet

We believe you should always introduce yourself at the beginning of every video. While you may create a series, you never know whether the viewer has seen you before or not. Therefore we think it is a good idea for a short introduction at the beginning of each one.

Keep it short and succinct. That way you don’t bore those who know you. You don’t take up too much time talking about yourself and you can slide straight into the theme or subject of the video.

Have your main message appear early and often

If you have a particular message you want to portray, add it after the introduction. Sum it up in a single sentence if you can and repeat it throughout the video. Remember Boris Johnson and the ‘Get Brexit Done’ mantra? It’s a bit like that.

Politicians often have a catchy byline and will repeat it often. It’s called reinforcement and is designed to nail that message into your consciousness through repetition. They usually go too far and we don’t want that. We want to reinforce the message but not beat the audience into submission with it.

Always use first person

A video is a conversation between the presenter and the audience and should always be like that. Third person is dull and lifeless in the vast majority of cases so don’t use it. Use ‘you’, ‘your’, ‘we’, ‘our’ and so on as much as you can to create a conversation and involve the audience in what you’re doing.

Your audience research should give you an idea of the demographic you’re speaking to so tweak your dialogue to that audience. Avoid slang and some types of humour when addressing older or professional audiences. Include social references and relevant ‘in’ phrases for younger audiences. Write with the audience in mind and the script should follow.

Write as you speak

We have all seen those videos where the person puts on their telephone voice or sounds as though they are reading from a teleprompter for the very first time. Don’t do that. Videos are conversations. They may be one way but that’s no reason to treat it any differently than any other type of conversation.

Write conversationally. If it helps, read the script aloud as you’re writing it. Don’t worry that everyone in the office keeps looking at you. Say it aloud and you will see what we mean. If your script doesn’t flow when spoken aloud, you need to revisit it.

Address the audience’s need

All non-corporate videos should address the need of the audience. You are solving a problem, showing the audience how to do something, how to fix something, how to overcome a challenge, or something else. Address the need with the dialogue and with the scenes and mix show and tell to get the message across.

120 words per minute

The average person will speak between 180 and 200 words per minute in a normal conversation. You cannot do that on a video. Keep it to around 120-150 words per minute. You need time for the viewer to hear what you’re saying and process it while also watching what’s happening in the scene.

The more complicated the subject, the more time a viewer may need to process it. Keep sentences short. Use full stops to allow the presenter to breathe and pace the script so you cover everything you need to cover within the allotted time. All without rushing or going too slow.

Pacing a video is a skill that comes with time but if you try to average 120-150 words per minute, you won’t go far wrong.

Features and benefits first

Video script writing is similar in some ways to writing eCommerce content. You begin with the introduction and move swiftly onto the features and benefits. We tend to leave the details until later.

Most viewers don’t care that a widget is made from Toray 1000 carbon fibre. They care that the widget will make them sexier, solve their problem, address their personal issues, make them more successful or whatever.

Some audiences will care about the details, which is why we can add those as a download or via a web link in the video. You can add a slide in the video outlining the specifications if you like, just don’t waste too much time on it.

Short and sweet

Our tolerance for longer books, articles and videos is limited so keep your video scripts to a reasonable length. Some formats do lend themselves well to longer videos such as video game playthroughs or some how-to videos but try to keep videos to a reasonable length.

There is no hard and fast rule with video length. Complicated or dry subjects benefit from shorter videos with more sound bites. Training videos or how-to videos can be longer as long as they are broken up into bitesize pieces with pauses and logical flow.

Share those bitesize pieces

A side benefit of breaking your video up into bitesize pieces is that you make it sharable. You could copy a clip and share across social media to drum up interest and to spread the word. Video is prime fodder for social and having it in the back of your mind during drafting and composing the script will save you a lot of time later.

Considering these sharable scenes while composing the script is much easier than trying to figure out how to do it after the fact. We have been there and done that!

Edit, edit and edit some more!

Most creative writing is regarded as complete not when you cannot add any more to it, but when you cannot take any more away. Editing is an essential element of all creativity and videos are no exception. You will need to edit, read, speak, edit, read, speak continuously until you and the client is completely happy.

Make sure the video achieves its stated goal, is written in an approachable and conversational way, has a logical flow from one point to the next and include calls to action or directions to the intended outcome regularly. Only then can you consider your video ready to go!

If you need help composing a video script for your next project, Coastal Content can help. Contact us today for a fast, free quote.

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