11 Steps to Write an Effective Video Script

11 Steps to Write an Effective Video Script

13min read  

17 Dec 2020

Ever wonder how YouTubers present complex topics so smoothly without faltering or losing their train of thought? While we like the theory of them being magicians with superhuman communication skills, that’s hardly the case. Their secret is much simpler — a good video script.

Planning is a concealed but essential part of video storytelling. Before you jump in front of the camera with full confidence, there’s work to be done behind the scenes. And the quality of that work will determine how your final product turns out. 

Knowing how to write video scripts and mastering that skill will inevitably result in better, more sophisticated videos. Whether you’re planning to write a plot for a 2-minute explainer video or a 40-minute documentary, there are certain steps you should take. 

In this blog post, you’ll find ten steps to write compelling scripts and a shortcut, in case your time is strictly limited. Let’s begin!

  1. Choose Your Topic and Goals
  2. Consider the Audience
  3. Brainstorm Ideas
  4. Write an Outline
  5. Expand
  6. Make It Concise and Clear
  7. Add Visual and Auditory Aids
  8. Read It Out Loud
  9. Get Feedback
  10. Practice off Camera
  11. Use Presets as Your Shortcut

 

  1. Choose Your Topic and Goals

You’re probably starting off with a rough idea of your video’s topic and purpose, i.e., what the video is going to be about and why you’re making it. This is a great starting point, as the first stage of scriptwriting only aims to solidify your initial plan by specifying the video topic and your main goal(s).

What is the question you’re trying to answer or the central idea around which you’ll be weaving your script? Don’t concern yourself with the details and specifics just yet; you’ll have plenty of time to attend to those.

Let’s say you want to shoot a video introducing your real estate agency to potential clients. Your video topic should be “business introduction,” while your main goal is to leave the viewer informed about who you are and what you do. To go a step further, you can also determine that the type of video you need is a business explainer video.

If your script doesn’t have a direction and a message to communicate, chances are, it’s going to be all over the place. So choose your topic and set your goals to make sure you start off on the right foot.

 

  1. Consider the Audience

So long as you’re making your video to appeal to a specific audience, you’ll need to keep them top-of-mind throughout the whole process of scriptwriting. Consider the following points when defining your target viewers:

  • Demographics: What is their age group, occupation, educational background, marital status, etc.?
  • Interests: How do they like to spend their time? What topics do they find interesting? What social platforms do they prefer?
  • Problems: What are their main pain points? How do they want to overcome them? What’s stopping them from doing so?
  • Why should they care: Why should they spend the time to watch your video? How can you mold your video script to make it attractive to them?

To learn more about defining the right target audience for your business, we recommend you check out our article on this topic.

Without a clear picture of your target demographic, you’ll be shooting in the dark with your video script. Use the vocabulary and tone of voice that resonates best with your audience. Also, pay close attention to the length of your video script. 

Estimate the approximate word count before you write a script. Keep in mind that it takes around a minute to read 130 words. You can use online tools to calculate the reading time of your video scripts.estimate reading time online tool

Source: Read-o-Meter

 

  1. Brainstorm Ideas

As soon as you have your primary objective pinned down, it’s time to search your brain for any ideas and approaches. This stage of writing a script doesn’t have to be disciplined or rigid. Give yourself full freedom for creative thinking, daydreaming, and imagining; otherwise, you’ll be blocking your own creativity.

You’re not crafting a draft nor an outline yet. It’s perfectly fine to have a semi-chaotic scribble of thoughts and ideas with no details. You might end up with a disordered bullet list, which is ideal for our next stage.

 

  1. Write an Outline

The most brilliant of video ideas might fall flat without a clear outline for the video script. Organize your ideas in a logical sequence to ensure your script makes sense and flows naturally. Let’s break down the main constituents of a well-balanced video script:

 

  • Introduction

Intros and outros for a video help to make it more coherent and effective. It’ll be hard for a viewer to concentrate and grasp the gist of your video unless you give them a clear idea right from the start. See how the video below achieves this goal with its quick intro:

When you write a video script, make sure it begins with a brief introduction of yourself and the topic you’ll be discussing. Don’t linger too much on the intro. Quickly tell your audience why they should watch your video and move on to the main points.

In the example below, the narrator manages to introduce his channel and topic in under 30 seconds. Note that if your video is going to be 1-2 minutes long, you’ll have less time for an intro.

Depending on the topic and audience, you might need to give some backstory or context before you’re able to dive into your main content. In this case, do so as succinctly as you can. Your intro has to be compact and impactful to persuade the viewer to keep watching.

 

  • Main Content

After the introduction, make a smooth transition to your main points. Arrange them so that they build on one another, creating a cogent storyline. Otherwise, they’ll be nothing more but blocks of uncorrelated information.

Don’t include too many key points in your video script. Too much information in one video will be distracting, and your audience will have a hard time capturing your main message.

Check out the video below; there are countless habits worth quitting, but let’s admit that “5 Habits You Need to Quit” sounds way better than “25 Habits You Need to Quit.”

 

  • Takeaways

Once you cover all your key points, summarize them, or reiterate the answer to the main question. Highlight the takeaways to give a smooth end to your video and avoid leaving the audience with a sense of incompletion and dissatisfaction.

 

  • Call to Action

What’s the next step for the viewer to take after watching your video? It could be subscribing to your channel, following you elsewhere, downloading a free template, or heading to your blog. Whatever it is, a quick mention of it will do you no harm. 

YouTube end screens are a perfect call to action. They can show your social media profiles and website URL or link to another video of yours. You can make your personalized outro with this YouTube End Screen Pack.

 

  1. Expand

At this point of writing your script, you should have a basic outline carved out. Now all that’s left to do is expand on the topic, from the intro all the way to the end scene. It’s always recommended to divide your script into short chunks of text. Follow the rule of one message a paragraph to increase the impact of each.

 

  1. Make It Concise and Clear

Your video scripts won’t and don’t have to be flawless at the first attempt, which is why we have this stage. It’s good to have brevity in mind while writing your initial draft, but once your writing is complete, you should go back and reread it with the sole purpose of abridging it.

Get rid of any unnecessary fluff and filler sentences to sharpen your script. Always remember that the shorter the message, the easier it is to remember. However, this doesn’t mean that you should compress your messages at the expense of their clarity. Ensure that your script clearly communicates your main point, then look for a way to say the same thing in fewer words.

Take a look at this HubSpot video, for example. The video only focuses on three points, and each of them is direct, short, and effective.

Lastly, try to keep a conversational tone. Unlike in written content, in videos, it’s harder to get away with lengthy, convoluted sentences. Keep your sentence structure as plain as possible. Break up compound sentences into simple ones.

 

  1. Add Visual and Auditory Aids

Video content is so compelling because of its ability to stimulate both the visual and auditory senses. If your video script only revolves around the speaker presenting the topic seated in front of the camera, then you’re neglecting the visual aspect of video production.

Write a video script that incorporates B-rolls, closeup shots, typography, graphics, or change of scenery. Visual elements will emphasize important messages and will make your video much more engaging.

And, of course, don’t forget about music and sounds. Subtle background music that’s not too loud or obtrusive can establish the right ambiance for your video. Sound effects are also a creative way to bring more life to your project and draw attention to the right messages. Notice how sounds effects and background music effectively enhance just the right elements in the video shown below.

If you’re wondering how to add music to your video, we have a helpful article on that topic.

Also, take into account that some people might watch your video without sound. Be sure to add subtitles to your videos to avoid losing viewers.

 

  1. Read It Out Loud

As your video script is meant to be spoken and not read quietly, reading it aloud is a step you can’t skip. When you read your text out loud, you’ll likely come across speed bumps you didn’t notice while writing. It’s the perfect opportunity to see how well your written text translates to a speech.

Does the speech flow naturally? Get rid of any bits that sound awkward or are tricky to pronounce. Your goal is to make it as conversational and free-flowing as possible.

 

  1. Get Feedback

Ask your team (or anyone who’ll be willing) to review your video script. We tend to get too involved in our writing to be able to look at it with fresh eyes, hence the need for feedback. Stay open to suggestions, as they might give you a chance to improve your script in ways you wouldn’t have thought of.

 

  1. Practice off Camera

This step applies to you only if you’re going to be the speaker in the video. You want to make sure you have a good command of the script before you get on camera. And the only way to guarantee such confidence is to practice, practice, practice. 

Know when to take pauses in your talk to give your audience enough time to process and comprehend the presented information.

 

  1. Use Presets as Your Shortcut

Writing video scripts can be tedious, sure, but it’s also a fun and captivating process — as long as you have the time to walk through all the steps, that is. But what if you’re short of time? Fret not; there’s a shortcut!

We have created video presets on various topics with ready-made scripts to help you save time and energy. All presets are ready to be customized with your text, logo, media files, and anything else you want to include in your video.

Let’s see how presets work.

First, you’ll need to head to our video maker, select presets from the filter section on the left, and use the search tool to enter your keyword.

search for presets on Renderforest

Pick any of the ready-made stories you find appealing and start creating your project. You are free to edit, remove, or replace all the scenes. Use the “Matching scenes” feature to look for frames similar to the one you are currently viewing.find matching scenes Renderforest video maker

Upon finishing your project, preview it in low quality to see if you need any more changes, then download your video or share it to your social media profiles.

Try Now

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

To ensure a smooth video production process and a polished, well-developed final product, you’ll need to invest some time in scriptwriting. Start with a specified video topic and objectives, then build your script step by step. This way, you’ll give yourself enough time to contemplate, reevaluate, and fine-tune your plan.

We hope you found this guide helpful. Good luck with your next video project!

Looking for customizable video templates to pair with your video script? Click the button to find hundreds of award-winning templates:

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