A video without a script is like a … well, I don’t know what it is like, but it’s definitely not going to be something good. Unless you just want to rumble around or do those vlog type of videos.
Anyway, if your goal is to have a clear, concise video that transmits a well-defined message and has a strong call to action you will definitely need a video script.
It makes everything more coherent and it gives it that professional feel.
I can tell you that I know that first hand through after providing video editing services to a lot of customers that did not have a video script. But also to many who had created a script.
So if you have decided you want to step up the quality of your video production by having a script, this post will go right down your alley.
I am going to tell you how to write a script for your video, what should it include, how in-depth can you go with it, but also how to read it on camera so that it looks natural.
I’m also going to touch a little bit on the concept of video storyboard as well, but that is a whole different topic, for another article.
Lastly but not least we are going to take a look at a video script template and see how you can fill it in or create your own custom template.
As always, let’s start with the beginning.
When should you script your videos
If you have a lot of information you need to cover in a video you will probably benefit from creating a script.
If you are doing something like a travel vlog type of video though, there’s not really a point in creating a video script.
Maybe you can have a little bullet point list of all the things you want to cover in the video, but that will probably be it.
Another type of video that you will not need a script for is a testimonial video.
So you should always think about what kind of video you want to create and adapt your video scripting process and needs to that type of video.
Why should you script your videos
How on earth do people remember what to say in a video? Especially when we are talking about videos that are 10 minutes or more of non-stop, talking to the camera.
The answer is simple: they don’t.
They just follow a script.
There are 4 main reasons for which you should script your video.
Any video is better when it has a little bit of a story behind it.
And what’s the best way of creating a little story? You got it – by writing it down.
Writing a script will also make your video more organized. You get into that planning mood where you are 100% thinking about what is the purpose of the video.
You get to sit down and think about what is the message that you want to communicate and what is the outcome you expect to get.
It helps you deliver a clear message to your audience. You will not go off topic or start rambling when you have a script you need to stick to.
You will say everything in the right order, you will be concise with it and you will not babble or have those annoying ahs and uhms in your video.
So you don’t have to memorize everything you need to say throughout the video.
I guess this kind of says it all. I never liked memorizing stuff and I think I’m not the only one, so that’s that.
It saves you a ton of time.
Yeah, writing everything down will take a big chunk of your video production time.
But on the flip side of it, you will have a much smoother filming and video editing process.
Not to mention that you will avoid re-recording the parts that you got wrong. Or even the entire video if your speech doesn’t make any sense when you check out the recording.
So even is video scripting can take maybe 1 hour of your time (more or less depending on how long the video will be), overall you will be actually saving time.
You can use the text of the video script by re-purposing it.
It can become a blog post that could go on your site for example.
Or it can go on a Facebook post.
Or it can be used as a description of your YouTube video….
and so on and so forth.
Since you wrote it already, why not use it on different platforms too and increase your potential reach?
How to write a video script
Once you have an idea for your video you should start doing the research for it (if needed), and then get started with creating the video script.
The first thing you want to do is to break the video script into different sections or chapters if you will.
Any video script should contain at least these 4 sections:
- The Hook
- The Intro
- The Body
- The Call To Action
Most of the times, for the body section you want to have a couple of subsections or different sub-headings. These will help you organize your ideas and your final video better.
So whenever you create a new video scrip, start by putting all these headings in a Word Document, then add any sub-headings and main ideas that you have for each section and sub-section.
From there on, start writing the actual content of your video.
I find this approach to work so much better than simply starting to write everything from a blank page.
I’d say this is the most important part of your script and of your video.
The hook should be like a newspaper headline. It needs to be catchy, it should grab people’s attention so that they want to keep watching the video.
Let me remind you that you have just a few seconds to convince your viewers to stick around before they click next or scroll down to another video.
So definitely spend more time on putting together a good script for the hook.
It needs to be on point!
There can be some fluff in the main body of the video, or things might not be 100% spot on during the video (even though you should aim at making the full video as good as you can), but the hook needs to be on point.
Otherwise, you’ll just lose the viewers forever.
A good hook should do the following:
- tell the viewers what the video is about
- reinforce that the video will answer/solve their question/problem
- make them want to watch until the end (because of an incentive)
- be funny or emotional.
This one is an optional step and you can skip it if you want to keep your video short.
In the intro, you basically tell people your name, who you are and what you do as well as a few key things about your business.
Moreover, if you do have an intro, you should always give the viewers a little bit of a lead in why the topic you are covering is so important to them.
Keep it super short though, as most people clicked on the video to get an answer to a question, not to hear your bio.
If they really like you they can go and find out more about you by checking out your website. So don’t force them to watch an intro which is more than 10-15 seconds long.
In the intro, you can also include a very small little call to action section. Meaning that you can already tell people to make sure they subscribe, like, share or leave comments if they want their question answered in the next video.
It’s a well-known fact that viewership retention rates are dropping a lot towards the end of the videos, so why not have your call to action early on when there are more people watching?
Again, the intro is optional, so you can get directly to the body of the video.
But it is a great place to add a couple branding elements and reconfirm to the viewers that they have clicked on the right video and they are going to get the answer they are looking for.
This is the main section of your video.
Here you actually tell the people what they came to listen to. Here you answer their question or offer a solution to a problem.
You should draft your video script so that you say things in an organized, easy to understand manner. Make sure you put your ideas on paper in the right order.
Speak slowly and try to be as concise as you can with everything.
Don’t use long phrases and fancy words that make you look like you are speaking above people’s heads.
Your viewers will pick that up right away and they will click on to the next video.
Draft your script as you were having a conversation with a friend. Use words such as “you” and “I” instead of “we”. This makes the video look more like a conversation.
Use examples whenever you can, to simplify things. If you are talking about a complicated topic try to add visuals or even do an explainer video to make that concept easier to understand.
The call to action
Many of your viewers, even if they really enjoyed your video, will simply forget to subscribe to your channel, like your video, or take whatever action you want them to take.
It has happened to me and I bet it happened to you before.
So this is the place where you remind them to do that. If they are still watching that means they found the video interesting and they will be very likely to take the action.
If you don’t include a call to action, they will just jump on to the next video and you will lose them forever… or until they come across to another one of your videos.
So those are the 4 sections that you should include in your video script.
Now let’s take a quick rundown through some tips that will make your script, and videos, even better.
You can download this 4-section video script template by clicking here.
Mark changes in intonation & gestures
Gestures and intonation will make whatever you are saying more interesting. Even if you are talking about something super boring such as pest control. (No disrespect to people who are in the pest control industry).
There are even classes and books that will teach you how to use intonation and gestures or body language to make our speech/videos more engaging, so that’s definitely something you should look into.
So what you want to do with your script, is to mark all these things in the text.
For example, you should bold the words which you want to emphasize or use italic for the sections where you want to lower your voice.
You can use colors to mark different gestures or other body movements that you want to do on camera.
Sure, all this will probably come naturally to you as you are speaking, but it does help to mark everything down.
How long should the script be
To give you the short answer: not very long.
You actually need to think about how long you want your video to be and try to fit that in a reasonable number of word.
On average, it takes a person 1 minute to read 130-150 words. So that’s a good starting point to determine how long your script should be.
For a 3.5 minutes video, 500 words are enough.
If you feel that you can’t really fit everything you have to say in just 3-4 minutes (random example), and you don’t want to make your video longer, here’s what you can do.
The first option would be to break your script into a series of videos. Each of them covering different sub-sections of your script. You can then have them all on a YouTube playlist for example.
The second option works great if you have a lot of details you want to cover but you can’t explain everything in just a few words. In this situation, you can use drawings, explainer animations or any other type of visual representations that are easy to follow.
Now, going back to the length of your video. We could have an entire post on this topic alone, but I’m going to keep it short.
First, you will need to decide on which platform you plan on publishing it.
Instagram still limits the videos to 60 seconds. Youtube 4 / 20 minutes.
Wistia covered this in more detail over here, if you want to read more.
How to actually use/read your video script
OK, so we’ve talked a lot about how to write down your video script.
But how do you actually use it?
Do you print it out and read it off a paper?
Does someone stand behind the camera holding the script for you?
Do you need to memorize it?
Well, I guess there’s no right or wrong way of doing it, but here are the top ways I found to be working.
Use a teleprompter app
This is definitely something that can work.
I mean, there are so many people using it, especially in the TV industry and it works out great.
You need to make it look as natural as you can though.
So make sure it doesn’t look awkward, or your viewers will be put off.
The placement of the “teleprompter” should be great so that you still look at the camera throughout the video. You will also need to get other things such as the speed and the size of the text right.
This method works if there’s a lot of text in your script and you absolutely want to use 100% the exact same words in the video.
If you are a bit more flexible with it, there’s a second option for you.
Use talking points
Talking points are nothing more than some bullet point that contains the main ideas of your script.
So you can have a talking point for each subheading of your script or maybe one for each paragraph if you want more accuracy.
The advantage of talking points is that it will make you look more natural, as you will be pretty much talking freely and naturally about those topics.
The downside is that you can get a bit off topic and deviate from the script quite a bit.
When it comes to actually implementing the talking point technique, simply this.
Make a list of all your talking points and just look at it and take one talking point one by one as you make your video. Then you can just take out the parts where you are looking at the talking point list when you edit the video.
Use your phone
Lastly but not least, the third and final way of “reciting” your video script is to simply have it on your phone and just look down to it every now and then.
You can use an app such as Google Docs or Evernote, or basically any other app which synchronizes all your devices. So you can write or make changes to your script on your laptop or desktop computer, and you can see it on your mobile as well.
As you record your video you can simply look down at your phone to see what the next topic or paragraph is about, read it once or twice and then just say it out loud to the camera.
Again, you can easily edit out those parts later on in the video editing process.
Taking video scripting one step further
Before I wrap this up, I wanted to briefly touch on a different topic which is highly related to video scripting. And that is video storyboarding.
You can look at video storyboarding as a video script on steroids. It is a video script which goes into a lot more detail.
It includes information about the scenes, camera movement, angles and even video editing notes such as transitions, effects, captions, lower thirds, titles and text overlays.
I have an entire post on video storyboards over here, so feel free to check that out if you want.
Obviously, it makes sense to create a storyboard for your video where there are scenes filmed in different locations and when there’s more of a story to the whole video.
If you are sitting in the studio filming yourself in front of a green screen, you will probably not need to go through the hustle of creating a video storyboard.
First and foremost, think about the type of video that you will create and ask your self if you need to use a script or not.
If the answer is yes, use the 4-section structure: the hook, the intro, the body and the call to action.
Once you have the video script draft ready, pick the right method of “reading” it on camera and you are all set to go.
Lastly but not least, if I were to give you one final tip, that would be to write as you talk.
It makes you sound and look more natural on camera.
Do you ever script your videos? How do you read/use them when you are recording?
Let me know in the comments below.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.