How to plan and structure your video script
Writing a script for your video can be a daunting task. Like most copyrighting jobs, it is tricky to know what to say, how long to make it and in what order to provide the information. If this is something that really worries you, you may be better off using a professional script writer who will be practised at structuring the content and polishing the final draft. If however you feel confident with this task, then you may like a few extra tips to help you get the most out of your script. This article is relevant to both scripts for voice-over artists to read and people presenting to camera.
What is the purpose of the video
Keep on track by defining your videos purpose before you start writing your script. Consider who is watching, where they will be watching it (e.g. on YouTube, Facebook or on your website) and what you want them to do next. This may seem obvious but it is easy to go off track in the script writing process, clearly defining the purpose will really help you choose what to say and what to leave out.
Know your audience
Like all good marketing communications it is essential to know who will be watching your video, what is their age, sex and level of understanding. Also think about what questions and concerns they may have and how these can be answered positively. This is also a good time to decide if you are going to have your script in the first or third person. Is using ‘we’, going to sound a little too home cooked? if so a more corporate external viewpoint might work better.
Define the length
As a rough rule of thumb most people speak at around 150 to 180 words per minute. If you assume a sentence has around 15 words in and a paragraph 50, you can see how you can easily use up 5 paragraphs. Less is always more, look closely at what you are saying, remove duplication and work to keep your messages concise and clear. If you do this you will end up with something that is both interesting and easily digestible.
Outline your structure
Decide on how you will break down the content. Try to define three to five sections and use basic headings to label them for now. For an introduction video this might be [introduction, benefits, services/products, credibility & call to action]. Now consider what the key bullets are for each area, for the example above we could break the introduction down into [company name, what we do, who we do it for and what makes us different]. Now start to write a paragraph encompassing the bullets into speech. It doesn’t need to be perfect at first, just draft out what you are thinking and write this for each section. Finally keep reworking the script making changes to fine tune the words making sure you read it aloud each time. A script for video is not a written document, it must work when read out, so keep reading it and write down what works.
Consider your visual content
Unless you are making a simple, short piece to camera (a.k.a. a talking head), you will need to consider what is to be shown with each part of your script. Although you may think that this is a job for your production company, your script structure will essentially define the visual content of your video, any parts that discuss historical, conceptual or other difficult to film elements could create a fragmented and possibly less visually enticing end product. Try to think of what should be shown with each sentence and you will keep your video engaging.
Think like a viewer and potential customer
It is very easy to write a script that makes you sound fantastic. You do however need to think about how it will be received. Remember it is not what you do that matters, it is what you can do for your viewer. They want to know how your product, service or organisation benefits them, keeping this in mind ask someone else to read you your script. Does it excite you? Do you want to take action? If not keep redrafting until you can bring in these essential elements.
Writing a winning script is no easy task, you may still find you need the help of a professional to re-work any troublesome areas or just as a final sanity check. Hopefully the thoughts above might help with your overall impact, as well as offering a little encouragement for anyone struggling with the basic structure.