Videos aren’t like movies or books, people don’t hang in there for 20 minutes to see if it gets any good. If they aren’t hooked within 5 seconds they press the dreaded X at the top right corner. Once they do, you may as well say goodbye to them forever. The chances of them coming back are pretty slim.
Viewers and consumers of content are in the driving seat I’m afraid. Now there are so many cat and toddler videos to choose from, you need to give them a really good reason to stick around for your business video. This is why I’ve pulled together my simple but easy to implement video script writing tips.
Here are my 6 tips for writing better video scripts
1. Write how you speak
Writing a video script isn’t the same as writing a formal paper or report, thankfully. It’s more fun, relaxed, and you can ditch the big-boss-pants nonsense words like ‘effectively’ and ‘furthermore.’
You want the viewer to feel like they’re having a conversation with you over coffee. Most people view videos on their phones, especially when they’re chilling out on the couch or looking to be inspired on the tram. This is great news for creatives like us because people are looking for ways to connect with us, and they have a device that allows us to chat with them anywhere. We need to make the most of it.
Don’t scare your viewers off with jargon and robot-like speak. If you wouldn’t say it in real-life, don’t include it in your script. So how do we move from formal speak to a more conversational style?
My tip is to get what you want to say out on paper first. Then read it out aloud and remove the big, unnecessary words, and add in contractions and colloquial language where you can. For example. Turn this: “I am going to create a video script after reading this tip sheet,” to “I’m gonna create a video script after reading this tip sheet.”
2. Share your message in the first 15 seconds
If you could only tell the viewer one thing what would that be? Think back to your video strategy (Don’t have one? Develop one before you write your script!). Write it down in one sentence. And make sure the sentence is in the first 15 seconds of your video.
Stuck on how to structure your message?
Use this handy tip: Customer problem + your product feature = customer desired outcome
As an example it might look something like this:
Paint on the floor boards + flexible head that can reach corners = perfectly painted skirting board without the mess
This way if your customer gets distracted and only watches 15 seconds of your video they will leave with your main message and how your product or service can change their life!
3. Speak directly to your customer
The easiest way to speak to an audience is to replace the “me” and “I” with personal pronouns like “you” and “your”. Don’t talk down to your audience or over their heads. Use language that your customers use daily, and throw in a cultural reference if it’s relevant. But please don’t overdo it. No one will think you’re cool if you add #YOLO to the end of every sentence.
Another way to engage your audience is to show them things they care deeply about. Whilst you may be proud of how you’ve won 10 brand and marketing awards, your audience really doesn’t give two hoots. What they want to know is, can you solve their problem?
Don’t waste time telling your audience what they already know, stuff they don’t need to know, and stuff they can get directly off your website. Focus instead on showing you identify with who they are and where they’re trying to get to. If you act like a person and not a money-hungry business you’re more likely to create a long-lasting relationship with your customers. Remember, people don’t want to be sold things, they want their problems solved.
4. Find the right tone and use humour wisely
Once you have a mental picture of your customer in mind, and you know what you want your customer to do once they’ve finished watching, you need to consider tone and humour. Branding and the type of story you are trying to tell will also impact these decisions.
You may decide you want a brief classroom style presentation, a light-hearted comedy, a bold outdoorsy documentary or a colourful animated review. What you need to ask yourself is, are my choices helping me share my main message or detracting from it? Also, choose one tone and stick to it. Don’t go from Daria serious to Krusty the Clown silly in the space of 30 seconds.
Humour is also a great tool for storytelling so long as the humour supports your message. Make sure your attempts at humour fit seamlessly within the story you’re trying to tell, and keep in mind that misplaced or poorly timed humour can be distracting and may actually put off potential customers. If you’re unsure, my tip is to ditch the joke. As they always say, less is more.
5. Pace yourself
I know you’re excited, and maybe a little nervous. And if you’re anything like me this means you’re going to speak super-duper fast and run out of breath pretty quickly.
We all do it. Speaking at a steady pace is a skill that can be learnt. That’s why professional speakers sound so good. They’ve had a lot of practice and know the material really well, so it becomes habitual and not a sweaty-armpit effort.
All you need to do is keep your dialogue to between 125 and 150 words a minute. And whilst you might be able to speak 200 or more words per minute on your own, keep in mind that pauses are a good thing.
They allow viewers to absorb what you’re saying (this is especially true if the content is particularly dense or technical in nature). Machine-gun-fire dialogue will overwhelm your viewers quickly, causing them to miss your points and lose interest.
My tip, practice saying your script out aloud at least 20 times before you do it in front of the camera. And it helps if you have an audience. Ask your partner or a friend to help. Worst case scenario, use your dog. I’ve never found talking to the wall to be particularly helpful.
6. Call to Action
Always use a call to action in your business video. You don’t have to be overly salesy either. If you’ve put in all this work and have managed to capture your dream customers attention it seems pretty silly to let them walk away thinking, ‘Wow that was nice, now I want a cupcake.’
Be direct. Tell your viewer exactly what you want them to do. Even go so far as to spell it out to them. For example: “If you liked this video please share it with your friends now on Facebook. Just click the share button right underneath this video.”
Don’t assume they are going to know what to do next. Never leave things open for interpretation.
My final tip is to choose a main action and then have a second, lesser action. That way you might still be able to catch those I’m-not-totally-convince people. Signing up for an email newsletter is a great secondary action.
How to structure your video scripts
The video structure is just as important as the strategy, writing tips and the actual script.
Instead of beginning, middle and end, a business video should have these four structural components:
1. Hook: A statement, question, challenge, drama or quandary that pulls the audience in
2. Thesis: The main point, which can be stated in one sentence or less
3. Development: Illustration or support for the thesis, with examples, reasons or details. (Testimonials and quotes are great evidence.)
4. Close: A conclusion that wraps things up with a call-to-action
Pretty cool, huh?
So when you’re writing your script have these four sections in mind. Make sure you allocate equal time to each section, and if you have time you can focus a little more on the development section.
Have you got a tip you’re dying to share? Write it in the comment section below. It’s always nice to help your fellow readers out!
Featured image from Google.