Creating a stunning video requires a wide variety of skills and talents. One of the key factors in a video’s success happens long before any lighting decisions are made or the audio recordings need editing. Excellent videos require excellent scripts, but writing a script for a video can be one of the most difficult things for a creator.
Because of that, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to creating a great video script! We’ve even included a free video script template that you can use to make sure all of your videos start out with a solid foundation.
For some great scriptwriting tips, check out the video below!
Why do you need a video script?
To get more inspiration
How often have you found that getting words flowing from your mind onto paper just opens up a floodgate? Ideas and inspiration just seem to multiply once you allow them to flow. Because of this, the process of writing a video script can unlock ideas you may otherwise have missed.
So often when we put pen to paper we are able to access pieces of our imagination that add really important elements to our end product. Writing a video script can be a springboard for all of the things that will make your video impactful.
To deliver your message efficiently
Structure and clarity are two non-negotiables for successful videos. Writing a script for your video is a great way to make sure that your message follows a logical pattern and that the viewer is able to clearly understand the point you are trying to get across.
Writing a video script also helps to make sure that the message is delivered in a way that is in line with established brand standards – audience confusion is not efficient!
To save editing time
The script for your video will outline all of the audio and visual components that the final product should display. This could include sound bytes, illustrations, and animations among others. An editor who is able to work from a prepared video script will be able to do their job in a more timely way than the editor who is left to guess where each element belongs.
A narrator or main character who is guided by a full script will have fewer instances of hesitation or interjections of fillers like “um”, “like”, and “uh”, which can significantly impact editing time.
To make recording easier
Recording is made infinitely easier when the process is guided by a well-developed script. If you are recording solo, having a script to refer to can help calm your nerves and keep you on topic.
If you are recording an interview, being able to provide the script to the interviewee in advance can help them prepare, often resulting in fewer takes and less editing required to create an excellent end product.
How to write a video script?
Identify your audience
A key step in video script writing doesn’t involve a pen, paper, or a video camera. Identifying the target audience for the video being developed is an all-important first step. Your choices around language, humor and tone will vary depending on the audience identified for the video. Creating a script that is engaging for teenagers is very different than writing a script for a video targeting retirees! If you don’t know exactly who you are speaking to it is likely that your message won’t be well received.
Knowing your audience is also important when it comes to how the end product is used. A video geared toward teenagers may be only a few minutes long, recorded vertically, and placed on TikTok, while a training video for new employees would be much longer in duration and require less focus on an attention-grabbing hook.
Set a goal for your video
Because creating a video consists of so many different elements (lighting, sets, cast, crew, sound, etc…) there are often many people participating in the process. In order to have that process run smoothly and create the desired end product, all of these people need to be working towards one unifying goal. Without this, you can run into a lot of difficulties as a result of each person holding a slightly different perspective about why the video is being made.
The key question to ask yourself at this pivotal point is “why?” Why is this video being made? Is it meant to teach people something? To unify a group of people? To establish a brand’s identity? Knowing and sharing the answer to this question will help steer your video script writing and the work that everyone else involved is doing as well.
If you are struggling to identify your video’s goal, think about the problem that the video is meant to solve. Is it to direct potential clients to a specific offer that needs some attention? Provide clearer instructions on a protocol that’s not being adhered to. Reduce workplace accidents? Increase website conversions on an underperforming site? It can be a challenge to narrow down one specific goal but it is an absolutely essential step to take before you begin writing a script for a video.
Choose the main characters
Good storytelling is key to creating compelling videos, and what is a story without some engaging and relatable characters? Developing a character, or a set of them, for your video, not only helps your audience engage more with the content but it can also help you focus on creating an effective narrative around your message instead of simply selling an idea.
If you are struggling to identify the main character, go back to your target audience and your goal. Think about who that audience would relate to and want to hear from in relation to the goal you have established for the video. For example, if your video‘s goal is to build trust with a company following a public failure, having the CEO as the main character may suit, whereas if your video is a solution to a recurring workplace accident, the health and safety representative might be a good choice.
Once the main character or characters have been established, you’ll build out some details about them that will help guide your video script writing. How do they relate to the product or subject matter at hand? Is their backstory relevant? If so, what is it? You don’t need a full character profile but you should go into as much detail as is necessary to help you reach the goal you have identified.
Write an outline
Starting with an outline helps to give structure to your video script. It is a great starting place to get all of your ideas out of your head and onto paper so that you can see which ones fit well in a structured video script and move you toward your goal and which ones may actually end up as distractions.
It can be tempting to jump right into video script writing but skipping this important step can cause your message to be lost and the video to appear overstuffed and disorganized. Your outline should help to establish what the beginning, middle, and end of the video script will include. You can include any details that might be helpful as you move into the next step – video script writing.
Here’s the script formula we use to create how-to videos:
The A.A.A.A Formula
- Attention (Grab their attention in the first line)
- Agitation (Agitate the pain that you can solve)
- Activity (Show them HOW to solve it)
- Action (Call them to action and tell them how to get the solution)
Breaking your outline down and writing a video script section by section is an excellent way to make sure your thoughts stay organized and the storyline for your video follows a logical progression. So what exactly should be included in each section of your video? Let’s take a look!
In the beginning:
- Start with a hook. What’s a hook? A compelling introduction to your video that delivers an accurate preview of what the viewer can expect and immediately captures their attention. You might use phrases like “Have you ever…” “Here are 3 of our top tips for…” or “If you’re looking for…” as components of your hook.
- Make sure the viewer can recognize your brand and associate this video’s message with it. You can do this by incorporating brand colors into the scheme for the video, displaying a logo, and making sure to write your video script using brand-aligned language and tone. This helps establish your video as something familiar and trustworthy rather than a random piece of content to ignore.
Now that you’ve drawn them in, you’ll use the middle section to:
- Deliver your message. You’ve drawn them in with the hook and established who you are, so now is the time to tell them exactly what you came here to tell them. Be sure to write this portion of your video script to be as clear and concise as possible so that the message doesn’t get watered down or confused.
- Share the evidence. This is a great opportunity in your video script writing to present anything to the audience that can back up or solidify any claims made with your message. Is your video script meant to introduce a new product?
Share the experiences of your beta users. Is this a training video? Establish the proven benefits of absorbing and applying the information being provided.
And finally, the end. This section of your video script should
include a Call to Action (CTA). This is the opportunity within your video script to tell the audience exactly what you want them to do. Whether that’s “book now”, “watch the next video”, “buy now”, or anything else, do not miss this opportunity to provide that extra bit of clarity around what you want the viewer to do with the information you have just provided.
Writing a video script is a lot of work, but the end result will be well worth it. And the great news is, you don’t have to start from scratch every time you need to create one! A video script template can really speed up the process and help keep you on the right track with your video script writing. We’ve created a video script writing template that you can download for free here and put to use on your next project!
Also read: The ultimate guide to instructional videos
Tips to write an amazing video script
Stay true to yourself
We’ve all had the experience of watching someone speak, whether live or on video, and being painfully aware that they are reading from a script. And you would probably agree that those experiences were not the most engaging.
So how do you prevent that from happening with your video scriptwriting? Well, a focus on writing conversationally is a big help with this. If you’re writing a script that you will be speaking from, write it the way that you talk normally. If the video script will be read by someone else, learn a little bit about the nuances of how they speak and interact with others and write the script for their video in a way that reflects that.
Make sure to write your video script using language that feels comfortable, is aligned with the brand you’re representing, and feels familiar. If you are comfortable and remaining true to your natural communication patterns (or those of the speaker you are writing for) your audience will be more fully engaged than if it feels obvious that you are “putting on a show”.
Go straight to the point
The average human attention span is a maximum of 8 seconds, and people are used to being entertained. Taking the time and energy to consume your content may not seem like a big ask, but in this day and age, it actually might be.
For these reasons, it is important to get right to the point and be as concise as you can be when writing a video script. Surrounding your message with too much back story or context can be distracting and confusing for viewers. Save any of the information that you think is important to share but doesn’t fit well within a concise video script for use in future videos or other types of content.
Stick to the video script (mostly)
You are writing this video script for a reason right? And part of that reason is to make sure the message gets delivered and the video fulfills its goal. A little riffing or adlibbing here and there is ok but do try to stick to the script as much as possible. A few additions to add personality can go a long way, but too much will likely have a negative impact.
If you or the person who will be presenting the script are likely to go off script, try to include some of the content that may inspire the adlibbing in the video script itself. This can reduce the temptation to go rogue. And if, in the end, the video script just isn’t working, a rewrite is often more effective than an improvised, unscripted video.
Also read: The guide to creating Youtube videos
Do a verbal run-through off-camera.
A verbal run-through, or table read, is a great opportunity to take your video script out for a test drive and identify any challenges you may have missed in the writing phase. It is not at all uncommon for a word or phrase to look great on paper but sound ridiculous when spoken out loud.
An off-camera run-through can also help to shorten sentences, cut unnecessary words, and make sure the real-life impact of the words chosen is the same as what you were hoping for during the video script’s writing.
Having someone who is a member of the target audience for the video you have scripted sit in and provide feedback at this point can also help to make sure that your video scriptwriting is going to land the way you want it to with the intended audience.
Support any B-roll with the proper callouts in your main narrative.
B-roll is a term used to describe secondary shots that are shown while the storyline continues audibly. Using B-roll footage can allow you to feature products, employees, happy customers, charts and graphs, testimonials, and other content that enhances the message presented by your video.
Be sure to include cues and instructions for your narrator or main character to help integrate B-roll footage without causing confusion or distraction for the viewer. Phrasing like “…in the chart you see here…” can help the viewer contextualize what they see on the screen and guide the speaker to gesture or position themselves appropriately.
We’ve all seen the videos where the subject points in one direction and the B-roll footage shows up somewhere else, but that’s much less likely to happen to you with a properly scripted video.
Don’t forget – there is no need to start from scratch every time you need to write a script for a video. If you have a video script that has worked well in the past, you can easily templatize it and keep using it!
If you need some help to get started, click here to download the free video script template we created for you. You simply document some background information, like your target audience and goals, and then fill in the blanks – what could be simpler?