Writing an Online Video Script
Simple Steps for Beginners
Online videos are a versatile tool that businesses should add to their marketing toolkit. Whether your goal is to explain the concept behind your product or service or to give a detailed explanation of how to use it, a well-crafted video might be the solution you are looking for.
Online videos, especially animated videos, offer a wide variety of benefits, ranging from increased conversion rates to building your company’s reputation. But where exactly should you start?
The production of good quality videos begins before they are shot or produced by a trusted animation studio. Before anything else, you will need a script.
Writing your video’s script
The primary function of your video’s script is to provide your initial concept with a robust framework that allows you to transform your ideas into a finely tuned message that resonates with your target audience. Hopefully, the script will prompt them to take your desired action, be it to sign up for your mailing list, visit your website, or purchase your new product or service.
Here are the steps that you will need to take:
Craft your project brief
Starting the scriptwriting process with a brief allows you to outline your main goals for producing a video while helping you avoid potential setbacks during video production. Should you encounter these setbacks, you can always revert to the brief for guidance.
What should you include in a brief? That will vary from one video to another. At the very least, the project brief should consist of your goals, your intended audience, the proposed topic, and a call to action.
Begin writing an outline
The next step that you need to take is to write an outline for your script. Creating an outline is critical to the scriptwriting process because it enables you to give focus to the message you want to deliver in a logical manner. Without an outline, your video can ramble on, diluting the message you wish to provide to your target audience.
Flesh out your script
Although creativity is critical for the success of your video, the function should always take precedence. As much as possible, creativity should not get in the way of crafting a resonant message.
Remember to include notes that will serve as a guide for the actors and the production team. For example, if you think a particular angle suits a specific scene, you should include that in your notes for the script.
Once you are done writing the script, go over it again to check for things that you might have missed. It is also a good idea to show your initial draft to your colleagues and bosses so they can share their inputs and criticisms that will enable you to fine-tune your script before you edit and finalize it.
A few helpful tips
By no means is scriptwriting an easy process, especially if you are just starting out. To help you overcome common setbacks, here are a few essential pointers that you should remember:
Keep it short
You are not writing a full-length movie. You have to remember that the average person has a shorter attention span, and you will be competing with different types of content for a viewer’s attention.
For online videos, keep it short. Depending on the platform you are going to use for publishing, your video should run between 30 seconds and two minutes.
Make your script (and video) longer, and you risk losing your viewers before you finish communicating your message. Prune away fluff and other non-essentials. It is always better to eliminate unnecessary details while you are writing the script instead of doing that when the video has already been produced.
Converse with your viewers
Write your script in a conversational tone. Unless you are writing a script for an audience of academics or industry experts, stick to a simple, friendly language. The dialogue and narration should sound like an average person speaking to a friend.
To achieve that goal, write in the second person and keep your sentences short and straightforward.
In relation to that, you should know who is going to watch your video. That allows you to better connect with your viewers because you will be able to craft a message best suited to your target demographic.
Include important details
Apart from the dialogue, your script should contain helpful notes for the production team and actors. These include the type of shots you prefer for a scene, recommended props and costumes, and particular actions. That helps eliminate guesswork and helps fast-track video production
Use the inverted pyramid
In news writing, reporters follow the inverted pyramid principle, where the most important facts are laid down in the initial paragraphs before moving to the minor details.
In writing your script, you should begin with a quick introduction to your company, the person speaking in the video, and the topic that will be covered.
The advantage of this technique is that you will be able to hook the attention of the audience. In turn, the audience knows precisely what to expect from your video.
Weave a narrative
An online video is not just a series of slide presentations turned into another format. Sure, you can highlight helpful facts and stats, but these should not be prioritized over your narrative.
Remember, people are drawn to a story. If you want your message to be remembered, write a story, not a mere presentation.
Add some humor
Humor can be a useful narrative tool that hooks the viewer further in. However, you have to make sure that your jokes are appropriate for your audience and that they do not offend. When in doubt, skip it.
Storyboarding is an old and reliable technique that has been used by filmmakers for ages. A storyboard will help you and the production team learn how to efficiently transform your script into a video by laying down a visual element to the finished script.
Build the right foundation
A structure is as strong as its foundation. With online videos, you cannot create captivating ones with a flimsy and sloppily written script that serves as the primary foundation of your video.
Take the time to write a solid script and everything else will follow seamlessly down to the finest details. Rush the scriptwriting process, and you could end up with a convoluted mess which can turn off any viewer and negate the goals you initially set.
If you do not know how to proceed, the steps outlined above can serve as a helpful guide that can get you started.
Anthony Lam is the founder of Punchy Digital Media, a creative agency that helps organisations grow using animated videos and creative visual content. Punchy has a team across Australia and Asia and has worked with clients such as Apple, Westpac and the Australian Government, running campaigns and reaching millions of people.
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