All great video marketing campaigns start with great video scripts. As I’ve learned first-hand over the course of this year, writing dozens of video scripts for all our in-house video projects, the amount of effort you put into pre-production (read: script-writing) is directly correlated to the quality of the end product. The better the script, the better the end product.
Need a little help with your video script writing skills? Here are my six best tips for writing effective video scripts.
1. Identify your target viewer
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When you first get the green light to create video marketing content, you’ll probably feel tempted to start cranking out scripts right away. Here’s why that’s a mistake: Without a crystal clear picture of the person you’ll be targeting with your videos, your content will lack focus. So the first step towards writing effective video scripts is identifying your target viewer.
Because you’ll be using your video content to attract and engage people qualified to become your customers, your target viewer should look practically identical to your buyer persona—the imaginary, thoughtfully crafted character who represents your company’s ideal customer. If you’ve already created a buyer persona, that’s great! Go ahead and use that person as your target viewer. If you haven’t sketched out your buyer persona yet, here are the basics.
The purpose of creating a buyer persona—who, although not technically real, is very much based on the characteristics and needs of real people—is to make your product or service more marketable. After all, if you don’t know who your product or service is for, your marketing messages will be ineffective—especially the messages communicated through your videos. Here’s the information you’ll need to create your buyer persona (and your target viewer):
- Demographics: What’s their age, gender, occupation, relationship status, parental status, education level, and income bracket?
- Behaviors and interests: What do they do on a regular basis? How do they like to spend their free time? What matters most to them?
- Goals: What are they trying to accomplish? What’s their definition of success?
- Pain points: What’s keeping them from achieving that success? What problems need to be solved in order for them to succeed?
Only when you’ve answered these questions will you be able to write focused, effective video scripts that attract and engage the right people.
2. Write like you speak
If you’re anything like me, you’ll sit down to write your first video script with a somewhat reasonable yet entirely false thought floating around your head: Writing a script is basically the same as writing a blog post, right?
Nope. Although the goals behind video marketing and blogging are essentially the same—to build your brand, engage your prospects, generate leads, and so on—the actual, finished products they yield are drastically different. Simply put, what sounds natural in someone’s head as they’re reading a blog post does not necessarily sound natural as they’re watching a video.
The more natural the speakers in your videos sound, the clearer your message will be. Therefore, when you sit down to write a script, you need to write like you speak.
Shout-out to the Plain English Campaign.
Like most skills, this will develop with practice; the more video scripts you write, the more easily you’ll be able to write with a cadence that sounds natural when spoken aloud. When you’re just starting out with script-writing, however, you need to check yourself proactively and regularly. Otherwise, you’ll start the shooting process too soon and find that the script you were so proud to have written sounds really, really awkward.
My advice? Read every single sentence back to yourself—out loud. If it sounds weird to you, it’ll most likely sound weird to your audience. Keep at it until you’ve managed to communicate your ideas in a way that comes across clearly through spoken word.
3. Keep your paragraphs short
Whether or not you have a teleprompter—we highly recommend them for those who have the budget—this tip is important. By dividing your script into a series of short, bite-sized paragraphs (we’re talking four or five sentences at a maximum), you set yourself up for a much easier shooting process when the time comes to bring your script to life.
Plenty of simple teleprompters are suitable for smartphones and tablets!
If you don’t have the budget for a teleprompter, dividing your script into small chunks isn’t so much a choice as it is a requirement. The more information you ask your speakers to memorize for each take, the more takes you can expect to do. Provided that you don’t have infinite time to produce your video content—and that your speakers don’t have infinite energy—you’ll want to make the shooting process as efficient as possible.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a teleprompter, limiting your paragraphs to three or four sentences each is still a good idea. True—reading from a teleprompter is far easier than reciting from memory, thus increasing the amount of information your speakers can successfully communicate in a single take. Nevertheless, mistakes happen. People stumble over their words. The more you ask someone to read during a single take, the more opportunities there are for them to mess up; the more they mess up, the more frustrated they get. In turn, greater frustration leads to worse performance and lower efficiency.
Bottom line: Short paragraphs make for easy shooting days.
4. Structure your information logically
Earlier, I argued that you need to write like you speak in order to clarify the information you’re sharing and improve viewer comprehension. After all, if your prospects walk away from your videos having learned nothing, what was the point of investing your time and money in the creation of that content?
The ROI of your video marketing efforts is tied directly to how much your prospects learn. Contrary to what you may assume, making educational video content isn’t a matter of simply sharing as much information as you possibly can. From a viewer comprehension perspective, just as important as the information you share is how you organize that information. Even the most insightful content is practically useless if it’s illogically organized.
Through writing both video scripts and blog posts, here’s what I’ve found to be the best approach. Once you’ve settled on the overarching topic of the video you’re creating, structure the script such that it starts with the most general information and gets progressively more specific and complex. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of whatever subject matter you’re tackling, make sure to give your viewers the solid foundation they need to fully comprehend everything that’s to come.
Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Start with the essentials and go from there.
Let’s use an example. Say you’re a marketer at a gym. You want to use educational video content to build the gym’s brand and connect with people interested in physical fitness—that is, people who make good candidates for gym memberships. For your first video, you want to talk to your viewers about protein shakes. If you were to dive straight into specific ingredients, measurements, and nutrition facts, that would be pretty jarring, right? To create a much more helpful and holistic learning experience for your viewers, you’d want to begin by talking about the pros and cons of protein shakes, when they should and shouldn’t be used, and so on. Only after you’ve laid that foundation should you get into the specifics.
5. Keep visual aids top-of-mind
When it comes to video content, most people want to see more than a static talking head. After all, a video that shows nothing but a person speaking for several minutes straight gets pretty darn boring. Plus, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that many people are visual learners. Without some form of images or graphics to accompany your speakers, your video content won’t be as effective as it needs to be to leave lasting impressions on your prospects. In turn, you won’t drive the ROI you’re looking for.
All that being said, you can’t shoehorn graphics into your videos purely for the sake of doing so; you should never include something that doesn’t legitimately enhance the viewer’s learning experience. To ensure that your use of graphics is seamless and effective, I recommend consciously creating opportunities for visual aids while writing your scripts. In other words, don’t write an entire script and subsequently comb through it in search of opportunities for visual aids. Instead, try to write with a cadence that naturally lends itself to the use of aids.
The genius of Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series lay in the use of visual aids.
As an example, let’s return to the hypothetical in which you’re creating video marketing content for a gym. Technically, when scripting the introductory section of the video about protein shakes, you could simply say “Protein shakes are divisive among the fitness community” and leave it at that. Alternatively, you could say “Regularly drinking protein shakes comes with a number of costs and benefits.” I’d argue that the latter is substantially better because it gives you an opportunity to naturally insert a visual aid—a T-chart, most likely.
One last point: Finishing a script and subsequently combing through it to find places to insert graphics is a pain in the neck. If nothing else, take my advice to save yourself a headache.
6. Create opportunities for shareable clips
My final tip for writing video scripts is related to the promotion of your finished products. Think about it: Once you have a polished video that’s ready for publication on your website and YouTube channel, what better way to drum up interest than by sharing short, enticing clips on social platforms like Twitter and Instagram?
As is the case with visual aids, you should have social media clips at the top of your mind as you’re writing your video scripts. If you script an entire video without thinking about its promotion on social media, you’ll force yourself to find shareable clips after the video’s been shot and edited—so you’ll run the risk of working with sub-par source material. This, in turn, could lead to not-so-enticing clips and a lack of engagement with your promotional posts.
If you consciously create shareable moments when writing your script instead, promoting the final video will become a whole lot easier and a whole lot more effective. Let’s return to the example of the protein shake video one more time. Sure—you could end the video by simply listing the ingredients required to make your personal favorite protein shake. However, a far more shareable piece of content would be a clip of you actually making that shake.
As you’re writing your script, regularly stop to ask yourself a question: “Will anything I’ve scripted so far make for a compelling social media post?” If the answer is no, make a concerted effort to change that. You (and your boss) will be happy you did.
Don’t mail it in when writing video scripts!
I get it: Writing scripts erases some of the luster of video marketing. There’s something really exciting about immediately getting behind (or in front of) a camera and simply creating. Sitting down at a laptop and thinking rationally about what’s going to enable the best user experience possible … not so much.
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And yet, it has to be done. Whether you’re adopting video marketing as a channel so you can spread brand awareness or drive sales, you have to think really carefully about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Considering the amount of time, resources, and expertise it takes to create high-quality video marketing content, you really can’t afford to wing it.
Thoughtful, meticulous video scripts are the key to delivering the best results you possibly can. Using these six tips, you should be able to do just that.
And if you're looking for a low-budget way to produce quality marketing videos from home, we've got just the post for that.
From Reading to Writing
Reading and writing are the two essential tools of learning. Critical reading is not a process of passive consumption, but one of interaction and engagement between the reader and the text. Therefore, when reading critically and actively, it is important not only to take in the words on the page, but also to interpret and to reflect upon what is read through writing and discussing it with others.
PART I: Critical Readers Understand the Difference Between Reacting and Responding to A Text
As stated earlier in the previous chapter, actively responding to difficult texts, posing questions, and analyzing ideas presented in them is the key to successful reading. The goal of an active reader is to engage in a conversation with the text he or she is reading. In order to fulfill this goal, it is important to understand the difference between reacting to the text and responding to it.
Reacting to a text is often done on an emotional, rather than on an intellectual level. It is quick and shallow. For example, if we encounter a text that advances arguments with which we strongly disagree, it is natural to dismiss those ideas out of hand as not wrong and not worthy of our attention. Doing so would be reacting to the text based only on emotions and on our pre-set opinions about its arguments. It is easy to see that reacting in this way does not take the reader any closer to understanding the text. A wall of disagreement that existed between the reader and the text before the reading continues to exist after the reading.
Responding to a text, on the other hand, requires a careful study of the ideas presented and arguments advanced in it. Critical readers who possess this skill are not willing to simply reject or accept the arguments presented in the text after the first reading right away. To continue with our example from the preceding paragraph, a reader who responds to a controversial text rather than reacting to it might apply several of the following strategies before forming and expressing an opinion about that text.
- Read the text several times, taking notes, asking questions, and underlining key places.
- Study why the author of the text advances ideas, arguments, and convictions, so different from the reader‟s own. For example, is the text’s author advancing an agenda of some social, political, religious, or economic group of which he or she is a member?
- Study the purpose and the intended audience of the text.
- Study the history of the argument presented in the text as much as possible. For example, modern texts on highly controversial issues such as the death penalty, abortion, or euthanasia often use past events, court cases, and other evidence to advance their claims. Knowing the history of the problem will help you to construct meaning of a difficult text.
- Study the social, political, and intellectual context in which the text was written. Good writers use social conditions to advance controversial ideas. Compare the context in which the text was written to the one in which it is read. For example, have social conditions changed, thus invalidating the argument or making it stronger?
- Consider the author’s (and your own) previous knowledge of the issue at the center of the text and your experiences with it. How might such knowledge or experience have influenced your reception of the argument?
Taking all these steps will help the reader to move away from simply reacting to a text and towards constructing informed and critical response to it.
To better understand the key differences between reacting and responding and between binary and nuanced reading, consider the table below.
|Reacting to Texts||Responding to Texts|
|Binary Reading||Nuanced Reading|
PART II: Critical Readers Resist Oversimplified Binary Responses
Critical readers learn to avoid simple “agree-disagree” responses to complex texts. Such way of thinking and arguing is often called “binary” because is allows only two answers to every statement and every questions. But the world of ideas is complex, and a much more nuanced approach is needed when dealing with complex arguments.
When students are asked to “critique” a text, which readers are often asked to do, it does not mean that they have to “criticize” it and reject its argument out of hand. Deadpool 2016 720p dual audio download 720p. What students are being asked to do instead is to carefully evaluate and analyze the text’s ideas, to understand how and why they are constructed and presented, and only then develop a response to that text. Not every text asks for an outright agreement or disagreement. Sometimes, we as readers are not in a position to either simply support an argument or reject it. What we can do in such cases, though, is to learn more about the text’s arguments by carefully considering all of its aspects and to construct a nuanced, sophisticated response to them. Then it will still be possible to disagree with the arguments presented in the reading because our opinion about the text will be much more informed and nuanced than if we simply agree or disagree.
Two Sample Student Responses
To illustrate the principles laid out in this section, consider the following two reading responses. Both texts respond to a very well known piece, “A Letter from Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King, Jr. In the letter, King responds to criticism from other clergymen who had called his methods of civil rights struggle “unwise and untimely.” Both student writers were given the same response prompt: “After reading King’s piece several times and with a pen or pencil in hand, consider what shapes King’s letter. Specifically, what rhetorical strategies is he using to achieve a persuasive effect on his readers? In making your decisions, consider such factors as background information that he gives, ways in which he addresses his immediate audience, and others. Remember that your goal is to explore King’s text, thus enabling you to understand his rhetorical strategies better.”
Student “A” Response:
Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” is a very powerful text. At the time when minorities in America were silenced and persecuted, King had the courage to lead his people in the struggle for equality. After being jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, King wrote a letter to his “fellow clergymen” describing his struggle for civil rights. In the letter, King recounts a brief history of that struggle and rejects the accusation that it is “unwise and untimely.” Overall, I think that King’s letter is a very rhetorically effective text, one that greatly helped Americans to understand the civil rights movement.
Student “B” Response:
King begins his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by addressing it to his “fellow clergymen.” Thus, he immediately sets the tone of inclusion rather than exclusion. By using the word “fellow” in the address, I think he is trying to do two things. First of all, he presents himself as a colleague and a spiritual brother of his audience. That, in effect, says “you can trust me,” “I am one of your kind.” Secondly, by addressing his readers in that way, King suggests that everyone, even those Americans who are not directly involved in the struggle for civil rights, should be concerned with it. Hence the word “fellow.” King’s opening almost invokes the phrase “My fellow Americans” or “My fellow citizens” used so often by American Presidents when they address the nation.
King then proceeds to give a brief background of his actions as a civil rights leader. As I read this part of the letter, I was wondering whether his readers would really have not known what he had accomplished as a civil rights leader. Then I realized that perhaps he gives all that background information as a rhetorical move. His immediate goal is to keep reminding his readers about his activities. His ultimate goal is to show to his audience that his actions were non-violent but peaceful. In reading this passage by King, I remembered once again that it is important not to assume that your audience knows anything about the subject of the writing. I will try to use this strategy more in my own papers.
In the middle of the letter, King states: “The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.” This sentence looks like a thesis statement and I wonder why he did not place it towards the beginning of the text, to get his point across right away. After thinking about this for a few minutes and rereading several pages from our class textbook, I think he leaves his “thesis” till later in his piece because he is facing a notso-friendly (if not hostile) audience. Delaying the thesis and laying out some background information and evidence first helps a writer to prepare his or her audience for the coming argument. That is another strategy I should probably use more often in my own writing, depending on the audience I am facing.
- Which response fulfills the goals set in the prompt better and why?
- Which responses shows a deeper understanding of the texts by the reader and why?
- Which writer does a better job at avoiding binary thinking and creating a sophisticated reading of King‟s text and why?
- Which writer is more likely to use the results of the reading in his or her own writing in the future and why?
- Which writer leaves room for response to his text by others and why?
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Critical Readers Do not Read Alone and in Silence
One of the key principles of critical reading is that active readers do not read silently and by themselves. They take notes and write about what they read. They also discuss the texts they are working with, with others and compare their own interpretations of those texts with the interpretations constructed by their colleagues.
Most college students are probably used to taking notes of what they read. For example, some people my prepare for a test by reading a chapter or two from a textbook, then closing the book, then trying to summarize what was read on a piece of paper.
But that kind of study strategy is not an example of critical reading. Simply summarizing concepts from textbooks or lecture notes is not critical reading. Reading for information and trying to extract the main points, is not conversing with texts, because the reader is not questioning them, and summarizing does not involve connecting the reading with one’s personal experiences or pre-existing knowledge in any way.
Critical reading has other goals, one of which is entering an on-going intellectual exchange. Therefore, it demands different reading strategies, approaches, and techniques. One of these new approaches is not reading in silence and alone. Instead, critical readers read with a pen or pencil in hand. They also discuss what they read with others.