5 Tips for Writing More Effective Video Scripts

Back to Blogs By Andrew Muir. Abridged version by Mona Lee. Posted: May 19, 2024

With the growing popularity of short form video content, video script writing is an indispensable craft and an essential skill that communicators can add to their toolbelts.

A video script is a step-by-step blueprint for your video production; it is a necessity that streamlines your video shoot and editing. If you don’t know where to start, keep reading.

Before you tackle the video script, consider the purpose of your video. What do you wish to achieve? How does it fit in your marketing strategy? Identify your audience, your call to action, and your talking points. Picture what your video looks like and communicate your vision in the script.

Follow these 5 tips on how to write an effective video script:

  1. Separate the Audio and Video
    Approach the document like a PowerPoint presentation by teasing apart the imagery and sound. Take a blank page and divide it into two columns.

In the left column, describe what the viewer is seeing, including graphs, charts, animation, black screen with captions, and video transitions.

In the right column, write the dialogue, voice-over narration, and include music and sound effects.

Format the script in rows so that your visuals and audio align. This ensures that the sequencing flows in a clear, intuitive manner.

2. Script for the Edit.
While the script outlines what the camera person will film and what the on-screen talent will do and say, it is also an important tool for the editor. A well-written and organized video script will save time for everyone and help your editor to determine when and where to cut and edit video, insert music, sound effects, add captions, transitions, opening and closing credits, and so on.

3. Beware of Abstract Language.
Abstract language is challenging to convey in a video (i.e. efficiency, growth, and gratitude). Consider using concrete language that you can easily communicate to your viewer (i.e. truck, dog). Imagine you are playing a game of Pictionary. Be clear and concise.

4. Read Your Dialogue Out Loud.
When you read your audio script aloud, you will discover what combination of words work and what does not. Which words should be stressed? Use all-caps to indicate emphasis to the reader. Get your intonation correct. Be concise with your vocabulary and precise with punctuation. Use periods. Reduce commas. Avoid brackets.

5. Tell Your Story.
Whether it is a dynamic or dry subject matter, you have a message to deliver, a call to action, a story to tell. With creativity, show the cause and effect to propel the plot of the story. Employ a storytelling narrative to engage with your audience.

In Conclusion. There is no script for script writing. Each video is different, so you will have to adapt your writing accordingly. The 5 tips we covered here are the nuts and bolts that will guide you through the unique demands of your video project. As one scriptwriter said, “scripts are not meant to be read; they are meant to be watched.”

Andrew Muir is the script writer for Basetwo Media, a video production agency in Vancouver that helps organizations get results with video in their marketing and communications.

Watch his Scripting 101’ Webinar


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