3 Tips For Scripting Your Video

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Scripting Your Video

Have you ever struggled with how to write a good script? Do you know what makes an effective one? If you’ve ever thought about these questions, here are three key tips to help you write a script that will help you write and shoot a quality video.

TIP #1:  Use Conversational Language

Remember one of the most important elements of video delivery is to be conversational. This means that when you speak on camera, not only should your delivery style be informal, fluent, and natural, but the words you use should be as well. Avoid scripting traditional “writing” words like “overall,” and “furthermore” in your script. When there’s a two cent word that does the job, opt for the smaller word instead. Also, consider weaving contractions into your script to add to the casual, conversational feel.

TIP #2:  Show and Tell

When writing a script, the temptation is to “tell” the whole story. But sometimes we forget that video is a visual medium and the visual element should also be involved in revealing and unfolding the story. In the editing process, scan your script to find text references that could be shown visually instead of “telling.” Ideally, the spoken word and the visual frame will work together in the storytelling. There will be times when the visual is enough and other times when the on-camera talent speaks in front of a certain backdrop. The trick is to look carefully at your content and let the content determine when  and where it makes sense to depict a scene visually, script it verbally with a presenter, or use both.

TIP #3:  Pair Scene Descriptions with Text

It’s also helpful in your script to use a word processing software that allows you to create columns and rows. This way you can identify corresponding shots associated with scripted text for each scene. This helps clarify the length and content, as well as the shot list for the director. Creating a shot list in tandem with your verbal script, encourages you to think carefully about flow, pacing, length, consistency, and how to best illustrate the script. Always plan out the script and shot list together well ahead of video shoot day. Enlisting edits from a few trusted colleagues or friends (if you’re shooting the video alone) gives you additional perspective. Always have someone else edit your script and offer suggestions and feedback before your video shoot.

So the next time you sit down to write a script for video, remember to apply these key tips. Soon you’ll be on your way to leveraging both verbal and visual elements for great videos. Happy scripting!

What scripting tips do you use?

 

Celebrating a Decade: Howles Associates’ Anniversary

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This week our company celebrates its 10th anniversary in business, and our commitment to helping you craft and deliver powerful multimedia messages is stronger than ever. For ten years, it has been our privilege to have made a difference in your professional workplace and in the lives of your customers through Howles Associates, LLC, the online presentation experts.

Although our range of services over the years has evolved based on technologies of the time and clients’ needs, we still stand behind our time-worn mission to help you impact and effect change in your multimedia messaging. We accomplish this through video coaching, multimedia consulting, effective webinar delivery, video scripting and editing, video critiques, visual slide critiques, blended learning workshops on video, visual design, and multimedia, as well as keynotes.

And our commitment to our star service model has never changed. We remain proud to deliver our products and services with the utmost professionalism, multimedia expertise, excellent quality, evidence-based research, while embracing innovation and creativity every step of the way.

Most importantly, as we reflect on the last ten years it is you to whom we owe our greatest and deepest thanks. You have shared your pain points, your challenges, and your needs. You have trusted us with your messaging, explained your goals and desired results, and had the courage to implement what was needed. Working collaboratively with you has been one of our greatest, professional joys. We love the diversity of the client organizations, enjoy learning about your unique purposes, and we especially meeting people like you who want to make a difference. People who want to effect change.

All of us witnessed last weekend that even a small pebble thrown into a pond can create ripples of change never before thought imaginable. For example, the Women’s March in January, 2017 began simply with a Facebook invite from a retiree in Hawaii, Teresa Shook, to 40 of her friends. The ripple effect? Over 2 million marchers across the globe joined the Women’s March and Sister Marches. Now that’s effect.

Using multimedia messaging for your business through combinations of recorded or live voice, visual slides, video, and/or text can also make a difference in your business – all of these modalities can be leveraged effectively to create an effect. Whether it’s informative, educational, persuasive, or entertaining – multimedia tools can create powerful impact. And we love helping you do just that.

So on behalf of our scriptwriters and editors, our video coaches and designers, our graphic artists and web master, we thank you for entrusting Howles Associates with your business for the last 10 years. And we look forward to serving you another 10 years, and many years to come.

 

Backward Design Your Video Scripts

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Have you struggled with where to start when you script your video? It’s easy to get caught up in the myriad of “to do’s” for online videos. You need to set up good lighting, ensure you’re using quality video equipment, find the appropriate backdrop to your content, etc. However, there’s one “to do” element that should take front stage in video planning.

Your video script.

Your video script not only facilitates careful design ahead of time–which will save you a lot of time on shooting day–it also serves as your production blueprint. During a video shoot, it’s okay to not actually speak from your script so you can maintain a conversational and spontaneous feel, but regardless, it’s still helpful to script out your message ahead of time so you know where you’re headed.

Some individuals insist they can successfully “wing” their video productions, but this is quite rare because without pre-production planning, scripting and rehearsing ahead of time, your shoot will likely require many more re-takes. This translates into more cost and more time.

So how should you begin scripting?

A helpful technique to guide your scripting is backward design, which has been useful in other applications as well. As the name implies, this means the scriptwriter or designer works backwards. For example, you would first identify what kind of impact you want the video to produce? Do you want viewers to buy something, thing more highly of your brand, associate you with a unique message, learn something, be able to apply XYZ? Whatever it may be, identify the impact clearly and document it in writing.

Then based on the impact you want to have, identify what goals need to be accomplished to be successful. Keep goals limited to two-four in order to keep the scope manageable and achievable.

Your goals then drive the creation of an outline. As you write the outline, ensure your outline includes the call-to-action at the end or a memorable take-away. The outline should also include key points and sub-points to support your key message. You can use cut-away shots, testimonials, interviews, B roll, slide visuals, demos, and other types of visual content to support your message. In your outline, you also want to suggest how you will grab your viewer’s attention at the beginning. After all, you only have a few critical seconds to win viewers over, make a good impression, intrigue their curiosity, and keep them watching.

Now that you have an outline aligned with your desired impact and goals, set aside time to write your script from the outline. Your first attempt will be a rough draft for your eyes only. After completing the first draft, take a break for a day or so to let the script “breathe.” When you come back to review and edit your script with fresh eyes, you will find ways to improve concision and clarity. Once this editing is complete, it’s time to share the script with others.

Every piece of writing improves when it is reviewed by others, so make sure you ask one or two other people to do so. Remind colleagues to help you identify sections that may not flow well, do not make sense, are too lengthy or unclear, etc. Even the Declaration of Independence in 1776 named a lead writer, Thomas Jefferson, but the document benefitted from reviews and edits by other committee members as well, such as Benjamin Franklin and John Adams (patriotic peer reviews).

After you’ve received edits from others, it’s time for a final round of revisions. What works best at this stage is to read your script aloud. After all, the script will be delivered orally, so it should be rehearsed in the oral medium. When you read out loud, you will immediately hear phrases that sound awkward, are not conversational, or stick out in a distracting way. Make your final revisions, and then write the final script. Using this process, a script could endure at least three rounds of editing to trim the fat and ensure your script achieves its intended goals.

Backward design is a brilliant way to ensure your video message achieves what it set out to achieve. Script your videos with this process to place you well on your way to powerfully impacting your viewers.

What scripting tips have worked best for you? Let us know your thoughts below.

 

 

Summer Conference Take-aways

Have you attended a conference recently that transformed the way you worked after returning to your office? Conferences are a great way to network with others, hear salient ideas from thought leaders, and be inspired by colleagues from any number of disciplines.

This year I was fortunate to attend six conferences, one of which, was the UW-Madison Distance Teaching and Learning Conference held this summer in Madison, Wisconsin. Although there were many great insights and lessons learned at this conference, I especially enjoyed the sessions on video and interactive video content and their relevance in today’s training and educational world.

For example, James Moore from DePaul University shared take-aways from video best practices and educational videos. He explored how you can create engaging video for instruction using ScreenFlow, Screencast, or Camtasia. He encouraged content creators to use content from open sources. Referencing Richard Mayer’s multimedia principles, he underscored the importance of applying several of these principles to video as well. To help with poor audio, he suggested using a pop filter as a best practice to minimize audio distractions. In terms of recording video on mobile devices, he reminded those who videotape themselves to turn their phones sideways before recording video. Watching videos in portrait mode requires the brain to scan vertically, and it’s not conducive to the way we normally view the world.

Additionally, because many people are uncomfortable when presenting in front of a camera or often look quite scared, Moore suggests creating bullets on the Teleprompter for on-camera talent so they are not tempted to read verbatim. This helps them to not be as tied down to the teleprompter and hopefully, relax more. Additionally, Moore emphasized that many more viewers are watching video only on their phones, especially millennials, so realize your videos will most likely be viewed on small screens.

Matt Pierce from TechSmith was another presenter at the conference who also discussed the use of video for learning. According to a 2016 study conducted by TechSmith, participants watching instructional and informative videos often stopped watching the videos after around one minute, and their main reasons for stopping the video were because they were bored or it wasn’t providing them what they were looking for generally. This raises the bigger question of the need to continually explore how to engage viewers through video.

For those who wish to integrate content with video, there are some applications that allow you to create video content and then pause and allow students to respond in a comment or a question box. Learners may select an answer and then receive immediate, corrective feedback. As we know from multiple research studies that show the results of the testing effect, frequent quizzes that test recall often and give corrective feedback are essential for learning. John Orlando from Northcentral University recommends a variety of interactive content applications which include:  EDpuzzle; dot storming; Videoant; Thinglink; and Touchcast.

In terms of actual video production, Pierce suggests that if you do make a mistake while recording video to simply speak the line again. This is a more efficient way to record, rather than starting completely over as a new “take.” In post-production, the error can be edited out or smoothed over with a transition or cut-away clip. There are also ways to underscore your video productions and cue the viewers as to the most important content and parts of your video. For example, you can use a verbal signpost such as “If you hear nothing else, remember this . . . ” Phrases such as these alert the listener to pay extra special attention.

The best take-away from conferences, of course, is the ability to return to the workplace and apply something new. And hopefully, you and your organization will reap the benefits of transformation somewhere along the way . . .

What is one of your key take-aways from professional development or conferences you’ve attended this year?

The “Blank Page Approach”

When you’re asked to deliver a presentation, do you immediately use software to first create your visuals? Do you select a pre-built template? Do you populate your template with ready-made SmartArt?

The affordances of today’s tools and templates certainly can make multimedia development much easier and more efficient. However, there could be something amiss here. What happens to quality when we’re so quick to prepare presentation visuals before identifying objectives and thoughtfully thinking through flow? What is the effect on the audience when we populate a PowerPoint template before thinking through careful design? And what happens to teaching and learning, when we quickly insert images into visuals without a pedagogical rationale for how they support the instructional content?

Today’s technologies are amazing, but we could be even more effective if we first spent time in thoughtful design and creative thinking. So how do we tap into this creative design?

We need to embrace the “blank page” as a welcome starting point.

Have you ever tried beginning a project with a blank page and not rushed to the computer just yet? I call this the “Blank Page Approach.” You begin your project with thinking and sketching. When you begin with nothing, it opens the way for endless possibilities to make themselves available to you and your canvas.

You can certainly use pencil and paper to think out initial thoughts or even a tablet and digital tablet pen. The point is you’re beginning with open-ended possibilities represented by the blank page in front of you. Once initial design and ideas are sketched, then you can use technologies to bring them to fruition and the results will illustrate your careful front-end design. By engaging computers and technologies too quickly in the design stage, we can limit ourselves and our creativity with visual and technical constraints and distractions.

Interestingly enough, Entertainment Mogul, Walt Disney, worked on animations for his films by first sketching things out with pen and pencil—starting with a blank page. Peter Walsh, a renowned professional organizer, encourages clients who are de-cluttering their closets to first completely empty their closets. He advises them to take everything out, so they can begin anew with empty space. This way, new possibilities for arranging and grouping items in their closet occur to them that they never saw before through the “clutter.” Tom Kuhlmann of Articulate Global, Inc. also recommends “starting with a blank canvas in PowerPoint” when first creating visuals. In turn, when Google first created their email system, they challenged each other to think about email as if it had never existed before and to imagine that if they could completely begin from square one, what should email look like and how should it function?

True, there are writers who waste away time by cursing at the “blinking cursor” on a blank page. Yet there are also those who push through writer’s block and create initial drafts only to completely discard them, so they can begin a given project anew with creative freedom. By beginning any project with a blank canvas, pencil and paper, or a blank tablet, you better position yourself to receive limitless ideas once you’ve cleared the way for creative thinking.

So when it comes time to start on that presentation, I challenge you to experiment beginning with a blank page and see what emerges. I see the still, quiet, blank page as the beginning to endless creativity.

What say you?