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?

 

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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.

 

 

Speaking on Video: Outlines or Teleprompter?

When you speak on video, the challenge is always remembering what you want to say in order to deliver your message effectively. That is not easily done. You may experience camera anxiety, you may be nervous and forgetful about your content, and you may default into “reading” mode.

The bottom line is that regardless of your on-camera experience or familiarity with the topic, you’ll want to always prepare what you will say ahead of time. Dedicate preparation time to think through your comments beforehand, as individuals who believe they can “wing it” often end up consuming precious studio time, not to mention, wasting the time of video crew, post-production staff, and yourself. Time after all, is money.

Once you’ve carved out time to think through your message for video, clients usually ask whether they should speak from an outline or deliver from a script. There are some people who can successfully read from a script via teleprompter because they are able to read without sounding like they’re “reading.” If this is you, you are one of the lucky ones.

For those who can successfully read conversationally from a teleprompter, they sound as if they are speaking extemporaneously, even though they’re reading full sentences scrolling in front of them. This creates a genuine tone, believability, and a realism that is engaging to viewers pulled in by the authenticity of the message.

The key to sounding like you’re not reading is in the script writing. Script in such a way that your words, phrasing, and sentences are constructed the way you would normally speak. To help you achieve this effect, read your script out loud and edit appropriately.

For individuals who tend to sound like they’re “reading,” speaking from an outline is a better alternative. Outline your central idea and then supporting sub-points to develop your central idea. Place your outline as close as possible to the lens, so that you can be reminded of what to say. This way, you know where you’re headed, but your spoken words will be what comes to you at the time. This extemporaneous kind of speaking will help you come across more naturally, and engage and maintain your viewers’ attention more effectively.

What questions do you have about speaking from outlines or a teleprompter?

Show and Tell: What Video Cameras Do Best

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We’ve come a long way from 19th century cameras like this one. In the 1830’s, photography required an exposure that sometimes lasted 15 minutes or longer. In order for the portrait images to be clear, subjects had to remain still for the duration. It’s no wonder my great grandfather and great grandmother were not smiling!

Now “flash” forward to today where photography is no longer a luxury, but so common that it has become ubiquitous. Today average citizens find themselves holding high-end camera capability in the palms of their hands. Unlike 19th century photography, a professional photographer is no longer required. Video, too, has become accessible and affordable through mobile devices and tablets, and no longer require professionals to operate them.

What’s interesting about human patterns with new technologies is that one pattern remains very consistent. As human beings, we tend to carry paradigms from the old mediums to the new medium, regardless of whether or not it remains relevant. For example, early television began by mimicking what radio did; i.e., placing reporters at a table in front of a microphone. It wasn’t until later that we realized television had many more affordances that could be explored, and we began experimenting with several camera angles, movement, and multiple sets. Additionally, when e-books first entered the literary world, many traditional print books were simply converted to PDFs and placed online. Yet the online medium offers many more multimedia platform capabilities which the traditional “book” cannot.

Similarly, the traditional paradigm of face-to-face instruction or presentations is being transferred directly to video. What we need to remember is that video is a completely different medium, and with new mediums, the rules change and opportunities emerge. For example, in on-camera presentations, video can also support audio effects, visual illustrations to clarify content at the right moment, cut-away shots to referenced content, expert interviews, music, and many other innovative supports. Naturally, the goals and purpose of the video must guide thoughtful design.

Essentially, video is a show and tell medium. Picture book authors know that the text to their stories only tell part of the story, as the partner storyteller is the illustrations. Together, they share the journey of “show and tell” together. So, also, it is with video. Video provides us with many options. Video can capture dynamic movement (visual and audio)–unlike its cousin, photography–and video can also convey subtle, affective and interpersonal elements which can impact how a message is received. For example, in on-camera presentations, video can also convey interpersonal elements related to personality, passion, intimacy and attitudes, and these elements can either effect the viewer positively or negatively. We’ll cover this area in greater depth in a future blog post. One tip to consider is to be careful not to rely solely on your video script to describe places, people, and events, but rather, cut away to images of referenced people or places to share in telling the story. When content requires greater clarity for your viewer, reference supporting visuals as well in your video.

Thankfully, we no longer need to remain “still” for 15 minutes in today’s world of photography or videography. Yet it would serve us well to remember that what video does best is capture dynamic movement and affective, interpersonal speaker elements which influence the message. When you create videos to teach, market, or inform, design your video content to show and tell, and most importantly, remember to wear that “new paradigm lens.”