Whether creating an educational, training or promotional video, or for that matter a television show or feature film, you have to start with a good SCRIPT. As the saying goes "IF IT'S NOT ON THE PAGE, IT'S NOT ON THE STAGE". Clearly, the script for a 45 second promotional video won't be as in depth and painstakingly long to write as a feature film script but the basics are the same. We will discuss the 4 basic steps to creating an engaging and effective script for whatever project you would like to undertake.
#1- BE CLEAR AS TO WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
Sounds simple but not always easy. It is important to be very clear as to what exactly you are wanting to communicate to your audience. You can look at it as the THEME of your video. Are you attempting to teach your students a new technique, inform your clients of a new service or promote your business to new potential customers. Each dictates a direction the script hence the video will need to take. One way of ensuring you are clear as to what you want to communicate is to put it into one sentence, what in the film and television industry is called a LOGLINE (or elevator pitch). Examples: "Students will learn how to tell a patient they have cancer". "I want my clients to know we now offer online Pilates classes." If you notice, these log lines also take into count the # 2 basic step...
#2- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
All marketing depends on knowing your customers. In creating a script for your video, it's important to know your audience and that includes educational and instructional videos. A video for first year medical students communicates different information than a video aimed at medical residents. You must understand your audience (your customers, clients, staff, students) in order to deliver an effective and engaging video. Once you have what you want to say and to whom you want to say it, the next step is to ...
# 3- CREATE AN OUTLINE
The script outline is your map to navigate through your video. As you would if you were writing an essay or a blog post, list out your key points and order them logically. . Be sure to include a message near the beginning that states your video’s purpose, especially for educational and explainer videos. Remember, many people won't stick around to the end of the video if they are not grabbed by it within the first 10 seconds- so don't keep them guessing for too long. Important to keep in mind when writing your outline is the visuals that will go along with the dialogue. The visuals will definitely enhance what is being said and the best ones will negate the need for too much language. Below is an example of a video outline.
#4- WRITE AND REWRITE YOUR SCRIPT
Now that you have your outline, you can write the first draft of your script. Yes, first draft, as there will be many. An interesting piece of trivia is that M. Night Shyamalan wrote 10 drafts for the script of The Sixth Sense and there were no ghosts in the first draft! The real art of writing is re-writing. Pass on your script to someone else to read. Getting a second and third opinion is very helpful as they will possibly find holes in your script that you can not see. Once you have received feedback and re-written your script and you are feeling confident that it's ready to be filmed, organize a table read. A table read consists of everyone involved in the project both in front of and behind the camera gathered together to read the script out loud. This allows you to hear how conversational the dialogue is, and what can be cut. It's important that the dialogue sounds real and conversational and the only way to know is to have it spoken out loud. 99% of the time after a table read dialogue is changed or cut back. It's recommended to script every last word and have the on camera performers memorize it. Professional on camera personnel will be totally prepared and able to memorize their lines. Doing this will keep you organized during filming and save you loads of time (and money) later in post production.
Example of a scenario based video script. Dialogue heavy. Learning point: recognizing microaggression.
Example of a two column video script.
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Is a playwright and screenwriter and founder of Moxie Productions