Writing your script

writing_your_script-06-06Writing your video script should be straightforward if you consider the following ten points.

  1. Use a maximum of 300 words only
  2. Avoid discussing you, your business or the services you provide
  3. Be realistic about how much you can say in two minutes
  4. Decide on 3-5 main points and develop the full version around them
  5. Don’t waste time with an introduction or signoff/thanks
  6. Avoid the use of bullet points and words like ‘etc’
  7. Don’t over intellectualise, keep your script easy to read
  8. Write your script to be read out by reading it out and then writing it down
  9. Add things that make you smile, laugh and be human
  10. It has to be interesting, valuable and unbiased

If you already write blog posts then you will be familiar with the concept of keeping it simple and on message. It’s generally not hard to convert blog posts to scripts, so this could be an easy route for some.

Your script will be read out from a teleprompter, so it is essential that it is easy to read and evokes positive body language that engages the viewer. Smiling and looking like you are enjoying the sharing of your valuable information will really improve the experience for both you and the viewer.

For some the best way to write their script will be to ad-lib and record using a camera phone. The result can be then be written up and amended to ensure time and word accuracy. Others will prefer to write and then read out possibly recording to watch back and analyse. Whatever your method it is important that it sounds like you and is natural to present.

Practising and amending is what makes the difference between a good script and an excellent script. Our experience is that experts who have perfected their script have a better time presenting it and always see the benefit in the final result.

Frequently asked questions about script writing

How much should I practice?
There is no such thing as too much! Reading your script out loud is essential when fine tuning it and of course when you practise presenting it. People who are familiar with their script usually have more time on the day to work on inflection, body language and other improvements that can make all the difference. As a rough guide we would suggest at least ten to twenty practise sessions, some of these on same day as filming.
Can my script be about my business?
Information videos need to have real value to attract viewers and ensure continued success. As the primary purpose is to establish yourself as a helpful expert, it is not wise to use this opportunity to tell people who you are and what you offer – it is simply not relevant at this stage.  Don’t worry the viewer will easily be able to find out should they be especially keen to know more.  The In a Nutshell video series is dedicated to expert advice and information so if you really want to make something promotional then it is unlikely to be included in this series.
Why is there a limit on script length?

The 300 word script limit is designed to keep the overall video around two minutes. This is because viewers generally have a short attention span, especially for a ‘talking head’ video. Another important reason is that this type of video is recorded as a single shot without edits or joins. Trying to record a longer script is likely to make it more tricky to perform and increase the chances of mistakes. The shorter your video the more chance of the viewer watching it to the very end.

Can I ad-lib my video instead of scripting it?

Although this seems like a great idea for creating a more natural flowing video, the reality is that ad-libbed videos take longer to record, end up longer in length and often are imperfect in detail. This is because it is almost impossible to achieve the level of timing control and word accuracy as scripting allows. Our experience of ad-libbed videos has proved that this is only an option for a select few. To get the feel of a natural video you need an excellent script that is practised and amended to suit your presentation style. If you really want the ad-lib feel then consider recording your own ad-lib session on your phone and then creating a script from this noting all the elements that make it feel natural.

Won’t using a script and teleprompter result in a wooden performance?

This depends on previous experience and the amount of practising you are willing to do. A script that has been written for reading, rarely practised and over intellectualised will certainly sound like it is being read out. A good script that you enjoy reading is more likely to contain positive body language, a natural pace and inflections that add interest and variation. If you don’t enjoy reading your script then you can hardly expect the viewer to enjoy it either.

Can I repeat a previous topic?

Assuming you are not covering exactly the same ground then yes. There is always a different angle or other details that can be shared and this could entice viewers to watch both videos. As each video is approximately two minutes there will be a limit to what can be covered anyway. We recommend that you avoid overviews of large topics (as there is usually little value in this approach) which means there are likely to be plenty of opportunities to share your expertise without overlapping on previous content.

Do I need to memorise my script?

No you don’t although being very familiar with it really helps. The more you know the script the more effort you will be able to put into the delivery resulting in a better video. If you do know it very well you will find that the teleprompter lives up to its name and prompts you (helping with both timing and word accuracy) rather than being a lifeline for your script delivery.

What are the most common issues with script writing?

Number one is making it too long and then trying to cut it down resulting in a fragmented document. Second is trying to say too much and overloading the viewer. Finally writing a script that is designed for reading off the page rather than outloud. This often includes elements such as bullet points, words like ‘etc’ and over complex sentence structures and word choices that make speaking the script rather difficult.

Can I show photos, diagrams or other graphics in my presentation?

Our entry level In a Nutshell videos are ‘clean’ and don’t include any additional visual items. You can however upgrade to include picture in picture visuals (inset to screen right) if you want to add more to your presentation. Visuals must be owned or licensed to you for this purpose and be relevant to your talk without being promotional. Up to ten items can be included in each video.

When do I need to supply my script?

Scripts need to be supplied at least two working days before filming. As we sometimes need to suggest changes it is sensible to provide it sooner to avoid last minute reworking and therefore less time to rehearse. Scripts need to be supplied by email preferably without formating which will be lost when it is imported onto the teleprompter.

Can I make changes to my script on the day?

This is possible but we highly recommend that it is only for minor tweaks as our studio is not the best place to do this. Another consideration is that larger changes will not be rehearsed and this could lead to the delivery being compromised due to lack of practise. Small changes such as corrections and word replacements are no problem and can be completed prior to filming or during the session.