The right script can make a video.
And the wrong script can break it.
And somewhere in the middle is exactly that – somewhere in the middle.
Whether you’re hiring a professional scriptwriter for your next corporate video
– or writing it yourself
– here’s an infallible set of rules that have served me well in 25 years of professional video script writing for hundreds of clients, from all levels and sectors of industry & commerce.
Know what you’re talking about
Sounds obvious – but it’s vital you know your subject inside out.
If you’re unsure on some areas, then do some research until you feel confident & competent to write on the topic.
Forget the visuals – for now
Don’t write with pictures in mind.
Write simply & solely about the words and meanings that describe your intended message.
It’s too distracting to be thinking about visuals at this stage.
Focus on the words – the voiceover – your script.
You can storyboard – visualise – later
Determining runtime in advance
A video script is quite unlike an essay or report.
It has to be very short – compared with the full length story you could potentially write.
There is no room for any fat (excess words)
So for example, if you want a 2.5 minute video to result, you need to write 250 words, and not a word more.
This is calculated at 100 words of script = 1 minute of final video runtime.
I’ve heard of people say they get 120 words per video minute, but it always sounds too fast for the audience to closely follow.
So having determined your runtime and the amount of words you have to write, you now need to know what to say
– and what to leave out
Knowing what needs to be included in the script
Now you’ve determined how many words you have to write, how do you know what to include.
I can suggest answering the following questions first:
> What is the exact goal of your Corporate Video?
> What are your 3 big benefits that show how your offer solves their problem?
> What are your 3 unique differentiators that set you apart from competitors?
> What are your 3 biggest market niches that generate the bulk of your income?
> What does each niche mostly buy from you?
> Why is your offer or proposition remarkable? What is your Remarkable
> What is the biggest sales obstacle / customer objection you have?
Write down all your answers.
It’ll give you a clear picture of what you’re aiming to achieve, and what’s important to say.
It’ll supply you with your core content.
Writing the Script – 1st Draft
The best way to start writing a script draft is to just start writing.
> imagine you’re talking to a customer as you write
> Don’t take loads of notes
> Don’t think about what other people might think.
> Don’t try to write “properly” – just write whatever comes.
> Don’t worry if it’s too long or too short
Let it all hang out in the 1st Draft.
Writing a 1st Draft is best written as a “stream of consciousness” ie, writing without thinking too hard about it.
Editing the 1st Draft
This stage is where you:
> look at all the answers to the questions above, ie, objectives, audience, benefits, niches, differentiators, unique proposition etc
> then delete anything that isn’t about them.
Now do a word count.
If you’re way over your word count / runtime, start chopping out more content.
To do this, look at each sentence or phrase and ask:
> is this “nice-to-have” or “must-have”?
Then delete all the nice-to-haves.
Now rearrange the words you’ve written to roughly follow the following video template structure
> grab the audience’s attention by telling them you can ease their pain, or solve their problem. It’s about them, so start with them.
> state the 3 top benefits you give them
> state any clear differentiators between you and competitors you know they’ll be looking at
> state your unique proposition
> then add a call to action (write, call, mail, free offer etc)
By now your script should:
> be about the right length
> be fat free and customer focused
> be structured into a story flow that a customer will relate to and see of immediate benefit to them.
Polishing your script
You’ll now have a rough & ready script, but by no means ready for human consumption by your marketplace.
Here are a few rules of thumb to apply next:
> speak the script aloud all the time, as it’s spoken not written English
> make sure all the words you use could be understood by a 10 year old, or someone with English as a second language. It’ll make it easy for everyone this way.
> keep doing word counts to make sure you’re not going over or under your runtime.
> avoid paragraphs. Do the opposite and break line up
– like this!
> Set it in a 14 point large point so it all looks big. This ensure you don’t miss any minor details, misspells, poor phrases, etc. Big 14 point text means there’s no hiding place for mediocre or unclear lines to slip in
> Use a thesaurus to suggest alternatives for repeated words, eg, ensure, best, cutting edge, easy, fast, etc
Your script should start to be sounding pretty good now – and you may even begin to be liking it yourself!
Take the script draft and show it to trusted colleagues, who’ll be candid with you.
Get them to read it aloud in front of you.
Wherever they pause or even slightly stumble over the words, will tell you the parts that still aren’t quite right and need fixing.
Finally – The Finished Script
> your colleagues enjoy reading it and are openly approving
> and the runtime / word count is right
then you’ve probably completed the job.
Now get the most important person you know to approve it.
That’s it. Job done. Script written.
> plan ahead
> know your target runtime and word count
> answer all the questions
> write your 1sr Draft quickly
> eliminate all nice-to-haves
> edit, edit and then re-edit, looking for lumps & bumps in your wordflow
> get colleague buyin
> get VIP approval
That’s it. This is how to script for a successful business video.