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How do I turn my health and safety points into an effective video script?

Interviewer: How do I turn my health and safety points into an effective video script?

Kevin: How do you turn your health and safety points into an effective video script? Well, by an effective video script, we obviously mean a script that's going to win audience attention and keep them watching, not falling asleep, which is what most health and safety inductions look like.

The ones I've seen, are either produced in-house with very limited resources and poor scriptwriting ability and poor understanding of health and safety issues, or they're produced by animation companies who make delightful looking videos, but with an engine underneath, which is the script, that has no power.

So audiences fall asleep and forget the message. The only way to make them try and remember is to threaten them with the sack if they break the rules. So let's return to this.

How do you get an effective script? I would say it like this. If I was given somebody’s safety PowerPoint, and I'm told to turn this into a video script, I could reckon 80% of it being mostly compliance points. "Do this. Don't do that."

Then all that would be needed would be to write these points in a videospeak way that's relating to the audience as apart from dictating to the audience. When you start with a dictatorial voice, half the audience are going to go, "Oh dear," and they're going to switch off.

So it's important to relate.

But the other 20% is how you inject motivation into your script, so that people actually want to comply with your safe systems of work.

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Now, it's not very difficult if you think about it. But you have to know a little bit about health and safety to understand what makes people tick. You have to make people understand what's in it for them because if you can show people what's in it for them, you've got a far better chance of audience retention lasting beyond their lunchtime, and lasting for the duration of the work that they're going to be involved in.

You do that with creativity. You can take a creative approach very easily.

For example, instead of having an animated safety video that just shows somebody getting it right or wrong with a voiceover that's very flat and boring and listing the points, alternatively, you could do something like follow a character through a day in their life and show the things they experience, what they see. The things they want to report on. The near misses, or things they're unhappy with.

Motivate them to do this because it's only through workforce motivation and giving you feedback that you're really going to eliminate accidents because at the bottom of everything, the idea is no more RIDDORs, please. We want this video to work. We want it to reduce accidents.

It's more than a compliance tool that will stand up in court because someone signed that they said they'd seen it so you can argue with lawyers when something goes wrong.

The idea is to reduce accidents.

So, you can do this by hiring a scriptwriter, who has experience of health and safety at many different levels.

Now it's selfish of me to say this because I am that scriptwriter. In some ways this blog is self-serving but it's more than that. I believe in it because I have done hundreds of health and safety scripts around the world for companies large and small. I know the issues. I know how workforces feel about being dictated to. I know how to speak to them in a way that will make them more interested.

No script will have your Eastern European workforce, for example, riveted from start to finish. But you can make it so that instead of having a third of them switch off, or half of them switch off when the video starts, you can reduce those numbers, you can have it so that only 20% switch off.

These are the goalposts, the real goalposts in life.

And I believe that a professionally written script, with some creativity, will achieve that better than a compliance-driven, what I would call “an ignorant script” written by someone who doesn't know how to write video and produced by somebody who doesn't know how to produce safety.

Author Kevin Rossiter has been producing business video for 30 years, won 14 awards, worked in many countries around the World, and is a regular blogger on business video topics.


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