When you are creating an instructional video, whether it is about a product or a concept, it is important that you first write a script. A script will keep you on topic and will inform the visual elements of your video. To get you started, we have put together a list of some of our top tips for writing instructional video scripts:
- Plan before you begin writing
- Keep the video visuals in mind
- Use a friendly and conversational tone
- Avoid humour and clichés
- Keep the sentences short
- Use clear and simple language
- Use a story structure
- Read your script out loud
Plan before you begin writing
Before you begin scripting, take some time to carefully plan what you are going to include in your script, the structure of your script, and how you are going to write it. Ask yourself the following questions: Who is the video aimed at? What is the purpose of the video? How long will the video be? What is the most important information to include?
The answers to these questions will dictate what information you include in your script, how much detail you can include, and how you structure your script. Taking the time to plan and create a rough outline before you begin writing will save you a lot of time editing later.
Keep the video visuals in mind
It is important to keep the visuals that will accompany your script in mind while you are writing the script. Your script should adequately match what is being shown on screen.
Similarly, you should ensure that what you are writing can be visually represented on screen. While writing your script, visualise how what you are writing will be presented on screen. This will save you time and avoid extra editing of your script when you get to the storyboarding stage of creating your video.
Use a friendly and conversational tone
Use a warm and conversational tone when writing your script. Don’t use a formal tone as this can be off-putting to the audience watching your video and can sound stiff when read aloud.
Instead, imagine that you are explaining the concept to a friend in person. However, try to avoid using overly informal language or colloquialisms.
Avoid humour and clichés
While it is important to use a friendly and conversational tone, be careful when you are using humour in your script. Consider who your audience is. Will the use of humour be inappropriate for your audience and subject matter? Does your audience contain people from multiple cultures, who may interpret the humour differently?
Similarly, avoid using clichés in your script as they are overused and so can lack meaning and impact. You might find that you use a lot of clichés in your everyday conversations such as “Better safe than sorry” or “Beating around the bush”, and so they can easily slip into your script when you are writing in a conversational tone. Make sure to be vigilant that they don’t end up in your finished script.
Keep the sentences short
Aim to keep your sentences short and to the point. Long meandering sentences will be difficult to read out loud when recording for your video. Make sure that the voice-over artist will have adequate time to take a breath. The longer a sentence is, the more likely it is that the voice-over artist will make a mistake and need to re-record the sentence.
Similarly, if a sentence is too long, the audience may forget what the original point you were making at the start of the sentence was.
Use clear and simple language
It is important to use clear and simple language in your script so that the audience understands the meaning of what you are saying without having to re-watch the video. It is also important for recording the voice-over for your video.
Overly complicated language, or words that are difficult to pronounce, can result in the voice-over artist making mistakes and having to re-record the audio. Read the following two sentences aloud. The second one is easier to understand and to read aloud:
The distance between my house and the two retail establishments, when travelling on foot, is equidistant.
There is an equal walking distance between my house and the two shops.
Use a story structure
Use a story structure when writing your script. Make sure that your script has a definite beginning, middle, and end. This will give your video structure and keep you on topic.
If you are writing a script for an e-learning video, this could include telling the learner what the lesson will cover (beginning), covering the lesson content (middle), and then reiterating what the learner should now know at the end of the video (end).
Read your script out loud
One of the most important steps when writing your script is to read it out loud. What you have written might read very differently when read aloud. Reading your script out loud will allow you to work on the pacing of your script and to re-write any sentences that do not sound right when read out loud. It can be useful to make an audio recording and listen back to it.
You will also be able to gauge if your tone is conversational enough when you hear your script out loud. Reading out your script will also give you a good idea of how long your video will be. This will let you know if you need to shorten your script.
We hope that you find these tips helpful when writing your script for your next instructional video. Please let us know how we did, and add any additional tips you have in the comments below.