How to write a video script like a pro

writing and drawing a video script

If you’re using a video editor like Descript, where you can quickly and easily edit out bad takes and mistakes, a script is far less critical to making a great video.

But you should write one anyway.

A video script does more than put your dialogue on paper — it’s the document that lays out the dialogue and visuals, and helps keep things concise and on-point for your message, saving you time, money, and a lot of frustration (we hope).

Whether you’re promoting a brand or teaching people how to sew, a script helps outline what you want — and need — to say in a clear and structured way so that your audience understands what they’re getting from the moment they press “play.” Plus, when you start with a well-written video script, you’ll make the post-production process a lot easier on yourself when you get to that point.

Plus it’s a fully powered editing suite that does everything you need to make a great podcast. If you know how to edit a doc, you’re ready to get started.
Descript makes editing audio as easy as editing text.

The ultimate guide to writing a video script

Video script writing is only an arduous task if you’re unprepared, so review these handy tips to learn how to write a quality draft:

1. Clarify your goals

Before you start writing, figure out the purpose of your video. Are you trying to educate your audience? Making an emotional plea about a specific issue? Persuading viewers to invest in a product or service? Your overall goal is your prime directive when crafting a script outline.

If your goal is to appeal to your viewers’ emotions to spur a call to action, for example, you can include more sensory language and heart than you would, say, in an explainer video for how to chop wood (unless you’re out to cross a new comedic threshold). If your goal is to raise awareness about a charitable organization, you might want to draft an interview script for a representative of that group to answer basic questions about their motivations and ideals. If you can nail down your goal before you start writing your video outline, it’ll be easier to figure out how to reach it.

2. Identify your target audience

Your target audience is the conglomeration of people that you ultimately make your video content for (even if your goal is to reach as many people as possible). Tools like social media analysis and competitive research can help you figure out who’s buying what you’re selling, or why they’re choosing the other brand. They can also show you what types of video content people are most likely to respond to and reveal which demographic of people are watching your videos (or videos like yours) most often, as well as who you’re not reaching at all. Once you have a general idea of who you want to target, you can start gearing your message toward attracting that audience.

3. Present a problem and provide a solution

It can be helpful to frame your video around a problem your viewers might have, and how you can help solve it.  A few examples:

  • “Are you lacking social media engagement? We can show you how to increase your followers.”
  • “Do you have trouble speaking up for yourself? We can teach you how to be more assertive with these tips.”
  • “Are you a magnet for bugs like mosquitoes and ticks? We have a product that’ll keep those bloodsuckers at bay.”

4. Stay on message

One benefit of writing a video script is that you can carefully craft the exact language you want to use to deliver a single, powerful message. Whether you’re making a how-to video or just trying to persuade your viewers to think differently about a topic, it’s best to keep your video focused on the topic at hand rather than tackling too many things at once. The internet is full of distractions, and every second you put out there counts. If people are coming to your page to learn how to use a power drill, they’re likely not looking for the history of drywall or your opinions on paint brands. Keep your message streamlined so the people watching the video get what they come for, and don’t go looking elsewhere to find it.

5. Tell a story

Effective storytelling can quickly set up your business objectives in an emotional or relatable way, where viewers can connect with the brand behind the screen and increase the chance they’ll invest more in your mission. If viewers come to learn about your skincare company, they’ll probably want to know your story — information like why you started your business or how you chose your product ingredients. Set up a journey that captivates your audience and keeps them wanting more.

6. Keep it concise

While the optimal length for your video strongly depends on its objective (for example, tutorial videos are typically longer than Instagram story ads), you might lose some viewers if you publish feature-length content every day. Avoid superfluous language and long-winded anecdotes, and try to create a video script that’s straight and to the point.

7. Include a call to action

If your goal is to motivate people to take action — whether it’s getting petition signatures or buying bathroom cleaning products — include a call to action, or CTA, at the end of your video. If your story or message or ad campaign succeeds in firing viewers up, you want to make it easy for them to follow through on that energy.

8. Edit your script

Read your script out loud to hear how it flows. Note any awkward wording or run-on sentences and punch up dialogue in the parts of the script that need it. Ask trusted family or friends to listen and give you some feedback about the way your words sound. The most basic format for a video script includes two main sections, one for visuals and one for audio. But you can format the script however you want as long as it’s clear to you/the subject which visuals will align with each audio clip. Using an existing video script template might help move the process along. Your visual descriptions should also note any graphic effects (GFX) like captions or transitions and sound effects.

What you need to record a video

Now that you have a video script, it’s time to record. Before you start, you’ll need some trusty equipment to make sure you capture the right look and sound:

  • Microphones. A quality microphone will capture clear, crisp audio. Depending on your needs, you can choose between a variety of types such as condenser microphones or dynamic microphones. If you plan to shoot on the go, a wireless lavalier mic set that hooks onto the subject (rather than leaning into a fixed mic) is a good option. The Blue Yeti is a relatively affordable USB microphone that you can plug directly into your computer to start recording instantly.
  • Ring lights. It isn’t always possible to use natural light when shooting a video, but free-standing ring lights provide illumination that can mimic it. You can also use them in addition to natural light to eliminate harsh or unflattering shadows.
  • Camera. While a high-quality camera is nice to have, it’s not entirely necessary to record a great video. Most smartphones can shoot high-quality video that you can easily export to software for editing. However, if your budget allows, there are plenty of mirrorless and DSLR camera options that are great for capturing video.
  • Recording devices. If you’re using a dual setup, or capturing audio and video separately and syncing later in post-production, you’ll need a device to record the audio your microphones transmit (the Zoom H5 is a popular choice). For a simpler setup, you can plug a USB microphone directly into your computer to record audio with your video. Descript offers a screen recording feature so you can capture it all together in real-time.
  • Editing software. Once you’ve shot your video, it’s time to refine it. Editing gives you a chance to fix or rework your video with the help of advanced digital tools. With Descript’, you can import and transcribe your videos for simple, streamlined editing. Sync your audio with your visuals, eliminate filler words, apply transitions, or cut entire parts of your video via dialogue with Descripts handy all-in-one editing software. Save and export your project, and prepare to wow your audiences with your high-quality video production.

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