How to write a video script: 13 pro tips & template

A video script is your cheat sheet for production. Here’s the step-by-step process of writing a script, complete with a bonus template.
February 14, 2024
Brandon Copple
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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 when you get to that point.


What is a video script and why do I need one?

An effective video script outlines what you want (and need) to say in your video. Whether you’re promoting a brand or creating a how-to video, the script will outline everything that is going to be shown on-screen, as well as what your voiceovers, host, or main characters will be saying. 

A well-written video script helps organize what you need, who you want to cast, and which locations to scout for your video project. It will also clarify what visual elements or shots you need to get when filming. All of this will make the post-production process a lot easier on the video editor.

How to write a video script: 8 easy steps

  1. Clarify your goals
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Present a problem and provide a solution
  4. Stay on message
  5. Tell a story
  6. Keep it concise
  7. Include a call to action
  8. Edit your script 

Step 1: Clarify your goals

Before you start writing, figure out the subject matter of your video. Are you trying to educate your audience? Are you making a training video? Persuading viewers to invest in a product or service? Nailing down your goal before you start writing your video outline will make it easier to figure out how you can achieve it. 

If your goal is to appeal to your viewers’ emotions, for example, you can include more sensory language. On the other hand, if you’re making an explainer video on how to chop wood, you may want to keep your explainer video script more straightforward and free from any unnecessary words.

Step 2: Identify your target audience

Your target audience is the group of people that you want your video to appeal to. In the case of marketing videos, social media analytics and competitive research can help you figure out who’s buying what you’re selling, or why they’re choosing other brands. 

Research can also show you what types of video content people are most likely to respond to. It can reveal which demographic of people are watching your videos (or videos like yours) and 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 viewer’s attention.

Step 3: Present a problem and provide a solution

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

  • “Are you looking for 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.”

Step 4: Stay on message

With a video script, you can carefully craft the exact language you want to use to deliver a single, powerful message. Regardless of what kind of video you want to create, it’s best to have a simple message rather than trying to tackle too many things in one video.

The internet is full of content, so you need to make every second you put out there count. If people click on your YouTube video to learn how to use a socket wrench, don’t also include a political testimonial. Keep your message streamlined so the people watching get what they’ve come for and don’t go looking elsewhere to find it.

Step 5: Tell a story

Effective storytelling can quickly help you engage with viewers in an emotional or relatable way. People can connect with your brand and increase the odds of them investing in your vision. 

For example, there are lots of skincare companies, but maybe yours is unique because of how you choose your product ingredients or even the reason you started your business. Giving viewers this background makes your brand more than just a skincare company; it becomes something more personal for your viewers and potential customers.

Step 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 ad-libbing long-winded anecdotes or overly flowery language, and try to create a video script that’s relatable and succinct.

Step 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 (CTA) at the end of your video. If your message or ad campaign succeeds in firing viewers up, you want to make it easy for them to follow through on that energy.

Step 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. You could even ask trusted family or friends to listen and give you some feedback about the way your script sounds before you start the video production process. 

6 tips for writing great video scripts

You’ve laid the foundation of your video script. Here are five bonus tips to engage viewers and create a world-class video. 

Start with a strong hook

Just as first impressions are important when meeting new people, the intro of your script needs to grab the attention of your viewers. Remember: you have a limited time to convince people not to skip to the next video. Don’t save your best stuff for the end—people may not wait around to see it. Put it right up front in the beginning.

Create a story arc

Your script should have an organized train of thought. Even if it’s a fifteen-second ad, there should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. That way there will be something for your audience to take away from watching your video. 

If you want to be a bit more future-thinking, create a story arc or thematic message for your entire YouTube channel. A good example of this is Mercury Stardust’s channel. The creator shares tips and tricks about home repair and DIY with the through message of loving yourself and acceptance. The tagline for each video is: “you are worth the time it takes to learn a new skill!”

Image of Mercury Stardust’s channel page

Use conversational language

If you’ve ever struggled to stay awake in a lecture, a sermon, or while listening to an audio book, you know how language and tone of voice can make a big difference. Conversational language will make you sound relatable and help viewers retain the information you’re presenting in your video. 

But you need to know your demographic. If you want to create a how-to video for beginners, use layman's terms and break things down as much as possible. If you’re making a video directed at industry professionals, however, you can use more industry lingo—but you should still use a conversational tone. We’re all human, after all. 

Consider the pace

Language isn’t the only thing that can affect whether people are able to retain the information you’re relaying. Pacing is a big part of that as well. Don’t spend twenty minutes explaining something that could’ve been done in five. 

At the same time, try to avoid squeezing ten minutes of information into a two-minute video. Your audience will struggle to make out what you're saying if you rapidly inundate them with information.

To see this in action, play with the speed of a random YouTube video: slow it down to one-quarter speed, then speed it up so it's twice as fast as normal. See how difficult it becomes to even focus on what's being said in the video. That is the importance of pacing.

Optimize for search engines (SEO)

The video script is where you can insert as many keywords you need to make the algorithms take notice of your video. After all, even if you have the best makeup tutorial in the world, if no one can find it in the millions upon millions of other beauty videos on YouTube, it won’t matter. 

Do keyword research to find which search terms someone would use to find your video. Sprinkle them into the script and your video’s description—both tactics will increase the odds of YouTube ranking your video in the search results for those SEO keywords.

Deploy a script generator

Video script writing isn’t easy for most people. If you find yourself staring at a blank page for hours on end, use Descript’s AI Script generator to speed up the process. Simply ask AI to create a video script in your dashboard, then refine and revise the copy to make it yours. 

One click and you’ve got a full story for your podcast, video marketing content, or learning material. Then, you can hit Record and get the camera rolling!

Video script example and template

The most basic format for a video script includes two main columns: one for visuals and one for audio. Visual descriptions should note any graphic effects (GFX), like title cards or transitions. But you can format the script however you want, as long as it’s clear as to which visuals will align with each audio clip. 

Here’s a free video script template that can get you started:

DialogueVisual
Intro: Introduce your topic and what you’ll be covering in this video.
EX: Hey everyone, it’s [insert name] with [company or brand name], back to teach you more about how to train your dog. Today we’ll be tackling [issue/pain point].
Outline the visuals that will accompany the dialogue. EX:
- Host standing up with a puppy on a leash at their side.
- Company logo.
- Lower third of host’s name and pup’s name.
Main body of video. Break down what you introduced in the intro in more detail. If it’s a tutorial, get straight into your step-by-step guide.
EX:
Step 1: Make sure you are in a safe and comfortable space for your dog…
Step 2:
Step 3:
Include any graphics or if you want to include slow-mos. EX:
- Put up three examples of good training locations.
- Include b-roll of our location.
- Written graphics of the properties of a location that make it safe for a dog.
Ending/Outro: Sum up your concepts one more time and include a tagline and/or CTA. EX:
That’s all it takes to tackle [issue/pain point]. Just keep practicing and remember, [insert tagline or motto of brand]. I’m [host name] with [puppy’s name] here at [company/brand name]. Remember to like, follow, and subscribe for more content!
Make sure to have contact and social media info up for people to follow you. If you can make these graphics clickable links, all the better. EX:
- Put up Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, website links, as well as phone number, email, and physical address.

Let AI write great video scripts for you

Granted, Google Docs or Microsoft Word work just fine, but advanced programs like Descript act as an all-in-one solution. You can write your script, record your video, edit your video, and even publish your video all in one place. 

In fact, Descript’s AI script generator will write a full script draft for you based on the prompt you enter, and then you can freely revise and edit the script to fit your needs. 

You can also use Descript’s text-to-speech function to hear what your script sounds like when spoken aloud. This can save you time and energy on those days when writer’s block just won’t leave you alone. 

Take a free tour today and see why Descript is the script writer of choice for some of the world’s top content creators. 

Brandon Copple
Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.
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How to write a video script: 13 pro tips & template

writing and drawing a video script


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.

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 when you get to that point.


What is a video script and why do I need one?

An effective video script outlines what you want (and need) to say in your video. Whether you’re promoting a brand or creating a how-to video, the script will outline everything that is going to be shown on-screen, as well as what your voiceovers, host, or main characters will be saying. 

A well-written video script helps organize what you need, who you want to cast, and which locations to scout for your video project. It will also clarify what visual elements or shots you need to get when filming. All of this will make the post-production process a lot easier on the video editor.

How to write a video script: 8 easy steps

  1. Clarify your goals
  2. Identify your target audience
  3. Present a problem and provide a solution
  4. Stay on message
  5. Tell a story
  6. Keep it concise
  7. Include a call to action
  8. Edit your script 

Step 1: Clarify your goals

Before you start writing, figure out the subject matter of your video. Are you trying to educate your audience? Are you making a training video? Persuading viewers to invest in a product or service? Nailing down your goal before you start writing your video outline will make it easier to figure out how you can achieve it. 

If your goal is to appeal to your viewers’ emotions, for example, you can include more sensory language. On the other hand, if you’re making an explainer video on how to chop wood, you may want to keep your explainer video script more straightforward and free from any unnecessary words.

Step 2: Identify your target audience

Your target audience is the group of people that you want your video to appeal to. In the case of marketing videos, social media analytics and competitive research can help you figure out who’s buying what you’re selling, or why they’re choosing other brands. 

Research can also show you what types of video content people are most likely to respond to. It can reveal which demographic of people are watching your videos (or videos like yours) and 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 viewer’s attention.

Step 3: Present a problem and provide a solution

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

  • “Are you looking for 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.”

Step 4: Stay on message

With a video script, you can carefully craft the exact language you want to use to deliver a single, powerful message. Regardless of what kind of video you want to create, it’s best to have a simple message rather than trying to tackle too many things in one video.

The internet is full of content, so you need to make every second you put out there count. If people click on your YouTube video to learn how to use a socket wrench, don’t also include a political testimonial. Keep your message streamlined so the people watching get what they’ve come for and don’t go looking elsewhere to find it.

Step 5: Tell a story

Effective storytelling can quickly help you engage with viewers in an emotional or relatable way. People can connect with your brand and increase the odds of them investing in your vision. 

For example, there are lots of skincare companies, but maybe yours is unique because of how you choose your product ingredients or even the reason you started your business. Giving viewers this background makes your brand more than just a skincare company; it becomes something more personal for your viewers and potential customers.

Step 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 ad-libbing long-winded anecdotes or overly flowery language, and try to create a video script that’s relatable and succinct.

Step 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 (CTA) at the end of your video. If your message or ad campaign succeeds in firing viewers up, you want to make it easy for them to follow through on that energy.

Step 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. You could even ask trusted family or friends to listen and give you some feedback about the way your script sounds before you start the video production process. 

6 tips for writing great video scripts

You’ve laid the foundation of your video script. Here are five bonus tips to engage viewers and create a world-class video. 

Start with a strong hook

Just as first impressions are important when meeting new people, the intro of your script needs to grab the attention of your viewers. Remember: you have a limited time to convince people not to skip to the next video. Don’t save your best stuff for the end—people may not wait around to see it. Put it right up front in the beginning.

Create a story arc

Your script should have an organized train of thought. Even if it’s a fifteen-second ad, there should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. That way there will be something for your audience to take away from watching your video. 

If you want to be a bit more future-thinking, create a story arc or thematic message for your entire YouTube channel. A good example of this is Mercury Stardust’s channel. The creator shares tips and tricks about home repair and DIY with the through message of loving yourself and acceptance. The tagline for each video is: “you are worth the time it takes to learn a new skill!”

Image of Mercury Stardust’s channel page

Use conversational language

If you’ve ever struggled to stay awake in a lecture, a sermon, or while listening to an audio book, you know how language and tone of voice can make a big difference. Conversational language will make you sound relatable and help viewers retain the information you’re presenting in your video. 

But you need to know your demographic. If you want to create a how-to video for beginners, use layman's terms and break things down as much as possible. If you’re making a video directed at industry professionals, however, you can use more industry lingo—but you should still use a conversational tone. We’re all human, after all. 

Consider the pace

Language isn’t the only thing that can affect whether people are able to retain the information you’re relaying. Pacing is a big part of that as well. Don’t spend twenty minutes explaining something that could’ve been done in five. 

At the same time, try to avoid squeezing ten minutes of information into a two-minute video. Your audience will struggle to make out what you're saying if you rapidly inundate them with information.

To see this in action, play with the speed of a random YouTube video: slow it down to one-quarter speed, then speed it up so it's twice as fast as normal. See how difficult it becomes to even focus on what's being said in the video. That is the importance of pacing.

Optimize for search engines (SEO)

The video script is where you can insert as many keywords you need to make the algorithms take notice of your video. After all, even if you have the best makeup tutorial in the world, if no one can find it in the millions upon millions of other beauty videos on YouTube, it won’t matter. 

Do keyword research to find which search terms someone would use to find your video. Sprinkle them into the script and your video’s description—both tactics will increase the odds of YouTube ranking your video in the search results for those SEO keywords.

Deploy a script generator

Video script writing isn’t easy for most people. If you find yourself staring at a blank page for hours on end, use Descript’s AI Script generator to speed up the process. Simply ask AI to create a video script in your dashboard, then refine and revise the copy to make it yours. 

One click and you’ve got a full story for your podcast, video marketing content, or learning material. Then, you can hit Record and get the camera rolling!

Video script example and template

The most basic format for a video script includes two main columns: one for visuals and one for audio. Visual descriptions should note any graphic effects (GFX), like title cards or transitions. But you can format the script however you want, as long as it’s clear as to which visuals will align with each audio clip. 

Here’s a free video script template that can get you started:

DialogueVisual
Intro: Introduce your topic and what you’ll be covering in this video.
EX: Hey everyone, it’s [insert name] with [company or brand name], back to teach you more about how to train your dog. Today we’ll be tackling [issue/pain point].
Outline the visuals that will accompany the dialogue. EX:
- Host standing up with a puppy on a leash at their side.
- Company logo.
- Lower third of host’s name and pup’s name.
Main body of video. Break down what you introduced in the intro in more detail. If it’s a tutorial, get straight into your step-by-step guide.
EX:
Step 1: Make sure you are in a safe and comfortable space for your dog…
Step 2:
Step 3:
Include any graphics or if you want to include slow-mos. EX:
- Put up three examples of good training locations.
- Include b-roll of our location.
- Written graphics of the properties of a location that make it safe for a dog.
Ending/Outro: Sum up your concepts one more time and include a tagline and/or CTA. EX:
That’s all it takes to tackle [issue/pain point]. Just keep practicing and remember, [insert tagline or motto of brand]. I’m [host name] with [puppy’s name] here at [company/brand name]. Remember to like, follow, and subscribe for more content!
Make sure to have contact and social media info up for people to follow you. If you can make these graphics clickable links, all the better. EX:
- Put up Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, website links, as well as phone number, email, and physical address.

Let AI write great video scripts for you

Granted, Google Docs or Microsoft Word work just fine, but advanced programs like Descript act as an all-in-one solution. You can write your script, record your video, edit your video, and even publish your video all in one place. 

In fact, Descript’s AI script generator will write a full script draft for you based on the prompt you enter, and then you can freely revise and edit the script to fit your needs. 

You can also use Descript’s text-to-speech function to hear what your script sounds like when spoken aloud. This can save you time and energy on those days when writer’s block just won’t leave you alone. 

Take a free tour today and see why Descript is the script writer of choice for some of the world’s top content creators. 

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