(revised Oct 2019, based on original blog post by Shawn Forno)
Every great video starts with a great script. Your script keeps you on brand and focused on your marketing objectives and goals. Writing one may seem like an overwhelming task. But it doesn’t have to be. Download our A/V script template to stay organized as you write your video script.
Whatever style of video you’re creating – 2D character animation, 3D, CGI, RSA-style whiteboard animation, and even augmented reality and VR– your next video can start with these two columns. On the left is your audio or voiceover. What words and sounds will viewers hear? On the right are the scenes of your video. What images will your viewers see?
Download this simple, easy-to-use, free script template and get started. But first, take a look at these 5 script writing tips to help you write a video script you can be proud of.
1. Start With The Message
No matter what you’re selling, pitching, or explaining, every video script should have a clear message. Before you shoot the scene or animate any action, you have to know what you want to say. Without a clear message in mind, you might end up with a video that rambles or confuses your audience. But with a clear message to inform your storyboarding process you can create visuals and a narrative that support your main point.
Start by asking yourself, “What do I want viewers to learn when they watch this video?” Then answer that question in one sentence. Seriously, try it right now. One sentence. If you need more than one sentence to express your idea, your message isn’t focused enough. Having a lot to say is fine. You can always create more videos. But for this specific video, you should have a clear thesis statement.
2. Avoid Perfection Paralysis
If you try to write a perfect script, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s no such thing as a perfect script, and if there were, you couldn’t achieve it on your first try. This script template will go through a dozen revisions before you animate or shoot the first frame.
If you let go of perfection, script writing can be a lot of fun. It’s a part of the process where your ideas and your imagination can run free. So go ahead and scribble down whatever is in your head.
Be as descriptive as you can. Set the scene. Create rich characters. Make up silly adverbs like “shimmeringly” to describe the action taking place in the video—you can look up better words later. Flesh out every detail you can think of. Don’t edit, just type. You’ll might be surprised at the result.
This script template is short for a reason. A one page script roughly translates into a 60-second (or less) animated video, and that’s about the length your explainer video should aim for. However, your first draft won’t be a nice, tight, one-page script. It might be two pages, or four. And that’s okay. You can always cut out what doesn’t work, but if you limit your first draft, you might lose a great idea in process.
It’s better to have first draft you can edit, than a blank template waiting for the “perfect script.” Silence your internal editor and just type. That’s how the best scripts are written.
3. Choose Powerful Imagery
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Symbolic imagery—like a light bulb representan idea or realization— has stood the test of time for a reason. It works. A 15-second video doesn’t have a lot of time to get the point across, so rely on imagery that will be easily accessible to your audience. Choose images that come pre-loaded with meaning.
This script template is a first draft tool to get you started. Treat it that way. Get every single image out of your head and onto the page so you can see them all side by side. Maybe you’ll find a few that are the right way to get your message across in a clear, compelling concise way. Once you do, you’re halfway to a great video that gets results.
4. Speak To Your Audience
Your work choices are as important as your imagery. How do you know what words to use? Well, every video is targeted at a certain audience, so make this video for your audience. It really is that simple. Define your ideal viewer with descriptive factors like age, income, location, job, habits, hobbies, and more. As your picture of your audience comes into focus, shape your dialogue and voiceover to sound like someone they would listen to.
If your video is for corporate lawyers, use legal terms and jargon. If your video promotes a foodie-centric dating app, describe the user experience like the main course of a feast. A public service video aimed at 16 to 24 year olds requires a different script than an internal safety video for mid-level professionals. You get the idea.
Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and dialogue. If you’re selling insurance, you might want to sound authoritative and trustworthy. On the other hand, one company has succeeded with a talking gecko. So don’t assume you have to be stuffy just because you’re dealing with a serious subject. The important thing is to always speak in terms that your audience can understand.
5. Write For Your Medium
Before you finalize your script, you should know where and how your video will be shared. For example: a video intended mostly for YouTube might need to look slightly different than one intended to run as an Instagram ad.
As more people watch video on mobile devices, on-screen text and clear animation are becoming the go-to ways to “show” your customers what you’re all about. Use the left column of this script template to write on-screen text, and let that stripped down script guide the pacing and narrative of the production. A few short lines of text or dialogue can define your message, your brand, your CTA, and really bring the whole video into focus in just a matter of seconds.
Free Script Template Download
Use this free script template to tell your story and plan your video. For additional advice to guide your video production and promotion process, download our our free eBook, How to Succeed with Animated Video. Take your business to the next step with video marketing tips, ROI tools, and other tactics to make your animated explainer video the new engine of your inbound lead strategy.