Visual Storytelling: Five Tips for a Writing a Stronger Video Script

“Every great movie begins its life as a great script.” So does every great video.

When considering narration for your video, there are four main ways to tell a story: voice over, interview, on-camera host or text on screen. How to choose? It depends on the content, budget, tone and style of the video you want to create. (Hint: There is no right or wrong answer) 


Text on Screen Video


Voice Over Video


But the video still starts with a script. This post focuses on telling your story with the use of a voice over. Here are five important steps to help you write an excellent voice over script.


1. Don’t overthink it

One thought per sentence. Know your audience and don’t use legalese, jargon or acronyms unless every person watching the video will know what they mean. Even then, avoid acronyms. Write like you speak using simple, clear language. But don’t get so casual that you start using bad grammar and punctuation, know what I’m sayin’?


2. Edit, Edit, Edit

Any good writer will tell you writing is rewriting.  Collect your thoughts, jot down ideas, and write your script. Then, as Zadie Smith advises, “Step away from the vehicle.” Wait a day or two (or however long you are able, pending deadlines) before looking at the text. You’ll be amazed at what you can cut. You should also be able to identify any missing information pertinent to the story. Superfluous bits will fall away like scraps and you might come up with better wording in some areas, or cut some parts entirely.


3. Ask for feedback

It is the only way you will get it. Ask a colleague, maybe even someone from another department to read your copy.  They may have a more objective view of what you have written. If you have your voice actor picked already, get them to read the script as well. After all, they’ll be the one delivering the final version.


4. Eliminate implied thoughts

You are writing for video. Trust the intelligence of your audience. Trust the visual aspects—footage, images, animation—that will appear with your text. Don’t feel you have to spell everything out in the voice over, let the pictures do some of the talking. Although, if are including numbers or abbreviations within the script, be sure to write them out how you’d like them read. Do you read 2010 as “two thousand and ten” or “twenty ten?” It’s better to make that crystal clear for your voice actor.  


5. Read it out loud

Be mindful of pace and flow. You will likely find some run on sentences you didn’t think were run on sentences while you were writing it because it sounded good and felt right to get all your ideas down on paper, especially the most important key messages about the subject of the story. If it doesn’t read well, see TIP #2.


You may have multiple writers and editors on your voice over copy, but the piece must speak with one voice. This will give the narrator added credibility on the topic at hand. To achieve this, think first about the tone of your post. Will it be conversational, sophisticated or folksy? Second, consider whether your voice actor will be speaking in first, second, or third person. Lastly, decide whether contractions will be included in the script.


How do you draft a strong voice over script? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @CNWCreative


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