By Leo Juarez, Head of Creative Studios
The power of video as a communications tool comes from the blending of visuals, motion, sound and story — an alchemy that can bring ideas to life and move audiences on an emotional level.
But before there’s magic onscreen, there’s a script — the foundation upon which any successful video is built. Yet, writing for video requires a different approach relative to writing for print or web.
Often, it means writing something that someone else needs to deliver in an authentic, engaging way. And while it’s one thing to hire professional voiceover talent, companies looking to leverage video as part of their communications strategy often want to feature real people in the form of executives, employees and partners.
In such cases, being intentional about how you both choose and arrange words on a page can make the journey from script to screen that much more successful. Here are some helpful tips for effective video scriptwriting:
Format your ideas
Use a two-column table to help clearly delineate between what you hear in a video versus what you might see in the form of B-roll, photos, graphics.
And unless it’s a documentary, there’s only so much nuance you can include in the context of a video, so look for ways to convey excess details through onscreen visual elements or text graphics.
Write how people speak
Stay away from jargon or run-on sentences as much as possible. Want to know if a script sounds conversational or stiff? Read it out loud yourself!
And no, reading silently or simply mouthing the words won’t cut it. Pretend it’s a TED Talk and you’re on stage front and center.
Punctuate your thoughts
A scriptwriter will eventually hand off their work to someone who has to deliver the lines. Be it an amateur or professional, you can use punctuation to help them interpret your intentions.
If you want to place emphasis on portions of the script, bold or underline words that need extra ‘oomph.’ To indicate a pause in speech or natural break, use ellipses or long dashes.
And if your script is to be loaded into a professional teleprompter, using ALL CAPS can make everything more legible for the person in front of the camera.
Hooked on phonetics
Spell out single-digit numbers and symbols such as percentage signs or dollar signs (for example, ‘eight dollars’ instead of $8).
And be sure to write out phonetic spellings of any difficult or unfamiliar proper names to ensure your onscreen talent places the right EM-fuh-sis on the right SIL-uh-buls.
Ultimately, scripting is just one of several aspects of the video production process that can be challenging. At KWI, our video experts can partner with you to ensure that scripts convey your message in a way that truly resonates with your target audience — and from there, bring it to life in the way that only video can. Want to find out how we can help? Contact our team.
Leo Juarez is Head of Creative Studios at KWI. To continue the conversation, connect with Leo on LinkedIn.