Script Writing Tips

blog_3scripttips1Being an Instructional Designer often includes writing scripts for online training voiceovers and for videos. Jonathan Halls, author of Rapid Video Development for Trainers, recently delivered a presentation on the Brain Science and the Media Psychology of Script Writing. (An archive of the presentation is available through KZO Innovations.)

Have you ever been distracted by the um’s and uh’s in a training video? What about a YouTube video that rambled into tangents, taking forever to get to the point? That is exactly what happens when you do not have a video script. However, Jonathan Hall provides other important reasons to have a script before recording and tips on writing the best scripts. His focus is on short videos, 3 to 4 minutes in length for elearning purposes. Here are the highlights:

7 Reasons to Write Video Scripts

  1. Keep the team on the same page
  2. Consistency for editing
  3. No script requires more takes
  4. Scripts make you look and sound better
  5. Ensures brand and message consistency
  6. Makes message quicker and easier to understand
  7. Crucial tool for video management system – ensures use of key words for searches

4 Message Busters

These are things that prevent your message from getting through to learners.

  1. Sensory bottleneck – restrict the amount of images that you bombard viewers with
  2. Cognitive overload – chunk information into 2 to 4 bits at any one time. Keep them focused on one topic, don’t go into too much detail, and realize that viewers are also thinking about other things
  3. Unfamiliarity – use pictures, words, and other media that are easy for the audience to recognize
  4. Boredom – stimulate the audience by changing shots, voices, and music. Use cliffhangers

Video Writing Mindset

  1. Make the message quick and easy to understand
  2. Integrate spoken word with images and music to convey message
  3. Read the script out loud because what it looks like on paper is not the same as it will turnout in video and audio
  4. Listen to oral sense of the word

Word Choice

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Use verbs instead of nouns
  3. Use concrete words instead of abstract
  4. Listen to oral sense of phrase

Wrap Up

Script writing is finding the right words to support the pictures. Explain the things that are not obvious from just looking at the picture.