How to Write a Great Script
TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT SCRIPT FOR AN ANIMATED EXPLAINER VIDEO
The language you use in an animated video is different from copy for a website
or from academic writing. The words will be read aloud by a voiceover artist in
tandem with animation, so it’s important for the writing to be simple and compact.
It’s also important to get clear on who your target viewer is.
You would speak very differently with your religious grandmother than you would with your foul-mouthed best friend from High School - and tone matters a lot in writing for your animated video too!
DON’T TALK SHOP
One big mistake people make is using jargon that people in their industry uses,
but that a target reader wouldn’t understand. (There is an exception when the target
viewer is within a specialized industry.)
But the vast majority of animated explainer videos are trying to communicate to an audience outside their industry, or to the general public. I can be a good net for this, and will help to point out words that don’t immediately make sense to me.
SHORT & SWEET
Another mistake is using long sentences. The viewer is taking in information visually as well as aurally, and longer sentences are much harder to follow in this format.
Often people have the instinct to compact their ideas into long, complex sentences because they’re trying to condense so much into a short script. Look for ways to break sentences up into bite-sized pieces. It will make the script much more powerful and easy to follow.
Videos need to catch attention early. So you can jump right in by laying out what’s at stake here. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Put this problem at the beginning of the script.
Is it a lack of public knowledge about something important? Is there an opportunity people need to know about? Is time running out in some way? Or is there an incorrect assumption you can remedy for them?
Remember, short sentences are more powerful.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
After you lay out the problem, you can introduce how you will solve this problem. In the simplest way you can, describe who you are, and how you can help.
It’s a good idea to include why you are different. How is your approach unique?
CALL TO ACTION
Don’t forget arguably the most important part of the video: the call to action. Now that you have won over the hearts of your viewer, what would you like to happen?
Include a clear statement about what viewers should do. Share to spread the word? With whom should they share it? Should they Donate? Where do they do so? Buy now? Sign up?
WORD COUNT & LENGTH
So now that you have a clear script, we need to make sure that it fits within the bounds of the time frame you have planned. You may have wondered, 'how many words should be in a 60 second explainer video?"
The average voiceover actor reads at about 180 words per minute. A slightly speedier reading may net 210 words per minute, and a slower reading at about 150 words per minute. It's important to remember, though, that we always want to keep some padding on the ends of the video; we wouldn't want someone talking at you from the first second of the video. That would be overwhelming. We leave time at the end to wrap up the work, and show some credits.
So for a one-minute video, I recommend about 140 words, and for a two-minute video, I recommend about 250 words.
Most word editing programs, including Google Docs, have a ‘Word Count’ feature
Shorter explainer videos - 1 to 2 minutes - are much more likely to be watched until the end, where viewers see your call to action.
If your first draft is much longer than it needs to be, don’t fret!
Here are some ideas to help shorten your script:
- Read through your script and pay attention to repetition. If you’re having trouble seeing it, you could color code sentences of yours that fall under a general idea, like the problem, who we are, how we can help, how we’re different, call to action - and then see if you’ve repeated any of these colors. You really only need to say each thing once.
- Keep looking for opportunities to condense phrases you use. For example “something that affects you” (4 words) could be “something important.” (2 words.)
-Shortening your sentences often helps cut down on extra words.
If you're interested in clarifying your ideas for clients by making a video with me, please get in touch! You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or click below.