Writing a script for an explainer video, including informational and marketing videos, can be nuanced, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Your message has to be front and center and form the driving force behind the video.
You’re writing to tell a story.
Your audience’s attention is what you need to grab and retain for the video to be successful.
With all that said, there are three techniques you can keep in mind when writing a script for an explainer video. Keeping these techniques in mind will give you a basic framework to build off of and hopefully help to elevate your writing as a whole.
Let’s dive into each of these a little deeper.
Write a script that complements the video’s visuals.
It may be obvious, but you are writing for an explainer video, your script needs to work hand in hand with the visuals that will be displayed in front of the viewer
Stories are always better when you show instead of tell, and video has the built-in support of already showing the audience through graphics, movement, and images.
You don’t need to explain everything if what will be seen on screen will do more of the heavy lifting.
For example, a short reference in the script to direct a viewer to a graph or figure goes much farther than breaking down all the elements of the graph or figure in both the script and imagery. You can even implement this more subtly like showing a golden retriever on screen but only saying “dog” in the script.
And while it’s true that most scripts are written before the visuals are produced, you still need to remember from the start that they will be in the final product. This of course will take practice, but eventually you shouldn’t even realize you’re doing it. Script-writing is a form of shorthand in this way.
There’s a reason we all say “a picture’s worth 1,000 words”, so tap into that mentality and use it as leverage to say more with less.
Have an informative yet conversational tone.
You can also keep your script tight and terse for your explainer video by keeping your writing conversational. Using language that most if not all audience members can readily understand will help keep you from repeating yourself and bogging down your script.
This will also help keep things accessible for the audience and will help with their information retention.
The 12 principles of Scribology we’ve developed at TruScribe show an average audience retention rate of 65% after 72 hours when visual and auditory elements are properly synced.
Keeping your language clear and simple in the script only helps to reinforce this statistic, and it keeps your audience from feeling talked down to when you inevitably have to explain something more complicated. Chances are good that your script will include specific terminology and industry jargon that will need to be better defined to viewers.
Surrounding these terms with simple, direct language will help the viewer better understand these lofty concepts, and saving your dense or educational content only for areas where the topic absolutely requires it will ensure you keep your script concise and digestible.
Be mindful of word count.
Word count is our third important benchmark to keep track of when writing for video (or any other vocal recording medium).
At TruScribe, we have an average measurement of 160 words per minute of video.
If we go back to information retention for a second, it would stand that audiences will retain more information from a shorter video than a longer video. Because of that, aiming for a 320 word script will have a better impact than a 1,280 word script.
Word count can rise especially quickly in a dense, technical script with lots of definitions and jargon, so be on the lookout for places to trim, combine, and condense to avoid redundant speech and phrases. Variety is the spice of life, so keep your writing as diverse as possible while staying clear and concise.
Your audience wants you to get to the point of a video as quickly as possible, but you also need to educate them on the topic so they walk away satisfied. You’re always going to be balancing these two expectations, so keep a watchful eye on your word count. Things will start to fall into place from there.
If you haven’t noticed by now, all three of these techniques are really working together towards one end goal: shrinking the overall script while expanding the overall message.
In other words, say a lot with a little because at the end of the day, all your script really needs to do is clearly convey your message while telling an engaging story. That’s easier said than done for sure, but if you use language that informs and supports your visuals, use casual language, and say as much as possible in the fewest words possible, your script will have a small yet sturdy foundation to do just that.
And once you have your foundation, building out the rest of your story should be easy to piece together.