Why your next video should start with a script

Video is an increasingly important part of breaking through the cacophony that is social media in 2016—in fact, 87% of online marketers use video. But just stringing together some moving pictures isn’t quite enough to reach the right audience.

Your video has to have a goal. Are you looking to generate leads? Educate existing customers? Drive webinar signups?

Whatever it is, once you’ve established the goal, you may be tempted to switch on the lights and start filming. But… let me stop you there.

Before plugging in the first light or setting up your tripod, you have to first have a plan. And a plan for a video is called (everybody!) a script. The term script may bring to mind special formatting with scene descriptions and dialogue blocks, but for our purposes, a script is just a simple document containing just the words you’ll say on screen.

Here’s a few reasons why your video should have a script

Having a script saves time

Perhaps this is counter-intuitive, but spending a bit of time up front greatly increases your efficiency in the studio and editing room. You can spend your studio time working on the performance of the material, rather than refining the messaging. And you will definitely save time in the editing room with the script as your guide.

1oz preparation = 1lb cure

If you don’t capture something in the camera (and well-lighted with good sound quality), it won’t end up in your final video. True, there are some things you can “fix in post,” but that takes more time and effort than getting it right on the front end. (And do you really want to ask your coworker to bring back in the same outfit so you can do reshoots?) Using a script means you’ve planned out what you need to capture, and you can check off each item when you get a good take.

It’s less pressure

Performing to camera is a skill that people develop over time, and even for people who take to it naturally, it’s a lot to ask someone to decide what they’re going to say, cover all the important points and perform for the camera at the same time. Not everyone is comfortable reading from a script, but, even then, the process of developing the script helps hone your message and develops a deeper familiarity with the material.

It helps with video timing

The best way to make sure the end result comes out with the timing you want is to write the script and time how long it takes to read. Even if your video’s subject is a master of extemporaneous speech, you may find yourself in a rough spot in the editing room if you’re attempting to hit a time limit (like, say, Twitter’s 30-second limit).

You need to write out captions anyway

We’ve already covered the importance of having captions for your online video. If you already have a script, then developing your captions file is more about reformatting and editing than starting from scratch.

But what about being stiff on camera?

As I mentioned above, not everyone is going to be comfortable reading from a script on camera, and you definitely don’t want to come across as stiff or awkward. Perhaps the best way around this is to practice the script enough to get comfortable with it (in the guide linked below, video-hosting company Wistia even recommends a table read). But, if that’s not an option, you can use the script as an outline to serve as a prompt to the on-screen “talent” and as a shot list to make sure you’ve covered all the points. And, of course, it still serves as your guide when editing.

Getting started scripting your videos can be daunting, but this guide from the folks at Wistia is a good place to start.

Tony Scida

A Hodges veteran who has been with the firm for more than a decade, Tony lends his creative talents to a range of clients. With a degree in arts management and as an accomplished musician, Tony has an ear for helping tell client stories.

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