3 Steps to Writing Video Scripts That Keep People Watching to the End

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Inbound marketers know live action videos provide a fast and entertaining way to share a story in a more personable and authentic way. These videos can be used for explaining a process, promoting an event, and sharing your brand through customer testimonials. As with other types of videos, you want the script to hold a viewer’s attention to the end. This is more important with live action videos because they always end with a clear call-to-action (CTA).

The good news is, you don’t have to be funny or clever to write a video script that keeps viewers to the end. Here are suggestions on how to write an engaging video script in just three steps.

video script writing pipeline

1. WRITE A CREATIVE BRIEF

It’s tempting to skip this step, but don’t. A creative brief allows you and the production team to get on the same page from the beginning. To ensure you deliver what the team had in mind, a creative brief should answer the following:

  • Why are you making the video? What’s the primary business goal of the video? Is it for lead nurturing or demonstrating a product feature?
  • What metrics will be used to measure its success? Will they be clicking a link? Signing up for a demo?
  • What channel will it appear on? Where your video will appear affects the length, purpose, length, and tone.
  • Who’s going to see it? Who’s your audience? What’s their customer persona? What stage are they in the sales funnel? 
  • What’s the right tone? Will it be light-hearted? Bold and serious? The tone will influence your choice of setting, cast, pace and type of dialogue for the script.
  • What are you going to cover? What will you talk about? Why will the viewers care?
  • What are the key takeaways? What do you want the viewers to learn or feel after watching it? What benefits do you want to highlight?
  • What’s the CTA? What do you want the viewer to do after they watched the video?

2. Write the script

Your video should tell a story. If you’re doing an explainer video, you’d present a problem, introduce a solution, explain how it works, then end with a CTA. It would go something like:

  1. Problem: Steve needs to create a video but doesn’t have the expertise.
  2. Solution: But that’s OK because Steve can find freelancers on Upwork to do everything from creative direction to video editing.
  3. How: Upwork is the largest global freelancing website where companies can get projects started in as little as three days.
  4. CTA: Click here to get started with Upwork now

Consider the emotions you feel throughout this video:

Seeing a real person, hearing their voice and watching their body language is more effective than simply reading a customer testimonial, isn’t it?

A good script gets the point across simply and clearly. To do this, think of someone you know who matches the video’s target audience. Picture yourself sitting across a table with that friend while having casual conversation over coffee. Then start writing. To sound natural, stay away from boring statistics, and say you and your.

If your video will require multiple characters or scenes, close-up shots with a text overlay and other features, call out all the details in the script. Include everything so that the people reading the script knows what’s supposed to be read on-screen and what’s supposed to be incorporated in the editing process.

It may help to write the script in columns like this:

Visual Audio
1. Spokesperson speaking in the background

Show child standing in front of lemonade stand

“When I was 7, I earned $10 in a day…”
2. Spokesperson speaking in the background

Show child opening a second lemonade stand down the block

“That’s when I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I grew up…”
3. Spokesperson speaking in the background

Scene of man graduating college

“After graduation, I didn’t want to look for a job…”

3. DO A TABLE READ

After the draft’s written, gather the project team together around a table to run through the script aloud. This is when you fine-tune everything for clarity and brevity. Practice the read as if it’s being filmed. Figure out how you’ll emphasize words, where you’ll raise or lower your voice, and so on.

Fix all the areas that don’t sound conversational. If you’re wondering how to phrase a sentence, ask yourself how would I say it to a friend? Perhaps instead of “such as” say “like.” Instead of “I’m going to explain,” say “I’m gonna explain.”

BONUS VIDEO SCRIPT WRITING TIPS

Shorter is better. If you produce a very engaging video, you can keep the viewer’s attention for up to two minutes. Some say people lose attention between 30 to 60 seconds. Whichever stat you use, the consensus is that it’s best to keep videos as short as possible. If the viewer knows the video’s too long, they lose attention earlier. If they know it’s a short video, they’re more likely to stick around to watch the whole thing.

Upwork

Put your main message in the first 30 seconds. This tip doesn’t apply to all videos, but it’s something worth keeping in mind. Since it’s clear viewers won’t stick around for long, reduce the message of your entire video to one sentence and get that sentence somewhere in the first 30 seconds of the script. If the audience resonates with the message, they’ll want to keep watching.

Keep the pace of speech between 125-150 words per minute. This may sound noticeably slower than your regular speech, but you need to give the voiceover talent time to breathe and allow the information to sink into your viewers’ minds. Rapid speech can overwhelm viewers, reduce their comprehension, and cause them to drop off early.

Add subtitles. In case you’re wondering whether it’s worth adding subtitles, consider these eye-opening stats:

  • 28 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing
  • 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute
  • 91% of viewers are more engaged with subtitles, even if they speak English
  • Videos with subtitles generate 26% more CTA click throughs

CTAs can appear anywhere. Most CTAs appear at the end of a video, but they can appear within the first third and in the middle as well. Consider testing areas where there’s a natural pause and logical opportunity to add a text CTA.

You don’t need to be the expert

Writing a high-quality video script takes planning and time, but you don’t need to have all the talent in-house to create an amazing video. Freelancing websites like Upwork make it easy to find highly skilled talent experienced with all stages of video production—from writers to voiceover artists, and post-production editors. Or you can engage a freelance agency to take care of the whole production, so you spend time on other projects.

Upwork is a freelancing website where businesses of all sizes can find talented independent professionals across multiple disciplines and categories. If you’re a business looking to get projects done, start today!

Brenda Do

by - Copywriter

Brenda is a direct-response copywriter who loves sales. She is the president of BL Copywriting, LLC and enjoys helping companies increase revenue by communicating with… more