When it comes to getting quality information, nothing beats actual experience. That’s why when we decided to put together this article about writing great explainer video scripts, we interviewed the experts personally to get professional advice straight from the source!
Read on to hear the best tips and tricks from those who know best.
Tim has developed hundreds of successful scripts and campaigns for brands such as Cisco, Deloitte, DriveTime, United Way, and many others.
When it comes to writing explainer video scripts, I think the best advice I can give relates to the kind of stuff that pops up on a regular basis.
1. Homework is everything.
You can never do too much research in pre-production. It still surprises me how often I’m asking my discovery questions and the client says, “Hmm, you know I haven’t actually thought about that.”And when the question is,“Where will this video live other than social media,”
The answer can mean a completely different direction that the video will go. It’s far better to figure all that out before you begin, rather than have a finished video that the client thinks is “great, but hey we’ve been talking, and can we make some changes so that we can use it in pitch meetings as well?”
2. Keep sentences short.
I love writing long complex sentences that twist and turn. Using those in an explainer video script is a good way to get people to tune out or turn off. I have to remind myself that while it’s fun for me, that circus stuff has no place in a script.
3. Remember for yourself, and remind the client as professionally as possible — nobody cares about their business.
What viewers care about is how will this make my life better?
It’s sales 101, but we creatives forget that from time to time.
4. Write visually.
It’s one thing to write a comprehensive script that engages, excites, explains, and sells. It’s another thing entirely to accomplish that in a way that works dynamically with visuals.
5. Metaphors work.
Not only do they help give you a potential tie-in with visuals, but metaphors engage mentally at a high level. They’re also a great tool for simplifying complex ideas.
6. Avoid puffery.
Brands (especially hip tech brands) love buzzwords. Dropping one in here or there is OK, but it’s best to avoid buzzwords, adverbs, and hype.
It’s the incredibly awesome calculator app that will change your life. Forever. Yeah, probably not. Engage emotionally, but stick to realistic benefits.
Ben Harvell is a copywriter, who has delivered creative copy, in-depth editorial and full-blown integrated marketing campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Microsoft, Rolls Royce, KFC, Jaguar Land Rover and Sony.
Explaining what a product or service does and how it works is important but, for me, the most crucial part is identifying the problem it solves.
If you can quickly establish a genuine challenge that the viewer struggles with and then introduce a solution, they will be more engaged and keen to find out more.
The creator of the door wouldn’t have started by explaining hinges; they’d have told you their invention allows you to pass through walls
Susan Greene is a freelance copywriter with over 25 years of experience. She writes websites, brochures and sales letters for a wide array of businesses throughout the U.S. and the world.
An explainer video should be easy for the viewer to understand. Keep it simple by following these four steps:
1) Describe the problem
2) Introduce your solution
3) Explain how and why your solution works, and
4) Tell the viewer what they should do next (call, email, sign up, or make a purchase).
Darren Buser is a copywriter and content marketer committed to output that merges creativity with hard data
In my experience, when it comes to writing for video, many writers fail to understand a fundamental component of the medium that they’re writing for: that words will be said, not just read.
What works on the page may not translate to voice.
Having several years of video production experience, I saw firsthand how my beautiful prose could sound decidedly average (or worse) when spoken aloud by an actor or voice artist.
So my tip is straightforward: read your narration out loud. Record it and play it back. Or give it to a friend to do the same. Do that, and you’ll find at least a few rough edges that you can smooth out to improve the flow of your words and the overall quality of your script.
Clea Sherman is a freelance copywriter based in Sydney. You can find out more about her by visiting
Getting your video scripts right can be tricky. Here’s how to write an explainer video script that will help your business grow.
Tip #1: Focus on the pain point
Video marketing expert Rohan Kale says it’s important to keep your explainer videos focused on your customers’ main pain points that your product or service solves.
If your clients are struggling with weight loss, use your videos to position yourself as the bridge that will help them go from being overweight to fit and healthy. A video that simply talks about your company outside this context won’t resonate with your audience as strongly.
Tip #2: Keep it short
If you take 30 minutes to get your point across, chances are there will be no one left to hear it when you do. As a general rule, you want to hook your viewers in within the first couple of seconds.
As for the overall length, it’s best to keep your explainer videos to a maximum of 90 seconds. If you can’t explain your business in this amount of time you need to revisit and refine your primary services.
Tip #3: Make your script easy to craft visuals for
According to the Dual-Coding Theory by Allan Paivio, explainer videos work because they tap two separate channels of the brain—i.e., the auditory and visual—at the same time. This makes it easier for the viewer to process the information they’re being presented with.
Of course, this only works if your visuals and audio line up perfectly. The photos and videos you use must highlight the points you’re trying to make, not take away from them. So, be sure to be as concrete as you can when you write your script. You want to come up with something that’s easy to craft visuals for.
Tip #4: Speak directly to your audience
Google and Facebook ads marketing expert Kole Riggs says conversing directly with your audience is a great way to make your explainer videos significantly more engaging. Stick to personal pronouns like “your” and “you” as much as you can when writing your explainer video script.
Tip #5: Have a clear call to action
The only way your explainer videos will have any impact on your bottom line is if you explicitly ask your viewers to do something after watching it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s to sign up, download an ebook, subscribe to your newsletter or make a purchase. You should always make it crystal clear to your audience what you want them to do once your video ends.
Tip #6 Don’t agonize over words
Your copy is important but don’t spend so long on it that you fail to produce and launch your video. Remember that progress is better than perfection! Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes, then just get your explainer video out there!
Sally Ormond has been wowing the world of freelance copywriting since 2007. Working locally, nationally, and internationally, countless brands have benefited from her creative talents.
Explainer videos, in fact, video scripts, are not the easiest things in the world to write.
In essence, they have to get across a lot of information clearly in a short space of time. There is the added benefit of visuals to aid explanation, but the words do all the heavy work.
The question is to how you can get across all the information you have to cover in about 90 – 120 seconds.
Why that time frame?
That’s about the length of an average person’s attention span.
How to write your script
1. Less is more
Experience has shown that when discussing explainer video content, companies like to cover everything, including the kitchen sink. The problem with that is, as I’ve already said, attention spans rarely last more than 120 seconds. Any video longer than that will be switched off.
The best explainer videos have short, succinct scripts that get straight to the point.
2. Your audience comes first.
Just like all your other marketing, your explainer video is there for your customers, not for you. It’s not a platform from which you can rave about how great you are.
The only thing you need to think about when writing your script is “what do my customers need to know” That means thinking about the benefits it will bring your customer, and that means getting emotional.
Not in a slushy kind of way, but in a way that holds their attention and shows them how you’re going to make their life easier with the product or service you’re selling.
3.Keep it relevant
1. Getting back to those benefits, your script must concentrate on empathizing with your customers and showing them:
– The problem(s) they are facing
– How your product/service solves that problem
– How it makes their life easier
– Recap the benefits (a written list is great if they were verbalized first time round)
– What to do next (i.e. the call to action of your video)
Get going straight away. Don’t start your script with wishy-washy introduction nonsense. That means no, “Hi, in this video I’m going to show you how to XYZ. However, first, let me tell you about the other great stuff we have to offer…” Do that, and you’ve lost your audience.
4.Go for a big finale
In my earlier list, I told you to recap the benefits.
The benefits are the most critical part of your video. They show why you do what you do and how it will make your viewers’ lives easier. Having them bulleted on the screen in written form will drive them home, so your viewers are left in doubt that you’re doing them massive favor.
However, once you’ve done all that, don’t forget to tell them what to do next.
Your call to action is vital (and often missed out). The end of your script must contain information about how your viewers can buy or get in touch with you (especially if there is an upsell possibility). Make sure it is verbalized and written, so the final screen they see contains your contact information.
Designers and videographers will argue that the main crux of any explainer video is the visuals. Of course, as a copywriter, I have to disagree. Great visuals will keep your audience’s attention, but it is the words they hear that will do the selling.
As you can see, the script is the real power behind your video – get that right, and the rest will follow.
David Burke is one of the UK’s most experienced video script writers. He worked as senior creative at a top London marketing agency before going freelance. He specializes in luxury and leisure brands, corporate videos and animated explainers.
VIDEO SCRIPTS WITHOUT TEARS
I can’t tell you how to write a good script. You already know that. You are either a scriptwriter or not. It’s a natural ability and you either have it or you don’t.
What I can tell you is a few of the lessons I have learned during my long career as a professional video scriptwriter, and hope to help you avoid some of the mistakes and pain points.
If you are a freelancer this all goes double.
First of all, make sure you get as much info about the project as you can. Don’t just trust the brief. Written words can be interpreted in different ways by different people. Emphasis makes all the difference. Clarify things. Go over it all face-to-face, phone-to-phone or Skype-to-Skype with the client. Read up on the subject too. Google as much information as you can.
The more you can learn at the outset about the product, company or service that you’re being asked to create a script for, the better your final script will be.
To help you do this ALWAYS ask the client for a list of the key points they want to cover in the video. Just a bullet point list will do. Ask what are the key messages they want to push. Ask what is the response or call to action they want from the viewer or target audience. Is it: to Buy? Ask for more details? Apply for a course? Tell a friend? Phone the big Freephone number?
Establish the running time. Is it absolute or is it flexible? Is it going to be Animation? Stock footage? Live-action? A mixture?
Are we using Dialogue or Voice Over?
Style. This is huge. ALWAYS discuss the kind of treatment the client sees being right for this. Funny or serious? Businesslike or flippant? Factual and informative or just plain edgy?
Who are we aiming at? What is the medium being used? What style of male or female voice? Is it Young or old? Upmarket or down to earth?
If it is animation, what type of treatment is required? Here you can ask the client to refer you to a video or cartoon treatment that they have seen and like. They could provide you with a link or two to a page or a YouTube video. Maybe it’s of a successful competitor video they are impressed with.
When you have done all that now comes the 64 million dollar questions! Well, it probably won’t pay that much!
When does it need to be delivered? How much will you be paid and when? ALWAYS agree this lot upfront. It avoids a lot of invoice chasing and unpleasantness later.
Sure, there is more I could tell you. More secrets and tricks of the trade. But then it’s a competitive business, and I don’t want you to be better at it than me, do I?
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY SCRIPT WRITING!
A banker turned copywriter and film and advertising professional, who is passionate about channeling his creative energy into words and visuals that create an impact.
•The most important factor to consider when writing a video of an explainer is the flow. The visual and verbal elements of your script are both inextricably linked for weaving the narrative.
A good explainer video is a balance between engaging flow and comprehensive narratives.
•Scriptwriters can use subtle, insightful elements in their videos as transitions and for progressing the narrative.
Channels such as kurzgesagt make great use of elements and even recurrent symbolic characters which have become a signature of its videos, such as the character teleporting into a space of ideas through a computer screen.
•A good explainer script remains focused on the problem or issues it is meant to resolve. Scripts with elements drifting away from the central problem significantly will be more likely to lose the attention of the audience.
• A good commercial explainer video script needs to be concise, simple, and easy to absorb. If the spoken narrative needs to be more complex due to a creative requirement, then engagement should make up for the lack of simplicity.
•A lot of people consider scriptwriting for videos to be confined to writing spoken word. While it is undoubtedly verbal in nature, it involves as much visualization as any other aspect of video production.
It is perhaps the most critical phase of visualizing the elements and the narrative of the video because we often find explainer video producers disengage with scriptwriters after getting a script drafted.
This can create a gap between the vision of the writer and the storyboard drafter unless both tasks are being done by the same person. Scriptwriters should encourage support to producers even after the final draft is approved.
Georgiy started his career in advertising in 2007 as a junior copywriter in Leo Burnett. Since then worked in agencies like Wunderman, TBWA and BBDO.
Runs his own copywriting studio called InsaneWriter.
So, you’re sitting in front of your laptop ready to start writing an explainer video script.
A new blank Word doc is there on the screen and it’s so white and empty that it almost scares you. The cursor is blinking as if saying: “You. Can. Do. It. Or. Can. You?”
The answer is — Yes, you can. Everyone can with a bit of practice and some simple rules that I’m going to share with you right about now.
Explaining the explainers
The biggest thing about explainers is the timing. Usually between 60 and 90 seconds. This is the time you have to explain the product to your viewer. So, precision and brevity are of the utmost importance making writing explainer scripts a fun copywriting task. Time limitation is basically the wordcount limitation, because voice talents usually talk 2 words per second, so this translates into 120 – 180 words per script.
Another important facet of explainers is the product. Your script revolves around it and its features. So, knowing the product in and out is critical. Don’t hesitate to spend time learning everything you can about the product, how it works and why it’s great. It’s really hard to explain something you know little about.
The structure of the explainer. The best way to describe it is by using this example. Once there was a very successful pastor whose sermons became very popular and always attracted a lot of people. When asked about his secret the pastor explained: “First I tell people what I’m going to talk about, then I tell it to them and finally I tell them what they’ve just learned.” So, any advertising text (and an explainer script IS a form of an advertising text) is doing exactly this – telling people the about the problem that needs to be solved (telling them, what I’m going to talk about), proposing the solution (telling it to them) and explaining how exactly the solution helps with the problem (telling them what they’ve learned).
With these three pieces in mind you can start thinking about what your script is going to be like.
What’s the story?
All explainers usually fall into two categories — testimonials and essays. Testimonials are the most common ones and often they are the boring ones. You’ve seen them oh so many times. “This is Jack, he has a problem, poor Jack. And this is X that can solve Jack’s problem. X has this and that and also a little bit of this to solve Jack’s problem. So now Jack has no more problems because X. Buy X.” Testimonials are good because they get to the point quickly. They do not pretend to be something else and when you see a testimonial you know what to expect from it.
Many clients want testimonials, and this is OK, because testimonials work. They can be more or less fun, but the bottom line is the same — establish the problem, show the solution, explain how it works through its features, try not to bore the viewer to death on the way.
The problem is that in order to create this kind of testimonials you need to have the client on your side and willing to go an extra mile for a better result.
But in general, testimonials are pretty straightforward and simple.
Another category of explainers is the essay. This is a more complicated but also a much more rewarding kind of explainers.
And when you don’t have the luxury of both a voiceover and a cool visual style an essay can be a real life-saver.
So essay resembles a testimonial except it does not always set up a problem in the beginning. Instead, it captures your attention with a story or a question. It invites you to see what’s next not because it promises a solution, but because it promises a plot and maybe even a little bit of drama. Later along the storyline essays become testimonials (as they show the product or explain how it works) but the overall mood and approach are very different. Essays are more appealing and less annoying.
Finding the proper form for your script is critical and depends on many factors but make sure you chose what you’re going to write before you start.
Visualizing the visual
After you got your voiceover (or at least the structure of the script) you can start sketching up the visual. If you have the visual style set up by the client or an art director on the project – great, it makes thing simpler. But you should always be on a lookout for awesome visual directions. This will spark your creativity and imagination as often visual style proposes transitions and animation types that can help you visualize your script.
The best way to start writing a good visual for your script is by writing a bad visual for your script. Write down the most cliché visual you can imagine for your voiceover. Make it terrible. Let it use the saddest images possible – from piggybanks and green checkmarks to idea-lightbulbs and quickly spinning clocks. Do it in order to get it out of your way and to reset your RAM.
When this is done — go nuts. Write a visual that’s completely impossible and complicated. With a lot of character animation and complex transitions. Fill it with everything cool you’ve ever seen. And then forget it too.
Ultimately your goal is to be able to do this exercise in your mind after some practice. At some point, there will be no need to write a bad and the over-the-top script out. You’ll just know how they’re done.
When you complete these two exercises — write something that’s in the middle. For that, you’ll need two things: a solid voiceover (or titles) script split into separate scenes and hours and hours or watching at someone else’s work. Take a habit of spending at least 20 minutes a day at Vimeo or Behance watching at what other people do. Make notes, collect best examples, collect worst examples, think about how you would approach this or that project.
And the last but not least. To learn something, you need practice.
The best practice for someone who wants to write scripts for motion graphics or explainer videos or any scripts, in general, is to write-write-write. If you have no brief to write for — invent it. Write an explainer script for a pen, your hiking shoes, a TV — anything. Share your work with someone who’s not going to be merciful and embrace the pain of feedback.
I really hope this helps.
Erica Jabali is a freelance copywriter who has written over 400 whiteboard animation scripts for hundreds of companies, including Microsoft, Energizer, NOW Foods, Disney, Booz Allen, Johnson & Johnson and more. She also writes a lot of blog posts for clients and on her own lifestyle blog
Having written hundreds of whiteboard animation video scripts for companies all over the world, I can honestly say that the most important element is to think like your target consumer. The reality is: they only care about themselves. Trim out anything that your target viewer would not find so compelling that they have to keep watching. Too many times, there is the temptation to share a lot of background or detail that is only interesting to the passionate people who created the company or product in the first place. But, if those details do not directly translate to a personal benefit to the viewer, they don’t belong in the video.
Once you’ve trimmed the fat of what you think you need in the script, boil that content down to just the key ingredients that appeal to the viewer and answer their most important questions. Then, you shape the key points into something engaging, informative and fun. Very few videos need to be completely serious. Almost any topic is improved with the use of wit and humor. Of course, what is considered funny can be subjective, so always be mindful of your audience and their culture.
Excellent whiteboard animation videos are the product of voiceover and art that work together, playing off each other, to bring a story to life. They cannot be written separately or seen as different parts. If a script is written entirely independently of an art story, there will also be a disconnect in the final product. See these two parts as one and visualize the animation while you are writing. If any part of the writing is causing the art story to suffer, or vice versa, keep editing until they work in perfect harmony.
Strengthen your call to action at the end of the video by reminding viewers why they should act. So, for example, instead of writing “Call today to learn more”, reiterate the benefit and write “Call us today to save time and start coming home to a cleaner apartment.” That sounds much more motivating, don’t you think?
Free Download: Explainer Videos From A to Z
Everything you need to know about explainer videos to create successful marketing content