How To Write A Script For An Explainer Video

Article by Joe Forte, co-owner and producer at D-MAK Productions, a video production phoenix company.

Video Production Phoenix – An explainer video is a short, targeted video explaining a product, service, or process to a viewer — usually a consumer. Explainer videos are great at building customer interest, forging new relationships, and creating a sense of trust and authority. But they can also be a challenge. An explainer video isn’t a direct marketing video. It needs to be informative, interesting, and nuanced, and it has to explain its information with conciseness and clarity.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for making a great script for your next explainer video.

Start With the Basics

Begin with an outline. What is the problem that this product or service is meant to solve? How does it work? What are the end results? Your outline should be short and sweet, hitting the major points of your product or service, and prompting the customer to learn a little more. Don’t get too detailed with your outline. An explainer video should be brief, though how brief depends on the industry.

A product targeted at a general retail consumer should have an explainer video that’s less than a minute. A product targeted towards business-to-business sales might have an explainer video that’s several minutes (or more) long.

Think about what you most want to convey about your product or your service in your explainer video. What are the most common questions people have about your products? Are there any concerns that they often need addressed? What are the things that interest them the most, which they like the most? You want to find a common footing, to begin with.

Capture the Voice

One of the miracles of video is that it’s able to capture brand voice and brand identity. Rather than creating a dry explainer video, make sure that your brand’s voice and identity are front and center. Whether you want your explainer video to be wry and humorous or insightful and inspired, make sure that this tone comes out as you write the script.

Take some time to think about the person watching the video, and how you want to interact with them. How would you like them to feel once they’ve viewed your video? What types of emotions do you want to inspire? The video is as much about its content as it is about its tone.

Not only is it important to capture brand voice, but also it’s important to keep it consistent. Remember this as you create other marketing videos: your overall brand should show through in all the types of video you produce, even if each video has a slightly different tone depending on its focus. 

Don’t Forget the Visuals

As you write your script, don’t forget to note the visuals of the script. Will there be infographics in some areas? Animations? What things are best described in audio, and what things are best described in a visual format?

The beauty of video is that it’s able to combine many types of media, so don’t be afraid to insert other clips and photographs as needed. Collect media that you want to include in this explainer video (such as manufacturing clips, “How It’s Made”-style clips, or behind-the-scenes shots), and note where you want to place them in the script.

Some explainer videos are live action shot. Others are animated. Still, others have a mix of both. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice, but you should make the choice fairly early on in the process. Your script will describe what’s happening on the screen, not just the audio. Speaking of audio…

A Script is More Than Just Words

Keep in mind that music, musical scores, and sound effects are all part of a script, too. If there are ways that you can have additional influence and impact using sound, you should note it in your script. This will make production later much easier.

Music and sound tend to build emotion in video. In an explainer video, you likely don’t need to rely much on music, but sound and sound effects may be important to drive your ideas home.

Test It Out

Sometimes the things we write don’t come out right when spoken. Before you finalize your script, read the entire thing from start to finish. This will give you two things. First, it will give you your run time. If it’s too long, pare it down. When you read something in your head, you often read faster than if you’re speaking it naturally, and that can lead to a script that’s simply too long.

Second, you’ll be able to find phrases or words that you stumble on. There are things that are easy to think but that are hard to articulate, in a “tongue twister” fashion. You’ll see that natural speech flows differently from written speech.

Storyboard Your Video

Once your video script has been completed, take the time to storyboard it. Storyboarding is the process of drawing out each scene and its words, so you have a better idea of how the finalized video will look.

If you’re working with a video service, you can ask them to storyboard the script for you. Storyboarding will often give you a better impression of how the explainer video is going to flow and will give you opportunities to fix any pacing or flow issues before the video itself has been shot. 

Focus Test

Before shooting your video, consider focus-testing your script and your storyboard. Have people close to your customer demographics read your script, and ask them a few important questions.

  • What information did you gain?
  • How did this make you feel?
  • Do you have any questions?
  • Would you trust this product?

Consider their responses carefully. It can be hard to tell how any given audience will react to media. This will give you valuable information you can use to tweak your script.

Creating an explainer video can be a challenge. Not only do you need to understand your material inside-and-out, but you’ll also need to be able to communicate complex information well. But once you’ve achieved this, you’ll have a video that people will want to watch, and that will pique their interest.

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