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Annex 3 - Explainer Video Script

1. Keep the explainer script short

The length of your script will depend on your audience. A captive audience in an auditorium endures about six to eight minutes before beginning to drift. An Internet surfer popping by your website tends to check out after two to four minutes depending on how compelling your material is and whether or not she needs your product.

2. Put your message in the first 30 seconds

Reduce the message of your entire video to one sentence and get that sentence somewhere in the first 30 seconds of the script. This tells the audience what to pay attention to in the video.

3. Speak directly to the audience

The easiest way to speak to an audience is to use personal pronouns like “you” and “your”. Another way to engage your audience is to show them things they care deeply about. Don’t waste time telling your audience what they already know. Focus instead on what they need to know about you that will bring them to trust you and to take the action you want them to take. Don’t talk down to your audience or over their heads.

4. Find the right tone

Have a mental picture of your audience in mind when selecting the tone of your video. Write a one sentence summary describing why you are making the video and what you want the viewer to do at the end of it. This will suggest a tone for your finished video. You may decide you want a talking head in an office, a brief classroom style presentation, a light hearted romp, a bold outdoorsy documentary or a colorful animated review.

If you have story-driven characters, imagine real people as mental place-holders. It’s much easier to write realistic dialogue if you are writing for someone whose habits and mannerisms you know well. The tone you choose for your video will then drive your choice of setting, narrator or cast, tempo, pace and type of dialogue for the script.

5. Tell a story

Most explainer video scripts present a problem (Bob is tired), introduce a solution (Bob drinks organic, sugar-free, calorie-free, nutrition-free energy drink), explain how it works (OrganiBrew is all natural...blah blah blah), and drive viewers to action (buy OrganiBrew at your local gas station).

Dry facts, statistics and definitions are okay in the classroom, but unless your video is for students imprisoned in a classroom, avoid lifeless content whenever possible. Instead, use the power of the screen to show your audience actual people you work with or people who have benefited in some way from your work or from similar work by others. Human beings create stories about themselves to help them define who they are. The better you tell stories about yourself, the more likely your viewers are going to understand what you or your organization is offering and what it can do for them.

6. Use humour wisely

Humour is a great tool for story-telling so long as the humour supports your message. Make sure your attempts at humour fit seamlessly within the story you’re trying to tell, and keep in mind that misplaced or poorly timed humour can be distracting and may actually put off your target audience.

7. Pace yourself

Keep dialogue to between 125 and 150 words a minute. And while you might be able to speak 200 or more words per minute on your own, keep in mind that the voiceover needs time to breathe, allowing viewers to absorb what you’re saying (this is especially true if the content is particularly dense or technical in nature). Machine gun fire dialogue quickly overwhelms viewers, causing abandonment, and decreased comprehension.

When producing an explainer video, don’t skimp on the script. Take the time necessary to do it right. Get feedback from friends and co-workers, and make sure it’s engaging and easy to understand.

Adapted from How to Write a Killer Explainer Video Script By Andrew Follett, Founder and CEO at Video Brewery