Close up of a video camera.

Writing for video is a different skill to creating a lecture or a presentation. Videos tend to be shorter than both of the aforementioned and, as such, require a more focused presentation of information.

Focus on key ideas

One way to approach creating (or tailoring) content for video is to focus on a few key ideas or statements. These ideas should help get the viewer engaged and interested enough to want to find out more about the subject.

Video is not an appropriate medium to tell the whole story. Instead, choose 3-5 key ideas (depending on the length of video you wish to create, (each idea should have about a minute spent on it)) and try to form them into a narrative. This doesn’t mean you have to tell an actual story with them. There should be a beginning, middle and end to the structure of the video. There should also be a way to sum up your ideas at the end of the video (that hopefully gets people to go off and research the topic themselves).

Close up of a pen and a notebook
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Write a script

A way to corral your ideas might be to write a script. A ‘script’ in terms of this blog, doesn’t necessarily mean a polished, finished written document. It could be bullet points or sentences scribbled onto paper. This will allow you to organise your thoughts and help you shape the structure of your video. You don’t have to stick to the script, word for word, when it comes to the recording day. Going through the process should be enough to make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Deliver your script and incorporate visual elements

Of course, writing the script is only half the battle. Video is a visual and aural medium, so you need to be able to deliver your script. This will help enthuse the audience and leave them wanting to find out more. There are a few ways to do this.

The first way to engage the audience is to practice (out loud) the content of the script. This may also help you refine and revise the content. A script is a living document and you shouldn’t be afraid to keep working on it until you have something that you can recite with confidence and fluidity. Some people find that speaking their thoughts out loud (and recording them) is actually a good way to begin writing for video.

The second way to gain your viewers’ attention is to think about other visual elements you can incorporate into your script. Can you do a demonstration? Can you use other video or images to help reinforce or explain your ideas? If you can use props in the video, then that is something that is going to help draw the attention of the viewer.

Close up of a microphone
Photo by Elliot Sloman on Unsplash

The end

How do you finish the video? Do you wrap everything into a neat bow or do you finish with a question? This goes back to the idea of ‘narrative’ and depends on how you’ve structured your content. Is your video arguing a point (if so you probably want to finish with the most compelling argument), or is it trying to make the viewer think? How do you point people in the right direction to find out more (finishing with a web link or similar onscreen)? How do you put the video in context? Where will it live and how will people view it?

Deciding what information can be provided around the video, can help define what needs to be delivered in the video itself.

  • Josef Brett, Multimedia Developer, Digital Learning
Writing for video

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