Explainer videos are fantastic communication tools for brands—if they tell the right story. A good explainer video can’t succeed without a good explainer video script. In this blog post, I’m going to give you my best tips on how to write a killer script for your explainer video. Before you start any video production project, you must be clear on the purpose for your video. There’s no point in making a video, just for the sake of making one, unless you just want to have fun. But if it’s for your business then you really want to have a clear execution plan for your ideas and what you’re trying to communicate.
Why do I want to tell this story? – Know your goal to help anchor your messaging and write an effective script.
What’s my angle? – In an explainer video, you’re either filling in an information gap or expanding your viewer’s knowledge. How are you making their life easier?
Why will people care? – Who are you speaking to, and what do they want? What are their pain points, and how are you solving them? This knowledge is necessary to help you tailor your message for them.
PRO TIP: BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
Is your character eating “at a restaurant” or a “five star restaurant?” While it may not seem important, specificity is key in a successful explainer video script. Not only will it enhance your explainer video. It’ll also give you a preliminary budget. When you break down your script, carefully go through each scene and determine what cast members, props, etc you need to make your explainer video come to life.
Even if you have world-class visuals, a weak script will sabotage your explainer, making it boring at best and confusing at worst. (There’s a reason a beautiful cover can’t save a bad book.) Sadly, many brands underestimate just how crucial an explainer video script is.
A strong story determines the success of your explainer video because it drives both the audio and visual components. I find that many brands struggle with writing an effective script. A good explainer video script takes work. Explaining a complex or detailed concept is hard enough. When you have to distill that concept, tell an engaging story, show off your brand personality, and deliver a strong takeaway—all in an incredibly limited word count. A good explainer script is usually broken down into four parts. These four parts are the problem, solution, how it works and finally a call to action.
You want to set up the problem as quickly as possible in your explainer video script, in no more than fifteen seconds. Create a clear outline of the problem your audience is facing. – Then create a character that embodies your ideal prospect. Take into consideration, all the demographic data, ethnicity, and language of this prospect. Are they male, or female? How old are they, what’s their ethnicity? Do they have an accent? This character should mirror your ideal prospect.
Clearly described the problem that they have. The idea here is to get your audience to connect with the problem or issue. You want your audience to see themselves in the particular problem situation. Your antagonist is the problem your product solves. For Airbnb, it’s not being able to find cheap hotels. You want to do all this within 30 words or less of the script.
EVERY PROBLEM HAS A SOLUTION
All hope seems lost. But there’s hope. This is the classic way to pose your company product or service as the hero that makes your audiences life easier. Make the problem clear and relatable, then use the story arc to make a natural transition to the solution. When you provide the solution, be sure to state clearly what your product does, but not the how. To emphasis this pivot, the best explainer videos change the music and camera to reflect the optimistic tone of the explainer video script.
Providing the solution is not the same as explaining the product. It may seem like you should explain all the ins and outs at this moment, but don’t. Just get across the what. It gives the viewer something concrete to latch onto. It also instills curiosity as to how you’re going to make good on what you just laid out.
DISTILL YOUR EXPLAINER VIDEO STORY
Explain Like I’m Five. The concept is simple: Break down an idea with the languagE you would use if your were explaining it to a 5-year-old. Even if your viewer is highly educated, the goal of an explainer is to deliver information succinctly. Keep the story as simple as possible, but don’t condescend. We like to think of an explainer video script as a children’s book for adults: interesting, engaging, and easy to digest. A few tips that can help here:
Try to write your story outline in five sentences – Write as though you’re speaking to a friend or family member. We tend to speak far more colloquially than we write, which is helpful when writing for voice over. When in doubt, keep it simple.
Bring Your Viewer Into the Story – So your product delivers information packets through subterranean sea cables? That’s nice. All someone wants to know is that they get quicker Internet. Look for opportunities to make the narrative personally relevant and relatable; it will be easier to capture and keep their attention. As your write, remember to:
Speak directly to your audience – Look for opportunities to put your viewer in the driver’s seat. Write in second person voice. Use their language. If they are accountants, your language should reflect that. But avoid unfamiliar terms or cumbersome words that might confuse people.
Add Emotion – You may want to make them laugh or tug on your viewers’ heartstrings; either way, the more you elicit an emotional response, the more engaged they will be. Hook them from the start. Effectively communicating your brand voice is also an important point here. People want to form an emotional bond with a human, so showcase your personality and position yourself as a helpful and approachable friend.
Keep the length short – Brevity is key when writing an explainer video script. The longer it is, the less impact it will have. Watch your word count. 135 words per minute is a comfortable pace. Read your script aloud, or have someone else read it out loud, and check the pacing of overall message.
Adjust for Voice Over – People who write outstanding blog posts often forget that video is an entirely different medium. Writing for video sounds easy enough; that’s the trouble. While some explainers do not use voiceover, yours probably will; your writing needs to account for that.
The language you use should roll off the tongue – Avoid complicated words. Voice over artists are pros, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen a cut sabotaged by an awkward pronunciation or clunky word that interrupts the story flow. Be sure to review your copy for grammar and ease of readability.
Show, Don’t Tell – Do not explain what you can show. This should be the golden rule for all kinds of writing. Whether you’re a first grader or a master author. According to Psychology Today, our brains process videos 60,000 times faster than text—take advantage of this!
YOUR CALL TO ACTION
Keep it short, but effective – Your “Call to Action” should be short, but effective. Just like this sentence. Restate the problem and your solution again in one concise sentence. Clearly state your product’s name at least twice. Point us in the next direction with a website link.
Kill your favorites, as they say. Nobody gets a script right on the first draft, so get ready to write and rewrite. Keep sentences short. Make sure the tone is appropriate. Craft a cohesive narrative from start to finish, and cut anything that distracts. Showcase your expertise. There’s a reason someone clicked on your explainer video. They want to learn something.
Demonstrate your knowledge at every touchpoint to position your brand as a trusted source. Deliver that value, and your viewers will thank you. And there you have. Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion on anything you feel we missed in this post.