Stop, Don’t Shoot!! Until…

Jul 20, 2009

Regarding how to script, what you have to say? Is there a method that the professionals use? -Richard

When you say “scripting”, it can mean a bunch of different things, depending on the type video. If you are just doing what’s called a “talking head” — you, on camera, like a news anchor at a desk — a typical Vlog (video blog) — then you just need a narrative script. If you are producing a video with graphics, supporting video images (called “broll”), titles, voice-over, music, etc., then of course the scripting process is more complex. In this case, the basic script format is two columns, one for video and one for audio.

But, let’s stick with basics for now, as you are just getting started, and talk about scripting a Vlog (video blog)…..

In this case, the format of the script is not complex at all, and will basically be just what you want to say and how you want to say it. OK, duh! But if you think that is so simple, then you must also think that copywriting for your squeeze page and sales emails is simple too. NOT!! We all know those things are not so simple, but are a skilled combination of art and science.

The beauty of producing Vlogs is that it can be done more informally, with flaws you would not want in written copy, and so it’s often much faster to produce a Vlog than a text blog. As well, delivery and tone of voice, face and body language, and many other factors make video a superior communication platform.

The challenge is making it look simple and off the cuff when you are on camera, and doing it in as short an amount of time as possible, while keeping people’s attention and moving them to take some type of action (physical, mental, emotional, or some combination). Even with professional pitchmen, this “naturalness” on camera is best realized from some level of pre-planning. The bottom line is you need to know what the purpose of your video will be, and how you will effectively communicate it, BEFORE your turn on the camera. You need to be prepared via some form of scripting. How prepared is for you to determine, but it needs to be enough so that you can look comfortable and confident on camera, your personality will shine forth, and you will build that all important TRUST with your viewers.

I’ll get into more detail in future posts, but my basic advice for you is:

1) Decide what it is you want say: have one main message and up to three sub-messages/info items that support the main message, and summarize at the end. (Don’t assume people are paying full attention, or even if they are, that they are smart enough to follow the path you are trying to take them on. So, keep it simple, easy to follow, and somewhat repetitive.)

2) Break the message down into key points/keywords.

3) Write down those key points on an index card that you will reference during the recording, or write them big on one sheet of paper and have them next to the lens of your camera so you can see them without looking away. (Even the pros use cuecards and teleprompters, why do you think you are so special?!)

4) Turn on the camera and record it a few times until you get it good (it will never be perfect (so get over that aspiration) — but it’s OK to do it a few times to get it somewhat smooth)

5) Pick your best take, post it, and move on. Blogging is a message in progress, it’s a conversation. If you feel you missed something, then just cover it in the next post. “Don’t get it perfect, get it going!” is awesome advice that I, as a pro video guy, am personally struggling with. Set a time-limit for your research, scripting, and recording phases (and editing phase, if you are doing that) of each video, stick to that limit, and get it uploaded!!

I didn’t get into the components of what makes an effective marketing video, as that wasn’t your question, and this post is already long. I’ll blog on that in the future.

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