There’s a good reason why videos are increasingly popular. They’re easy to consume and they can be easy to make. You don’t need an expensive crew, equipment, and studio to produce a decent-quality video.
In a memorable video, the speaker communicates their message clearly and succinctly. Viewers are gripped by your call to action. They leap to their feet, ready to volunteer, write a check, fund a capital campaign. Inspired, they share your message with other equally generous people.
Ah, if it were only that easy…
Three Steps to Scripting a Memorable Video
We’ve all sat through DIY videos listening to speakers “uh” and “erm” their way along. The speaker seems lost and befuddled, wanders off into side-topics, gets distracted by the cat (or dog or kid) that comes into the room, and completely forgets their point.
Don’t be that person. Instead, follow these tips to script a memorable video.
Step 1: Grab Attention With a Powerful Title and Opening Sentence
You’ve only got a few seconds to lock in audience attention. Don’t waste this time. Hook your audience from the start. If you can’t communicate your message right away, nobody will bother watching the rest of your video.
Start with a powerful title that piques curiosity, then lure viewers in with an equally powerful opening sentence. Script the opening sentence to support your headline, then polish, polish, polish.
There are lots of free tools available to help.
- Check out this article from HubSpot. Yes, it’s about email subject lines. But you can use this approach to craft great video titles.
- Use the free headline analyzer at CoSchedule.com to craft a memorable video title. (CoSchedule’s headline analyzer will also score it for search engine optimization (SEO) characteristics. This will be useful if you post this video on your website.) Aim for a score of at least 70.
Step 2: Close Out On a High Note
It’s counterintuitive I know, but next, write your closing. Script a sentence or two that recaps and reinforces your message and includes a call to action. Polish until it shines. This is what people will likely remember, so it’s worth the effort.
- A call to action is the step you want your viewer to take. It may be to enroll in a workshop, donate generously, or volunteer. Whatever it is, make sure you clearly state that next step.
- Don’t forget to include your or your organization’s name and contact information (name, website, email, and/or phone number).
Step 3: Fill in With One to Three Talking Points
Now develop the body of your script. Here’s where you tell your story.
Most videos are short (30-90 seconds) — just enough time to make a couple of points. You need to decide whether you want to dive into one point or skim lightly over two to three points. The more you have to say about any one topic, the fewer topics you should have.
Jot down a few five or six words for each bullet point. As you write, hone your message so that it is tightly focused. If there’s a specific example you want to use, note it. Write down specific words or phrases you need to remember.
- Worried about forgetting something? Keep your notes on your smartphone or on a pad nearby and refer to them if you need to when you’re recording.
- Should you script every word or just use bullet points? I’m not a fan of scripting every word, but then I’m comfortable ad-libbing. See Bonus Tip 4 for my thoughts on this topic.
- What kind of details should you share? It depends on your audience. For example, bankers, accountants, and lawyers may be more comfortable with bare facts. Parents might want to know how your organization helped another child before they trust you with theirs. Medical professionals might not want to share anything because of patient confidentiality and safety concerns.
- A little humor can work, but it can be tricky to pull off. If you’re not a natural with humor, don’t force it. And if you are, avoid snark and irony. It may backfire if your audience is listening but not watching the video.
Bonus Step 4: Practice, But Don’t Practice Too Much
The key to any successful video is practice. Practice enough so you’re comfortable, but not so much that you sound rote. Be able to deliver your opening and closing as scripted, but allow yourself to explore your topic in different ways with each run through. You may discover something you forgot when scripting your talking points or find a better way to say it.
An old Toastmasters trick: memorize your opening and closing sentences. Know the major points you want to make, and let your words flow naturally as you move from open to close.
- It’s perfectly OK to get excited, even passionate about your subject. Just don’t overdo it. Worse, don’t fake it.
- If you’re recording your video yourself on your smartphone, your first recording or two (or more) may sound forced and unnatural. You may be nervous and you’ll probably make a couple of mistakes. That’s OK; this is practice, remember?
- The trick is to recognized when you’ve practiced too much. Be aware when you start feeling tired or sounding rote. Time for a break.
Do I Need a Videographer For a Memorable Video?
It depends. Some of the most effective videos I’ve seen were shot on smartphones with no set, script, or video team. They succeeded because the speaker was passionate about their topic and wanted to share that excitement with me, the viewer. Their energy shone through and pulled me in.
But there’s a good argument for paying a professional videographer. It takes a lot of pressure off you, especially if you’re not technically inclined. A professional videographer will add polish to the final product in ways you probably can’t.
I’m all for paying a pro to do something I can’t do as well or when it would just eat up my time. In the long run, a professional videographer can save you time, money, and a lot of frustration. They can be well worth the investment.
If you want to see a wide range of videos, from polished to home-made on no budget, check out Indiegogo. It’s a fundraising site for everything from start-ups to non-profits, and most projects include a video. Some are great, some are awful. Worth the look.
Oh, and don’t forget to lock the door to the room to keep pets out while you’re recording your memorable video.