YouTube started as the place to host your funny cat videos. Now, it’s one of the top platforms for content marketing and brand exposure.
You’re ready to go viral and watch those leads roll in!
There’s just one thing stopping you.
You have no idea how to write a good Youtube video script.
A minor setback in your plans no doubt. Like any other video you make, a solid script is the foundation of a successful video.
So, this post breaks down how to plan and write a great script for your Youtube videos.
Part 1 covers the planning and Part 2 focuses on the writing.
Let’s dive in!
Writing a script isn’t throwing words down in paper.
Scripts contain so much more than the dialogue.
Scriptwriters have a vision and they spell it out through scene descriptions.
The video production stages that follow interprets the script. They turn those words into a reality. With some adjustments.
Film is a collaborative effort.
Sure, It is possible to make a cool-looking video with a weak script. Action films like The Expendables are notorious for this. They’re all flash with no storyline.
Rolling Stone had this to say on why the Expendables was…expendable.
“Because Stallone forgets to include non-spazzy direction, a coherent plot, dialogue that actors can speak without cringing, stunts that don’t fizzle, blood that isn’t digital and an animating spirit that might convince us to give a damn.”
But at least the movie had all those big-named actors to attract interest.
Your Youtube video doesn’t have that going for it.
Part 1: How to Plan your Youtube Script
Start with The Purpose of Your Video
Why are you making this video?
Answering this question should be your first step in this entire process. It’s impossible to write an effective and engaging video script if you don’t know why you’re writing it.
Most videos are aiming to do one of the following:
If your video answers a “what” or “how” question, it’s informative. The main goal is to educate your audience and teach them something they don’t already know.
Types of informative videos:
- How-to or tutorial videos
- a product description
You have an opinion on something and you want your audience to share it. So, your video take a position and includes content to support that position.
Types of persuasive videos:
- product reviews
- explainer video
- any content that answers a “why” or “should” question.
This one is straightforward. You want your audience to enjoy what they’re watching. There is no selling, persuading, or teaching—the video is for fun.
There should always be one clear main purpose. That purpose will guide how you plan and write your script.
I want my video to “Go viral”
Going viral would be great for your video, your channel and your brand, but it’s not a purpose.
It’s a result.
Silly videos like the Nyan Cat when viral. Are you also trying to entertain your audience like Nyan Cat?
The key to success is to have quality content that people can’t wait to share.
Having a cat seems to give people a head start (Nyan cat, Keyboard cat, grumpy cat..there is clearly a pattern). But, being catless shouldn’t hold you back.
Figure out what your content should do for us: inform us, persuade us, or entertain us.
Make an Outline of Your Script
You’ve sorted out the purpose of your video. Fantastic. Now, is it time to write?
All good scriptwriting (like any other kind of writing) starts with a plan. Writing an entire script only to realize it’s rubbish is not a nice feeling.
So, make an outline to organize your thoughts and give yourself a general direction. You can see the progression of your story and avoid major logical discrepancies before you start the writing phase.
How do you start?
You’ve got your purpose and your target audience. Now, what do they need to hear from you?
Jot those thoughts down.
Take your brainstorming and write an outline. Organize your points into sections or “acts”.
Part 1: Hook
This is where you capture your audience’s attention and reassure them that your content is for them.
Let’s say your video is about time management strategies. Your hook can be: Pulling all nighters before a deadline is NOT good time management.
Part 2: The Problem or Conflict
If you’re informing or persuading your target audience, you need to set up the conflict. Think about why someone would watch your video.
To learn how to do something, like a tutorial video?
To see a comparison of products and learn which is best for them?
Take the reason and frame it as a problem or conflict.
Would anyone with good time management feel compelled to watch a video about time management strategies?
Doubtful. The people who would watch this would those who struggle with time management.
So, the problem should focus on the difficulty of managing time.
Part 3: The Solution
This is where you elaborate on the content you promised and resolve the issue or conflict you set up.
The solution could be a point-by-point description of how to solve a problem. Or, you can develop the narrative like a story.
Life is one big story anyway, and who doesn’t love a good story?
Let’s go back to my example of time management.
In this video, you should elaborate on time management strategies. Choose 2-3 and describe them concisely, how they work and why they work.
Part 4: The Call to Action
Ask people to take action!
Subscribe is the most common call to action on Youtube. Of course you can have other call to actions depending on the goal of your video.
Part 2: How To Write Your YouTube Script
Once you’ve written out your outline, it’s time to write! Keep that outline close though, you should refer to it often.
In my early script writing days, I was guilty of only writing the dialogue. I planned the visuals later in the storyboard stage.
This is bad practice and lazy scriptwriting. I have since scene the error of my ways (get it? Scene? I’m not funny, I know).
Jokes aside, the script is where the visual planning should begin. Write a description of the visuals between the dialogue or next to it.
I use a chart in a Google doc or an excel sheet with the visuals in one column and the audio in another.
Include Features of Spoken Language
Can you tell the difference between spoken and written language?
You bet you can! This is because spoken language follows different rules and patterns.
“Do you wanna come with us?” vs. “Do you want to come with us?”
The use of “wanna” mimics spoken English because we combine or omit sounds all the time. We call this connected speech.
“Wanna come with us?” vs. “Do you want to come with us?”
Although the subject “you” is omitted entirely, in a conversation, it’s still clear who is being spoken to.
It’s perfectly fine in spoken language. It’s highly ungrammatical in writing.
Spoken language also tends to use active voice whereas you can bounce between the two in writing.
You would write, “the farm was robbed last night” while you’d say “someone broke into the farm last night”.
What does this all mean?
Remember that your script will be narrated. After you finish writing, read your script. If you’re tripping over the grammar and the word choice sounds like a piece of writing, revise your dialogue.
Keep Your self-introduction Short
Why are you including a self-introduction?
Is it so you can establish authority?
Raise brand awareness?
The harsh reality is that people don’t care about who you are when they start engaging with your videos.
They care about what you can do for them. With that in mind, ask yourself whether you truly need to introduce yourself or not.
This Hubspot video informs us about video conferencing fatigue and what we can do to overcome it.
The narrator doesn’t introduce herself or Hubspot, yet no value is lost.
That’s because the content’s value shines through. This video is:
- Relevant to the target audience
- Comes with actionable steps
Hubspot does put an “About” section in the description box, which is great. For people who aren’t familiar with Hubspot and want to know more, the information is right under the video.
Now, back to you.
If you are going to have an introduction, keep it short.
When your purpose is to sell, focus on selling the value you offer rather than who you are as a company.
What about influencers?
Influencers blur the line between professional and personal content.
They are their brand, or at least their lifestyle is.
But, when you watch an influencer’s video, they still keep their intros short.
They have separate videos dedicated to “getting to know them”.
Regardless of whether you’re an influencer or a business, there has to be interest in what you offer first.
Then people become interested in you and your story. As a business, your origin story is powerful. Who you are, what you do and your values will be part of your success.
This information doesn’t belong in every video you make though.
So, save your story for a channel video or a dedicated “About me” clip
Edit your Script
Read your script before you start filming! There are edits waiting to be made!
Like all writing, scriptwriting is a process. Once you read your script out loud, you’ll hear where those edits should be.
Go Plan and Write your Script
Planning: Know your purpose and outline your structure.
You should lead with conflict, offer a your solution and ask for action at the end.
Once your planning is complete…
Write: Remember that your script must reference visuals. It should also be conversational. This is a script after all, not a blog post.