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bmyers.com | Sample Articles | The 5 minute guide to writing a scri . . . Search 





The 5 minute guide to writing a script for your how-to video, Part I

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Here's how to quickly put together the perfect script for your next how-to video or DVD. Follow these guidelines and you'll be able to create the kind of production your customers will value.

Writing a How To video script

Most good how-to videos don't happen by accident. They are usually the result of careful planning, tight editing, and staying on focus.

Before I produce a video, I always write an outline script, designed to best cover the subject matter in a method that will both educate and entertain the audience.

My goal is to make sure the information provided doesn't bore or confuse. When the video is complete, I want the viewer to say, "Seeing it on video sure helped me understand how to do it. Now that I've seen it done, I can do it myself".

And at the end of the video, I want the viewer to ask, "I wonder if this guy has any other videos I can buy? This was great!"

Here's how to develop outline scripts that elicit the above responses.

The basic strategy

When I create a video, I try to pattern the 'flow' of the video to match that of a typical TV crime story. Basically I present in the first few minutes enough details to show what I will cover (an overview), then present several short video segments (usually no longer than five minutes each), to build a body of information that leads the audience to the ultimate solution to the problem.

In keeping with the flow of a TV program, I try to keep each segment close to the length of the segments of actual TV shows - rarely longer than 7 minutes without a break. Because most of our target market has grown up watching TV, they subconsciously expect TV to have a certain flow - and when they are forced to watch longer segments of video, they can become impatient or uneasy.

To prevent that, I present the information in short segments, providing a break between segments by using graphics to provide 'bookends' between each one.

Doing this helps keep the viewer's attention (based on the TV generation expectations of information flow) and keeps the video from getting boring or confusing. Plus, shooting a video in 5 minute segments is a whole lot easier than trying to shoot an entire video at once. (And it forces you to only include the most important and useful information in each segment - no going astray telling your life story when viewers actually are looking for information about how to paint a house.)

When I begin the task of writing the script outline, I usually follow this basic time line template:

Video Time LineSegment Topic LengthAction
1:0020 secondsPresented by and Title Graphics
1:202 minutes or lessWelcome and Introduction Message
This is where we welcome the viewer, tell who we are, explain what is on the video. I also provide any disclaimers about the information on the video (ie - "this is not a get rich quick business. It takes hard work and discipline, but it can be done".)
3:2015 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 1 Title
3:355 minutesSub Topic 1 Presentation
8:3530 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 1 Review Graphic
9:0515 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 2 Title
9:205 minutesSub Topic 2
14:2030 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 2 Review Graphic
14:5015 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 3 Title
15:055 minutesSub Topic 3
20:0530 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 3 Review Graphic
20:3515 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 4 Title
20:455 minutesSub Topic 4
25:4530 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 4 Review Graphic
26:1515 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 5 Title
26:305 minutesSub Topic 5
31:3030 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 5 Review Graphic
32:0015 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 6 Title
32:155 minutesSub Topic 6
37:1530 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 6 Review Graphic
37:4515 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 7 Title
38:005 minutesSub Topic 7
43:0030 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 7 Review Graphic
43:3015 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 8 Title
43:455 minutesSub Topic 8
48:4530 secondsDisplay Sub Topic 8 Review Graphic
49:0015 secondsDisplay In Review Title
49:152 minutesThanks for watching, for more information discussion
51:151 minuteDisplay Resource Links Graphics
52:1530 secondsDisplay Closing Graphics

As you can see by the above shooting/editing template, the length of each topic (currently set as 5 minutes) dictates the length of the video. If you exceed the five minutes allotted to each segment (and you will), your video will get longer quickly.

If segments get too long, they tend to get boring - so keep it tight.

Coming up

In part two of this article, I'll show how to develop a list of 6-8 subtopics on any subject, how to present those topics, and how to bookmark each subtopic with graphics.

In part three, I'll show how to edit all the pieces into a seamless flowing video you'll be proud of.


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·  The 5 minute guide to writing a script for your how to video, Part III
·  The 5 minute guide to writing a script for your how-to video, Part II


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