How to Write an Explainer Video Script

March 11, 2019 xplayer

When talking about writing a script for a video, most think of effective ways to visually showcase a product, be it animation, the presentation of the demo, etc. In fact, while what’s happening on screen is extremely important, an explainer video script can make or break a video.

This is due to the fact that most people are multi-taskers – they tend to listen to videos rather than watch them. Thus, what’s said is in a way even more important than what’s happening on screen.

A strong video script matters a great deal in 2019. Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for writing a perfect text to accompany the visual, there are certain practices experienced writers follow. In this blog post, we’ll go over the main tips and strategies that’ll help business owners explain how great their product really is. You’ll find a PDF template for explainer video scripting as well. You can easily customize it to your business to make it appear unique to you.

See a brief summary of the article in our video.

What is an explainer video?

In a nutshell, an explainer video is a short clip that explains a product (service) in a short, concise way. Businesses try out various styles – animated videos, the demonstration of the product with a voice-over, a clip with physical action. Explainer videos are known to be educational as well as business-oriented. There’s a specific set of characteristics that makes these videos different from any other video content:

  • Explainer videos are short. They are extremely straightforward, usually limited to 90 seconds.
  • Simplicity. There’s no complicated five-act structure. The three main questions answered are “What”, “How”, and “Why”.
  • Voice-overs (VO). Using a VO instead of having actors speak is a defining characteristics of explainer videos.
  • Music. Light tunes are a common way to bring something dynamic to simply reading off text.
  • The use of branding colors. It’s recommended to incorporate the brand palette during the explainer video to increase the level of brand recognition.

When it comes to explainer video script writing, it’s highly recommended to keep a particular target audience in mind. Knowing how to define the needs of the audience and explaining the solution in a way that’s familiar to a viewer is crucial for explainer videos.

Example: we were asked to create an explainer video for kitchen rent service Pilotworks. The service allows you to rent a kitchen space of every level and any specialty. The idea is that anyone may have a set of professional tools for an affordable price.

Why explainer video script matters

At a first glance, it might seem like there isn’t anything particularly difficult about writing an explainer video script. In reality, it can be quite challenging, especially given the fact that the art of writing short scripts for business-oriented videos is not widely discussed. A fair share of business owners tends to underestimate the importance of a script for explainer videos. If you think that writing an explainer video script is not a big deal, here are a few things to consider that might change your mind.

  • It’s hard to spot a good script but easy to catch a bad one. There are certain industry standards when it comes to writing. If your voice-over doesn’t seem to follow a structure, tell a story, etc., it’ll be extremely obvious compared to what big brands like Slack or Dropbox are doing to build their content.
  • Explainer videos are short, it’s important to have a script to showcase the product to the fullest extent possible. As mentioned above, explainer videos rarely exceed 90 seconds. It’s hard to improvise a story that will showcase the product in such a short timeframe. Writing an animated explainer video script, however, you can edit and structure your video in the most concise way possible.
  • A good explainer video script will decrease the number of questions and emails support agents of your company receive. Think about all the typical questions regarding the product you get every day via email, phone, or social media. Answering all of them in a single video is an opportunity to save a ton of time for both yourself and your clients.
  • In an explainer video, the script determines the visual. Knowing what the voiceover will be talking about, you’ll get a better understanding of what’s happening on screen. With the text outlined, you wouldn’t need a storyboard as you’ll have a better idea of what’s going to happen during each second of the video.

How do you structure your script?

While the story is the foundation of your explainer video, due to the lack of time and resources, it’s important to have an outline as well as the general idea of how the video will unfold.

Seeing that a video script is still creative work, you can be inventive in terms of the structure. Still, there are certain ways to structure a script that are proven to be the most efficient in the market.

Step 1. Decide on the video length

If you manage to put the essence of your video in 60 seconds, consider this a success. Essentially, it would mean dividing a story into a 15-second introduction, 30-second body with the main product presentation, and a 10-second conclusion.

Step 2. Choose a way to build your narrative (problem-solution, process overview, etc.)

As mentioned above, the video is a creative medium where there are no rules or carved-in-stone structures. While there’s enough space for creativity, most videos still fall into two categories:

  • Problem-solution. At the beginning of the video, the pain point of the audience is identified. Later, the product is presented as a solution and a way to solve the problem.
  • Process overview. “How to” and education videos mostly fall into this category.

Step 3. Outline the story in 5-6 sentences

After there’s an overall idea as to what your story might be and the way to tell it, don’t rush into writing the script. Better yet, go with a short 5-6 sentence outline with the main ideas you’d want the story to explore and deliver. Later, it’ll come in handy while writing an actual script.

Step 4. Write a draft of the script

Drafting is a step that follows the outline directly. How are the two different? In the second case, you’re writing as if it were an actual script. However, as it’s your first (or, as many say, ‘vomit’) draft, there’s no need to pay special attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Later, this draft will be edited and cut a few times but it’s crucial to see if the structure works and to get the initial ideas out of your system.

Step 5. Make edits, especially when it comes to the language

It’s highly important for the final draft of your script to be concise and simple. That’s why when it comes to making edits, you need to pay attention to the language of the script. Avoid filler words (there’s no time for them), difficult terms (they are often challenging to pronounce as well), and repetitions (it feels redundant to a listener and, as mentioned before, every second is too precious to waste it on repetitions).

Step 6. Adjust the script to a voiceover

The last crucial step in structuring a script is adapting the written text to the voiceover. Here’s what it can mean:

  • Replacing words that are difficult to pronounce with those that are easier;
  • Adjust the details to the age/gender of the voiceover so that it sounds as if they’re talking from their own experience;
  • Judging by the speed of the narrator, you might have to shorten the script as well.

Tips for writing an explainer video script

It takes a lot of skill sets to create an explainer video script – you should know a lot about writing itself, video production and editing, and marketing. However, writing a concise text for a video is not quantum physics – you can pull it off with nothing but enthusiasm and perseverance. If you need a few tips to make the writing process easier, we’ve got you covered.

Here are the top hacks that are known to prove useful for business owners when writing for explainer videos.

  • Evoke emotions. Even if you are not too skilled with language, there are still ways to make people feel about the project at least somewhat close to the way you do. Using jokes or the element of surprise, combining short words and long ones, showing the truth behind your words by adding statistics – these are all ways to make people feel more excited about your product or eager to solve the problem they might be struggling with.
  • Show, don’t tell. An unwritten rule of cinema scripts is going strong when it comes to explainer videos as well. When there’s a possibility of driving home a point by exploring it on screen, there’s no need to describe it via text. In fact, make sure that text and video complement, not substitute each other.
  • Record yourself while reading a script to know if it sounds well via a voiceover. Also, this way you’ll find out for how long a video lasts and if you need to shorten the script.
  • Avoid cheesy cartoon narration. We all remember Microsoft’s Clippy, right? At one time it was a trend to use cartoons as mascots, but now, however, they no longer evoke the same type of endearment as they used to. On the contrary, your potential clients wants to be treated seriously – for that reason, it’s better to withhold from using cheesy cartoon-ish voices and characters.

Explainer video script PDF template

If you don’t know how to write a script for a video from scratch or you’re looking for inspiration to start a draft, take a look at this explainer video script sample. It has the structure laid out – all you need to do is insert the names and the details about your product. With this explainer video script template, you’re ready to move past the writing stage and start shooting or animating the video.

Conclusion

To make sure you use the medium of explainer videos to the best of its ability, put some time and effort into creating a flawless script. Pay attention to structuring your story, fitting all the main points into one minute.

The language of the script is highly important – be sure to keep it simple and concise. Keep your target audience in mind and make sure you make these people feel emotional about your product.

If you want a team of experienced creators to write an explainer video script for your explainer videos, Xplai is a place to go. Here, we will create an explainer video script for startups as well as big businesses. Over the years of working on explainer videos, we’ve learned exactly what it takes to explain complex concepts in simple yet powerful language.

Take a look at our portfolio to see what writers at Xplai are capable of. If you want us to write an explainer video for your awesome products, don’t hesitate to get in touch!