Explainer Videos, Explained

November 10, 2016

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Chris Lavigne


Explainer videos are nearly ubiquitous these days, but what makes one succeed and another fail?

Sure, great visuals help, a solid voice over is a prerequisite, and a snappy background track can do wonders. But more than any of those things, a convincing script is the foundation and the most important component of any explainer video.

Without a compelling script that shares your message with clarity and brevity, you’re wasting your time and money. So here’s a quick guide to help you get started with writing your next successful explainer video script.

Getting started

  • Establish a small team - The key word here is “small.” Find one or two people who can join you on this journey. The fewer cooks in the kitchen, the better.
  • Fill out a creative brief - Once you have your team in place, fill out a creative brief to get clarity on your objectives for the video. Need some inspiration? Start by downloading this creative brief template.

Need some inspiration?

Start by downloading this creative brief template.

  • Come up with a concept- As soon as you’ve completed the brief, put on your creative thinking cap and formulate some creative ideas that can serve as the themes for your explainer video.

Writing the script

Most explainer videos follow a standard framework. This doesn’t mean your video needs to follow the exact same flow, but you’ll likely want to hit on each of these sections at one point or another during the video.

  • The problem - Establish the problem or pain point your customers are dealing with.
  • Solution and benefits - With the stage set, introduce your solution, ideally in a single sentence. Focus on two or three key benefits. (Remember, people buy benefits, not features.)
  • How it works - Tell the viewer how your solution works, and try to keep it brief. An explainer video is meant to be the hook, not the whole enchilada.
  • Wrap it up - Bring things to a close by tying back to your introduction and restating the solution.
  • Call to action - Give your viewers a final action to perform once the video has concluded.

Tips and tricks

  • Shorter is better - Try to keep your video to 2 minutes or less. Typically, 150 words comes out to around 60 seconds of video.
  • Don’t overthink it - If you’re feeling stuck, just try to get some words on the page. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Short and conversational - Keep things short and sweet. Use conversational language, and avoid jargon and buzzwords.
  • Benefits, not features- Focus on the benefits of your product or service, not just the features. People tend to buy based on emotion, not facts and figures.
  • Natural flow - Don’t just cut from one section to the next. Add transitions that help tie everything together to better tell your story.
  • Keep visuals in mind - When you’re writing, try to think about what you’ll be showing on-screen as each line is said. We recommend using two columns while writing — one for the script copy and one for visual ideas.

Finishing touches

Once you have a completed draft ready, it’s time to put on the finishing touches. This is where your script can go from good to great.

  • Share it with others - Share your script with your small team. You can even have an “outsider” take a look to give you a fresh perspective. Ask yourself, does it make sense? Is it clear and concise?
  • Do a table read - After you have some initial feedback, make any edits and schedule a table read. This is a chance to read your script out loud and get live feedback from others in the room.
  • Spice it up - Many scripts come out of the gate a little dry and lackluster. Now’s the time to spice things up with a few well placed adjectives and colorful (though not too colorful) language.
  • Final edits - With everyone’s input, make your final edits and polish up the finished product. Just remember that sometimes you can edit too much, so be aware of when to call it quits.

The next time you’re getting ready to produce a new explainer video, remember that the script is what matters most. Spend some extra time getting it right before moving on with the production, and it will pay dividends in the end. Happy scripting!

November 10, 2016

Topic tags

Chris Lavigne


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