2 min read

Creating Sustainable Video Scripts

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The overwhelming majority of people we have surveyed in the software industry believe that there is a serious challenge with regards to producing product videos. The appetite for software videos is ever increasing across customer education, technical support, sales enablement, product marketing, and engineering.

Yet, when you ask the people responsible for producing product videos what processes and standards they have in place, the answer is typically focused around best practices on how to record, not how to write quality scripts that are sustainable for the future.

Marketers and UX writers understand the importance of writing standards from both a content strategy and user experience point of view. Writing quality video scripts is similar to writing quality technical documentation, but there are a couple of important differences to consider. 

Writing for video means avoiding a number of practices that typically get overlooked when Subject Matter Experts (SME) record videos themselves.

One of the most basic things is to avoid speaking in the first person.

“I’m now going to click on the Settings icon,” would be better as “Now let’s navigate to the Settings icon.”

The example below is also indicative of the difference between writing for reading (technical documentation, help articles, etc.) and writing for speech.

If you were guiding a user to a specific server name or entering a long text string, you could write the text directly at the point in the documentation where it should be.

“Choose the first host name in the drop down list.

host-1337.staging.videate.it

For video, you probably would just say something like “staging server” versus the entire hostname.

And it would be very typical to display the host name as a text overlay or other type of visual effect.

This means that the written script needs to be transformed into the following actions:

  1. Speak “Choose the first host name in the drop down list”
  2. Mouse to the drop down list and select the host-1337.staging.videate.it
  3. Display “host-1337.staging.videate.it” at the bottom of the screen

When SMEs manually record video (and re-record every time there is a new software release) there is always post-production necessary to edit out the ums, stammers, breathing and sentences starting over mid-sentence. And you also have to deal with issues of changes in voice. If the SME is no longer with the organization. Or even with the same SME it could be something like having a cold or lack of sleep (hangovers don’t help either ☺️). Post-production goes away and consistency is guaranteed with Videate.

While there are different ways you can produce one-off product videos, if you want a sustainable way to keep your videos up to date with every software release, it’s time to create writing standards for video scripts just like any other content. It’s absolutely required if you want to be able to translate videos into multiple languages. And the universe of SMEs who can write scripts is much greater than those who can consistently record high-quality videos.

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