I thought this was an interesting article by Rick Dearborn of MarketVid (April 13, 2012) as I have seen various situations of companies looking to save on budget by writing their own scripts and the results having something of a limiting impact on the final video.
Most marketers are already good writers. They’re involved in carefully choosing words and crafting marketing messages all day long. But writing a script to be read on camera is a whole different experience that requires a few new skills. Here are a few useful tips that will help you create scripts that area easier to read aloud:
1. READ IT ALOUD. No matter what you’ve written, read it out loud to yourself. See how it flows and feels, and make changes accordingly. Then put it down for a while, and do it again. You will be surprised at the edits that will be needed.
2. CONTRACTIONS. When writing we rarely use contractions, but they’re commonplace in our speach. When writing to be read aloud, contractions are essential. After you write your script, read it over an look for places where contractions make sense. Here is an example that shows what a difference contractionscan make:
Before: “Now you are ready to get started. We are sure you aready know there is a best way to begin. But, if you do not, here is how you can start. You will need to write a draft first and you will need to read it aloud. It is always a good idea to start that way.”
After: “Now you’re ready to get started. We’re sure you already know there’s a best way to begin. But, if you don’t, here’s how you can start. You’ll need to write a draft first, and you’ll need to read it aloud. It’s always a good idea to start that way.”
3. COMMAS. Commas make good gramatical sense, but in most cases they don’t work well when reading aloud. The reason is, when we read aloud we feel we need to pause when we see a comma. The gramatical use of a comma does not necessarily result in the best phrasing when reading aloud. After you write your script, take all the commas out and read it aloud. Where it feels natural to pause, put dashes in instead of commas. Then read aloud again and adjust as necessary.
4. UNDERLINING. If there are particular words you need to emphasis when reading aloud, underline them. But, don’t go crazy with it. Use underlining sparingly, only on the words that are really important. Some techniques recommend single, double, and triple underlining of words all through your script to ensure different levels of emphasis. If you go crazy with underlining, your reading can sound mechanical. It should be natural and real. I recommend using underlining only for the words that really matter.
5. PARAGRAPH PHRASING. Don’t hesitate to break your script up into smaller, shorter paragraphs – it will help you phrase the concepts when reading aloud. I’ts ok to even make a paragraph out of a single sentence.
6. FONT SIZE AND LINE SPACING. It really helps to write the script in a larger than usual font, one that is easy to read aloud. I also recommend greater than normal line spacing. I like 24 point Arial font, with 1.5 to 2.0 line spacing. That gives you a little space to enter hand written underlining or other small changes. (But, don’t get too carried away with hand written edits on your script. They can get hard to read. It’s always better to make them in the computer and print out a new copy, if you can).
7. ALL CAPS. When you write a script in ALL CAPS, you can focus more on the emphasis of the meaning, rather than structural emphasis. And, it’s just easier to read aloud.
Variations of the seven tips above have been used by professionals for years. Incorporating them will enhance anyone’s ability to perform on camera.