A Complete Checklist on How to Write a Script for an Explainer Video
Developing an explainer video script is the key production stage. If you want your video to resonate with your audience, increase your conversion rates, and be memorable and clear, you need to pay attention to the writing process and improve your script.
Whichever explainer video types you choose and whichever animation style you like, keep in mind that the starting point of any marketing video is its concept and script. In turn, a high-quality script is the result of the consistent and well-coordinated work of many experts (not just scriptwriters).
In this article, we’ll walk you through how to write an explainer video script step-by-step, and also caution you against mistakes that could waste your time or budget.
1. Stages of Producing a Video Marketing Script
- Build a Video Script That Sells: Project Brief
- Finalizing Your Video Concept
- Build Explainer Video Script Structure and Search for Your Visual Style
- Build a Script for a Video and Add Timing
- Producing a Video Based on Your Script
2. Common Mistakes While Writing a Script for Your Video
- #1 Confusing written text with oral speech
- #2 Overwhelming terminology
- #3 Unrealistic timing
- #4 Not dividing your work on the script for an explainer video into small steps
3. Blue Carrot’s Experience and Our Explainer Video Script Checklist
Stages of Producing a Video Marketing Script
What should the ideal script for an explainer video look like? This question can’t be answered without knowing what marketing goal you are pursuing. That’s why audience research and brainstorming regarding the video concept (its key idea) always precedes the actual writing of an explainer video script.
It is important to understand that the script for the video is not only a list of lines that the characters speak in the frame. The script is also the document used by the producer, motion designer, client, and other members of the creative team.
A professional script contains narration text, information regarding scene lengths (timing), visual description and examples of images, screencast details, etc.
Build a Video Script That Sells: Project Brief
As an option, high-quality script writing can start by finding a video production studio and asking it to create a marketing video like an explainer video. The studio interviews the client to clarify several points about the client’s business, video goals, and the subject of the future video. This explainer video script checklist stage can be called ‘a client briefing and initial research.’
The video development brief is a list of questions for the client. Creative teams may use different approaches to prepare for the perfect video concept, so their briefs may vary. The Blue Carrot’s brief contains the following questions:
- Company details (the motto, mission, competitive environment, etc.)
- Video object and subject
- Video marketing goal
- How the future video will be used
- Target audience (age, gender, geography, profession, etc.)
- Suggestions for timing and style
- Style references, mood boards (these may be live-action videos or any other type of multimedia content)
Blue Carrot managers can also add specific questions to the brief. For example, customer insights or messages that you want to share using your video.
Sometimes the list of marketing explainer video script types may include simplified scripts consisting solely of a general description of scenes and voiceover texts. Such scenarios, as a rule, are written by the client’s team to explain their vision to the production company. In some cases, these scripts can be taken as the foundation for future professional ones.
Once the creative company receives the completed brief, they can start additional research to learn more about the subject of the future video, gain audience insights, and find the weak points of similar videos by the client’s competitors.
Finalizing Your Video Concept
Once your team obtains the list of client requirements, a description of your marketing goals, and target audience insights, they can start conceptualizing your future explainer video. Chances are, at this stage, you already have ideas for the video concept.
If you’ve seen any examples of an explainer video script, you may not have found the concept description there. That’s right – the concept is the backbone of the future video but not part of its script. The explainer video concept contains information on the following aspects:
- Story idea
- Key message
- Style references
To find a concept, they often arrange creative brainstorming that involves not just a production team but also the client. The team discusses all the proposed concepts and their aspects to develop the final concept. The result of this stage is a condensed description of the key explainer video features that can be used by a scriptwriter and other team members.
In most projects, if you work with a video agency like Blue Carrot (not just a video production studio), the production team is responsible for the video concept and creating the explainer video script structure. Sometimes, a creative agency is involved in explainer video concept development from scratch. This concept is later passed to a production studio.
Building Explainer Video Script Structure and Searching for Your Visual Style
Before starting to write a script for the explainer video, the scriptwriter develops and approves its structure and style with the client. Part of the structure can be described in the concept video. At this stage, the team complements it so they can string the final text that should sound in the frame on this skeleton, and create an accurate description of the scenes.
A typical explainer video script structure consists of the following blocks: problem — solution — details, and evidence — call to action and contacts. If your product is complex, or if you have atypical marketing goals, you may want to use an inverted scenario model.
In order to build an explainer video script that has a high conversion rate, you also need to think about the style of the future product. Remember, style is not a standalone characteristic of your future video, but rather a tool you need to achieve a marketing goal.
Keep in mind that the animation style and the style of your visual story are not the same things. In particular, animation styles are 3D, whiteboard, motion graphics, cutout animation, and others, and each of them can be used to create a comedy or horror style video.
Another important aspect to keep in mind when choosing a style and building the structure of your script: your choice affects the cost of the project and the timing of its implementation. For example, the classic explainer structure in cutout animation will take up to 6 weeks. However, it takes over 8 weeks to create 3D explainer videos with complex storytelling.
Build a Script for a Video and Add Timing
The next stage in script development for explainer videos is the detailing of the script based on the already prepared structure. At this point, the screenwriter writes the following things:
1. List of scenes, their duration, and sequence
2. Text for voice-overs and actors (narrative text)
3. Description of what should be on the screen (visual description), including a description of the characters and their actions
A perfect script looks like a table, in which the rows are responsible for the scenes, and the columns for things like timing, narration text, and visual description. If you anticipate that the video will be localized in the future, try to assess the differences between the localization languages and the original language of your video to avoid the risk that the scenes may be too long and too short for foreign text.
If you ask an experienced production team to create an explainer video script, you can expect them to indicate the relevant timing. Incorrectly calculating the duration of scenes is the most popular mistake that novice scriptwriters or company representatives make at this stage when they decide to create an example of an explainer video script on their own.
Remember that an effective script contains fewer words and a lot of useful information. After the first version of the script is ready, think about how you can remove any unnecessary components from it, including pleonasms and irrelevant details. Focus on the main message you’d like to share.
Make it a rule to approve the final script at the end of this step. Changes at a later stage may entail significant budget expenditures.
Producing a Video Based on Your Script
We have come close to the most important stage of work on a new video – video production itself. We already have a script in our hands. The challenge for the creative team is to now create a script-based storyboard.
The storyboard accompanying an explainer video script is a group of images opposite the scene descriptions. Each scene has one or more illustration sketches that give your production team an idea of how objects should be positioned in the frame. This visual appendix should also be approved by the client.
After producing an explainer video script, the production team also needs to select the actors to record the voiceovers and character replicas.
After the storyboard is ready they start to develop a style-frame and illustration. This stage is not just about compelling your style cheat sheets but also about creating static ready-to-be-animated images. These include, in particular, images of characters and backgrounds. As the next step after you approve the illustration, the animators and motion designers work some magic and your video is complete!
Common Mistakes While Writing a Script for Your Video
You may ask how to write an explainer video script and avoid the risks of wasted budget or ruined expectations. The Blue Carrot team has been creating animated business videos for already 6 years, and we have the answer to that question. We watched our clients, drew conclusions, and are ready to share with you a list of typical mistakes you can avoid while working on your next video project:
#1 Confusing written text with oral speech
Sometimes the head of the company, its marketer, or PR manager writes the script instead of an experienced scriptwriter. A common mistake they make is using phrases that are common in writing but not in spoken language. For example, long sentences, complex constructions, language clichés, and formal words. These elements make voiceovers difficult to listen to and non-memorable.
#2 Overwhelming terminology
Words that may sound clear and familiar to those who work for your company may not be a part of your clients’ active vocabulary. We advise you to avoid niche terms wherever possible and to explain to them if the terms can’t be avoided. Vocabulary simplicity makes your video more likely to be watched through to the end.
#3 Unrealistic timing
If you have assigned a task concerning your script for an explainer video to those who have little experience in this field, be prepared that they may not be able to realistically estimate its actual timing. To avoid multiple script rewrites, test how much text and events fit in 30 seconds. Attentively watch short videos of the same style to estimate your own video even better. To give you a hint, the 60-second explainer video usually contains up to 150 words.
#4 Not dividing your work on the script for an explainer video into small steps
Solving a complex problem step by step is an approach that will help you keep control over your budget and project, even if you are creating your first explainer video ever. This includes:
— Defining the key messages you want to transmit
— Creating the structure of the future script
— Writing narration text and developing visual descriptions
— Choosing images-references for the latter.
At Blue Carrot, the video production roadmap consists of several stages. At the end of each stage, there is a client meeting where they review intermediate results and share their suggestions.
Blue Carrot’s Experience and Our Explainer Video Script Checklist
Blue Carrot is a full-cycle animated video production company. Writing an explainer video script is an integral part of our work. Over the past few years, we’ve created several hundred explainer videos for various businesses from healthcare, IT, transportations, education, and many other areas (see our portfolio). Our scriptwriters have gained numerous awards including the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards.
Typically, it takes us 4 to 8 weeks to create an explainer animation, from concept design and script finalization to animation. Scripting itself usually takes around 1 week. However, we can provide you with the exact time and budget estimates regarding your project after getting to know your requirements and seeing examples of an explainer video script and style that you like. Here is the list of marketing explainer video script development rules we follow:
- Detailed production and communication planning
- A step-by-step approach to scriptwriting
- Consideration of our clients’ marketing goals, their expectations regarding the future video, and target audience features
- Attention to the limitations: a visual and audio style, duration, and brand guidelines
- Creating a solid story and narrative logic check
- Removing details that might distract the audience from your key message
- Filling the video with emotions that will encourage users to take a targeted action
Here are some explainer video script samples from our portfolio. We encourage you to take a look so you have a better understanding of what this type of video might look like: Punahou Connect, ONFO Revolution, and Route4Gas.
Video remains a major tool for brands to attract customers and sell their products and services. In turn, multimedia content production requires a lot of specific skills, knowledge, and experience.
To build an explainer video script, you need to start by answering the question of what effect you want to achieve, who your audience is, and what the final product should be. After that, move on to the concept research, work on the explainer video script structure, and finally get to scripting and storyboarding.
At Blue Carrot, we are ready to help you at any stage of the script development. We can create an animated explainer from scratch, write an effective script using our suggested explainer video script template or review your script draft and then improve and bring it to life.
Our experience, empathy for clients, and well-established production processes are what have helped us create brilliant scripts and explainer videos for hundreds of clients around the world. Check out our portfolio to see this or contact us to estimate your idea.