How to write a script for an explainer video

Explainer videos are all about telling a story, making complicated or dull topics entertaining and easy to understand. And for that, you need a script.

Written by Jack Last

Trying to tell a story without words is like trying to make an omelette without eggs… or a pan.

The entire purpose of an explainer video is to communicate your message succinctly, with clarity and in an entertaining way. In everything from a company update to a product tutorial, these goals are the fundamentals of an explainer video.

Even with the best graphics and visuals in the world, an explainer video is nothing without a well-written script at its core.  

To make sure your explainer video is as memorable as your brand, we’ve shared our full guide to writing explainer video scripts. Below, you can find out what an explainer video script should include, what makes it so important, and our experts’ tips for creating a knock-out script.

Why is the script for an explainer video so important?

First things first - don’t ever undervalue the role of a script within the creative. Although your explainer video may only be a couple of minutes long, there’s a huge difference between a carefully planned project and a haphazard, impromptu explainer video.

Even if it’s 30 seconds long, that’s not to say that you can go into it without any prep. It’d be like going into the recording room with a sketchbook and pen, and trying to do the animations while the voice artist was speaking.

Still thinking about starting filming unscripted? Well, before you live your ad-lib acting dreams, these are our top 6 benefits of writing an explainer video script:

1. It keeps your content well-structured. Through the process of writes and re-writes, you can consider what needs to be included and decide the most logical order to cover these points. With a clearer structure, comes clarity, accuracy, precision and professionalism. Tick, tick, tick.  

2. It makes your message clear and concise. By writing a script, you ensure that any potential waffle is eliminated. You can cut to the chase, while still articulating the message clearly, in just the right amount of detail. This keeps the explainer video informative, without being a slog.

3. Ensures the message is easy to understand. Explainer videos often cover complex content, so it’s vital that the message is communicated with precision and a careful attention to detail. That’s where a script is invaluable. Throughout the script writing process, you can review the content and ask yourself, ‘Is it clear? Would someone who is new to this concept understand what we’re saying?’. You could even seek feedback (both internally and externally), then evolve your script accordingly.

4. Save on retakes. When it comes to recording day, this extra work earlier on will prove to be a huge pay-off. By investing time into editing and considering your script, you can be confident that your video will hit all the targets that you’ve set out to achieve.  

5. Make your content as engaging as possible. Let’s face it, often, the content of explainer videos isn’t hugely entertaining. But, by preparing a script beforehand, you can spend time thinking about fun ways to bring entertainment to the video. Look at this explainer video example that we created for Ford. It describes the changes to their new product, in a fun, charming and well-designed way. The script is clear and succinct, while still being full of character.

6. Maximise the video’s impact. By unlocking all of the benefits listed above, an explainer video script ensures the maximum possible engagement and impact of the video. In short, it’ll mean that all your hard work pays off!

You know the old mantra, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. And it’s so true. Although the process of writing, revising and re-writing a script may be arduous, you’ll definitely see the difference in the end result.

Our tips for producing an exceptional script for an explainer video

Script writing is worlds away from emails and manuals. It may still be worlds on a page, but scripts are all about balancing the clear and efficient delivery of information with entertainment and engagement.

If the idea of writing a script feels daunting, confusing, stressful or all of the above, don’t panic - these quick tips will help you to break down the process into simple bite-sized chunks.

Our tip tips for writing an effective script:

1) Build a story that will grab your audience’s attention

Unleash your imagination - start the creative process by brainstorming ideas, storylines and themes that you could use to give life to your message.

For example, if you are trying to advertise your new crisp flavour, you could set it in the year 4,000, under the sea, in the home of a family of squirrels - it’s a totally blank canvas. Don’t limit your imagination at this stage - after all, the ideas will be assessed and streamlined in later stages, this is the time to think outside the box!

Although it shouldn’t be wacky just for the sake of it, your goal should be to create something that none of your competitors have ever done before.

You can achieve originality in the location, the characters, the setting, time period, theme, or an unusual combination of several of these.

Allow plenty of time for this step, and give yourself (and your team) the chance to keep forming ideas in their mind, rather than forcing them on the spot in a singular one-off meeting.

2) Keep the script short

Don’t try to cram loads of information into a 30 second clip. If your script is too long, the information will be hard to follow, you’ll have to cut things out last-minute, or the video will be less enjoyable to watch.

Ideally, for a 30 second video, we’d recommend a script that’s MAX a page and a half of A4.

If you’ve got loads of ideas, this will sound like a huge challenge. But, so long as you don’t rush the editing process, you’ll be amazed by the amount of neatness and precision that time brings to a script.  

3) Put the audience into the story

The script will need to have relevance to your customers and their perspective.

Think about the questions that they’re likely to be asking:

● How will this benefit me?

● Why do I need this?

● How does it work?

● How does it differ from the brand’s competitors?

● Is it worth the money?

● What is good about this company?

● How will it fit into my life?

And so on.

Preempt these questions by subtly including answers, which you can incorporate within your narrative.

4) Add emotion

There’s nothing worse than a drab, dull explainer video. It sounds harsh, but think about it, why would any of your customers want to spend their time watching it?

The best way to capture their attention and draw them in is to convey emotion through your script.

You could do this through an emotive storyline, humour, relatability, a direct explanation of how it will aid their lives, demonstrating empathy, including a universal dilemma (either humorously or with a view of solving it), or with strong and ethical brand values.

5) Deliver the message in 30 seconds or less

The best approach to take here is an ongoing process of reviews and amendments. Edit it, then come back a day or so later, to re-review the script with a clear head. You’ll find that you quickly spot any sentences that don’t fit.

Be critical with your script, and keep eliminating any bits that don’t absolutely need to be there. A secondary reviewer is a great help at this stage - a fresh pair of eyes is invaluable!

6) Show the audience the problem

This concept should form the core of your video.

Clearly pinpoint the angle that your explainer video will take: what is the consumer’s problem, and how is this product / service going to solve it?

This message should be referred back to throughout your script writing. It is a strong and convincing assertion, which forms a complete circle. Through watching this video, the audience should be able to recognise the issue described in their own lives, and be convinced that your product is an effective solution to it.

It is imperative that your explainer video successfully taps into your consumer’s mindset in the most impactful way possible, and this, without a doubt, is the best way to do it.

7) Test your script

Once you are happy with your script, it’s time to test it out on other people.

Try reading it out to your team members (ideally, they would have minimal prior knowledge of your thought process or the message that you are attempting to convey). See how easy it is for them to follow the story, identify any areas that they think are weak or confusing, then revise the script based on their feedback.

Alternatively, people who are external to the team are also great guinea pigs for your new script. After all, they’d be hearing the content without knowing anything about the topic you’re communicating, so it’ll be clear if they have misunderstood something important, or even missed the point entirely.

You could also try a series of A/B testing, where you show people two different versions of the script, then see which one they prefer and identify the reasons why. This is a great way to pinpoint successful elements of a video script.

8) Adjust the script for the voice over

Once you’ve finalised the words, you will need to make sure that the script seamlessly fits into the visual content.

Add clear timings and cues to the script, so that the voice over artist knows exactly when each word should be said. This will ensure your explainer video is neat and impactful, with every single word hitting the mark.

Further Tips for writing a great explainer video script

And finally, a few additional tips for you to apply to your script writing process:

● Pace yourself - don’t rush! Script writing is a gradual process, and the best results always come over a longer editing period.

● Use humour wisely - if you don’t feel comfortable including humour, don’t worry about it. It’s much better to adopt a different angle with your script, rather than risk including an offensive joke, or humour that falls flat.

● Always tell a story - frame your explainer video script around a start, middle and end. Build a developing script with an engaging story, which keeps the audience hooked until the very end.  

● Capture the audience's interest - remember, your explainer video is just one of many. It’s a crowded marketplace, so yours needs to be bold, entertaining and innovative, from start to finish. Draw them in with an engaging concept, then keep their attention with a carefully crafted script.

● Seek feedback - don’t be too proud to ask for feedback. Although criticism or changes can be a knock to your confidence, feedback from other people will be absolutely invaluable. With it, you can evolve your script into the best possible version of itself.

If you’re still sat facing a blank piece of paper, with no idea where to start, don’t lose any sleep over script writing! If writing simply isn’t for you, then the OK Social explainer video team is here to help. Within our team of explainer video specialists, we have a number of talented, professional script writers. Our scriptwriters work on a collaborative basis with the rest of our video creation team, to design bold and engaging branded explainer videos, which make viewers stop scrolling and click Play.

Our writers will work with you on a close, one-to-one basis, to identify the key requirements of your explainer video, any ideas that you’d like us to include, and the existing image that your brand has built. These dynamic and precise scripts will make the explainer video as entertaining as any comedy clip, while achieving an impressive KPI boost for your brand.

To find out more about our range of video creation services, or to enlist OK Social as your explainer video design agency, chat to our team today.

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I’m Jack, the Motion Director here at OK Social. I’ve been working in the world of motion design and animation for nearly 10 years. I had the pleasure of working with leading agencies and brands around the world, such as Samsung, Ford, Shell, Deliveroo, and Starbucks, to name a few.

From a young age, I’ve always been interested in animation, from making stop-motion films in my room as a kid to learning animation on my first computer. It started as a passion and still is to this day. Part of what I do now is more than just animation. I help craft the narratives of the stories we tell to ensure they make an impact to the audience and remain worthy of their attention.

So how do I do that? It starts with asking the right questions, leading to solving the right problems. First, diagnose what the problem is. Then, we can start to see if we can help. I believe that communication plays a key role in delivering a smooth and successful project. Looking into the future, I’m excited to expand my knowledge into creating more engaging stories that make a difference.