There’s no doubt you’ve heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If this is the case, it’s safe to claim a video is worth a million words. In the marketing sphere, one of the most prevalent types of videos are explainer videos, which explain a service or product in 90 seconds or less. One reason explainer videos are so effective is because of their ability to visually and verbally convey messages that cut through the clutter. But before your explainer video can do that, it must have a solid script. Here are some best practices to abide by when writing explainer video scripts for your service or product.

As with any type of writing, the first step is to define your audience and decide if you’re writing to people who know much, little or nothing about your business, service or product. This step will also help determine the messaging tone of your explainer video, which is your attitude toward your audience. Examples of tone can include: serious, informative, humorous, objective, enthusiastic, etc. Whichever tone or combinations of tones you select, be sure it reflects your brand’s voice, which will help further strengthen your message and make it memorable.

Once you have answered who your audience is and what tone your message will contain, you can define the topic of your explainer video. The key here is to be mindful of the time limitation explainer videos have, which means you can’t be too broad or too narrow in your topic selection. One best practice to help with topic selection within a limited time frame is to remember a good explainer video still needs to tell a story, which should follow this general format:

  • Beginning: Define a need or problem that your target audience experiences.
    • Tip: Make sure this portion of the story establishes common ground between your business, service or product and your target audience.
  • Middle: Present your business, service or product as the solution to the problem and provide an overview of the benefits of your proposed solution.
    • Tip: Make sure this portion of the story highlights the strongest two to three benefits of your solution. Yes, there are probably more benefits than that, but your audience will only be able to remember and process a few in 90 seconds or less.
  • End: Provide a call to action for the target audience to find out more information.
    • Tip: Make sure to remind your audience how your solution addresses the aforementioned common need or problem.

Once you have a topic selected, you can begin putting pen to paper with the above storyline structure in mind.

As you begin writing, continue to be mindful of the time limitation your explainer video has. A guideline our writers tend to abide by is 70 to 90 words in :30 seconds, 140 to 160 words in :60 seconds and so on. However this is a flexible guideline because you’re going to want to pace yourself so your audience is able to comprehend the messages you’re presenting, especially if the message is a bit more complex. As they say in broadcasting, you want to avoid “dead air,” but you also need to set a steady flow of words within the storyline.

As you write, you can also begin to consider whether or not to use a music bed in the explainer video. If you do, you’ll want to specify the type(s) of music throughout the script and changes in volume, which when used correctly can greatly enhance the tone and pace of your message.

Another tonal aspect of your script is voiceover selection. Will your voice actor be young or old, male or female, confident or humble? Once again, you want your choice to match your tone and brand voice.

Of course, the largest aspect of a video are the visuals so you need to consider how you’ll visually articulate the words in the script on screen. This is largely determined by the type of explainer video you’re producing, such as live action, animation or a combination of both. No matter the type, you’ll want to be as specific as possible with your visual direction.

  • Tip: One tool our writers use is a two-column page set-up. The column on the right is where you place the words, while the column on the left is where you place the visual direction. This way you can directly match the words with the visuals.

Remember, while the script is the foundation of your explainer video, the visuals are its claim to fame.

If your business, service, or product is in need of memorable, engaging and creative writing – explainer video or otherwise – please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a Marketing Advisor, or contact us at