Scripting for Microlearning.

Once you’ve completed the pre-production work for your microlearning video — including identifying goals, scope, and format, as well as creating a basic outline — it’s time to start scripting.

 

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when writing your script:

One video, one objective.

Especially with a very short video, everything in your script should tie back to your main objective. It can be tempting to include fun tangential details, but be ruthless — the effectiveness of your video depends on it. Remember, you can always create more videos later or include embedded links to additional content.

Tell a story.

Creating a narrative and developing characters will help you connect with your audience and frame your video in the most effective way possible. The way you tell this story will vary depending on the style and objective of your video.

For example, an explainer video might feature a straightforward narrator introducing a problem and describing the steps to take to solve this problem. A video focused on more abstract themes might instead use fictional characters to connect with the audience and elucidate the main takeaways.

Either way, keep in mind traditional story structure. Your video should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and each section should relate back to your objective.

Keep it simple.

Remember: you’re writing a script, not a term paper. Keep your sentences short and sweet, avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs, and use the active tense. Your script should look and sound like a conversation.

You should be cutting most of what you might include in a written format and summarizing key points. Keep it high-level and focused on the key points. Read it out loud to avoid producing something that sounds stiff or overly formal.

Not everything needs to be spoken.

Think of your script as a support system for the visuals in your video (we’ll discuss how to storyboard these visuals in a future post). The language you choose should complement rather than compete with these images.

Don’t waste time with lengthy introductions or conclusions.

There’s no need for preambles in microlearning videos — employees or other viewers will know exactly what they’re about to watch from the way it’s presented in your training program or on their search engine. Getting to the point immediately will engage viewers and give you a few extra seconds to explore your topic.

Similarly, there’s no need to waste time recapping your main takeaways at the end of the video — the beauty of a microlearning video is that viewers can rewind a specific section and/or rewatch the whole video if and when they need to.

To get started, refer to the outline you already have and fill in the blanks to demonstrate the problem, incorporate your persona, illustrate how to solve the problem, and call your viewer to action. Combining the problem and persona and getting the story “on its feet” is where the magic happens.

Get your story on its feet.

  • Setting: Where should your story take place? At home? At the office? At the airport? Where is the magnitude or urgency of the pain point at its highest?
  • Characters: Who should tell the story? A manager? An employee? A narrator?
  • Narrative Style: Are there characters? Should the characters speak to each other like they’re in a TV show? This dialog enhances storytelling, but is often slower. Should there be a narrator, talking about the characters from a top view? This allows you to be more efficient and precise, but often at the expense of identification with the characters.
  • Structure: Should you start at the beginning? This is the most simple. Or should you start at the end, showing the good (or bad) outcome and tracing back to the start? This shifts focus toward the “how” and away from the result.
  • Metaphor: Metaphor can help bring difficult concepts to life, especially with animation. Metaphors help us understand new concepts by attaching them to concepts that we already know. A little boy using a leaky bucket to bring water back from a well can illustrate poor cost control or a faulty process. These metaphors can be spoken or visual.

(Original scripting tips by Gary Lipkowitz, GoAnimate COO)

Make it visual.

Video is a visual medium, so consider what the script will look like while you’re writing it.

“As you progress, you’ll begin to get a better sense of how your video will come together. You may find yourself adjusting some dialog or narration to better match your planned visuals or timing. This give-and-take is a part of the creative process. When things start really going well, you’ll find yourself deliberately creating rich media moments, in which non-verbal movement or effects can “carry the tune,” instead of simply wallpapering your words (Lipkowitz).”

Call to action.

If you’ve done a good job, viewers won’t want the story to end. Give them a way to stay involved while they’re still motivated.

What do you want them to do next? Watch the next video? Read more about the topic? Put their skills into action right away? Encapsulate this into one (and only one) call to action at the end of the video. Once your script feels complete. It’s time to move into storyboarding.


Read Next: Why You Need a Storyboard for Your Microlearning Video, and How to Create One

And don’t miss the previous articles in this series:

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