How to Write a YouTube Video Script: A Step-by-Step Guide
When you’re looking to increase the visibility of your videos, and win over the platform’s algorithm, there is no element more important than your YouTube video script.
Your thumbnail, video description, and YouTube SEO practices are all essential in getting potential viewers to click on your video. After that, though, it’s up to your video script to grab their attention and keep them engaged with your content.
Crucially, viewer engagement plays a huge role in the YouTube algorithm’s inner workings. If people are bored or disappointed by your video and back out after a few seconds, this reflects badly on your content.
On the flip side, if people keep watching to the end – or at least for a few minutes – the algorithm will know that your video is exactly what they were looking for, and rank it higher in future searches for the same terms.
So, how do you write an awesome video script that’ll get you this engagement?
Here’s a step-by-step guide.
1 - Find an Amazing Topic - for the Right Audience
The first step in the process has nothing to do with the actual script writing yet. Hold your horses before you start tapping away!
Instead, focus on finding a topic that actually resonates with your audience. Ask yourself: What are they interested in? What urgent questions do they need answered? What challenges do they want to overcome?
For answers, you need to do some topic research. Look at popular content in your niche and check out YouTube’s autocomplete suggestions. In addition, you can use free or paid SEO tools like AnswerThePublic, SEMrush, Ahrefs and others to identify popular questions, recent trends, and emerging topics.
2 - Structure Your YouTube Video Script and Aim for the Right Length
Once you’ve pinpointed your topic, lay out the overall structure of your video.
In general, video scripts are written in two columns. One of them contains the audio – the text you’ll be speaking. The other briefly describes the visuals that will accompany your voice.
Be clear about who your audience is. That will tell you what tone you can use and how formal you need to be. Also: Remember that you’ll be reading the script out loud. That means keeping your grammar simple and your sentences short.
To make your video as engaging as possible, address your audience directly – use “I” and “you” instead of third-person pronouns or, worse, passive voice.
In terms of length, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Just keep it as short as possible and as long as necessary. As a rule of thumb, though, 125-150 words will usually make for one minute of audio.
3 - Open With a Killer Hook
At the beginning of your video, you have 15 seconds to capture your audience’s attention. After that, they’ll either keep watching, or back out and return to their search results.
To keep your audience engaged, you need a strong hook.
The most straightforward way is to let your viewers know what’s in it for them. What will your video help them understand or achieve? Address their questions, pain points, and the challenges you’re helping them face.
4 - Set Expectations Straight in Your Introduction
Next, give your viewers some context in your introduction. Who are you? What’s your brand? What makes you an expert?
Then, outline exactly what your video aims to do. How is it structured? What tools will you use? Do you answer related questions in other videos of yours?
Giving this overview lets your audience decide if your content is relevant to their need. It also helps them pinpoint the parts that are most relevant to them. Consider an IT tutorial video, for example. If you tell them you’ll start by explaining how to install the needed software, those who’ve already installed it can skip ahead.
5 - Captivate With the Body of Your YouTube Video Script
The body of your YouTube video script should be coherent and captivating.
Aim to make 3 to 5 main points and give examples to illustrate what you’re talking about. Mix things up by bringing up controversial ideas, common mistakes, or opposing viewpoints.
Another way to keep your content engaging is to introduce pattern interrupts. These are unexpected elements that snap your viewers’ attention back to your content if their thoughts stray.
For instance, switch between visuals of you talking and graphics or animations. Angle changes, alternations between establishing shots and close-ups, jump cuts – all this renews attention.
Most of this can be refined later on – with the help of professional video editors. But the groundwork for it all is laid in your YouTube video script.
6 - Bring Things Full Circle with Your Conclusion and Call to Action
Finally, wrap things up in your conclusion. Quickly summarize your main points, and point your viewers to additional sources of information, such as follow-up videos or your website.
This is also the point at which you can include your call to action. What do you want your audience to do? Like and subscribe? Sign up to your newsletter? Test your product in a free trial? Whatever it is, highlight it here!
The Bottom Line
A strong YouTube video script is the foundation for producing quality content. It helps you ensure high audience engagement, which also means better performance in YouTube’s algorithm.
In short – getting your script right matters!
By doing some in-depth topic research and structuring your script properly, you’re on the best track to producing awesome content.