So, you’ve realized the potential that an explainer video has to explain your product or service and you’d like to create an infographic video. You know you need to start with a script but you don’t know where to begin. You may have collected some key talking points from your website or other sales collateral but you don’t know how to transform that into an effective script that will engage your audience. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple structure you could follow to help you transform your message into a story that resonates with your audience? Well, it just so happens that some very bright people have already figured out a basic script structure that can help you do just that.
In 2008 I attended a conference on visual thinking in San Francisco and was lucky enough to attend a session by Lee and Sachi Lefever, the master explainers at Common Craft. Lee has crafted what has probably become the definitive guide on explaining in ‘The Art of Explanation,’ but in his 2008 workshop had already identified a very simple yet effective structure for explanation videos. At the same time, Nancy Duarte, another visual thinking luminary was busy writing her book, ‘Resonate‘ which shares key insights for telling stories. In it, she identifies a remarkably similar structure to that used by Lee and Sachi. I’ve mashed the two together into three simple steps, outlined below. (Incidentally, these three steps are also similar to frameworks outlined by other professionals such as Cliff Atkinson in Beyond Bullet Points and is similar to the old Situation, Target, Proposal presentation framework I learned at Boeing).
1. What is: Show the Pain
What problems do your customers have? What’s their pain point? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What problems do they have related to what your product or service does. Describe the realities of your customers‘ current world. The better you can identify with their pain, and convince them you understand, the more effective you’ll be.
2. What could be: Show a vision for a better future
Describe a vision of a better future where they don’t have that problem. Describe a scenario where your customers’ pain and problems have gone away. How much more effective, efficient, profitable, and happy are they? This creates tension, juxtaposing what is and what could be.
3. The New Bliss: Show Results
How do you solve their problems and bring about a better future? Describe how your product or service bridges the gap from the current situation to the vision of a better future. How does it make their life better? Show the reward and finish with a call to action, articulating the finish line they are to cross.
By showing your customers’ problems and pain from their own perspective, you show that you understand them and their needs. By showing them a vision of a better future where they don’t have those problems, you’re showing that you know how to make their lives better and that you’ve got the solution to relieve their problems. The first two questions can be thought of as the ‘why,’ setting the context, followed by how you help them bridge the gap between what is and would could be to get results.
So, if you’re stuck on how to craft a story that explains your value to your market, try approaching it from this simple framework. Also, I’ve mentioned it here before, but it’s worth repeating, pick up a copy of Nancy Duarte’s Resonate and Lee Lefever’s The Art of Explanation to set yourself on the path of becoming a master explainer and storyteller.
Also, remember to keep it short and concise. 150 words of script will come out to about 1 minute of narrated video. That may be hard to believe, but try it out. Have someone read your script aloud at a comfortable, non-rushed, conversational pace and time them. Running long? Distill the message down to the essentials and try again.
Lastly, I’ve created a simple cheat sheet and worksheet with the above 3 tips.
Infographic Video Script Tips Cheat Sheet
Infographic Video Script Tips Worksheet
More video explanation resources available in the Video Explanation Resource Kit.