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To script or not to script?

Should you script your corporate video? Or is it better to let your contributors talk freely and then do the hard work in the editing suite later? What is the trade off between the two approaches?

In its 2023 marketing trends report, the marketing automation platform HubSpot reported that the length of video content is getting shorter. All audiences expect short, snappy content that makes them feel – quickly.

Even for our experienced team, the question of whether to script or not to script a video interview is a conundrum we butt up against regularly. We’ll share our usual approach later in this article, but for now let’s take a look at the some of the considerations you’ll want to bear in mind when making this decision.

#1. What type of content are you creating?

The decision on whether to script or not will rest largely on the type of content you are producing. If you’re producing an advert, then there’s no question – it will need to be very tightly scripted.

Conversely, if you are producing vox-pop style content then it’s best if it isn’t scripted at all – assuming you can get the content you need! Vox-pops work well for event roundups and word-of-mouth style promotions. They add authenticity and pace to the content.

The majority of corporate video content sits somewhere between these two extremes. For example, our customer advocacy work needs to feel authentic but usually also has very clear messaging points which need to be hit.

#2. How confident are you in your speakers?

If you know your speakers are great performers – perhaps they’ve already had media training – then you can simply put them in front of the camera and roll.

If your speakers are less confident, then you might want to consider using an autocue. You can add simple talking points or add the script in full – whatever your output demands and whichever your speakers are most comfortable using.

#3. How natural are your speakers when reading from autocue?

It can be a surprisingly difficult job to master reading from autocue in a way that sounds natural. You’ll want to get your speakers used to the format before beginning to film. Encouragement and confidence building are important when a speaker hasn’t used autocue before.

#4. Is this the best person for this job?

If your speaker isn’t confident to speak ad lib and finds it difficult to work with autocue, you might want to rethink whether they are the best person to fulfil the speaking part.

#5. Would a professional voice actor be preferable?

If you’re having difficulty finding a contributor who can speak well and naturally on camera, the other option is to bring in a professional voice actor. This will change the way you tackle the topic, but it can work really well in some situations.

#6. Is authenticity more important than a slick, polished performance?

Ultimately, the decision of which speakers to use and how to work with your speakers will come down to a trade-off between authenticity – where you use your subject matter experts at your organisation, no matter how awkward or lacking in confidence – and a slick polished performance – where you favour someone with media or professional training.

Think about: what’s most important for the messaging and style of this particular video content and messaging? Which fits better with your brand?

Of course, there are some tricks we can make in the editing room to help and support less confident speakers. It might simply be a matter of using a higher proportion of b-roll when they are speaking. We do this a lot but usually it's our team’s preference to work closely with and coach and support people on the day to help them feel confident and comfortable.

#7. Are you willing to invest in professional voice coaching or presentation skills?

If you have enough time, it can be a great idea to invest in some coaching for your speakers. Coaching doesn’t have to require a big time commitment or even be that expensive.

There are several organisations that offer small business support to help with developing these skills, including local chambers, universities and the federation of small businesses. Reach out and seek help where it’s available.

Investing in developing the presentation skills of your staff will not only benefit your current video project; it will always pay dividends later. Coaching can help your staff member to develop the skills they need to become a spokesperson for their team or your organisation at events, functions or with the press – or even simply give them more confidence when presenting in their day-to-day job.

Find a happy medium, then adjust to individual circumstances

At digiio, our team prefer to adapt our approach to individual speakers and circumstances.

Typically, our approach would involve:

  • Scope out a detailed brief

  • Agree a rough script

  • Talk to each of the speakers to gauge their confidence levels

  • Arrange coaching or media training where necessary

  • Have an autocue on hand on the day of filming – with either prompts of key talking points and/or the script, as required

  • Build a supportive environment where contributors feel relaxed throughout filming

  • Film several takes of each statement

  • Offer the speakers the opportunity to say it again in their own words

  • Edit creatively – that’s where so much of the magic happens!

Ready to get started?

If you’re producing video content or want to get started with video content, our team can assist. Please get in touch to discuss your needs.

You can reach us on: 020 7902 1190


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