Note from Cathy: Although I always enjoy reading Dan’s articles, this one is especially timely. I am in the midst of making a bunch of videos, some based on material I have created in the past, such as speeches and other presentations, and this is good advice.
Whether you are starting with existing material or writing everything from word one, brevity is important. Keep your videos short and sweet. Dan suggests a maximum of 240 words for a video of two minutes. That is a good general rule, but some of us talk faster. To calculate your speed, open a document in Word, set a timer to one minute and start reading out loud at a natural speed. When the timer goes off, select all of the words you read, then check the word count.
Include your introduction and call to action in your word count. Many people use a pre-recorded intro or outro with their videos, usually about 10 seconds long. If you do, you may want to reduce your word count a bit to stay under two minutes for the total video.
The script I wrote for the public speaking video by Professor Puppet is a bit over 300 words for a video that is 1:40. But he talks pretty fast! (The total time for the video is 2:24 because of a long call to action outro, something that will not be used on every video I do but I wanted on this one.)
If you are not sure how many words to put in your script, follow Dan’s guideline of about 240 words or less for two minutes or less.
When in doubt, cut it out!
Now on to Dan’s article:
When I attended Patricia Fripp’s speaking school several years ago, I left with a tool kit of ideas, tips and techniques that I could use for any speaking occasion. One idea she suggested was to get transcripts of our speeches and cut the wasted words.
That tip was incredibly useful when I wrote video scripts.
If videos are longer than two minutes, people will lose interest. We aren’t wired to pay attention for longer periods.
However, two minutes translates into a mere 240 words in a script. To put it in perspective, my wonderful articles – which take about three minutes to read – are each around 500-700 words!
That’s an eternity on video.
I had to cut. And cut I did!
Here are tips for creating your videos.
- Open a Word file and import your best blog posts, articles and transcripts from speeches and teleseminars.
- Put page breaks between each new script. This will make counting words much easier.
- Read each article, blog post and transcript. Count words using Word’s “word count” feature. On the Mac, it is located under the Tools tab. Once you see the number of words in the script, you’ll know how much to cut.
- Here are three ways to cut:
- a. Power Saw: Cut big portions that you don’t have room for. In print, you can list five ways to cure a cold. But on video, you have room for one good story that makes your point. Find the best point and run with it.
- b. Hack Saw: Cut trite phrases, and redundancies. You’d be surprised how many times we say the same things over and over and over and over and over without realizing it. When you see in print what you said out loud, you’d be embarrassed. I certainly was! Ironically, it sounds fine when you say it.
- c. Petite point scissors: Cut words that add nothing. For example: the that, which and also.
I was surprised to find that one of my best stories was 380 words – after I cut out the garbage! In other words, I still had to cut 1/3 of it. Oddly enough, I did – and true to Patricia Fripp’s advice – the story was better.
Best yet: It was ridiculously easy to cut out words that didn’t add anything to the story. I was so fond of hearing my own voice, but that hurt my storytelling.
Shorter is better.
Dan Janal, author of Reporters Are Looking for YOU! helps small businesses get publicity so they can sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, consulting, done-for-you services and do-it-yourself tools. For info, go to www.prleadsplus.com or call me at 952-380-1554.