A couple of weeks into lockdown my husband came to me and said I need your help. This is weird. It’s practically unheard of, in fact. My dear darling husband has an Asperger mind and is rarely in need of a solution that he cannot find himself. So I listened, hard. I need a script he then said. Alarm bells start to go off in my mind I’ve been asked to do a video for work and I need you to write me a script he said, in a somewhat panicky voice.
OK, OK, OK, stop right there. Back up the trailer. Say Whaaaat? First up I’m an actor, not a scriptwriter. But OK then. Secondly, I do video. It’s what I do, like, all the time. So of course I can help with that, BUT. I don’t do scripts. Ever. Because they are only going to get in your way.
Having a script is putting a tonne of obstacles in your way, for a start off. First, you have to write the damn thing and that doesn’t come easy to most folks. Then and here’s the biggie – you have to learn the lines! Let me tell you, learning lines is a skill. It’s something actors are trained to do. We have all sorts of tools in the box to help with this and lots of us still find it difficult. So why on earth would you do that to yourself? Finally, you have to lift the words off the page so it doesn’t sound like you are reading them when you eventually get to record. This is not easy. Again, it is a niche skill that actors and TV presenters have to work on and develop. Of course, it looks easy, that’s because we are trained to make it look that way! It doesn’t mean any old Joe can do it. GAH!
And here’s another thing. If you are already nervous about making a video, think how doubly nervous you will be when trying to remember your lines. It is all you will end up focussing on and guess what? You will look like a person who is trying to remember their lines, instead of someone who actually has an important message.
So don’t do it.
Sure, by all means have an intro or a call to action that you might write down or rehearse, so you can be consistent. But an actual script for each of your videos? Forget it. It’s a distraction and another way of avoiding actually getting on with it.
I much prefer free flow authenticity, mistakes and blunders and all.
Now I get that you don’t want too much of that, especially in a corporate context (in terms of personal branding absolutely yes, we need to see the real you, warts and all). So I suggest working out what you want to say and then bullet pointing it. Keep it brief or you will be tempted to waffle or go off topic. Keep it short too, our attention spans are appallingly miniscule these days.
What happened with my husband’s video? Well of course he didn’t listen to me. He wrote a script, spent 3 days mumbling to himself all over the house, trying to learn it (and growling at his family), then spent an entire afternoon trying to record a 3-minute video message. Because he kept forgetting his lines. And then stumbling if he got them in the wrong order. Then wanting to start again, to get it just right, then again, and again!
There was a video message at the end of it. It did contain all the things he wanted to say. It was a bit rushed because we were running out of light and time and the wind was picking up, making the audio horrible. And he looked like a man trying to remember his lines. I didn’t really want him to tell anyone that I had helped him because, honestly, it wasn’t good advertising.
What makes this all even weirder is that my husband is a brilliant and very experienced speaker. He can talk to meetings of hundreds of people, has no problems presenting with passion or even picking up someone else’s slides and running with them, whether talking to colleagues, in coordination meetings or even with heads of state. All I wanted was for him to do his brilliant thing with a camera pointed at him and he insisted it couldn’t possibly be that simple. Interesting, right?
And the next time? He took my advice, ditched the script and made a blinding video in less than 20 minutes. I’m dead proud of him.