How to Write: A Video Voiceover Script

With 96% of marketers saying video is a crucial part of their content strategy, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be asked to write a voiceover script (if you haven’t already). 

And while script writing sounds simple — after all, most marketing videos in 2024 are only about a minute long — it can be quite challenging if you don’t know where to start. 

Here are nine steps to follow to make sure your video script is on track.


1. Establish the desired length.

Just as you would want to know how long a print article or blog post should be before you begin writing, you’ll need to know how long your video script should be. In general, marketing videos should be short. Most of the videos we work on are between one and two minutes long. Occasionally, we get asked to write a script for a five-minute video for a special event. 

Understanding the goal of the video and where it will be used — Facebook, TikTok, on your organization’s website, etc. — will help you determine how long or short it should be. 

You’ll need about 150 to 180 words per minute of video.


2. Lay out a storyboard/outline.

Because video relies so heavily on visuals, it makes sense for the video editor to first sketch out a storyboard that you can then write to. But for any number of reasons, that doesn’t always happen. 

If you’re asked to write first, we highly recommend at least meeting with your video editor to understand what visuals are available. Will the video be shot or will it rely on b-roll? What graphics might be available? What type of animation will be used?

Once you have an understanding of the visual pieces, you can begin to outline your script. You don’t need to overcomplicate it — start with a beginning, middle and end.

How are we hooking people in the beginning? 

What messages do we need to get across in the middle? What is the story that needs to be told? 

What do we want to leave our viewers with? What is the call to action at the end?


3. Do your research.

Just as you would when writing an article or e-book, you’ll need to do some research, whether that involves scouring the internet, talking to subject matter experts or interviewing sources. Keep an eye out for any facts, stats or explanations that would make for good on-screen graphics or animation.


4. Set up your document.

We find it helpful to write video scripts in a three-column table format, broken up horizontally into 15- to 30-second intervals.

The first column will be your timestamp. It’s customary to format these like so: 0:00–0:15, 0:15–0:30, 1:45–2:00, etc. 

Your second column is where your voiceover text will go. 

The third column is where you’ll list the visuals from the storyboard or recommend visuals to go along with your copy. Sometimes this means suggesting certain types of b-roll or animation. Other times, you’ll recommend pulling a factoid out of your copy to appear on screen. 

5. Write.

Here’s where you’ll work in that middle column and … write. Voiceover writing isn’t much different from other types of writing. You’ll want to include an intro or something to hook the viewer, your messaging or story and then a conclusion and call to action. You don’t need to limit yourself on your first pass, but err on the side of brevity where possible. 

6. Edit for length.

Once you’ve got all of your messaging on the page, now it’s time to go back and pare down your text to fit within your 15- to 30-second intervals and overall video time. A good rule of thumb is no more than 40 words per 15 seconds of video, but you can check your text by timing yourself while reading aloud or using an online tool, such as Debatrix’s Speech Calculator


7. Edit for style.

Now that you have your content in a good place, go back and edit for style. Does it sound conversational when you read it aloud? Did you use short sentences and simple language? Does your copy contain jargon that viewers might not understand? 

Grammar doesn’t matter as much in scriptwriting as it does in writing for print or online. It’s generally more acceptable to split infinitives, use sentence fragments and include contractions or colloquialisms. Of course, you’ll want to take care not to make your text sound overly casual, which runs the risk of coming off as unprofessional. 

This is also a good time to go through your script and spell out exactly how you want the words to be read, including numbers, URLs and anything that could be considered jargon. (Do you want the voiceover artist to pronounce it “pet scan” or “P-E-T scan”?) Include pronunciations for any terms that may be unfamiliar or questionable to your narrator, especially company, city and people’s names. 

8. Give it a listen.

Before sending the text out for review, give your script a test run by recording it and playing it back. No fancy equipment needed here. You can use your phone’s audio recorder or video camera. If you’re stumbling over any of the words, chances are your narrator will too. Go back and tweak until it sounds smooth. 


9. Reviews and revisions.

Now it’s time to send your script for review — to your team, SME, higher-ups, compliance, legal, your grandma — anyone who needs to approve content in your organization. If you’re lucky, this will be the last round of revisions. However, be prepared to make additional changes to the script once the visual side of the video is complete. You may discover that an animation takes longer than anticipated and need to write some additional content or vice versa. Sometimes things just flow differently when it’s all put together. In any event, edits in the post-production stage are usually minor. 

Remember, video script writing is an art form that takes practice to master. While writing copy for a two-minute video sounds simple enough, it does require forethought and a keen ability to write succinctly. Following these steps will have you looking like a script pro in no time. 


Video script-writing checklist

If one thing is clear, it’s that video is here to stay. Make script writing look easy by following these steps:

  • Determine how long the video will be, keeping in mind that one to two minutes is the norm.
  • Work with your video editor to hash out a storyboard.
  • Conduct research, keeping an eye out for facts that would make good visuals.
  • Set up your document in the three-column format.
  • Write, being sure to include an introduction and conclusion.
  • Edit for length, reading your text aloud for time.
  • Edit so the copy sounds conversational.
  • Record yourself reading the script as a double-check.
  • Send your copy for internal review and then off to the video editor!
  • Make changes as necessary once the visuals are added.