Getting people to watch the first 15 seconds of your video is a challenge, but getting them to watch another 3, 5, or 15 minutes is a headache of its own.
So how do you improve the watch time?
Should you get rid of the introduction and go straight into the video?
Should you just provide more information than anyone else?!
A good retention percentage for YouTube isn’t 50% or 60% — it’s more like 85%, according to some small scale testing case studies. Tracking the viewer retention % of your videos can give you insights if you’re on the right track.
We’ve prepared some actionable tips and advice for crafting high-quality video scripts that will increase that retention graph in your analytics!
Let’s get started.
Start with the end in mind 🏁
Your every script and video should have an objective. 🎯
Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, product awareness or improving product adoption through education - start by defining it.
Don’t skip this because it helps you to accurately & creatively deliver your message and helps you structure your script and properly timing the CTA.
Script writing 101: Synchrony of verbal and visual communication 📝
Crafting the perfect video script requires:
- Voice-Over — Storytelling or narrative
- Visual footage — A-Roll and B-Roll, have to be in sync with the story
To keep viewers engaged, these two have to be in perfect sync and follow a certain set of unwritten rules.
It isn’t enough to only write a script for voiceover — there must be a planned action on screen for every line of text.
That’s not just because 55% of human communication is non-verbal, but also because of our short attention spans.
By analyzing top-performing YouTube videos across industries — from gamers, vloggers, entrepreneurs, product reviews, and more — we noticed one common trend:
Frequent changes of visual footage throughout the entire video.
Some creators even went as far as to switch 20 different clips of B-Roll in the first 60 seconds, and throughout the video.
This makes your story multi-dimensional and unpredictable, – constantly creating hooks and releasing tension in the viewer.
👉 Remember: content has to be optimized for short attention spans, even if it’s a long format; otherwise, people will drop out.
Choosing the right visuals: A-Rolls and B-Rolls 🌠
We’ll actually start with visuals for one reason -> it’s typically harder to source.
We are not talking about random stock footage here but unique visuals from your product demonstration, relevant industry news, or whatever anything else.
Example: Let’s say we’re talking about a recent investment round and one of the visuals we can use is short video footage of an investor talking about the potential he saw in our company. Obviously, this one key visual anchor will help set the stage for whatever our message is.
While there are endless ways to implement this creatively in your video (some which we will talk about later), try to compile all powerful, *story relevant* visual anchors right in the script planning phase.
A-Roll is the footage of the person narrating the story and B-Rolls are supplemental visuals for providing more context, filling in the gaps or just transitions.
You want your audience to experience your story, not just hear it and that’s achieved by infusing the right visuals with strong storytelling.
Learn more about A-Roll and B-Roll: A Roll and B Roll Explained
Script writing time! What’s the right structure?
With any video script, your goal is to be concise.
You don’t want to be bore your audience by repeating yourself or to accidentally end up missing key points – and that’s what a good script structure is for.
Now, as your experience grows and style develops, you will find ways to play with the structure to stay unpredictable.
Here’s how Johnny Harris formats his videos in an advanced way of presenting visual anchors before providing context → Why every Johnny Harris video goes viral
But a great structure we often use is:
- Opening plot
- Content body
- Call to action
Let’s take a deeper look.
1. Hook the audience by speaking to their deep desires 🪝
You have about 15 seconds to get your audience hooked before they get bored and skip to the next video. Do not mess up.
It’s crucial that you set the right expectations and make the listener feel like he is in the right place.
Getting the first 15 seconds right is all about getting these 3 factors right:
- Opening hook
Yes, in that order of importance.
See, if your thumbnail is bad, it’s not going to get attention, and if your title is bad it’s not going to get a click, but if the opening hook is boring, they will assume it’s clickbait and skip the video.
There’s no right way to assess if your topic will resonate, but you need to do a lot of research regardless.
2. Opening plot 🤔
After hooking the audience in, it’s time to set up the plot.
You’ll start setting the plot without actually explaining everything in-depth. Usually, you will ride the wave from the starting hook.
Talk about the painpoints and get them eager to listen to more.
3. Introduce yourself… briefly 🙋
You don’t necessarily want to put an introduction at the beginning because it delays the “fun”part for your audience.
Some of you might even decide to skip this altogether, but new viewers don’t know what you do as they’ve just stumbled upon your video. This is an opportunity to educate them and help them become a fan of your work quicker.
Keep it short because you don’t want to bore them. People care, but less than you think. Two sentences are usually enough.
4. The content body 📺
This is the meat and potatoes of your video.
The goal is to deliver what the audience actually came to learn.
Creators often make mistakes where they promise something in the hook and title, but then don’t deliver on it:
You came to learn how to write YouTube video scripts > We will teach you how to actually write YouTube video scripts.
You want people to remember that you always deliver the promised value — because then, the next time they see your thumbnail, they will click on it.
Try to provide the most amount of value in the shortest amount of time WHILE keeping it entertaining.
One way of doing this is to research far deeper than you think is needed. Then, trim until you’re only left with the most valuable information.
Play with the tonality and creative delivery and your content will resonate.
5. Call to action 💥
Call to actions often get least amount of attention in the planning phase.
Planners assume that just telling the audience what do it is enough.
It rarely is.
There are 3 components to a strong call to action:
Timing: Pick the right timing by identifying patterns in your analytics - if you find out most of your viewers drop at 50% of your video include the CTA before then.
Relevancy: We see many promoting sponsors as CTAs that aren’t even remotely related to what their video is about – don’t expect people to blindly buy.
Usefulness: Stop slapping ebooks as a CTA. No one cares to read it. Find a useful way to actually help them solve an obstacle, and offer that as a reward for taking your desired action.
(For example, you’re reading our content on increasing retention rates through better script-writing → so we crafted perfect script templates for different use-cases, you’re welcome to steal them 😉)
6. BONUS: Take advantage of the existing momentum 🏃
Your audience just finished the entire video – but what next?
This is your opportunity to ask them to engage with you in the comments, point them to another relevant video or simply recommend them a solution.
Be careful not to distract them from your primary CTA.
Here are a few examples.
- Ask your audience a question:What do you struggle with the most when scripting your video? Drop me a comment below
- Recommend them a relevant video: f you are curious abut how to read the script and film an engaging video, make sure to check my video on “How to naturally read a script while keeping users engaged”
- Recommend them a tool or product:If you want someone to help you with your scripts, make sure to click the link in the description and schedule a free consultation with Videodeck! If you need any help crafting a script, our video script templates can be the secret sauce you need. .
Don’t be afraid to plug your services if they can genuinely help your audience!
Wrapping it up & practical tips!
Okay, so you have your visual anchors ready, you know what your A-Roll and B-Roll footage will look like, the script is baked hot – what now?
- Talk directly to the audience
- Read your script out load before pressing record – this is the final editing check
- Underline the parts of the script where you want to hold tension and release tension
- Start connecting visuals to the script so you have maximum impact of delivery
- Dress the part, do not let your appearance distract the audience from the story
- Practice makes perfect – record multiple times until you get it right!
Need help getting started?
If you are considering a DIY approach check our Video Script Templates kit — it has all you need to create top-notch explainer videos by yourself.