Planning Your Video

No matter the kind of video you’ll make, writing a script first is recommended. After which, you’ll plan out the visual elements in a storyboard.  Once these two planning steps are complete, it’s time to produce (record) the video.  On this page you’ll find the following:

Why Write a Script

There are several benefits to writing a script.  It can help you be succinct and organized.  Following the script will help you stay on topic with less rambling. You’ll know if the idea is complete with little chance of wondering, “Did I leave something out?” And you’ll have a transcript of the video already created.

Script Writing Tips

1.What is the one big idea?

To help focus the script, address one big idea per video.  One big idea can then have 3 or 4 key points to support the idea.  Tackling one big idea can help keep your video concise.  You may find when you are writing that multiple ideas surface.  If this happens, you may need to consider doing more than one video.  This becomes a strategic decision as long talking head videos are not watched as completely as shorter videos with information chunked into 6-minute segments. Making an effort to chunk single ideas into short videos will get watched more often than longer videos with multiple big ideas (Guo, et al. 2014).

2. Can you Summarize the Idea?

Before you tackle the script, try to summarize your video in a few sentences.  Here are a few examples of videos that tackle one big idea and can be summarized in a sentence or two.

Click to play video
“The purpose of the video is to focus on the logic of the IF Function in Excel. The video will serve as an introduction to the IF Function before students write the actual formula in Excel.” – Sandy Figueroa
Click to play video “This video will discuss the basics of creating and interpreting graphs in Macroeconomics. Graphs are used heavily in economics, and therefore it is important for students to understand, and be able to use, draw and interpret them.” – Faime Moussavi
Click to play video “This will be a short introductory description of the course to catch attention and build interest at the beginning of the course.” – Meetu Dhar

To Script or Not to Script

A draw-back to writing a script is that it becomes a crutch.  During the recording, this is noticeable as the presenter reads the script instead speaking it.  As you’ve probably seen, when a presenter reads their script in a video it can sound canned or rigid with no emotion.  A goal with creating video is to connect with your students and build community.  If the video lacks emotion there is a good chance you will lose your audience.  An audience connects to a video through emotion.

A trained performer can deliver a script with emotion.  For those of us that are not trained actors, an unscripted video can be more personable and help facilitate a connection to the audience.  Some argue that an unscripted video has more of a chance for students to see your passion for the discipline. The challenge then is for the presenter to have the gift of brevity and eloquence.  This doesn’t mean the video has to be perfect.  Mistakes can be endearing too.

Detailed Outline

Regardless of your decision to script or not to script, definitely create a detailed outline.  You may find that creating a PowerPoint slide deck is enough to use for your recording.  It serves as a detailed outline. However, if you do write a word-for-word script remember it’s OK to go off script.

With an unscripted video be careful of verbal fillers (uhm, ahh, etc.).  They are OK to say, but too much will be distracting and you may lose your audience.

Whether you write a full script or just a detailed outline, give yourself some time to rehearse before you record.  You’ll end up making a number of mistakes when you record, so do yourself a favor and practice.

Storyboard – Plan out your Visuals

We borrow the term “storyboard” from the filmmaking world. They use detailed drawings to plan out the cinematography that will bring the script to life.  A storyboard helps you plan the visual elements to match your spoken dialogue. Time spent creating a storyboard will be saved when you move on to the Production Stage.

Keeping the storyboard simple is highly recommended.  Faculty often use a 2-column table format with the spoken word in one column and the corresponding image in the other.  Here is a sample Storyboard in Word (.doc) OFDIT uses as a template.  Feel free to download this to create your own storyboard.  If you prefer another style, look at these examples: Free Storyboard Templates in Word.

Image Resources:

There are free public domain image repositories on the Internet with high quality stock images, video, and graphic art. They’re great sites for finding images.  Here are some that we recommend:

Pixabay is our main resource for finding stock images. They have a Public Domain license, so may be used without attribution or infringing on copyright.  You can type in key words like, “Welcome,” “Student,” or “Teamwork” and find high quality images of people, objects or text.  Be careful to avoide the “Sponsored Images.”  These are watermarked from Stock Photo sites and can only be used with a fee.

If these sites don’t have what you need, perform a Google Image Search, and filter the search by “Creative Commons licenses.”  These images are free to use but require different levels of attribution if re-used or re-published. Be sure to read the license.

What’s the Next Step?

Once you’ve created your script and storyboard, you’re ready to move on to the Production Stage. Use the buttons below to go to the Production step (next) or skip ahead to Post-Production.


Decide the technical tools you’ll use to create the video.  The Production section has tutorials to assist you.

Post Production Icon


Most recordings will need small edits, but all videos need to be shared and captioned.  The Post-Production section will show you how.


*Guo, Philip & Kim, Juho & Rubin, Rob. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. 41-50. 10.1145/2556325.2566239.