With the rising use of smart devices, online video has become an essential instrument in the on-demand learning and development toolbox. But scripting a training or educational video on your own can be a lesson in frustration.

You’ve got to:

  • Grab and keep the learner’s attention.
  • Make your content thorough but not overly complex, entertaining yet still meaningful.
  • Figure out how to balance what you need the learner to know with what he or she wants to learn.

Not sure you have the knowledge to tick off all those boxes? We do. Our writers know how to communicate key concepts simply. That keeps learners engaged – so your video will get used, not ignored. And that is critically important when it comes to reaching younger learners with shorter attention spans.

Working with Your SMEs

Getting to the heart of the topic often involves interviewing subject matter experts, and that can be a bit tricky. After all, these are individuals whose knowledge is in-depth and all-encompassing, and whose interest in their subject is typically all-consuming. That means it’s not always easy for them to limit themselves to providing only what’s relevant for your particular project.

Fortunately, our writers all have backgrounds in journalism. Why is this important? It means they’re adept at asking the right questions, keeping conversations with experts on track, and winnowing out the best information. It also means they can write video scripts that are rich in information but the right length for today’s learners.

Although video learning continues to evolve, there are some best practices to keep in mind

  • Make the introduction compelling and welcoming to draw the audience in. Don’t do a big wind-up at the start. Instead, lead with the most important information. You can provide context and details as you go along. Tell viewers what they can expect to learn – and what you expect them to do or know when the video is over.
  • Include a transcript, so learners have something to refer back to.
  • Closed captioning or superimposed text isn’t just for those with hearing disabilities. It helps all learners keep up and better understand what you’re saying.
  • Add interactive elements. For example, quizzes keep your audience engaged and also let them check for understanding.
  • Demonstrate both the how-to and a how-not-to.
  • Include (scripted or highly edited) interviews with subject matter experts, experienced employees, and others. Not only does this give the video personality, it makes the topic more relatable.
  • Have a strong call to action. Make sure the viewer understands what they should do next.

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Inspiration from Anywhere

As I missed my international flight home to Houston from Trinidad today, I was suddenly struck with an inspiration. Writers can find their muse anywhere at any time. Now, you may be wondering why being stuck at a foreign airport alone with absolutely no money and no lay of the land could inspire this thought in my mind. But just think about it. I’m sitting here, computer on my lap, just tapping away at the keys. Doesn’t matter that I’m in a place completely unfamiliar to me or that I’m completely clueless as to where I’ll lay my head tonight. It’s just me and the keyboard spending some good quality time together.

So while I’m here at the airport with a whole lot of nothing to do, I’d like to take these moments to give you some ideas about where you can find inspiration for your own writing.

Remember back to things that made you happy in your childhood. Do you recall the first time you ever rode your bike, or the time Santa left the toy you had wanted so badly under the tree? Did you play dress up in your grandmother’s attic or sell lemonade on a hot summer day? Memories like these formed you as a person, and they are the perfect way to dig deep when you feel your writing has lost some of its meaning.

Take in the scenery around you. Write about the gorgeous nature (or lack thereof) that resides around you. Watch people as they walk by – each of them unique in character and offering something special to the world. The diversity that is found in all things is a wonderful way to open your eyes (and pen) to new content.


Get out. Do you ever feel stuck in the same routine? Do something different. Go somewhere different. Take a drive, go salsa dancing on a Tuesday, sit in the sand at the beach, and hike in the mountains. Simply remove yourself from the norm that is your life, and don’t act surprised when inspiration finds you out of your element.

Read. Read books, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, blogs, articles, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Open your eyes to the way others interpret the world through writing, and inspiration may come right out and smack you in the face.

What inspires you? We’d love to hear.

Stamp Out Wimpy Verbs

Any good writer will tell you to build your sentences on verbs. It’s not nouns or adverbs or adjectives that make your prose shine. When it comes to great writing, the verb is the powerhouse.

OK, so write with verbs. That sounds easy enough. But as with all things writing, wrapping your sentences around verbs can be more difficult than you think. To make it even more difficult, not all verbs are created equal. Some verbs are just plain wimpy. And for hard-hitting copy, you need hard-hitting verbs.

Here are a few limp verbs that should send your editor alarm bells ringing:

Let. If I had a penny for every time I saw this one. Let us serve you with our 100 years of experience at financial planning, blah, blah, blah. Blech. You can do better than that. Try instead: From our first meeting, we pull from over 100 years of financial experience to build your retirement plan.

Allow. Just like let, allow is a lazy verb. It’s easy to write and easy to ignore.

Offer (or Provide). Yes, you’ll probably have offer in your copy somewhere, and that’s fine. But be aware. Offer can get boring, fast.

Here’s an example with allow and offer in the same sentence: We offer mobile, onsite services that allow us to clean and detail your vehicle anywhere — from your home to your office.

Try instead: With our mobile, onsite services, we’ll clean and detail your vehicle anywhere — from your home to your office.

To Be. Am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. Use too many forms of the “to be” verb, and you are sure to put your readers to sleep. Of course, you do need some of these. But instead of “We are an award-winning establishment that works for you 24-7. Do: “At our award-winning establishment, we work for you 24-7.”

Have. “We have more than 30 stores to serve you.” Okay, fine. Not a terrible sentence, but it isn’t exactly making me jump out of my seat either. How about: “Find your next widget at your choice of over 30 locations.”

Am I saying to avoid this list of verbs at all costs? Of course not. They are part of the English language, and they have their place. But if you find yourself using one, take another look at your sentence. Chances are, there is a more powerful verb waiting to get out.