Here are some tips for writing more believable banter: The nine secrets to making video dialog sound natural Read it out loud Consider this your first line of defense against dialog disaster. Use contracted dialog n’ such There’s a pretty big gap between how we write and how we say things. Eavesdrop on real conversations Curious where to use those contractions? Go back to basics and do some good old-fashioned people watching. Don’t overuse names Most of the time, we don’t address each other as anything. They can simultaneously be talking about the meaning of life, what they had for lunch on Tuesday, and how stressed they are about homework—and none of this is a contradiction.” When writing dialog for your marketing video, get at least two threads going. Just read your stuff out loud, listen to how people talk and keep the conversation going back and forth, sometimes across multiple threads. Do that, and you’ll write more like people speak, yaknow? Attach Log in with or sign up with Disqus or pick a name Disqus is a discussion network Disqus never moderates or censors. Load more comments Powered by Disqus Subscribe Add Disqus to your siteAdd DisqusAdd Privacy SECURITY WARNING: Please treat the URL above as you would your password and do not share it with anyone.
How can something that each of us spends thousands of hours practicing every year be so devilishly difficult?
We’re, of course, talking about dialog—that simple back-and-forth between human beings that’s one of the trickiest parts to nail in your marketing videos. A dearth of spoken sincerity can cause the whole production to come crashing down and feel stilted, and even multimillion dollar movies and A-list actors are guilty of it (Looking at you, Keanu).
And just as in Hollywood, lousy video marketing dialog can be an ROI killer. Here are some tips for writing more believable banter:
The nine secrets to making video dialog sound natural
- Read it out loud
Consider this your first line of defense against dialog disaster. You’ve already poured years of practice into the spoken word, and by listening to yourself, you’ll hear what does and doesn’t work. As you say it, rewrite a new version.
- Use contracted dialog n’ such
There’s a pretty big gap between how we write and how we say things. That’s because when people are speaking, there’s a wealth of subtle cues in the form of tone, emphasis, emotion, and body language. “Are you serious?” can be communicated with a furrowed brow. “That’s horrible,” can be said with just a raised upper lip. Replace words in your script with these stage directions.
Also, speed up the rate of which people say things. We talk fast—at 145 words per minute versus 40 for reading. To try and fit it all in, people contract just about everything that can be shortened. ‘Do not’ becomes don’t, ‘cannot’ becomes can’t, ‘it will’ becomes it’ll, and most transitions such as ‘but,’ ‘if,’ and ‘whereas’ merely get dropped. Write for speed and cut the fluff.
- Eavesdrop on real conversations
Curious where to use those contractions? Go back to basics and do some good old-fashioned people watching. Try it right now in your workspace—stop and listen to how coworkers converse with each other. Note how rarely they speak in cliches such as “ace in the hole” or “as luck would have it” compared to how often these phrases show up in scripts. Spend time playing office stenographer, type up conversations, and correct your dialog accordingly.
- Leave out the boring stuff
After collecting reams of real, recorded inter-office dialog, cut out all the pieces that are unnecessary or boring. Real people use lots of, um, filler words and drop into unrelated tangents. For the sake of your marketing video audience’s limited attention span, streamline the script and keep things moving.
- Don’t overuse names
Most of the time, we don’t address each other as anything. We just start talking. According to Angelo Perra, playwright, and author of Making Character Dialog Sound Natural, that’s because “it sounds silly. (Mary, you look great….