Writing for listeners

by | Feb 8, 2021 | Audio, Webinars

You should have a script for your webinar.

A lot of people don’t like to hear that. They want to put everything on the slides, and read the slides. Or at least use the slides as prompts.

Some people don’t think they can sound natural if they have a script.

Based on their experience, they’re right.

But i find that the main reason my clients don’t like a script is because they don’t know how to write one.

When you write a script, you’re writing for a listener, not a reader.

Readers can do things listeners can’t. They can pause and think about what they just read. They can go back a sentence or a paragraph and take a do-over, in case they zoned out or just didn’t understand. They can walk away and digest, then return and pick up where they left off.

Listeners can’t do any of that. They have to take in a stream of information.

That means you need to use simpler words. You need to use call-backs and call-forwards.

You need to repeat things, in different ways.

That’s not the kind of writing we learn in school.

So teaching people to write a good webinar script used to be difficult.

Now it’s almost trivially easy.

This is hemingwayapp.com. It’s free.

Write your script in whatever software you like, then paste it here. Look for yellow and red sentences, and simplify them. Look for passive voice and get rid of it. And look at the readability grade level.

In this game, lower is better. Aim to have all your scripts at grade 4 or less.

That means using simpler, active and forceful words. It means breaking up long sentences into smaller ones. And it means deleting stuff. Especially the stuff where it’s just you trying to sound impressive. You know what I’m talking about. Be honest.

Plus, the sentences in yellow or red are the ones you’re gonna trip over, when you say them out loud. Try it for yourself. Shorter sentences are better for everyone.

If you type out a word for word script. = Then get it down to grade 4. That alone would give you a good script that’s easy to read and easy to listen to.

So, No more spending years, learning how to write scripts. Just use this tool.

Now, how do you actually use a script during a webinar?

First, write the script using the tool. Grade 4 or below whenever you can.

and Then you have a choice.

Some people do very well by putting a Grade 4 script into the presentation notes of the slides. If you like seeing the script when you’re running the presenter’s view, that’s a solid option.

The other option, the one I like, is to use a second device. Personally, i load the script into teleprompter software on my tablet, or phone. Or just have a second laptop and open the script in a word processor there. My teleprompter app, for ipads, scrolls through the script using voice recognition. It costs 20 bucks. As I speak, it scrolls up. If that stops working, for some reason,I can always scroll it with my finger. It works great.

Don’t use papers. The audience might hear them rustle and that doesn’t send the right signal to them. This is a digital experience.

So there you go. Write a full script. Use it.

In the live sessions I’ll show how I mark up scripts so I know which words to hit a little harder than others.

And some other tricks to help you write scripts faster.