Writing for the ear

Video is hot in all kinds of content creation. But the writing that you do for an audience that listens is rather different from one that reads. Here’s some tips for the writing part of content for audio and video.

Listeners process linearly – you can’t go back and review in audio. This simple truth drives much of what you must do to tell memorable stories.

Use simple language: Even more than in other media writing, conversational counts. Simple words,  subject-verb-object order in sentences, and avoiding dependent clauses matters.

Front-load: Put titles in front of names, cities in front of states, etc. Backhanded attributions are hard to follow in speech.

Give some road maps: If you quote someone at the top and bottom, id them twice. Explicitly say how one idea connects to the next and to the big picture. Well-thought-out transitions are crucial.

Match your words to the visuals: You need to pay attention in editing so that if you say people are happy, they look happy at that time. If you say a massive bag of rice, the visual had better be a big one. Research shows that people doubt your credibility if words and images don’t align.

Match your words to other audio: If there is natural sound, either intentionally or as an artifact of  how you recorded, the tone needs to match the sound. Sound creates powerful emotional connections and peppy music in the background when you describe boredom signals to the listener that something is wrong.

Learn more: 

A detailed article on writing visually for audio from Poynter

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