Planning and Outlining

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Why is planning and outlining your videos crucial?

Do you always take time to plan your YouTube videos? If you not, you are missing a lot, and probably that is why you are not on the list of top YouTubers. Planning your videos helps them to perform better on YouTube. Basically, planning is the first step in video shooting, and a step which is very crucial. It is a step that gets you off on the right foot. Often, if you don’t plan well, don’t wait for a miracle to happen.

With that in mind, let’s go through some of the best practices for planning, outlining, and scripting YouTube videos to always remember.

Best practices


Plan the first 15 seconds

Not once YouTube has stated that the first 15 seconds of any video is very significant.

YouTube Creator Playbook tips: the first 15 seconds

This is the first of a series of posts sharing tips from the YouTube Creator Playbook, a resource full of best practices and strategies that you can start using on your channel and videos right away.

Ever notice how many of your favorite shows start with a great two-minute scene followed by the opening credits, instead of the other way around? How often has a great movie trailer caught your attention and made you want to go see the movie right away on opening night? With so many entertainment choices, all types of creators know how important it is to capture the attention of audiences early on. This same idea applies to videos on YouTube, and here’s how you can use this creative technique to attract and keep your viewers watching.

This is because most viewers decide whether to leave or continue watching a video based on what they see in the first 15 seconds. That is a good reason enough why you need to plan for the first 15 seconds.

Including something that gets your viewers excited about the upcoming content is one way to maximize in the first 15 seconds. Here are some of the best ways you can use to not only grab the attention of your viewers but also to lure them to watch the entire video:

  • Add a brief summary of what your video is about
  • Add an attention-grabbing line
  • Include a teaser for what is coming up later
  • Add an eye-catching visual

Outline key points

Ever done something, and once done, you remembered you skipped something very crucial? Outlining helps include every key point. So, consider nurturing a habit of jotting down a handful of essential points for your videos before shooting.

Buffer’s YouTube channel is an excellent example that shows the significance of summarizing vital points before shooting. Initially, they created videos without much planning, and this resulted in a struggle with audience retention and engagement. But once they outlined a few points, that boosted the watch time by 61%.

Total watch time

Focus on flow

Do you have a plan of how to move from one point to another? The next thing after outlining your points is making sure you have a clear plan of how your points will flow. And the quicker the transition, the better.

Doing this makes sure your viewers stay engaged throughout; otherwise, they will become impatient and stop watching your videos. That is not something you want to happen as you work on growing your channel.

Basically, having a plan on how to move from one point to the other make sure your videos have the right flow and momentum. Watch this fast-paced video for more information.

The “H.I.C.C.” Video Structure

The H.I.C.C video structure is a simple yet effective structure for outlining YouTube videos. H stands for Hook, I for intro, C for content, and the last C stand for the call to action.

Now let’s dive deeper and see how this structure works:

H=Hook

A hook is simply something that grabs people’s attention. We talked about grabbing your viewers’ attention in the first 15 seconds. You can revisit that section for more information. Basically, this structure lets you include catchy content that grabs your viewer’s attention once they click your video.

I= Intro

After hooking your viewers, it is time to introduce your topic. At this stage, you can also preview what the video will cover, show an example, or give a sneak peek of what is coming up.

C=Content

This is the main content of your video. In case you are preparing a how-to video, make sure to list the steps that someone needs to follow. If creating a cooking video, show the recipe and steps to follow clearly.

C=Call to Action

Finally, remember to end your video with a call to action. A call to action can be anything like a video, watch another video, subscribe to watch more videos, and so on.

What do you think of this structure? Do you think it can work for you? Give it a try, and remember to share your experience.

Shoot for the edit

Shoot for the edit is a technique in production that makes editing your video a whole lot easier. This technique results in better videos because even before you shoot your videos, you already sure you are going to edit them soon. In other words, you are planning your shoot around the editing process.

Below is how the “Shoot for the Edit” works:

  • Outline or script the material before you shoot. Doing this results in fewer takes to sift through and edit.
  • Before you record any material, check out 5-10 seconds of test footage to make sure focus, lighting, and audio is OK
  • Use a Clapperboard to keep track of takes, sections and to help sync up audio and video
  • Record multiple takes of important lines

Tips and advanced strategies

  • Practice: Even good things don’t come on a silver platter. So, to shoot a professional video, make sure you practice and practice until you master everything. Otherwise, if you cut corners, you will never shoot appealing videos.
  • Use a teleprompter: A teleprompter is a huge bonus when recording your videos. It saves you a lot of time by allowing you to record 25-30% faster than when reading off a scrip line by line. Initially, you may have a few challenges, but once you get accustomed to it, you will love it.
  • Plan for B-Roll footage: B Roll footage is a great way to mix things up in your video. Also, if you plan where you are going to use B rolls in advance, you can read those lines directly off of your script, eliminating the need for multiple takes.

Learn More

How To Write A Video Script For YouTube: An excellent video by Nick Nimmin on scripting YouTube videos.

Shooting for the Edit: A thorough primer on the “Shooting for the Edit” approach (from Wistia).

Tips for Scripts: The YouTube Creator Academy hooks you up with a bunch of tips for writing video scripts.

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