script writing

Apr 06, 2012

i am looking for tips and strategies on writing the script for online training. suggestions are greatly appreciated!

15 Replies
Eric Nalian

Hi Kelly,

When I write my scripts, I start out by writing out all of my content (not in script format) and then I just start talking out the content.  I write the script based on my ad-lib's of the content.  I also keep the script to the level of my learners, I try to avoid confusing words/concepts and simplify it as much as I could.

Natalia Mueller


What type of training are you scripting? Compliance, customer service, technical, etc. The approach is probably similar across all of them, but I have the most experience with technical training and that's a little more clear cut since it involves specific steps.

In very general terms-

First I map out the main course objectives (which is a process in itself). What do they need to learn in this course.

Then I list the steps for each objective. Here is how to DO each objective.

That builds the framework of the course. Then I go back and add the conversational tone and fill in the gaps to create a nice flow to the course. I also determine where there needs to be interaction, knowledge checks, etc and write the script around those.

Michael Mace

Depending on the task, I tend to outline the material and the goals of the course, and then I try to determine a scenario or scenarios that would apply to the information in order to promote learning.  For example, to write a course on a new software package for a department, I would speak to others and obtain a common activity they perform in the old software, and write the script using that activity in the new tool.  I add actors and situations to make it interesting.

The most important part?  Just start writing.  Brain dump on paper.  I have a friend who is a writer, and she will tell you that if you are trying to write the perfect story (or in this case, a script) the first time, you.....will.....never....start.  I just start on the script and revise, revise, revise.

Steve Flowers

I agree with the all of the contributions above. Starting somewhere is a good place to start. I normally recommend staying away from the computer for as long as you possibly can, as it tends to encourage chasing shiny objects instead of focusing on what's important.

I use a method for outlining priorities I call Left to Right. I illustrated this method and gave an example in this thread. The idea is starting out with your important points and expanding those as you get further into it. One reason I like this method is that it provides me a clear visual mapping to my central goals. It's really easy to get lost in the weeds and completely off the beaten path if you're not anchored to your core goals.

The right-hand column in this example starts rough and gains polish as we get buy-off from the customer and the concept begins to gel. This could start off with a really informal description like this:

"It feels like a scenario involving two employees and a customer would work really well here. Maybe beginning with a junior / inexperienced employee talking to a customer and providing inaccurate information. When we introduce the senior employee into the scene we can ask the learner to make a choice -- following up that choice with the likely outcome and some helpful, positive feedback."


"Here, I see an exercise where the learner can adjust inputs X, Y, and Z based on a situation description."

This frames the design approach intent and briefly describes the situation but doesn't require more than 30 seconds of work to put down as opposed to a fully scripted exercise that could take much longer. Why put in effort if you're not 100% certain it's the right direction?

Sammy Hwang

Hello Steve, 

Thank you so much for another valuable answer. 

I read your previous posting and became curious. 

Your main focus was about a script writing, but I cannot help ask 

this question. I saw the images that you described as exported ones in Fireworks. 

Are they  pre-built images in Fireworks or we can create them easily 

in that software? Is there any particular reason you use Fireworks? 

I thought the software is mainly used for developing a web page prototype. 

Elizabeth Israel

These are great answers imo!  Here is the process I tend to follow:

  • Write short and to the point sentences
  • Write in a way that is friendly to the ear
  • Read everything out loud
  • Make changes
  • Send materials to 3 other people
  • Have them read it out loud
  • Make changes based on feedback

I usually have people who have no concept about the topic as the reviewers.  If they understand all of it I know I'm on the right track.

Marisa Keramida

Nice discussion here. I’m instructional designer for eLearning and writing scripts for voice overs is part of my job. The main issue here is the high cost involved in voiceovers, so I definitely agree with you that writing an excellent script is fundamental as you may not afford revisions after the recording process is over.

Practically speaking, I found that that the most effective way to stay in track is to have your training material ready and then try to “elaborate” it with words in a friendly conversational tone. At this point come all of the tips mentioned above. Reading the script aloud has saved me many times. I also agree with Michael’s comment. Write something, go away for a while, then come back and revise, revise, revise. You know the script is ready for recording when you come back and find that no further revision is needed. Recently, I’ve read an interesting article on the topic with many useful practical tips, such as how to map the flow of your script before recording, how to calculate recording time for your script, how to take advantage of “silence” to maximize the effectiveness of your content, among others. I provide the link as a reference to those interested:

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