How to shoot a video without a script

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Using a script for your video can be tempting. You want to make the best possible video without the mistakes, without the nerves and make sure you cover all the important points. That the process is smooth.

But what Chris has found is that a script can hinder your progress and take up more of your time because you are trying to get this perfect video.

In this episode, Chris shares some tips with you to eliminate the need for a script for your video’s so you can feel confident and comfortable speaking on camera.

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At first, everyone is a little nervous about getting in front of the camera. They’re thinking, “What if I make a mistake? What if I stutter? What if I forget my words?” And we think a script is going to save us. It kind of acts like a safety net for us, something we can hang onto to protect us from making that mistake, to make sure you say the right things in the right order, and you don’t miss anything out. But we don’t need it.

You don’t need to have a script. In fact, I think not having a script actually creates better video, and I think it’s entirely possible for you to film your video without a script. And I’m going to help you with… I’m going to share some tips with you in this podcast episode.

And along the way, I’m also going to help you to improve the structure of your video and create better videos generally speaking, right? So there’s a whole… There’s like a knock-on effect almost to sort of saying to ourselves, “Is it possible if we could do video without a script?”

There are a few things we need to take into consideration. So let’s go through. I’ve got maybe three or four major tips here, but there’s quite a lot of little things in here as well, little techniques I think that are going to help you to create better video and ultimately be more comfortable and more confident in front of the camera.

So I’m going to start with a question. I want you to imagine that you’re having a conversation with a potential customer, a buyer, or an existing customer. When was the last time when you were speaking to a buyer, partway through the conversation you said, “Oh, hold on. I need to stop. I’ve missed a bit,” and you then went and pulled out a script out of your briefcase and started to read from it? It never happens like that, right?

When we’re speaking to someone face to face, a buyer, a client, potential customer, they ask us a question. They have an objection. We’re able to work through that because we know what we’re talking about. We’re experts. We know exactly how to talk to people. We know how to answer the questions. We know how to discuss the objections and the problems that they have, right?

So the first thing we do when we’re thinking about the script is we have to think, why do we behave like this in front of the camera, right? Why do we behave like this? Why do we need a script? And the first step is to see the camera as a real person, an actual person that you’ve talked to about this topic before, someone who has presented this question or problem to you in the past. So instead of seeing the camera as this black box, this thing, try and see it as a real person.

And this also helps when we’re speaking as well. If we feel like we’re speaking to a real person, we have a better relationship with the content as well, actually what we’re saying. And we can almost imagine being asked a question by this person and then taking them through that content in a logical manner. It kind of makes everything else so much easier when we see the camera as a person.

Another major challenge that comes from not knowing who we’re speaking to and sort of having these nerves is we end up sort of stopping and starting all the time, right? You start recording, and you make a mess of it, and you go back to the beginning, and then you start again. Then you make a mess of it, and you go back and forth, back and forth. And you’re kind of recording on. You turn the recording off, and you kind of stop and you’re starting all the time. And ultimately, what happens is it takes you hours to do one video that’s only two or three minutes in length.

It is a really big problem for a lot of people for loads of reasons but mainly your energy. You want to get as much as you can from your energy. Doing video can drain you, and you don’t want to be knackered after doing just one video. And number two, it’s just not very time effective, right? Time is money. We’ve only got so many hours in a day. And if it’s going to take you a few hours to do one single video, I mean, ideally you want to be in a position where you’re doing a bunch of videos in the shortest time possible, and you’re able to sort of just bash them out.

So step one, see the camera as a person. Let’s reduce a little bit that fear, a little bit those nerves, so we can speak clearly, and we can get through our content, and we know who we’re talking to.

Number two, we’re going to embrace something called the no stop rule.

The reality is that you would never stop halfway through having a conversation if you were talking to a real person. So what we’re going to agree right here right now is that you aren’t going to stop and go back to the start when you’re doing your first take of your video. You’re going to get right to the end. Regardless of how well it goes, you’re going to get to the end. So if you screw up or if you make a mess of it, you’re going to stop. You’re going to take a deep breath, and then you’re going to keep going as if you’ve been going since the start, right? You’re just going to keep going. You’re not going to draw any energy to the mistake you’ve made. You’re not going to start to panic. You’re not going to start getting frustrated. You’re just going to accept it, and you’re going to move on.

Now, this is a big deal. I’ve seen this dozens and dozens of times where people are really frustrated about the video that they’re doing. They seem to be taking forever. But ultimately, what happens is instead of taking many, many takes, the maximum amount of takes that they ever do for a video is two because, on the first one, they get to the end. And even if they need to take a second take, oftentimes, the first take ends up being better than the second take as well. So this is called the no stop rule.

If you keep going back to the start, you will never say it all out loud at least once on the camera, and you need to get to the end. You need to say those words. Really, really important that you do that. Now one of the things you can do off-camera before you jump onto the camera and before we hit record is to practice your script once off-camera and then go on camera without it. And remember, don’t panic or get frustrated when you make a mistake. Just pause, breathe, start where you left off, manage your energy, always moving the conversation forward. Really important to remember that, that we don’t give any energy.

So far we’ve got, the first part is to see the camera as a person, right? That kind of reduces our nerves, makes us feel a little bit more in control. We’re going to embrace the no stop rule, which is an amazing technique. It really does work. I’ve seen it work even with people that’s their very first time on camera doing their first-ever video in one single take.

And then another reason that we find ourselves being nervous when we don’t have a script, and typically we’re stopping and starting, and we’re making a lot of mistakes, is because we’re trying to cover too much in one video. It’s kind of just a bunch of waffle. And this can happen because the script that you’ve created isn’t actually a really good script, or the plan or structure for your video is poor.

So there’s a bunch of stuff in here that I want to share with you. The first part is we need to get specific, right? We need to answer a very specific question or address a very specific problem. Reduce your video to one single point.

A lot of the videos that we critique, and we see from our customers and our members and our clients are that it’s just too wishy-washy. They’re trying to cover a topic that’s too big too generally. And instead of just digging down into the specifics, what ends up happening is we’ve got this really wishy-washy video that doesn’t really talk to anybody, doesn’t really cover any specific topics in-depth, and it actually doesn’t really speak to anybody either. So it becomes, it’s almost like a waste of time, right? So we want to get specific.

And then oftentimes, we struggle because we don’t have a structure. So let me take you through some of the questions that I ask in order to get that structure. So before, you might want to ask yourself these questions when you actually get onto the camera, but you should definitely be asking this off-camera as well. So who is this video for? A very specific person, it was Steve asked me this question. What is the purpose of the video? What are we trying to achieve with this video? What is the working title of this video? What is the question I’m answering? What should the outcome be for the person watching this video? What are they going to take away from it?

So we’re trying to get specific all the time. What’s the question you’re answering and the problem you’re solving? Do I have a story that supports this advice and helps the viewer to understand why their behavior needs to change? Can I use this story to help the viewer understand the change in terms of a result and then leave them with some kind of challenge or a call to action to go ahead and make this change in their work or in their life in general, right? That’s the kind of structure we’re looking for, right, sort of question, problem, a story, some kind of result, and leaving them with some kind of challenge at the end or call to action. Getting that structure down is really, really important.

And like I said, I’ve seen this happen dozens of times. I’ve walked into a filming session before, and this person’s been trying to film this one video for hours, and then I introduce them to the no stop rule, and then they do their first take as I’m sitting there within minutes. That’s what we’re looking for is seeing the camera as a person, embracing the no stop rule, and having this structure around our video, this question, story, result, challenge is really going to help you as well.

So all in though, when you put all of these three together, what happens when you get on camera is your mind starts to focus on that one person. And even if you don’t say everything that you wanted to say, and if you don’t say everything you wanted to say in the order that you originally planned to do it in, it doesn’t matter. Oftentimes, it really doesn’t matter. It comes down to your perfectionism. And does it get the message across in the way that we wanted it to? Does it achieve the result?

And the way that we can do that is by quickly getting a structure into our head. What question am I answering? What problem am I addressing? What story do I want to share while we’re in here that’s going to help them to see the result and leave them with a challenge? And when you’ve got that in mind, what you’re really focusing on is, where do I want to get the viewer? The person that I’m speaking to, where am I ultimately leading them to?

And it’s almost like we’re starting with the end in mind. So when we’re on camera, we’re thinking, always thinking to yourself, where am I trying to get this person to? And you do not need a script. You can drop the script by embracing these three, these sort of three major techniques and focus on the viewer, get specific, and just ultimately keep the end in mind.

So what have we covered? The three main things, see the camera like a person, embrace the no stop rule, and create a structure for your video to keep it specific and on point. And ultimately, with these three techniques, not only should you be able to do without a script, you should feel confident without the script and comfortable on camera and ready to do 10, 15 videos in one setting without exhausting yourself and your team and the person that’s helping you film the videos as well.

I hope this helps you to film more videos. I hope this helps you to feel more confident and comfortable on the camera. And if you’ve got any thoughts, questions, ideas, you can email me, You can tweet me at @chrismarr101. Ultimately, nobody ever does, but I’d love to hear from you. And until next time, don’t forget to be awesome.

Thanks very much for joining me on the CMA Podcast today. If you find today’s episode interesting and intriguing, and you want to get better results from your content marketing, then join the CMA membership today at