Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English

  • Critical thinking is the opposite of regular, everyday thinking. Moment to moment, most thinking happens automatically. When you think critically, you deliberately employ any of the above intellectual tools to reach more accurate conclusions than your brain automatically would (more on this in a bit).
  • 17 Tips For Teaching High Functioning Students with Autism 1. People with autism have trouble with organizational skills, regardless of their intelligence and/or age. Always praise the student when he remembers something he has previously forgotten. Never denigrate or “harp” at him when he fails. A lecture on the subject will not.

Free logical reasoning test with right answers to all questions. Practice logical reasoning skills for assessment preperation with this free psychometric test. After a couple years of studying French, I received a phone call (in English) at home for my father, and wrote the message the caller wished to leave for him. When I hung up and looked down at the paper, I found it was written in perfect French. All great video marketing campaigns start with great video scripts. As I’ve learned first-hand over the course of this year, writing dozens of video scripts for all our in-house video projects, the amount of effort you put into pre-production (read: script-writing) is directly correlated to the quality of the end product.

All great video marketing campaigns start with great video scripts. As I’ve learned first-hand over the course of this year, writing dozens of video scripts for all our in-house video projects, the amount of effort you put into pre-production (read: script-writing) is directly correlated to the quality of the end product. The better the script, the better the end product.

Need a little help with your video script writing skills? Here are my six best tips for writing effective video scripts.

1. Identify your target viewer

When you first get the green light to create video marketing content, you’ll probably feel tempted to start cranking out scripts right away. Here’s why that’s a mistake: Without a crystal clear picture of the person you’ll be targeting with your videos, your content will lack focus. So the first step towards writing effective video scripts is identifying your target viewer.

Because you’ll be using your video content to attract and engage people qualified to become your customers, your target viewer should look practically identical to your buyer persona—the imaginary, thoughtfully crafted character who represents your company’s ideal customer. If you’ve already created a buyer persona, that’s great! Go ahead and use that person as your target viewer. If you haven’t sketched out your buyer persona yet, here are the basics.

The purpose of creating a buyer persona—who, although not technically real, is very much based on the characteristics and needs of real people—is to make your product or service more marketable. After all, if you don’t know who your product or service is for, your marketing messages will be ineffective—especially the messages communicated through your videos. Here’s the information you’ll need to create your buyer persona (and your target viewer):

  • Demographics: What’s their age, gender, occupation, relationship status, parental status, education level, and income bracket?
  • Behaviors and interests: What do they do on a regular basis? How do they like to spend their free time? What matters most to them?
  • Goals: What are they trying to accomplish? What’s their definition of success?
  • Pain points: What’s keeping them from achieving that success? What problems need to be solved in order for them to succeed?

Only when you’ve answered these questions will you be able to write focused, effective video scripts that attract and engage the right people.

2. Write like you speak

If you’re anything like me, you’ll sit down to write your first video script with a somewhat reasonable yet entirely false thought floating around your head: Writing a script is basically the same as writing a blog post, right?

Nope. Although the goals behind video marketing and blogging are essentially the same—to build your brand, engage your prospects, generate leads, and so on—the actual, finished products they yield are drastically different. Simply put, what sounds natural in someone’s head as they’re reading a blog post does not necessarily sound natural as they’re watching a video.

The more natural the speakers in your videos sound, the clearer your message will be. Therefore, when you sit down to write a script, you need to write like you speak.

Shout-out to the Plain English Campaign.

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English Dub

Like most skills, this will develop with practice; the more video scripts you write, the more easily you’ll be able to write with a cadence that sounds natural when spoken aloud. When you’re just starting out with script-writing, however, you need to check yourself proactively and regularly. Otherwise, you’ll start the shooting process too soon and find that the script you were so proud to have written sounds really, really awkward.

My advice? Read every single sentence back to yourself—out loud. If it sounds weird to you, it’ll most likely sound weird to your audience. Keep at it until you’ve managed to communicate your ideas in a way that comes across clearly through spoken word.

3. Keep your paragraphs short

Whether or not you have a teleprompter—we highly recommend them for those who have the budget—this tip is important. By dividing your script into a series of short, bite-sized paragraphs (we’re talking four or five sentences at a maximum), you set yourself up for a much easier shooting process when the time comes to bring your script to life.

Plenty of simple teleprompters are suitable for smartphones and tablets!

If you don’t have the budget for a teleprompter, dividing your script into small chunks isn’t so much a choice as it is a requirement. The more information you ask your speakers to memorize for each take, the more takes you can expect to do. Provided that you don’t have infinite time to produce your video content—and that your speakers don’t have infinite energy—you’ll want to make the shooting process as efficient as possible.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a teleprompter, limiting your paragraphs to three or four sentences each is still a good idea. True—reading from a teleprompter is far easier than reciting from memory, thus increasing the amount of information your speakers can successfully communicate in a single take. Nevertheless, mistakes happen. People stumble over their words. The more you ask someone to read during a single take, the more opportunities there are for them to mess up; the more they mess up, the more frustrated they get. In turn, greater frustration leads to worse performance and lower efficiency.

Bottom line: Short paragraphs make for easy shooting days.

4. Structure your information logically

Earlier, I argued that you need to write like you speak in order to clarify the information you’re sharing and improve viewer comprehension. After all, if your prospects walk away from your videos having learned nothing, what was the point of investing your time and money in the creation of that content?

The ROI of your video marketing efforts is tied directly to how much your prospects learn. Contrary to what you may assume, making educational video content isn’t a matter of simply sharing as much information as you possibly can. From a viewer comprehension perspective, just as important as the information you share is how you organize that information. Even the most insightful content is practically useless if it’s illogically organized.

Through writing both video scripts and blog posts, here’s what I’ve found to be the best approach. Once you’ve settled on the overarching topic of the video you’re creating, structure the script such that it starts with the most general information and gets progressively more specific and complex. Before you get into the nitty-gritty of whatever subject matter you’re tackling, make sure to give your viewers the solid foundation they need to fully comprehend everything that’s to come.

Think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Start with the essentials and go from there.

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English

Let’s use an example. Say you’re a marketer at a gym. You want to use educational video content to build the gym’s brand and connect with people interested in physical fitness—that is, people who make good candidates for gym memberships. For your first video, you want to talk to your viewers about protein shakes. If you were to dive straight into specific ingredients, measurements, and nutrition facts, that would be pretty jarring, right? To create a much more helpful and holistic learning experience for your viewers, you’d want to begin by talking about the pros and cons of protein shakes, when they should and shouldn’t be used, and so on. Only after you’ve laid that foundation should you get into the specifics.

5. Keep visual aids top-of-mind

When it comes to video content, most people want to see more than a static talking head. After all, a video that shows nothing but a person speaking for several minutes straight gets pretty darn boring. Plus, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that many people are visual learners. Without some form of images or graphics to accompany your speakers, your video content won’t be as effective as it needs to be to leave lasting impressions on your prospects. In turn, you won’t drive the ROI you’re looking for.

All that being said, you can’t shoehorn graphics into your videos purely for the sake of doing so; you should never include something that doesn’t legitimately enhance the viewer’s learning experience. To ensure that your use of graphics is seamless and effective, I recommend consciously creating opportunities for visual aids while writing your scripts. In other words, don’t write an entire script and subsequently comb through it in search of opportunities for visual aids. Instead, try to write with a cadence that naturally lends itself to the use of aids.

The genius of Moz’s Whiteboard Friday series lay in the use of visual aids.

As an example, let’s return to the hypothetical in which you’re creating video marketing content for a gym. Technically, when scripting the introductory section of the video about protein shakes, you could simply say “Protein shakes are divisive among the fitness community” and leave it at that. Alternatively, you could say “Regularly drinking protein shakes comes with a number of costs and benefits.” I’d argue that the latter is substantially better because it gives you an opportunity to naturally insert a visual aid—a T-chart, most likely.

One last point: Finishing a script and subsequently combing through it to find places to insert graphics is a pain in the neck. If nothing else, take my advice to save yourself a headache.

6. Create opportunities for shareable clips

My final tip for writing video scripts is related to the promotion of your finished products. Think about it: Once you have a polished video that’s ready for publication on your website and YouTube channel, what better way to drum up interest than by sharing short, enticing clips on social platforms like Twitter and Instagram?

Via Oberlo.

As is the case with visual aids, you should have social media clips at the top of your mind as you’re writing your video scripts. If you script an entire video without thinking about its promotion on social media, you’ll force yourself to find shareable clips after the video’s been shot and edited—so you’ll run the risk of working with sub-par source material. This, in turn, could lead to not-so-enticing clips and a lack of engagement with your promotional posts.

If you consciously create shareable moments when writing your script instead, promoting the final video will become a whole lot easier and a whole lot more effective. Let’s return to the example of the protein shake video one more time. Sure—you could end the video by simply listing the ingredients required to make your personal favorite protein shake. However, a far more shareable piece of content would be a clip of you actually making that shake.

As you’re writing your script, regularly stop to ask yourself a question: “Will anything I’ve scripted so far make for a compelling social media post?” If the answer is no, make a concerted effort to change that. You (and your boss) will be happy you did.

Don’t mail it in when writing video scripts!

I get it: Writing scripts erases some of the luster of video marketing. There’s something really exciting about immediately getting behind (or in front of) a camera and simply creating. Sitting down at a laptop and thinking rationally about what’s going to enable the best user experience possible … not so much.

And yet, it has to be done. Whether you’re adopting video marketing as a channel so you can spread brand awareness or drive sales, you have to think really carefully about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Considering the amount of time, resources, and expertise it takes to create high-quality video marketing content, you really can’t afford to wing it.

Thoughtful, meticulous video scripts are the key to delivering the best results you possibly can. Using these six tips, you should be able to do just that.

And if you're looking for a low-budget way to produce quality marketing videos from home, we've got just the post for that.

When I was in 7th grade, my U.S. history teacher gave my class the following advice:

Your teachers in high school won’t expect you to remember every little fact about U.S. history. They can fill in the details you’ve forgotten. What they will expect, though, is for you to be able to think; to know how to make connections between ideas and evaluate information critically.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my teacher was giving a concise summary of critical thinking. My high school teachers gave similar speeches when describing what would be expected of us in college: it’s not about the facts you know, but rather about your ability to evaluate them.

And now that I’m in college, my professors often mention that the ability to think through and solve difficult problems matters more in the “real world” than specific content.

Despite hearing so much about critical thinking all these years, I realized that I still couldn’t give a concrete definition of it, and I certainly couldn’t explain how to do it. It seemed like something that my teachers just expected us to pick up in the course of our studies. While I venture that a lot of us did learn it, I prefer to approach learning deliberately, and so I decided to investigate critical thinking for myself.

What is it, how do we do it, why is it important, and how can we get better at it? This post is my attempt to answer those questions.

In addition to answering these questions, I’ll also offer seven ways that you can start thinking more critically today, both in and outside of class.

What Is Critical Thinking?

“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”

– The Foundation for Critical Thinking

The above definition from the Foundation for Critical Thinking website is pretty wordy, but critical thinking, in essence, is not that complex.

Critical thinking is just deliberately and systematically processing information so that you can make better decisions and generally understand things better. The above definition includes so many words because critical thinking requires you to apply diverse intellectual tools to diverse information.

Ways to critically think about information include:

  • Conceptualizing
  • Analyzing
  • Synthesizing
  • Evaluating
Thinking

That information can come from sources such as:

  • Observation
  • Experience
  • Reflection
  • Reasoning
  • Communication

And all this is meant to guide:

  • Beliefs
  • Action

You can also define it this way:

Critical thinking is the opposite of regular, everyday thinking.

Moment to moment, most thinking happens automatically. When you think critically, you deliberately employ any of the above intellectual tools to reach more accurate conclusions than your brain automatically would (more on this in a bit).

This is what critical thinking is. But so what?

Why Does Critical Thinking Matter?

Most of our everyday thinking is uncritical.

If you think about it, this makes sense. If we had to think deliberately about every single action (such as breathing, for instance), we wouldn’t have any cognitive energy left for the important stuff like D&D. It’s good that much of our thinking is automatic.

We can run into problems, though, when we let our automatic mental processes govern important decisions. Without critical thinking, it’s easy for people to manipulate us and for all sorts of catastrophes to result. Anywhere that some form of fundamentalism led to tragedy (the Holocaust is a textbook example), critical thinking was sorely lacking.

Even day to day, it’s easy to get caught in pointless arguments or say stupid things just because you failed to stop and think deliberately.

But you’re reading College Info Geek, so I’m sure you’re interested to know why critical thinking matters in college.

Here’s why:

According to Andrew Roberts, author of The Thinking Student’s Guide to College, critical thinking matters in college because students often adopt the wrong attitude to thinking about difficult questions. These attitudes include:

Ignorant Certainty

Ignorant certainty is the belief that there are definite, correct answers to all questions–all you have to do is find the right source (102). It’s understandable that a lot of students come into college thinking this way–it’s enough to get you through most of your high school coursework.

In college and in life, however, the answers to most meaningful questions are rarely straightforward. To get anywhere in college classes (especially upper-level ones), you have to think critically about the material.

Naive Relativism

Naive relativism is the belief that there is no truth and all arguments are equal (102-103). According to Roberts, this is often a view that students adopt once they learn the error of ignorant certainty.

While it’s certainly a more “critical” approach than ignorant certainty, naive relativism is still inadequate since it misses the whole point of critical thinking: arriving at a more complete, “less wrong” answer.

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English Subtitles

Part of thinking critically is evaluating the validity of arguments (yours and others’). Therefore, to think critically you must accept that some arguments are better (and that some are just plain awful).

Critical thinking also matters in college because:

  • It allows you to form your own opinions and engage with material beyond a superficial level. This is essential to crafting a great essay and having an intelligent discussion with your professors or classmates. Regurgitating what the textbook says won’t get you far.
  • It allows you to craft worthy arguments and back them up. If you plan to go on to graduate school or pursue a PhD., original, critical thought is crucial
  • It helps you evaluate your own work. This leads to better grades (who doesn’t want those?) and better habits of mind.

Doing college level work without critical is a lot like walking blindfolded: you’ll get somewhere, but it’s unlikely to be the place you desire.

The value of critical thinking doesn’t stop with college, however. Once you get out into the real world, critical thinking matters even more. This is because:

  • It allows you to continue to develop intellectually after you graduate.Progress shouldn’t stop after graduation–you should keep learning as much as you can. When you encounter new information, knowing how to think critically will help you evaluate and use it.
  • It helps you make hard decisions. I’ve written before about how defining your values helps you make better decisions. Equally important in the decision-making process is the ability to think critically. Critical thinking allows you compare the pros and cons of your available options, showing that you have more options than you might imagine.
  • People can and will manipulate you. At least, they will if you take everything at face value and allow others to think for you. Just look at ads for the latest fad diet or “miracle” drug–these rely on ignorance and false hope to get people to buy something that is at best useless and at worst harmful. When you evaluate information critically (especially information meant to sell something), you can avoid falling prey to unethical companies and people.
  • It makes you more employable (and better paid). The best employees not only know how to solve existing problems–they also know how to come up with solutions to problems no one ever imagined. To get a great job after graduating, you need to be one of those employees, and critical thinking is the key ingredient to solving difficult, novel problems.

Take my free class on mastering habits

Building habits isn’t just about discipline; there are real-world steps you can take to set yourself up for success! In this course, you'll learn how to set realistic goals, handle failure without giving up, and get going on the habits you want in your life.

7 Ways to Think More Critically

Now we come to the part that I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: how the heck do we get better at critical thinking? Below, you’ll find seven ways to get started.

1. Ask Basic Questions

“The world is complicated. But does every problem require a complicated solution?”

– Stephen J. Dubner

Sometimes an explanation becomes so complex that the original question get lost. To avoid this, continually go back to the basic questions you asked when you set out to solve the problem.

Here are a few key basic question you can ask when approaching any problem:

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull EnglishThinking
  • What do you already know?
  • How do you know that?
  • What are you trying to prove, disprove, demonstrated, critique, etc.?
  • What are you overlooking?

Some of the most breathtaking solutions to problems are astounding not because of their complexity, but because of their elegant simplicity. Seek the simple solution first.

2. Question Basic Assumptions

“When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

The above saying holds true when you’re thinking through a problem. it’s quite easy to make an ass of yourself simply by failing to question your basic assumptions.

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English Language

Some of the greatest innovators in human history were those who simply looked up for a moment and wondered if one of everyone’s general assumptions was wrong. From Newton to Einstein to Yitang Zhang, questioning assumptions is where innovation happens.

You don’t even have to be an aspiring Einstein to benefit from questioning your assumptions. That trip you’ve wanted to take? That hobby you’ve wanted to try? That internship you’ve wanted to get? That attractive person in your World Civilizations class you’ve wanted to talk to?

Logic:some Tips For Thinking And Writingthoughtfull English Language Arts

All these things can be a reality if you just question your assumptions and critically evaluate your beliefs about what’s prudent, appropriate, or possible.

If you’re looking for some help with this process, then check out Oblique Strategies. It’s a tool that musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt created to aid creative problem solving. Some of the “cards” are specific to music, but most work for any time you’re stuck on a problem.

3. Be Aware of Your Mental Processes

Human thought is amazing, but the speed and automation with which it happens can be a disadvantage when we’re trying to think critically. Our brains naturally use heuristics (mental shortcuts) to explain what’s happening around us.

This was beneficial to humans when we were hunting large game and fighting off wild animals, but it can be disastrous when we’re trying to decide who to vote for.

A critical thinker is aware of their cognitive biases and personal prejudices and how they influence seemingly “objective” decisions and solutions.

All of us have biases in our thinking. Becoming aware of them is what makes critical thinking possible.

4. Try Reversing Things

A great way to get “unstuck” on a hard problem is to try reversing things. It may seem obvious that X causes Y, but what if Y caused X?

The “chicken and egg problem” a classic example of this. At first, it seems obvious that the chicken had to come first. The chicken lays the egg, after all. But then you quickly realize that the chicken had to come from somewhere, and since chickens come from eggs, the egg must have come first. Or did it?

Even if it turns out that the reverse isn’t true, considering it can set you on the path to finding a solution.

5. Evaluate the Existing Evidence

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

– Isaac Newton

When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s always helpful to look at other work that has been done in the same area. There’s no reason to start solving a problem from scratch when someone has already laid the groundwork.

It’s important, however, to evaluate this information critically, or else you can easily reach the wrong conclusion. Ask the following questions of any evidence you encounter:

  • Who gathered this evidence?
  • How did they gather it?
  • Why?

Take, for example, a study showing the health benefits of a sugary cereal. On paper, the study sounds pretty convincing. That is, until you learn that a sugary cereal company funded it.

You can’t automatically assume that this invalidates the study’s results, but you should certainly question them when a conflict of interests is so apparent.

6. Remember to Think for Yourself

Don’t get so bogged down in research and reading that you forget to think for yourself–sometimes this can be your most powerful tool.

Writing about Einstein’s paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (the paper that contained the famous equation E=mc2), C.P. Snow observed that “it was as if Einstein ‘had reached the conclusions by pure thought, unaided, without listening to the opinions of others. To a surprisingly large extent, that is precisely what he had done'”(121).

Don’t be overconfident, but recognize that thinking for yourself is essential to answering tough questions. I find this to be true when writing essays–it’s so easy to get lost in other people’s work that I forget to have my own thoughts. Don’t make this mistake.

For more on the importance of thinking for yourself, check out our article on mental laziness.

7. Understand That No One Thinks Critically 100% of the Time

“Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.”

– Michael Scriven and Richard Paul

You can’t think critically all the time, and that’s okay. Critical thinking is a tool that you should deploy when you need to make important decisions or solve difficult problems, but you don’t need to think critically about everything.

And even in important matters, you will experience lapses in your reasoning. What matters is that you recognize these lapses and try to avoid them in the future.

Even Isaac Newton, genius that he was, believed that alchemy was a legitimate pursuit.

Conclusion

As I hope you now see, learning to think critically will benefit you both in the classroom and beyond. I hope this post has given you some ideas about how you can think more critically in your own life. Remember: learning to think critically is a lifelong journey, and there’s always more to learn.

For a look at critical thinking principles in action, check out our guide to strategic thinking.

Sources

  • The Thinking Student’s Guide to College by Andrew Roberts (the source of several of the seven ways to think more critically)
  • What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain (the source of several of the seven ways to think more critically)
  • A Short History of Nearly Everythingby Bill Bryson (the source for the C.P. Snow quote about Einstein and the information about Isaac Newton).

Image Credits: skyline, waterfall, vaulted ceiling, snowy road, thinker