On Ugly A/V Scripts & Why Presentation Always Matters

Sometimes, writers will send us two-column A/V scripts as writing samples. If you’ve never seen one of these… they are hideous. They’re impossibly clunky and, honestly, they’re a chore to read.

Somehow, your eyes are forced to scan vertically and horizontally at the same time while skipping over thick, black lines that separate sound effects from visual cues. And, somehow, you’re supposed to digest the story during all of this and become emotionally engaged.

No doubt, an A/V script is an important tool for production. But it’s not a good medium for telling a story.

The point is, presentation matters.


And presentation is more than just making something look pretty for the sake of it. It’s about removing any obstacles in the way of people getting completely wrapped up in your work.

The application to content is obvious. If you publish a piece of content, it should look professional. The words themselves should be cleanly formatted. Imagery should be high quality and properly aligned.

But reading and digesting ideas should be a great experience for everyone, not just for end users.

Give some thought to how you’re presenting content internally.


We’ve all had an experience where we’ve had to pitch an idea we loved to a client or our own team. And sometimes even the ideas we think are home runs get shot down.

But was it really the idea that failed? Or was it the presentation?

Did you really go all out to impress? Or did you show off a rough draft, hoping it would be enough to get the team to buy into your vision? Did you present the equivalent of an A/V script – something so weighed down by its technical burdens that it lost any sense of narrative or meaning?

As much as we might wish it were different, “You Get the Idea” isn’t an effective strategy for drumming up support. Unfortunately, not all of us are brilliant enough to sell some scribbles we made on the back of a napkin for millions of dollars.

We have to put a lot of work into getting people excited about what we’re trying to say or do. And a big part of that is the presentation.

Here’s some food for thought:


Consider which you’d be more likely to approve:

  • An article in .docx format versus laid out in a CMS with imagery
  • A few bullets of text describing a proposed social campaign versus sample execution, shares, and visuals
  • A couple of half-hearted headline options versus one the writer truly believes in
  • Research presented in a spreadsheet versus distilled into a coherent story

We all fall into these traps every now and then, in the interest of time usually. Sometimes they’re just plain unavoidable. But we also tend to assume that the people around us – seasoned marketers who are used to evaluating ideas in many different forms – are immune to human feelings like, oh, you know… joy. Excitement. Anticipation.

Ultimately, our peers are just like everyone else. They want to be wowed.

The thought that ideas live and die on their own is a myth. We have to fight for them – the good ones, at least. If we want people to recognize the beauty and genius of our work, we have to make sure it’s really beautiful and genius.

Try this. Don’t make people squint to see through the trees. Instead, try putting the whole forest right in front of them.

Written by Evan Porter on June 4, 2014


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Evan Porter