A trailer is a short commercial advertisement for a film that is often shown before the feature presentation in a movie theater or cinema. It is also used to promote television shows, video games, books and theatrical events/concerts. It may contain clips of the main plot along with music and sound effects. Trailers are sometimes presented in Dolby Digital or other multichannel audio formats.

Whether you’re an independent filmmaker or a major studio, it’s no secret that the best way to promote your next big project is by creating a compelling trailer. However, when you’re in the midst of writing and editing your first trailer, it can be easy to fall into some common pitfalls that can derail your trailer’s effectiveness. Fortunately, there are several timeless best practices that you can follow to ensure your trailer is as effective as possible.

1. Make sure you tell a compelling story.

A great trailer is all about establishing the key characters and setting, building tension, and then delivering a huge cliffhanger at the end. This approach creates empathy for the film’s characters and leaves audiences dying to see how they will get through the conflict. It is important to note, however, that the best trailers don’t give away too much about the movie itself. In fact, some of the most successful trailers are those that zig where the movie zags.

2. Use a three-act structure.

Organizing your trailer using a three-act structure can help you to develop a more coherent and engaging story. The beginning of your trailer should introduce the main character and the film’s premise, while the middle will heighten the conflict and lead up to the climax. This type of narrative structure helps to maintain audience engagement, as it provides a clear sense of what to expect from the film.

3. Don’t be afraid to use voice-over.

While the practice of using voice-over narration in trailers has become less common, it can be a useful tool to help clarify a film’s premise and provide exposition for viewers who may not know what the movie is about. Moreover, a voice-over can be used to convey an emotion or feeling that may not be evident from the visuals alone. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that overusing this technique can backfire and make the viewer bored or confused.

4. Avoid cliches.

While some cliches are inevitable, many film trailers have gone overboard in the past by resorting to them for illustrative purposes. For example, some classic Hollywood trailers are infamous for using voice-over cliches such as “Colossal!” and “Stupendous!” In the modern age of internet marketing, it is important to stay away from such cliches.

5. Use music effectively.

A film’s soundtrack can set the tone for its trailer, and a good choice can make or break the trailer. In addition to choosing a mood-appropriate song, it’s essential to place the songs at key moments during the trailer. For example, the use of a dramatic orchestral score for a thriller can be effective in drawing in an audience, while a pop song can be more suited to a comedy.