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How to Script a Podcast

Updated: Aug 12

How to Script a Podcast


Podcast production overflows with a wide array of creative strategies. Each podcaster has their own method of preparation and delivery. Some just launch with a title and others do meticulous planning. Is there a right or better way? No. But it's good to consider the options and design a style to optimize your success. Pre-production is key to any successful endeavor.


Table of Contents

WHY SCRIPTING IS IMPORTANT

· 1. Write your script in your own voice

· 2. Keep it simple

· 3. Visualization

· 4. Exploration

· 5. One size does not fit all

BASIC PODCAST TEMPLATE

· 11 Points

THREE TYPES OF PODCAST SCRIPTS & FORMATS

The Bullet Point Approach

The Detailed Episode Outline

The Word-for-Word Script

CONCLUSION


Why Scripting is Important

If you've never scripted before, no worries, this is not a feature film. Podcast scripts function to create the overall feel of your show. It secures a rhythm, free of uncomfortable pauses and is natural in style.

Also, if you are not a natural at ad-lib, then a script will ensure you don't miss any points, maintain a flow and keep you focused.

Remember, there is no right or wrong method. You should experiment with different approaches and then customize to what suits you best. Try out some of the methods below to get started.


1. Write your script in your own voice

Fortunately, writing a script in a natural speaking style is relatively easy. I often start by recording an unscripted topic aloud. Then I listen to it and shape it from there. I insert any points I've missed, of which there are always a few. I don't try to stuff any terms or vocabulary that is not natural to the conversation. It needs to sound genuine and conversational. This is a key point for listeners to feel included. Your goal is for you to cover your topic while sounding approachable and human, not robotic.


2. Keep it simple

Don't overcomplicate your podcast script. It does not have to be super lengthy either. Sometimes just an outline creates an opportunity for more creativity. This is my personal style choice. It also reinforces the natural-sound that is so important. Focus on key points and key words. Only use words and sentences that ensure you are laser focused on your topic and draw a bold, straight line to each point. No meandering.


3. Visualization

People love stories. The more descriptive visual picture you can paint for your audience, the better. A good podcast will lead your listeners to a mental picture of what your podcast is all about. So, add additional information, an inspiring quote, news, any colorful example to facilitate deeper understanding. Certainly, don't do this throughout, but inject this concept into the points you want to stand out or are foundational to your topic. Then it becomes truly memorable and they'll tune in to your next episode, which is an important goal.


4. Exploration

Flexibility makes a podcast more expansive. That's why outlining specific words, anecdotes, examples or anything else you deem supportive is a good starting point. For example, you could refer to a current news topic that would escalate an emotion. From there comparisons and contrasts could evolve and broaden the subject matter. You'll find the more flexible you are, the flow and content expands more naturally. This point creates a freedom to develop the topic exponentially. You'll find this style reflected in the most successful podcasts.


5. One Size Does Not Fit All

Whether you are writing a script verbatim or using bullet points, every podcaster has a different approach depending on their needs. Many experienced podcasters don't use a script at all. But when you are starting out, a well-planned format is crucial.

If you are interviewing guests, it is imperative that you create lists of key points and interesting questions beforehand. If you are co-hosting, pre-planning who will cover what topic, how to transition between co-hosts and an overall plan of the episode so you don't meander off-topic will help your listeners with a clear concept.


Basic Podcast Template

There is a standard formula for creating a podcast script. They are no actual rules because you want to have room for creativity. For example, in using the template below for an interview podcast, simply switch each topic with a question for your guest.

1. If you have only one sponsor, include them at the top of your show

2. Introduce your topic in a succinct and attention-grabbing way

3. Ensure you have the legal right to use music, jingles or sound effects

4. Unlike the introduction, provide an overview of what is included in your podcast

5. Announce your first topic like this...


A. Main point B. Support your point C. Support with facts, quotes and data

Segues are critical transitional breathers that connect one topic to another. The formula is to briefly recap the preceding topic or sub-topic and then create a bridge to arrive at the next topic or sub-topic smoothly. Some useful phrases include, “in relation to that, moving forward, piggy backing off that idea.”


6. Your next topic follows the same A - C format above followed by a second sponsor message if you have one. By segmenting your sponsor messages, they are heard more clearly and also don't interrupt the flow of your podcast.

7. For your third topic, continue with the formula. Make the segue imperceptible and creative so it doesn't mimic your first one.

8. An Outro is the opposite of an Intro. It is a culmination of your podcast information that includes definitive outcomes and a sense of having gained something valuable.

9. Are you selling a product? Are you asking your listeners to do something specific? Then a clear call to action is a power point not be missed. Perhaps you don't yet have something to sell. Then at least thank everyone for listening, add when your next podcast will air and include any email, website, references, or contact information.

10. If you have any other sponsors, include them here.

11. Finish using the same catchy musical introduction.


Three Types of Podcast Scripts and Formats

Before choosing a podcast format, it is a good idea to understand and examine your personal communication style. Are you spontaneous, analytical, seasoned or new to the industry? Whatever you decide, remember that these script styles are just a skeleton. You can develop them into a wide spectrum of delivery offerings that are flexible and customizable. Practice often and much until the nervousness is shed so you can offer authoritative, engaging and useful information.


Bullet Points

If your show uses a freestyle exchange with guests or co-hosts this is a common format. Bullet points are frequently used for radio shows, those with co-hosts and/or regular guest appearances and interviews.

Pros:

The advantage to this style is that they are super easy to create and edit.

They also provide a solid structure to keep the episode focused, yet adaptable enough to accommodate unforeseen tangibles.

They require less time to create.

Cons:

As with all things that have minimal structure you run the risk of forgetting important points, getting sidetracked and verbose, then finding it difficult to get back on track.

Some popular Podcasters that use the bullet point format include:

Ad Age

· Gilmore Guys


Detailed Episode

This format addresses the needs of most podcasters and is suitable for podcasters who want more structure for their episodes. It includes an intro, sponsored ad, music jingle, an outro with closing remarks, plus segues where necessary. Essentially, it has all the structural elements needed for a well-executed episode.

It is ideal for:

· Interview-style podcasts

· Shows with a co-host

Some of the podcasters using this method include:

· This American Life

· Buzzcast

· Bulletproof Radio

Pros:

· Ensures that the host covers the main topics, as well as, sub-topics of interest.

· Provides flow and structure to an episode, while still being casual.

Cons:

· Takes more preparation and editing than freestyle approaches.


The Word-for-Word Script

While this format may not be suitable for all podcasters it does have its place. For the right audience and some niches (i.e. highly technical or medical) it has proven to be extremely valuable and, in some cases, essential. However, you need to be careful with this format as it can come across as robotic and stiff.


Ideal for:

· Shorter, education or advice-oriented shows

· Solo show podcasts

· Audio dramas

Here are some podcasters using this format:

· The Bright Sessions

· 5 Minute Mondays

· Homecoming

Pros:

· Adds professionalism and structure

· Allows hosts to be self-confident as they have a pre-prepared script to follow

Cons:

· Can make the recording process complicated as this format does not leave room for flexibility

· It can take a lot of practice for hosts to learn the art of reading a script naturally

· Can lengthen the process of creating an episode


In Conclusion

A podcast script is an essential tool that helps you create a professional show. Not to mention, taking your skills to another level whereby attracting more listeners. When used well, a script not only gives you the flexibility you need to communicate effectively, but as well ensures that you sound natural while hitting all the key points in each episode. It provides structure and guidance. Try the different format types and find the one that is right for you. Good luck.


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