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You have a great podcast idea. You have a clever podcast title. You even have a snappy musical theme. What comes next? You just talk into the microphone, right? You can do that. It's your podcast. However, just think of how much easier it could be if you wrote down some of your thoughts before you recorded your first episode. You could even write out a script. Luckily, how to write a podcast script can be learned, just like any other skill.
There are numerous podcasters out there who have shared their experiences and best practices to help newcomers get into the field. Of course, the way you approach your podcast and your content is personal, and we do not pretend that we know exactly how you should write your scripts. We can, however, give you some ways to get started.
What Is a Podcast Script?
A podcast script is a piece of writing that defines or guides what you will say when you record a podcast episode. It can include all the details, or just list topic headers, or somewhere in between, depending on the host's preference.
Do You Need to Write a Podcast Script?
When you have a fifteen or thirty-minute podcast to produce, 'winging it' just doesn't make sense; especially to start. Writing a script before recording an episode ensures that you include all the thoughts and information you have in mind, in the order you intend, and saves you from having to edit or re-record segments.
As you become more experienced in podcasting, you can work out your own style of podcast script, set up the way you want it. Perhaps after writing and performing several detailed scripts, you might switch to more of a 'roadmap' method, which will guide you during production but not be a word-for-word rendering, or even try a truly minimalist approach of just a list of topic headers.
Knowing how to write a podcast script can come in handy in other ways. If you write down what you want to say, you will be able to keep your episodes from veering off on a tangent, keep things in proper order, and even learn to spot weaknesses or mistakes in your content.
How to Write a Podcast Script
Preparation is crucial to podcast success, so before you hit 'record' for the first time, learn how to write a podcast script. A script will be your roadmap as you perform your material, guiding you and keeping you focused. You don't necessarily need a word-for-word script, although it can be a good idea to use one to begin with until you are more comfortable with the podcast medium.
As you get more practiced in how to write a podcast script, you can experiment with other approaches and see which one suits you best. Word-for-word scripts do not leave much room for improvisation, creativity, and personality, for example, while other methods do. Other approaches, of course, have some drawbacks.
In the end, your script style will be the product of your own personality and needs, and we encourage you to stick with the approach that works for you.
As you learn how to write a podcast script, you will use several concepts to guide the writing process.
Write Your Script for Speaking
Writing for speaking is a real skill, and it's one that is rarely taught in schools. Maybe you had to write a speech or two, but that sort of formal speaking does not really work in the podcast medium. Podcasters aim for a conversational speaking style, to sound like they are talking to the audience rather than just reading from a printed page.
For a natural sounding delivery, start out by writing your script the way you speak. If you write your script the way you would a document meant to be read by others, your podcast will sound stilted and formal. So stick to your own personal 'voice': the way you speak and think. Your personality will come through more strongly if you stick to words you normally use and are comfortable with. Writing more formally or more colloquially than your normal speech patterns will not sound natural when you go to record your material. Stick to friendly, conversational language, and avoid jargon and technical terms.
Before you write a full script, try writing a one minute segment of your podcast, word-for-word. As you write, read out each sentence. You will learn a lot about whether the script will sound conversational, is too formal, or simply does not sound like you.
Once you have completed your script, check to see if it flows, and sounds the way you intended, by reading the script out loud. Try enlisting a family member or friend as you get closer to your final script to listen to your performance and offer suggestions. Podcast hosts who present their podcast in a natural, conversational speaking voice have an advantage over those who do not.
Types of Script
As you learn how to write a podcast script, you will learn which approach works best for you. There are three basic types of podcasting scripts listed below. We urge you to use the one that works best for you, which you will learn as you continue to write episodes.
Option 1: The Word-by-Word Podcast Script
A word-by-word script can be a good place to start for the beginning podcaster. This script will contain everything you want to say, including your introduction, advertising, plugs, and so on, so you can just read it out loud when you record. You can include everything you want in your episode this way, won't forget to say anything, and will get all your facts right. This format can also work well for folks who are not comfortable ad-libbing or coming up with thoughts on the fly.
Even an experienced podcaster might use this format for more complicated topics, or when you are straying from your comfort zone into less familiar topics when it can be harder to remember all your facts and get them right.
Reading a full script straight from the page can have a rather boring effect, however, since people often forget to read with animation and personality. You can avoid this effect by writing like you speak.
Option 2: Writing a Detailed Podcast Episode Plan
Option 2: Writing a Detailed Podcast Episode Plan
Option 3: Bullet Point Podcast Plan
Under the bullet point podcast plan, your script is actually a series of section headers, which remind you of the topics you want to cover. Your own knowledge fills in the gaps. This is the most conversational approach and can be very engaging, as ad-libbing can lead to a more active speaking style. The drawback is that you are more likely to forget things you want to bring up, get something wrong, or wander off onto a tangent.
Paint Pictures with Your Words
Our society can be very visually oriented, especially as more and more people spend all day on their phones or computers. While this seems like it could be a problem for the podcaster, in an entirely audio medium, there are ways to engage your listeners' visual abilities. Luckily, words can be used to paint a picture, or set the scene. Try adding in extra description to enrich the listening experience and enhance the understanding of your topic.
Keep It Concise
Resist the temptation to 'kitchen sink' your script and write everything out. Make sure your script is straightforward and to the point, without padding from extra sentences or words. Leave room for improvisation and expansion during recording. Performing only the words on the page can lead to a very boring delivery. Room to elaborate on your topic allows a more natural and personal delivery and offers the option to expand on your topic at will.
One of the most useful aspects of the script writing process is the chance to determine if you have all the relevant material to get across the point you want to make, or if you have included irrelevant materials that do not fit in with your goal for an episode.
Thoroughly researching your topic to uncover relevant is essential. A written script forms that research into a coherent and listenable podcast episode.
Options for Flexibility
Remember that your script is not set in stone. Be sure to include words or terms you definitely want to use, but have not scripted, so you have them in front of you during recording. Anything you want to cover, from overall topics to stories to news, should also be included on the official script.
Other options, such as alternate vocabulary or alternate stories or news sources can be included for flexibility. This allows more space to explore ideas that come up while recording, which, again, personalizes your podcast and makes it stand out from all the others.
Make It Your Own
This is where you take what you have learned about how to write a podcast script and adjust it to your needs.
The amount of detail in your scripts can be changed to include more information, which can be helpful for beginning podcasters, or detail could be decreased if you know that topic well and are comfortable speaking off the cuff. Remember to perform your script, if you are writing a more detailed piece, instead of just reading it, which can bore for listeners.
Typically, a podcast comprises different segments, which might require different levels of script detail. A more outline style script might work for the meat of your podcast, while you might need to read some segments word-for-word, to ensure consistency. These segments can include your intro, plugs, calls to action, or sponsor messages.
Working with a co-host or guests can change the way you approach your script. With a co-host, coordinating content, scripts, and talking points is imperative, to make podcast production run more smoothly and ensure a good flow of content.
When hosting a guest, it is essential to provide them with your questions and talking points ahead of time, to allow them to prepare in advance.
Podcast scripts typically are divided into segments. This can help you organize your material, and more easily keep track of your progress through the episode as you record.
The first full segment, after your musical theme and spoken introduction, should be the most intriguing, to appeal to your whole audience and convince listeners to stick around for the rest of the episode. The broadest content will appeal to the most listeners. This is also a place to relate news and events relevant to the podcast's subject, which should also interest your current audience.
The segments that follow the first will be more in-depth and typically cover one specific area of the episode's topic. We suggest that each segment should be roughly 2 - 4 paragraphs, although that might change as you develop your own style,
You should keep your topics moving to keep listener attention. A guest interview is a good way to break up the informational segments. Using musical jingles and cues, or other sound effects, between segments, will smooth out topic changes, and give your audience a chance to digest what they have just learned.
DIfferent episodes might need different numbers of segments or running times. You can adjust script segments to your own taste and style as you continue with your podcast and learn what works best for you.
The short sample below should give you an idea of how a podcast breaks down into segments.
- 1Opening: A short musical theme
- 2Introduction: Introducing the host, the podcast, and the topic.
- 3Segue: Musical cue or sound effect
- 4Topic 1: About 3 minutes
- 5Vocal Segue: “We are going to move on and talk about…”
- 6Topic 2: About 3 minutes
- 7Advertisement or sponsored message.
- 9Topic 3: About 3 minutes
- 10Closing remarks, thank the audience, guests, topic of next show
- 11Closing musical theme
If you want to include more segment details in your script, you can use a format similar to the example below.
Further Script Tips
When writing a podcast script, there is no correct or incorrect way to do it. We are not trying to tell you exactly how to organize or write your podcast content. You can use any system you like. In our experience, however, having even a rough script to refer is best. A podcast script is a vital piece of preparation that will ensure that the recording process goes smoothly.
While your favorite podcast might sound like the host is entirely ad-libbing, they are probably working from a script for some segments. Some podcasters can even write their content so it sounds entirely ad-libbed, even though they are working from a written document.
Learning how to write a podcast script is an essential skill for the podcaster which can save time, effort, and sanity. A script makes sure you have pulled together your thoughts, chosen topics to support your main ideas, and included necessary information. Podcast scripts also keep you focused and serve as a guide while you record new episodes. A script can also reduce editing time later and prevent problems when working with a co-host or guest in case you lose your train of thought or cannot think of anything to say.
The most important takeaway is that organizing and writing out your thoughts lead to a superior podcast.