Our favorite podcasts are both entertaining and informative. They give us more knowledge on the topics we are interested in with content that is easy to digest. What draws us to any particular podcast is its ability to tell us all we need to know in a clear, succinct way.
It is easy to assume that some podcasts are a masterclass in improvisation. Hosts and guests weave in and out of talking points as effortlessly as a hot knife cutting through butter. We marvel at how quickly they come up with answers to questions. We applaud the chemistry of the voices in our ears as they seamlessly share the conversation, like a well-polished relay team.
Normal life sees us stumbling over our words as we try to arrange the thoughts in our heads. We stall with filler words like ‘uh’ and ‘um’ and misuse phrases like “you know”, you know? It makes us wonder: How did podcasters get so darn good at talking?
The answer, like most grand reveals, is a simple one.
It’s all scripted.
A Vital Cog
Having a script for your podcast is absolutely essential. It is the singular way of ensuring that your podcast is flawless, start to finish.
A script will make your podcast flow easily from one point to the next. You won’t stumble on words as you waft through ideas—you will be able to articulate all your desired topics without losing track of the ultimate goal.
So, a script is important and can make the recording of your podcast a straightforward process. But how do you go about creating this script? What are the steps involved and what do you need to remember?
Luckily for you, the answers you are looking for are all right here. We have 7 inspirational tips to help you script your podcast.
Types of Scripts
Before we get into the magical tips for scripting your podcast, let’s first look at the different types of scripts that you could use.
It is important to identify the type of script that will work best for you. Podcasts come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Wherever on the spectrum your podcast may be, having a script that suits the style and content of your podcast will get you one step closer to attracting your intended audience.
The first script that we will look at is a detailed word-for-word. This script has every single word that you want to say throughout the podcast.
If it is your first attempt at podcasting then word-for-word is the one for you. It will help you to carefully construct your entire episode, as you start to get a feel for your new podcast. Later, you may choose to have only a basic outline or use bullet points as a guideline. But that will only work for you if you know exactly what your podcast is all about and how it’s situated itself as a brand.
Word-for-word scripts are also ideal for co-hosted podcasts. With a detailed script, each host will know what to say and when to say it, avoiding any breaks in conversation or them talking over one another.
And in reality, that brilliant banter and ‘organic’ feel you love in other podcasts is often the result of a well-practiced, detailed script and carefully-constructed dialogues.
You could also have a bullet-point style ‘script’. In this type of script, bullet points act as a guideline for the episode’s direction but do not include every word that will be said. If you are confident in the foundations of your podcast, your content knowledge, as well as in the abilities of your co-hosts where applicable, then you could choose to use bullet points as your script style.
This type of script is great for solo podcasters, as they will know exactly how the narrative must unfold by looking at each bullet point.
Word-for-word can be used for co-hosted podcasts, however, in this case, the hosts would need to be really in sync.
The broad overview is like a mind map of your thoughts for any particular episode. You’ll have a starting point and a place where you’ll end, with a little information on what you’d like to be said in the middle. The rest of your podcast assumes the organic flow of the recording session itself.
If your podcast has an intentionally loose structure then overviews will be the way to go. It will allow you to be your true self during the recording session, and who knows what wild and beautiful roads that may lead you down! However, I would advise only using the overview script if you are experienced as a podcaster.
You may also choose to have a combination of scripting styles: Your script could be word-for-word for the introduction and closing remarks whilst maintaining bullet points for the middle. Whatever you decide, the important thing is that you choose what will work best for your podcast.
And now that the script basics have been covered, let’s take a look at the 7 tips that will help you streamline the script-writing process and bring your podcast vision to life.
7 Simple Tips for Scripting Podcast Episodes
1. Theme, Format, and Intention
Before you even get to your episode’s actual written content, you need to know what you want your podcast to say. For that, you need to have an idea of what your podcast’s theme is, what type of podcast you would like to make; and what you wish to achieve through your podcast.
The theme (the niche you’re wanting to carve out for your show), format, and intention of your podcast will all have a home in your podcast’s brand and visual identities. If you have not identified either of these then it’s best to start there before looking at writing a script.
This article from Buzzsprout is a great read if you are new to podcasting.
2. Map It Out
I absolutely love mind maps! For me, they are the perfect way to begin any process that requires some sort of structure. I draw up mind maps for weekly meal plans at home; for contemplating blog ideas with my colleagues; I even use mind maps when plotting the way I need to approach my wife to ask her if I can join the upcoming boys’ weekend at the beach.
Mind maps are just as essential when it comes to scripting your podcast. You need to have an idea of where you are going before you can, you know, go there.
It doesn’t have to be the same mind map technique that I use ( I use the spider diagram if you were wondering). All I’m saying is that you need to detail the outline and structure of your episode before you begin writing it.
How do you want the episode to start? What are the topics you’ll be discussing in the middle? How will the episode end? Once you have these details solidified, you will be able to start fleshing it all out.
3. It’s A Conversation
Your podcast’s language needs to be simple and relatable. When scripting your podcast, it’s easy to fall into the habit of using big words. While long-winded words may add some color to your text, always remember that your podcast is a conversation between you and the listener.
Even with creative writing, using short words that are easy to understand is the formula to having a successful podcast. We are more likely to come back to a podcast that we can effortlessly understand and quickly relate to.
Don’t fall into the trap of using formal language to balance out technical jargon. Using simple language will paint the entire picture for your audience, making the jargon a mere filler and not the focal point.
Always ask yourself this: Does my script sound like a conversation I’d have with a friend/family member? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.
4. Scripting with Flexibility
When scripting your podcast, allow yourself the room to make changes.
Try not to set your script in stone. Life is all about adapting to the many changes happening around us and your script should be just as versatile.
Having a script that allows changes will make recording the episode a more pleasant experience. You won’t get disappointed by missing a word or two, nor will you get flustered when new information is introduced. Just make sure that you hit the important notes detailed in your initial outline.
5. Time is of the Essence
You must be mindful of how long you want each episode of your podcast to be. Once you have that figured out, the writing of your script should fall into that timeframe.
One thing to remember is that, in terms of time, text and speech translate differently. For the most part, it takes a shorter time than you think it would to say something, compared to the length of the text when written down.
Give yourself a little test. Write down a short bit of text, then record it. That should give you an idea of how many words equate to a particular time. From there, you will be able to script your podcast according to the desired length of the episode.
6. Be Creative
When you had the idea for your podcast I’m sure you were excited to put it all together. You came up with a concept that you believed would appeal to a certain audience. You need to keep that same energy when it comes to scripting your podcast.
Podcasting is a medium in which podcast creators can truly express their creative selves. Allow your imagination to spread over the entire page as you write your script. Let your words paint the picture that you have envisioned in your mind. Podcasts are supposed to be enjoyed, not only listened to.
If you are having fun whilst scripting your latest podcast episode, then that will translate to the recording and indeed to your audience beyond.
7. Remember the Details
Tip number 7 is really a collection of bonus tips to remember when scripting your podcast episodes:
- For starters, make sure that you edit your script. As a writer, I can tell you that even after publishing my work I still find little details that I would like to change. A script is never truly as perfect as you want it to be but that shouldn’t stop you from getting it as close to perfection as possible. Your audience will appreciate that extra layer of quality.
- Even with a simple script, you need to add as much detail as possible. Try and outline your transitions or segues. This will help you to control the flow of your episode.
- On your script, write down where you will place sounds and effects in postproduction. As host, you will now have an idea of which sounds are going to be used and you’ll be able to give your text more color as a result.
- Create script templates for your podcast. It will make it easier for you when scripting the next episode. Also, If your podcast has different delivery styles, having a variety of templates for your segments will make each transition simpler.
Scripting is Not a Chore
Now that you have what you need to write an amazing script for your podcast, there is one more thing I’d like you to remember: Scripting is not a chore.
Scripting is an opportunity to make your podcast truly brilliant. It is the gate through which your vision can travel, as vital to your podcast as an engine is to a car. It is a place where you can truly be free and express all that you desire.
So approach your scripting with passion and love. When your script vibrates with your creative energy, the recording has no choice but to follow suit. That domino effect continues all the way until it reaches your audience’s ears.
And they will keep coming back for the love that you’ve shared with them.