Notebook with pen and paper on a white surface with shadow cast from plants

The benefits of podcast scripting

Radio hosts like Howard Stern and Terry Gross make everything sound easy. While Howard may have that rare ability to open a microphone and speak to millions of satellite listeners, he developed that skill over decades of live broadcasts. Terry Gross, on the other hand, hosts her daily NPR interview series with a team of writers and editors—while she’s also quick to respond to interviewees in the moment, you won’t catch her in the studio without stacks of notes.

That’s why we urge our clients to prepare a rundown, a list of talking points, or even a full script before hitting record. How you approach scripting will depend on your show. While some traditionalists like to conform to broadcast formatting standards, the right script for you might just be a bulleted list of key points or themes.

A podcast script keeps your audio content clear, concise, and valuable. It will also serve as a guide that will keep you focused on what you want to cover (limiting tangents and dead air time). Forgetting your train of thought mid-sentence forces you to ‘fix’ it in pos. Writing a script will keep you on track and save you time during editing. 

Try some of the following scripting methods and discover which technique works best for your personality, content, and audience. You may find that you don’t need to write out every word verbatim. Or, you may find that carefully scripted language helps you focus on your delivery. You won’t know until you try!

Podcast Scripts: The Big Picture

Let’s take a bird’s eye view at a generalized outline before we get into various scripting techniques or methods. An outline similar to this one will keep you on track and make sure you don’t leave out something important. It will also help you time out segues and transitions.

  1. Sponsor message.
  2. Introduction: Who you are and what you’re going to discuss, keep it concise (30-60 seconds).
  3. Musical jingle/sound effects: Plays at the start of each episode so listeners can quickly identify your podcast brand (30 seconds).
  4. A longer explanation of what’s in store and introduce guests (30-60 secs).
  5. Topic 1: Set up your theme and supporting topics (5 minutes).
    1. Main point
    2. Supporting point
    3. Supporting data
    4. Supporting quote
    5. Segue
  6. Topic 2: Discuss your topics in detail (10 minutes).
    1. Main point
    2. Supporting point
    3. Supporting data
    4. Supporting quote
  7. Interlude: Music break or sponsor ad (30 seconds).
  8. Topic 3: Continue discussing your topics (10 minutes).
    1. Main point
    2. Supporting point
    3. Supporting data
    4. Supporting quote
    5. Segue
  9. Outro: Summary of theme and topics with a conclusion (5 minutes).
  10. Closing Remarks and Call to action: Thank your listeners and guests, and promote your next show or let your listeners know how they can support you(2 minutes).
  11. Sponsor message.
  12. Musical jingle/sound effects: Plays at the end of each episode so listeners can quickly identify your podcast brand (30 seconds).

Of course, you will need to adapt this outline to fit your show. If you have an interview format, co-host, or are going solo, you will need to mold the framework to serve your needs. A general outline like this helps to keep you on topic and gauge how you manage your time.

Podcast Script: Verbatim

Writing out your script word for word is perfect for podcasting newbies or those that may not feel confident speaking off the cuff. Having every word on the page ensures you don’t leave anything out, and prevents you from mixing up your facts. This can also be particularly helpful if you are covering a complex topic and don’t want to misspeak on the facts or concepts you are presenting.

The downside to this approach is that it can come off as flat, monotone, or stiff. But there are a couple of easy fixes. First, practice out loud before you record! Rehearse in front of someone you trust, or a mirror, to see how they/you react to what you’re saying. Read the script aloud enough times to find the places where you get the best reactions and know when and where you want to emphasize words or take a pause. 

The more you read your script aloud, the more you’ll discover the written word doesn’t always translate well to how we hear it. You may need to make some revisions to make it sound more conversational and fitting to your personality. When you go to record, imagine you’re speaking to the same trusted friend or record in front of the mirror.

Second, bust out a red pen and turn your script into delivery notes. Delivery notes are where you mark up your script in specific places to remind you when to take pauses or add an emphasis, laugh, sigh, or any other dramatic effects to your vocal delivery. Adding delivery notes gives you visual cues while reading to make your script sound natural. Practice reading your delivery notes out loud to make sure your delivery is smooth and genuine.   

As an added bonus, having your script written word for word can be repurposed as a blog post or transcription ready to go on your website.

Podcast Script: Episode Plan

Having your eyes glued to the page and reading aloud might not work for you at all, but you still want your structure to be organized and easy to find when you’re recording your podcast. If that is the case, you may want to consider writing an episode plan. 

An episode plan is a detailed outline that has all of the points you want to make written out. It’s not necessarily word for word, but rather bulleted and includes your main speaking points to keep you on track. This is a great compromise between verbatim and completely ad-lib. You have all the information you need at your fingertips, but the flexibility to be more conversational on the fly.

You can also hybridize places in your podcast that need to be verbatim, like introducing a guest’s accolades or describing factual subjects that are too difficult to go off of memory. You can have a detailed episode plan and insert spots of verbatim where necessary – the best of both worlds.

Podcast Script: Flexible

You can easily write down the title of the show and go off of a rough set of bullets or subheadings for the topics you would like to cover and let that be your (loose) guide. This is mostly for podcast hosts that want to wing it or make it up as they go. The flexibility is large and the host will need to rely on their subject matter expertise to fill in the gaps. While this type of scripting allows for the most conversational and naturally engaging delivery, it also lends itself to tangents or missing points the host may have forgotten to include. But you can also capture some excellent impromptu podcasting when you’re off script, so don’t be afraid to play with a little flexibility!

How you want to approach your scripting is very personal as to what works for you. You may even find a blend of verbatim, detailed planning, or ad-libbing works for different places within your episode. Try all three methods out and pick the best parts that work for you.

If you want help putting your show’s scripts together, Podcast Taxi offers script support – from researching topics, finding guests, to written scripts and transcripts for your podcast. Hop on a discovery call today with one of our experts and find out how we can help.

We’re helping authors, entrepreneurs, and business professionals bring their authentic voices to eager audiences.

We make room on our production roster for just a few new shows every month. If you’re ready to focus fully on your content and let us handle the fine art of audio engineering and editing, follow the button below to get started.

Schedule your discovery interview