This is Episode 1 of the Engaging Episodes series, all around creating the most engaging, compelling, powerful podcasts possible.
To script or not to script… that is the question.
One of the things we’re often asked, especially by new podcasters, is “should I write a script for my podcast?” The answer is almost always ‘yes’. At least to some degree.
In the real world, it’s unusual that complete scripts are written. More commonly the bulk of a show will be planned out with bullet points, and the host will script the set-piece elements. Examples of this include the intro, the sponsor message and the call to action, all of which benefit from being really polished.
The end result of this type of process is a bullet point plan for the entire show, with some sections fully scripted for clarity and slick delivery
If you think this sounds like overkill, then in some cases you’re quite right. Many hosts simply wing it on every episode, and do just fine. There’s an assumption, though, that the most inspiring or successful podcasters don’t script anything. Well, the opposite it often true, and that extra work is just one of the many things that gives them their edge.
You see, many of our podcasting idols just happen to be masters at crafting invisible scripts.
Scripts, though well intended, are dangerous beasts. They have the ability to squeeze the very soul out of the spoken word. But a well-executed, invisible script is worth it for five key reasons.
- Helps create your Podcast structure, ensuring you cover all points.
- Ensures your content flows and engages.
- Builds your reputation as a slick podcast host.
- Gives you the roadmap to deliver confidently.
- Cuts down on production time.
What is an Invisible Script?
An invisible script comes across so naturally that the listener thinks it’s been ad-libbed. It’s easier said than done because writing to be read and writing to be heard require a different thought process.
Our earliest podcasts definitely don’t sound as natural as our most recent efforts. We’ve learned, over time, that the way we write our blog posts, and the way we write our podcast needs to be different.
With the aim of helping you shortcut that process, here are our top tips to turn your obvious script into an invisible script.
Map it Out – One Step at a Time
A great way to start is by mapping out the structure of your podcast. Breaking any task down into smaller components is good advice generally! Here are some specific examples you can apply to your podcasting.
Suggested Script Elements
- The ‘Welcome To’ Message
- The ‘Thanks for listening, hope you’re well.’ Rapport Builder
- The ‘This week we’ll be discussing’ episode introduction.
- The ‘Here’s a message from our sponsor’ commercial.
- The ‘Our guest this week is’ introduction.
- The ‘Thanks for listening’ close.
- The ‘Please leave an iTunes review’ call to action close.
Your podcast map should be linear. In other words, each step leads on naturally to the next. Don’t force your listener to rewind to an earlier part of the podcast. Keep the flow simple, logical and consecutive.
Write Like You Talk
The best podcasts are conversational in nature. It’s a familiar voice speaking directly to you with personality and warmth. Tune into the way that you talk in everyday life. Compare that to how you write. Listen to how those around you talk. (I recommend taking mental notes, not real ones…. that would just be weird!)
Just listen and be aware that there is a pronounced difference between speaking and writing.. That’ll give you the general idea, but next let’s explore some of the specifics
- Use I’ve rather than I have.
- Use I’ll rather than I will.
- Use Don’t rather than Do not.
Ignore the aghast looks your english teacher would shoot your way. Contractions make reading your script 10 times more natural!
Use Plain English
“Someone pinged over an email and asked…”
Is better than
“I recently received an email enquiry from a listener, who proceeded to ask…”
Cut Out The Jargon
Even if you’re Podcast is technical in nature, try to cut the jargon from your script. Don’t assume a base level of knowledge from your audience. Spend the time to script a simpler version of anything you feel is too technical.
Regards jargon and plain english, it’s really easy to fall into the ‘writing to impress’ trap. You want to prove your knowledge, after all. To sound intelligent and confident.
Instead, have the confidence that you’ll be credible no matter what language you use. And that’s because you are! You don’t need flowery, complicated language to prove it. Simple explanations that clarify are much more impressive than complicated words that confuse.
Use Short Sentences
Keep sentences short. Longer sentences, when spoken, come across as a bit rambly. Restrict a sentence to one point or idea. If you have any more than one comma, consider breaking it into a new sentence. Similar with the word ‘and’.
If All Else Fails…
Use the ‘mate test’. In other words – would a friend recognise you if he heard your podcast? Or, would he shake his head in disgust while uttering the words ‘he’s changed!’. Be yourself, be authentic and have fun.
It might take you a while to get there but before you know it you’ll be creating invisible scripts that mark you down as a podcasting Superhero.
We’re great believers at ThePodcastHost.com that you learn more by doing, than you do by reading. Here’s what we’d like you to do. Take any element of your podcast and write a script for it. Once you’ve done that – share it in the comments.
Don’t be shy, go on – give it a try.
You might find our ‘How to script your podcast’ blog post helpful.
The Engaging Episodes Series Guide
Introduction – Engaging Episodes: The Powerful Podcasting Series
Chapter 1 – The Art of Creating an Invisible Podcast Script
Chapter 2 – Be a teller of great tales. The Power of Narrative Flow for your podcast
Chapter 3 – How to Inject Personality into your Podcast
Chapter 4 – Hooks, Taglines and the power of words
Chapter 5 – Tools & Tips to Podcast Planning Perfection
Chapter 6 – Making Your Podcast Pleasing on the Palate