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’. You should script your episode. 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.
So, when we say you should script your podcast episode, we mean 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. There’s an assumption, though, that the most inspiring or successful podcasters don’t use a podcast script. The opposite is 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 happen to be masters at crafting invisible scripts.
Scripts, though well intended, are dangerous beasts. They can squeeze the soul out of the spoken word. But, a well-executed, invisible podcast 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 Podcast Script?
An invisible podcast 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, need 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 podcast script.
Map It Out, One Step At a Time
Start 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’ and request for reviews.
- The call to action close.
Your podcast map should be linear. In other words, each step leads on naturally to the next. When you script your episode, keep the flow simple, logical and consecutive.
The Power of Narrative Flow
In any story, the opening has to capture attention. Some podcast hosts opt for a more chatty opening, but the podcasts that capture my attention are those that introduce the topic of the episode up front. Sell the benefits of your episode – what will the listener get out of it, what will they learn? A great approach is to put yourself in your audience’s position, and share how the content in this episode helped you. Share a short story that makes the opening real and relatable.
The body of your episode is where you deliver on the promise you made during the opening of your show. Depending on the length of your show, you might have 3-5 key waypoints to guide your listener through the story your podcasting is telling. Keep the flow sequential in nature.
Don’t take the ending of your podcast for granted. A short recap of the points covered in the main body will help your audience understand and put it in context, but don’t overdo it. Keep it short and snappy.
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 when you script your episode. That’ll give you the general idea, but next let’s explore some of the specifics.
- Use contractions, if that’s how you normally speak.
- Be plainspoken: don’t feel you have to be formal.
- Cut the jargon. Assume your listeners know your topic, but don’t dive so deep that they need a glossary to follow your train of thought.
- Use short sentences, kept to one point or idea each.
- Write down complete sentences, each with a subject and verb, existing as one complete thought. It’s true that people don’t always speak in complete sentences. But, your thought process will be clearer while recording, if your script’s sentences are clear and complete.
If All Else Fails –
Use the ‘mate test’. In other words, would a friend recognise you if they heard your podcast? Or, would they shake their head in disgust while uttering the words ‘you've changed'? Be yourself, be authentic and have fun.
It might take you a while to get there, but before you know it you’ll script your episodes invisibly, and make recording and editing much easier, and engage listeners.
Next steps? You might find our guide on how to script your podcast helpful. That'll give you some more actionable tips, techniques, and strategies to help you move forward.
If you're interested in more ways to make a podcast that your audience will remember and share, join us at The Podcast Host Academy. We have courses, downloadable resources, and run weekly live Q&A sessions that can help you with all aspects of making, or improving, your podcast.