The best podcast episodes sound natural, and ideas discussed on them flow naturally from one to another. It is achieved thanks to having a good podcast script with planned transitions, segues, and well thought out main ideas.
Without enough preparation, the flow of the episode will not be even and casual, and it will look like a loose collection of thoughts.
In this article, we will discuss how to prepare a successful podcast script and what factors take into account when working on a script for your show.
Build Engagement into a Podcast Episode Script
Did you know that?
- Customers who feel an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend that brand 26% more than the average (Motista)
- Customers who are engaged by a brand make purchases 90% more often and spend 60% more per transaction than those customers who aren’t engaged (Rosetta Consulting)
It is crucial to engage with your audience to enjoy the benefits coming from high user engagement. You can achieve higher listener engagement with a scripted podcast, where you implement various techniques to interact with your listeners.
Engagement starts from the beginning. Choose a catchy podcast episode title, quickly state the value proposition, and go straight to the point. Using various techniques to engage users will be of great value to your listeners and in the long-term to you. Without a script, you can forget about executing those engaging bits.
For a deep dive check this: podcast listener engagement strategy.
When you deploy this strategy you will find more returning listeners and greatly improve your monetization potential.
Podcast Script vs. Episode Outline
The goal of an outline is to make a note of the key points you have but sound more naturally. With an outline, you do not plan every sentence but allow yourself to improvise with thoughts that will come to your mind.
When you are podcasting with a script, you have more control and guarantee that you will cover all the points you wanted to mention. Having a fully ready script, you need to make a conscious effort not to read out the script automatically. Your listeners will notice, and your podcast will not sound attractive.
Benefits of Recording Podcast with Script
When delivering your first podcasts, use a script. This will remove stress and help you to focus on sounding good and speaking at a steady pace. Podcasting with a script will help you stick to the point, and you focus on your vocals like enunciation, removing filler words, vocal inflection, etc. For a deep dive into vocal tips, check this guide.
- Control – is important to boost confidence and approach recording session with certainty that an episode you are about to record will end up exactly like you planned and will deliver value to your listeners.
- Keep within the target time for an episode – after having a feeling of control, this is the most important thing for me. Preparing a script for a podcast upfront allows me always to land within the target time limit and not avoid overruns.
- Guarantee to hit all the points – we are all busy, so remembering everything you need to cover is very counterproductive and takes a lot of mental capacity. Use a script with a good list of things you need to cover.
- Planned transitions – one of the most challenging elements of podcasting is having smooth transitions between big topics within an episode. With a podcast script, you can prepare those transitions upfront and don’t have awkward pauses but a smooth flow within an episode.
- Relieves stress – scripted podcast allows you to approach the recording session with more confidence. You will feel prepared and relaxed that you did enough preparation upfront to record a good episode.
Podcasting with a Script Gives Freedom
There is a misconception among new podcasters that you need to stick to the script always. Your podcast script should allow you to hit all the necessary points, but if you have a good idea during a recording session, allow yourself this freedom.
If you have doubts later, if this burst of spontaneous thoughts was necessary to do, do a second take and compare results then during editing.
The scripted podcast gives you mental freedom. Having it, you don’t need to worry about remembering every point you need to hit.
Podcast Script Should be Optimized for Episodes Length
10-20 minutes is the length of highly informative shows that bombard people with a lot of information. This shorter format is well adjusted to the amount of content offered. With intense shows, you want to keep the length shorter to allow users to absorb the information.
30-40 minutes is something that most listeners enjoy, according to listenership statistics. This is how long last most popular things that accompany listening to podcasts:
- a commute or a car ride
- a cardio session at the gym
- house cleaning round
Many shows aim to have this 30-40 minute length of an episode. It is an excellent place to start for most podcast creators and prepare a podcast script adjusted to this duration.
50 minutes or longer is the right length for a documentary-style podcast or an in-depth interview. This is a good duration if you need time for a story to unwind correctly, or you want to give your guest time to speak freely and tell the most exciting anecdotes without rushing.
Different Forms of Scripts in Different Podcast Formats
In the case of solo shows – longer shows require a more extended script to fill all the planned time. Without experience and a good script, you may find it challenging to deliver longer than 30 minutes of monologue without a struggle.
Podcasting script, in this case, also improves your work. Your recording sessions last shorter as you don’t lose time remembering stuff. Also, you spend later less time editing and cutting moments of silence.
In the case of co-host shows – you will sound more professional when you agree at a general story flow. With a good podcasting script, you will avoid interrupting each other, repeating arguments, and jumping between points.
In the case of guest shows – script takes a for of questions you want to get answers and transitions between main topics. Having it is crucial to maintain the flow of conversation. Some speakers may not be great at interviews, so it is your job to control the flow, pacing, and the right atmosphere.
Podcast Script should be Optimized for Words Per Minute
You should aim for 150-160 words per minute speaking speed when working on your podcast.
We recommend it after analyzing various average speaking rates characteristic to speaking professions. We also looked at 14 great TED talks were great speakers were talking between 130 and 200 words per minute.
Of course, to avoid ending up with a monotone sounding podcast, you need to vary the speaking rate in different moments of the show. Highlight passion and excitement by speaking faster and talk slower to indicate importance and seriousness.
Lastly, 26% of listeners use higher playback speeds to save time and overall consumer more content. You can consider taking a bit faster if it will apply to your show. It allows you to say more and have a longer podcast script.
Tone and Personality
Overall podcasts have a rather conversational tone, and speakers’ personality is often a factor that binds listeners with the show for a longer time.
A challenge you will have to face when working on a script is to maintain a conversational tone and show your personality. Podcasting script has characteristics of a formal text, so often, when working on a script, it may end up more formal and less personal than we would like our podcast to be.
Build Consistency and Rituals into Podcasting Script
Both consistency and rituals are characteristics of high-quality and professional productions.
A good script for a podcast will also improve the image of your brand. It should be used to form and reinforce the image of your podcast and work to your advantage.
Elements of your podcast script that you repeat from episode to episode build a predictable consistency.
Equally important are rituals in the form of the same greeting you will use for every episode and same outro message. Great rituals are short, simple, and solidify your brand. When you repeat them in each episode, they will look consistent and have a sense of familiarity.
Rituals are common to all cultures around the world, as they provide a sense of comfort and stability. Use them well on your show, and your audience will feel the same emotions when listening to your show.
Plan Pauses in Your Show for Marketing
Your podcasting script should always have naturally planned and spaced pauses that you will be able to use later when inserting ads.
It is vital for the successful monetization of your show. You don’t have to populate those spaces with ads, but you don’t want to lose this option either.
You can insert in those pauses different types of ads:
- Dynamically inserted ads if you decide to work with a network
- Host-read ads if you find a sponsor
- Promote your products and services
Ideally, 2-3 pauses at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of your show. You may plan for more pauses in the middle part if you have a podcast longer than 30 minutes.
Podcast Script Structure and Key Elements
Let’s now discuss an example of a podcast script that I like the most and find most useful for listeners.
The assumption made for ads – There will be 3 ads placement in this example (the standard pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll approach), but with longer podcasts, you could have more ads in the middle. If you advertise your products and services, you could skip the pre-roll promo message and make the ads more blended within the content of your show.
Section I – podcast beginning, intro, building interest, and promise of value
The role of the first section is to quickly pique the interest and start an episode in a familiar yet exciting way. Overall this section of the script should have a repeatable vibe from episode to episode regardless of the podcast type you are producing.
If you are having guests on your episode, make sure to check how to pronounce their name instead of guessing it during a recording.
- Pre-roll Promotional message – if you have a sponsor or ads are inserted by software, you want to start with a message from sponsors. I find it less irritating for listeners if we begin with a short ad and then proceed to content instead of starting with content and then breaking for an advertisement after a minute. With a long podcast (50 minutes or more), you could start with content and have a promo around a 5-minute mark.
- Show Introduction – use the same format for each episode to create a repeatable ritual. It will also make it short and not complicated. Present the value of this episode and welcome your listeners.
- Musical jingle – make it short and make sure it introduces the desired mood
- Segue – in this first transition between sections, you can either expand on the main topic of a current episode or recap the previous episode if this is a direct continuation. If you are conducting an interview, this is a place for a more extended introduction to your guest.
Section II – main content, where you deliver on the promise
This section is the most versatile and can vary a lot between different types of podcasts. More topics can be covered during one episode, and this will require a more coherent and robust script with great segues.
- Topic/Act 1 – if you have a story-telling format, you can apply a 3-act structure instead of having multiple topics with supporting arguments, which is a more standard structure in many podcasts having and educational character.
- Thesis / Statement / Question / Assumption
- Supporting or disproving facts
- Segue – smoothly transition between topics making a short and logical connection
- Mid-roll Promotional message – you want to make a pause for a potential mid-roll ad placement. This is the most valuable spot for ad placements. If you have guests on your show, then pause for the mid-roll ads can be used if you want to change the topic of the conversation.
- Topic/Act 2
- Thesis / Statement / Question / Assumption
- Supporting facts
- Segue – final segue into the last section should blend well with the conclusion of the last topic and conclude the entire episode. In the case of a story-telling podcast, this is a good place for an engaging cliffhanger.
Section III – ending, satisfying finish, and teasing future shows
The final section of your scripted podcast should also as the first be repeatable and familiar.
- Outro – a place to summarize the key point you want your listers to remember. Make sure to have a satisfying finish so the listeners will come back for more. If you have guests, thank them here
- Call to action (CTA) – ask here listeners what you want them to do. The most common CTAs include: subscribe, leave a review, visit your podcasting website, check your next episode, promote different show you are publishing, check an event you are organizing, etc. Your priorities may change over time, and you may adjust your CTA accordingly.
- Post-roll Promotional message – if you are promoting your services, you can blend the call to action and post-roll promo message. If you are using inserted or host-read ads, this is the place for the final word from the sponsors.
- Musical outro with credits (optional) – depending on how big your production is and how many people were involved in making the episode (and what are your contractual obligations), you can credit individual or group contributions.
Final Tips for Podcasting with a Script
Use a tablet to read your script. If you print it out, your microphone may pick up the noises made when you change pages. Poor mics will pick this up, and you will need to spend more time editing.
If you record standing, you may want to use some holder for your table to free your hands.
Also, the tablet allows for smooth scrolling through the script while, when using pages, you may need to take pauses to turn pages and remove them later in post-production.
To avoid getting too many noises picked up by your podcasting gear, always use high-quality mic and shielding (check our podcasting gear recommendations) and wear a monitor headphones to control how much noises are getting recorder.