Recording Fully Scripted Episodes vs. Working with Outlines #13


Improve Podcast School – episode #13

Many people think that recording a podcast is just hitting a record button and then trying to “do their best” and get stuff off their chests.

The sooner you start recording scripted podcasts or even recording podcasts with outlines, the faster your podcast will reach a new level of quality, unlock new opportunities and be on a path towards a successful monetization.

The study of over 1,000 podcasters has revealed that:

  • 38% of higher-income podcasters record their episodes having a full script ready.
  • On top, an additional 36% have a very detailed outline. 

This means that 76% of successful podcasters come highly prepared for their recordings.

Doesn’t this limit creativity? Not at all. It Actually shifts when your creativity is being used. When recording scripted podcasts, you focus your creativity during the writing of the script. And when recording, you focus on a perfect delivery of what you have already prepared.

The key question is now: is it even worth it?

Let’s add more data context to this.

The study of podcasters has found that higher-income podcasters, those who earn at least $50,000 per year from their show, are 2.2 times more likely to use a full script for recording. 

This was determined to be one of the TOP 10 things that successful podcasters do differently.

04. How do you prepare for recording? - podcasting statistics

Should You Record Scripted Episodes or Use Only Outlines?

A single-person podcast should be scripted. When doing interviews, you need to have a target your interview is trying to accomplish, the information you want to obtain. Reach this target using an outline of questions. When you mix interviews and narration, the narration part should be scripted.

Let’s now go into details.

1. What are the Benefits of Recording Scripted Podcasts?

The main benefit of recording fully scripted episodes is total control of pacing, story progression, and your listeners’ experience. Listeners like it as this signals a high-quality and professionalism. With a script, you can also deliver marketing messages organically. 

When using scripts, you can Plan an entire episode, from start to finish. Each segment is within your control. We have covered the details of How to Plan Podcast Episode Structure in the previous episode, so make sure you check it out since a robust structure is a great place to start when working on your script.

On top, you can get a full episode structure guide for free when you go to improvepodcast.com and sign up for the newsletter. You will get access to a lot of free podcasting resources.

But basically, when doing a script, you are planning exactly what you are delivering at each stage of an episode. This is meaningful in at least 3 ways:

  1. You deliberately plan your hook to make sure your audience keeps listening, 
  2. You pace the delivery of the meat of your episode,
  3. The end of an episode is meaningful, memorable, and action-oriented.

Many people think this limits creativity. I totally disagree. Writing a script for a podcast means that you have days for your creative process. You can complete a part of the episode on one day and finalize it on a different day. This breathing space between scripting sessions usually delivers better content than a spontaneous recording.

2. What are the Benefits of Recording Podcasts with Outlines?

The main benefit of recording non-scripted episodes is a free flow of inspiration and emotions. Listeners appreciate hosts being spontaneous as they relive the experience together. Non-scripted podcasts should still use a lot of moderation and edit episodes before publishing.

Recording a heavily outlined episode is similar to recording scripted podcasts, but there are some differences. The main two will be:

  1. You leave some room for spontaneous inspiration and emotions,
  2. You have guests or co-hosts, so there needs to be some room for an unforeseen exchange.

In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell says: “Good improvisers develop an action.” It’s a great book, and I’ll leave the link to the audiobook in the show’s description.

This is very true and mostly in relation to interviews or co-hosted episodes. Where it is solely the host responsibility to make the show entertaining and engaging. In some cases, a great guest will do this for us, but there will always be a few guests that need a lot of guidance. 

Some guests need a lot of help. They might be knowledgeable in their respective fields, but they might not be great educators. So a good outline should support you in getting the most out of a guest who needs that guidance. 

This refers to two types of guests: those who aren’t talking a lot, and those who talk a lot, but digress constantly.

If you find the information in this episode useful, follow or rate the show, as this will help us grow faster and help more people with their shows.

3.  How Do You Make a Podcast Script Sound Natural?

To make a podcast script sound natural, you can’t simply read the script. You have to modify your voice, add pauses, add accents, and use emotions. You have to perform as your audience expects, usually a mix of education and entertainment.

The best technique is to just imagine that you are delivering that script to one specific person, a listener persona. Then simply try to be interesting for that one particular listener. Try to imagine if that one person would keep on listening.

Here are the top 10 things to keep in mind when you’re speaking:

  1. Apply a narration style suitable for your podcast’s theme, serious, somber, light, whatever a script requires,
  2. Experiment with enunciation – make sure you speak clearly each word,
  3. Slow down your narration,
  4. Breathe naturally – avoid gasping for air,
  5. Show emotions – show and tell how do you feel,
  6. Review the script before recording – boost your confidence and eliminate stutter,
  7. Make pauses – recapture listeners’ attention,
  8. Eliminate fillers – which you can easily do with a bit of practice,
  9. Eliminate vocal inflection – finish sentences with confidence, and don’t make them sound like questions,
  10. Calmly repeat a fragment that you feel was delivered incorrectly. 

But that’s not all. There are also physical activities you can also work on to make your script sound more natural, including:

  • Protect your podcast voice – especially 24 hours before recording, don’t scream, don’t shout, don’t go to a club, when you will need to shout anytime you want to say something,
  • Stand while you are recording – this will relax your body,
  • Warm-up your vocals – don’t sound tired or sleepy when you record,

4. How Much Practice Do You Need to Sound Natural?

In general, a significant practice is required to have both things – a well-written script and a natural-sounding script delivery. Without prior experience, it is reasonable to assume that around 6 months (or around 25 episodes) of developing scripts and performing might be required.

Speaking Is natural. Reading and writing are not. Both have to be taught.

6 months at least, but only when you apply a focused effort. Meaning you are consciously trying to write a better script each time and try to deliver it with more impact and charisma each time.

Don’t be discouraged. With high confidence, I can guarantee you that if you apply it you will succeed. 

Think about early days in schools. We’ve been all taught how to write and read. We were told how to write essays and short stories. But not scripts. We were taught how to read books for ourselves but not perform from a script for an audience.

This you have to learn by yourself. Or you can find good training in scriptwriting and acting. Whichever you take, you need only to remember that you need time to learn and improve. But it is better to start fast and learn new skills then postpone it and later regret it.

5.  How To Improve Your Podcast Script?

You improve your podcast script by practicing. The best way to do it is to start with a strong structure to lead your script and later fill in the details. You also improve your script by listening to recorded episodes and analyzing what should have been done differently.

Writing good scripts is an art. But so is writing a great outline and then sticking to it. Whichever form you choose might depend on your style and preferences. 

Some forms of podcasting will rely on outlines, while others will work better with more control and a strong script.

Using a script was determined to be one of the TOP 10 things that successful podcasters do differently. I will cover the full list of TOP 10 Things Successful Podcasters Do Different in the next episode, so make sure you follow the show.

The 2 key elements of improving your script are:

  • Strong episode structure,
  • Practice.

This is the shortest formula you should use if you are just starting or want to perfect your craft.

Determine your listener persona, your business, and marketing goals, and build a solid but simple structure your podcast should follow. Then write and record all your scripts, but think about how this can be improved each time.

You can even use simple tools like the episode audit tool I make available. 

SUMMARY

Recording scripted podcasts give you a lot of control over the pacing of your episode. It also gives you more time to prepare, as you can spend more hours polishing your script.

Recording podcasts with outlines leaves more room for a back and forth between people on the podcast and develops your improvisation skills. On the other hand, it might require you to spend much more time editing.

The sooner you will start practicing scriptwriting impactful delivery and then routinely review the efforts of your work, the faster you will improve your skills.

About the Author

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.


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