If you have ever listened to the Tim Ferris Show, or David Goggins’ motivational story, then it’s more than likely you have developed a particular taste for a good podcast and may be considering starting your own. The good news is that podcast listeners in America have been increasing substantially over the past few years and you may still be able to carve yourself a niche. The success will, however, rely on your presentation and the script you’re using.
In 2020, podcast listeners are expected to grow to 103 million and that number is estimated to increase by 59% to 164 million by 2023. The icing on this cake is the fact that Boston Globe reported businesses spending $100 million on podcast ads. If you’ve got your podcast planning right, you can take a small piece of the $100 million pie if you get an excellent podcast script. This post will give you some insight on how to structure your podcast including sample scripts you can use to get started.
Before we start, let’s define podcasts.
Podcasts are digital audio files that carry a series of spoken words – mostly prerecorded and availed for download on various platforms. These podcasts feature a host or a number of hosts and guests discussing topics of interest or engaging in spontaneous fits for entertainment. Not only do podcasts tend to be entertaining, but some also feature educational talks and inspiring life stories. Their purpose wholly relies on what the host/s have in mind and that’s why it is important to get a good script to guide you in your podcast planning.
Your podcast can rely on a script that can either be a full script for the whole show or a partial script that details the vital components of it, hence giving more room for spontaneity. However, I would advise any podcast beginner to prepare a detailed script to ensure that the podcast encounters as few hitches as possible, allow for fluency and to give you an ample foundation.
Podcast Script Tips for Beginners
As it has been established earlier, a script for beginners is essential. A beginner using a script will be able to be fluent and enunciate his words more clearly. In doing this, he will capture the audience’s attention through easily understood words topped with excellent tone and volume control. But a script that is not in the least engaging won’t stand a chance. Here are tips that a beginner can master and go forth with into making a script that is captivating:
- Make the script as engaging as possible
A podcast script should prioritize the audience and make them feel like it was tailored for their ears. Most scripts fail because the hosts prepare them in such a way that they are unable to avoid turning the show into a tasteless monotonous. The show should be engineered in such a way that the audience feels like they are included and therefore stay put.
- Allow for personalization
Your podcast should show off a host’s personality without compromise. An entertaining podcast can only come into being if the host is ‘in his zone’ doing what he does best. Mimicking some other podcast is a sure way of telling your listeners that you lack originality.
- Maintain a reasonable speed
The listeners are the main reason why podcasts are made. Therefore, the conversations on podcasts should neither be too fast to a point where the listeners are always struggling to catch up nor be so slow the host appears to be a sloth and an indolent. A good host settles for a pace that is right at the middle and comfortable enough for all players.
- Paint a picture with your words
Listeners will not be in the same room as the host in most cases. It is therefore the task of the host to ensure that delivery is made in such detail that the listeners can actually picture whatever the host is describing. If a guest is in the studio, for example, talk about their attire, the sprint in their step, and how well-coordinated they seem.
- Consider improvisation in the script
A script is not an all-or-nothing recipe. The show might reach a point where the host feels something important missing in the script and needs to be included or some idea that seemed good before needs to be eradicated. A good script allows the host to do some improvisation without necessarily having to abandon it entirely or waiting for the next episode to discuss whatever is amiss.
Now that a rough idea of what is expected has been presented, it’s time for us to dive into Podcast Scripts and how to make them. We have gone through a number of Podcast Scripts and will therefore help you navigate through your first Scripts and offer a few hints that might prove vital for your podcast.
Podcast Script Outline Templates
A successful podcast script kicks off with a general view of whatever the host has in mind. This first step will be a building block from which the host will add all the other needed segments. Such an approach allows the host to avoid side-tracking therefore derailing the purpose of the podcast.
Here’s an example of a Podcast Script template with the key ideas discussed.
- Sponsor Message
Depending on the type of sponsor, this message might be scripted or might be left for the host to structure and form. If the sponsor has decided to fully control their add placement, then the script will be forwarded and the host will have to read it as it is. If the brand relegates this to the host, it will have to be well written and presented. A message that is catchy and captivating will ensure the listeners buy the products and as a result, the brand will coming back for more.
Here is an example:
This is [the shows name] and today’s episode [your episode’s name or number] is brought to you by [the brand/sponsor’s name]. [Sponsor name] is an amazing brand that [state the purpose of the sponsor in either the production sector or service providing, the benefits of the above stated and relevance to your listeners].
A podcast’s introduction is a short oratory that welcomes the audience to the show and informs them on who the host is, what he is about to discuss and then introduces guests if there are any present.
I would like to welcome all my listeners to [name of show] the show that [purpose of the show]. Today’s episode is about [topic of discussion] and I am you host [hosts name]. Today, we have a guest [guest’s name] who is known for [short list of the guest’s popular achievements]. Stay tuned for more.
The guest is an important organ in the show. To keep the listeners eager for more, the host has to spruce their guest’s introduction without fumbling or downplaying their role.
A segue is what allows for a smooth transition between the topics in discussion. The most popular segues are sound effects or musical jingles. The host can also opt to use phrase as segue. Without this, the show will have a ragged outlook. The audience needs to feel the fluidity of the show they are to be engaged.
The outro should entail the host’s and guest’s closing remarks. This also provides an opportunity for the host to thank the listeners and guests and also inform the general audience on the next episode or any events you (as the host) feel the audience should know of.
That is today’s episode. I would like to thank you, my listener, for your time and our guest [name of guest] for their contribution to this show. Look out for our next episode and like our [name of platforms] pages and website. If you’d like to feature on this show, send your request to [channel of communication]
Then the outro music is cued.
At this point, Calls to Actions also come into play. Calls to Action are a host’s plea for support from the audience. Such support may come in the form of written reviews or more show subscriptions on Apple Podcasts. Calls to action should emphasize on the ease of supporting the show and state how important this will be to it.
Here’s a skeleton format of the podcast script we’ve discussed above:
- Message from Sponsor
- A detailed explanation of what that particular episode is about.
- 1st Topic:
- Main point
- Points of support
- Support from Data/ Reference
- A supporting quote
- Message from Sponsors
- 2nd Topic
- Main point
- Points of support
- Support from data/ Reference
- A supporting quote
- Sponsor brand’s message
- Closing effect[ music jingle/sound]
If you are one of the few skeptics that a doubtful that a scripted podcast episode if effective, check out the video below by Buzzsprout on why you really need to have a script:
This is just a structure that will help you through with your podcast. Podcast scripts, it should be noted, can be classified into 3 main formats:
#1. Solo show podcast script
Solo show podcasts are hosted by a single person. Their hosts do the shows by themselves without incorporating interviews from guests. This might sound like a bad idea since verbal exchanges spice up most of the shows today but surprisingly enough, these shows are popular too. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, is arguably the very pinnacle that most people on mic try to emulate. His shows rarely feature any guests but this doesn’t mean that they are poorly rated; far from it.
Most of the hosts that favor this type of show believe a solo host is a communicator who will feel free to air out his concerns and opinions with more charm, allure, and intimacy. The interviewer, on the other hand, is believed to be a facilitator. A facilitator can be likened to a third limb which might make you kick more than the number of opponents that two limbs can, but is still just an extra limb without a vital necessity to it being present.
If you believe this theory to be true then you’ll most likely want to go down this solo path. Solo podcasts need a script as much as the rest, maybe they even need it more. Without a basic script for this type of show, the host might run out of random things to discuss within a short while. Ranting on shows that are meant for specific discussions is a bad strategy for keeping interested listeners.
Most solo shows factor in a word-for-word script whereas some just write a basic and overall summary of what a particular show is about to cover. Short notes or summaries should be organized in a logical order to avoid confusion. The various sections on the show should also be included and topped with points for supporting data and whatever short notes the host deems necessary. These will prove essential when the host fails to recall details straight from memory.
The main advantage of having a Solo Podcast comes after the recording has been done and the host feels that a few things need to be rectified. They simply have to cut the unwanted parts and recite them again themselves. Post-production isn’t this easy when it comes to other formats.
Gotham Cast has a spectacular sample shown below:
#2. Interview show podcast scripts
These are shows that have guests on board. When guests are included in a podcast show, then a script is mandatory for two main reasons.
Most podcast guests don’t have as much experience on podcast shows. As a host, you can think fast enough whenever improvisation Is needed due to your experience. On the other hand, your podcast guest might not be adequately equipped with this skill and will, therefore, need a script to keep the conversational flowing smoothly without unnecessary hitches.
Second, a script will provide a solid background for the show’s topics. Without a script, you as the host might run out of topics of discussion or questions to ask. The show at this point will have to be terminated prematurely or carry on with unstable and awkward conversations. If the conversation takes a turn for the worst, the interviewee might feel uncomfortable making another appearance and the other possible interviewees will definitely tuck tail and fail to show up if called upon. A show that has ended prematurely will leave the audience hanging and time constraints may prevent the guest from attending again.
Questions outlined on a show’s script don’t necessarily have to follow any particular order. The host will have to listen to the guest’s answers attentively and then slide in a question that corresponds with the stage that the conversation is at, at that particular time.
Sending a list of the questions prepared for a podcast beforehand is also a good idea. The guest will have ample time to prepare the answers and also advise the host on questions they may feel border on outright offense or are too sensitive. Otherwise, the host may have to deal with guests mumbling ambiguous answers or walking out in the middle of a recording. So, if you would like to avoid a confrontation or a smack on the noggin, please send your guests the questions and give them time to respond.
#3. Co-host show podcast scripts
A script for this type of podcast show should factor in the fact that two people are doing the show and not one. The script should give allowance for the other person’s ideas to be incorporated into the show without making the listeners feel like they are getting stuck between two opposing monologues.
A script for a podcast show of this kind is important for various reasons. The show, for one, might get a little derailed when the hosts keep interrupting each other mid-sentence. If this happens a couple of times, both hosts might feel compelled into trying to out-voice each other.
Also, without a script, the hosts will each try to introduce their topics of interest which, if not aligned, will hamper the fluidity that a show should have. Or it will lead to hosts repeating topics that their counterparts already introduced before.
Another key issue that a script helps to solve is co-hosted shows turning to monologues. One of them might lack topics of discussion and slowly fade into the background as the other host, who is probably more adept at talking for long periods of time drones on and on. If the audience wanted to listen to a single person expressing themselves they would have probably gone searching for a good solo podcast show, right?
Scripts for these kinds of shows are similar to the solo shows with a few distinctions:
- The script will include segments with tags. These tags contain names and therefore fairly distribute the load that the hosts are supposed to handle
- These scripts will contain transitions within them that will allow for the various hosts to handle their segments effectively and pass the baton smoothly onto their counterparts without making it look jumpy. For example, after discussing a point on raccoons, if the speaking host has to let the other person discuss their breeding, he might ask a question such as “ And you have to ask yourself just how they breed, right Nathan?” to facilitate the transition. The other person will, therefore, answer the question and then proceed to handle their segment without a problem.
Below is an example of a co-host script:
A 5- minute podcast should be precise and straight to the point. Having such an amount of time allocated means the host will probably have to cut short if enough preparation hasn’t been made. This type of script, therefore, favors solo hosts who have a topic they would like to peruse through without including trivial details and unimportant nitty-gritty. Click here for an example of such a script from Joe Satriani.
To learn more on podcasts and their scripts visit the Listen Notes website by clicking here
The Modern Vintage Radio explains it clean how you can structure your podcast to get your audience hooked. Below is their episode strucuture they’ve explained in the video below:
You can listen to the guide in full below:
Other Podcast Script Styles
Bullet points script sytle
This is the most common style for freestyling episodes and they are the easiest to write. This style is ideal if you are featuring a co-host or a regular guest of your podcast. The Gilmore Guys and Ad age are using this type of format.
Detailed Script Outline Style
If you want more structure or maybe just starting out a podcast for the first time, the style of coming up with a detailed script will enable you to have a hassle-free recording. Some popular channels such as Buzzcast by Buzzsprout, Bulletproof Radio, and This American Life use this script style.
Word-for-word script are great for dramas, solo shows and shorter educational videos. You should, however, note that it may take time to get natural with reading a script word-for-word and you ran the risk of coming out as unnatural in your show. Below are some of the podcasts that use this format:
Wondering how long it takes to write a podcast script. Below is a guide by Buzzsprout: