Last updated on September 26th, 2019
How to write a podcast script is one of the biggest questions new podcasters ask when recording their first episode. For solo, co-hosted, and interview formats, there are three different podcast script methods to produce cohesive episodes.
Ahead we offer some best practices to get your started, whether you plan to prepare a word-for-word script or want to leave room for ad libbing.
Podcast Script Tips For Beginners
Word-for-word podcast scripting is important when you’re just starting. Talking intelligently, smoothly, and clearly is challenging without practice.
We recommend newbies prepare all of their content before they hit record. Then during the recording, you can focus on your mechanics, like enunciating, removing filler words, and controlling your tone and volume.
The biggest challenge of podcast scripting is keeping it conversational. If you aren’t careful, reading a podcast script can lead to a flat, monotone delivery. A lot of podcasters find it useful to speak their script (like a rehearsal for their recording) and let a speech-to-text tool dictate their words. Google Docs has a free tool that comes in handy here.
Another trick every good podcast script includes are delivery notes. Mark points where you intend to pause or speak quickly, and spots that require emphasis. Then say it out loud a few times listening for unnatural phrasing, uncomfortable pacing, or the need for more transition phrases or context.
Basic Podcast Script Segments
While every podcast script is different depending on which type of show you host, there are 4 segments that work best with a prepared talking points. When you’re ready to deliver these set-piece blurb, simply read from your podcast script, then dive back into the episode’s content.
1. Show introduction
A show’s introduction has three key elements: it’s short and sweet, welcomes listeners to the episode, and includes a brief pitch about the podcast. Generally, you’ll use the same script for each episode to consistently welcome listeners to your latest episode. The easiest intro to script follows this basic setup:
“Welcome to [podcast name], the show that [brief podcast pitch or tagline]. I’m [host name] and today we’re talking about [episode topic].”
2. Guest introductions
If you interview guests on your podcast, you don’t want to fumble their name or credentials as they’re introduced to the show. Writing out a basic introduction script will ensure you get it right the first time around. This is also a great opportunity to provide context around why your listeners should care about your guest’s expertise. The introduction can be as simple as:
“Now it’s time to welcome [guest name] to [podcast name]. She/he/they are here to [purpose of guest: provide expertise, answer questions, tell their story, etc.]. Hi, [guest first name], thanks for joining us.”
3. Calls-to-action (CTAs)
Your calls-to-action are a chance to ask for more listener support, from subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts or writing a review. The best CTAs sound authentic and emphasize how easy it is to do the action you’re asking of your audience. Remember, your CTA priorities will shift over time as you start selling merchandise or offer premium subscriptions so you’ll end up writing a few different scripts to fit each need. Here’s a good place to start:
“Thanks for listening to [podcast name]. Before we go, show some love for your favorite podcast by leaving us a review on Apple Podcasts. Then stay tuned for next week where we [next episode’s topic].”
4. Sponsor ad messages
The scripts for your sponsor’s messaging will depend on how much control the brand wants over their ad placements. A sponsor may provide a word-for-word script you need to follow while others will give talking points where you can add in conversational elements that are unique to your show. In either scenario, you’ll want to chart out exactly what to say so your ads sound natural, your listeners buy their products, and your sponsors keep coming back.
Types Of Podcast Scripts
The type of show you host is big factor in whether writing a podcast script is right for you. There are generally three types of podcast formats that work well with mapping out specific talking points.
1. Solo show podcast scripts
If you host a podcast by yourself, it helps to prepare a basic outline before you start recording. Good podcast script notes usually start with a few section headers that include supporting data points and relevant anecdotes.
Here’s a sample of an outline from GothamCast:
Section headers represent the important topics or themes of your episode, helping you stay on track to avoid forgetting important points. Having this general outline also helps you speak in an active, conversational tone that listeners find engaging. As you gain experience recording from a basic outline, you’ll find it creates some of the most natural sounding and authentic podcast episodes.
One of the biggest advantages of hosting a solo show is you can do a lot of post-production that other podcast formats can’t. If you aren’t happy with the way you said something, you can simply say it again and cut out the mistake later, repeating this process until you’re satisfied.
2. Interview show podcast scripts
Interview-style podcast episodes generally require more script preparation compared to other formats for both you and the interviewee. As the host, it’s important to know exactly what you’ll ask your guest for two main reasons.
Detailing a list of the questions and main talking points will stimulate conversation, helping you avoid running out of things to say. If you cut the session short because you’re unprepared, your guest may not arrange another time to record. Not only does this leave you looking unprofessional, but you’ll also end up with a partial episode.
Second, your guest likely has less podcast experience so they’re not as comfortable thinking on their feet. Providing a list of questions and comments before the show allows them to prepare the thoughts and anecdotes they want to share during the recording. Essentially, the more comfortable the guest, the more conversational the interview so you create an amazing episode.
3. Co-host show podcast script
When you work with a co-host, it’s best to use a hybrid approach. Scripting some things, but leaving other areas of your episode open for organic conversation.
Some organization beforehand will help you avoid some classic co-host mistakes like:
- Interrupting one another because “This is important and I want to mention it before you move on.”
- Making the same argument your co-host made a moment ago.
- Talking so long people forget your co-host is on the show.
- Transitioning abruptly from one point to another.
Map out your episode with a basic outline (like you would for a solo show) and add supporting points, data, and anecdotes under each heading. Then tag each line item with someone’s name so you distribute the talking smoothly. You’ll want to script and note who will take care of the basic podcast segments of the episode too, like your show’s introduction and CTAs.
Finally, add scripted transitions to your outlines. Questions are the easiest way to do this, sort of like you’re interviewing each other. Here’s an example:
Jim: “…and that’s when the judge sends the jury to deliberate. How long would you say deliberation usually takes in a case like this?”
Mike: “It’s tough to say, but I would expect at least three hours. First, the court has to re-explain the charges…”
With a co-host, it’s important to remember to record each person on different tracks. This way you can edit your voices independently later on, saving you a few headaches and a lot editing time.