Many podcasts sound like free flowing conversations – but don’t be fooled. The top podcasts in the world go into the process with a plan before they begin recording. In order to replicate the conversational style of podcasts, you need a great podcast script.
There are many ways to go about creating a script, and when it comes to planning your podcasts, scripts are not usually intended to be read verbatim. Instead, they are more like a guide to help you move effortlessly through your show’s content.
Let’s dive in.
How to Write A Podcast Script – Start With Your Show’s Outline
Before getting nitty gritty with the script – take a bird’s-eye view of your show. What elements do you have that will make it feel consistent for the listener each time? You should do this first so that you are aware of what is coming up in the show and can make your show sound like a cohesive, flowing conversation with great segues.
Regardless of whether you’re creating a long form discussion, or a short and snappy show, keep topics moving, to keep listeners engaged. Try to use guests as a way to break up the conversation, pace, and tone of your shows. Use musical backgrounds (known as jingles or music beds) or other non-music interludes (referred to as stagers, sweeps and IDs) to transition between topics. These topic breaks are typically described as bumpers or sweepers, giving your listeners the time they might need to digest the content you just presented.
As each episode is different, they should have their own themes, topics and lengths to set them apart from each other.
Here’s an example of a show outline:
- Opening: A quick musical jingle
- Introduction: A monologue style introduction introducing your hosts and what you will talk about on your show
- Segue: Could be musical or a sound effect
- Topic 1: Talk for about 3 minutes
- Vocal Segue: “We are going to move on and talk about…”
- Topic 2: Talk for about 3 minutes
- Consider adding a sponsored message or podcast advertisement
- Musical segue
- Topic 3: Talk for about 3 minutes
- Closing remarks, thank the audience, guests, what will be on the next show
- Closing musical Jingle
Examples of Podcast Scripts and Segments
Research all components of your podcast in order to deliver the most relevant material to your audience. Your writing style should be conversational with friendly language, limiting the use of jargon or industry specific words in order to accommodate your listeners (for inspiration, you can view our sample scripts).
The first segment should be the most interesting to keep listeners’ attention. This segment should appeal to the entire audience. Broad content is encouraged to serve the majority. News and current events related to the podcast theme are often of interest to an entire audience.
All subsequent segments can be more in-depth and focus on specific areas of interest. Depending on the quality of the content, each segment should be no more than 2 – 4 paragraphs. We will go more in depth on how the intro, outro and guest questions should flow later on.
Here is an example of a podcast script for a fictional sports podcast:
Opening music jingle.
Bob: Hi welcome to Sports-R-Us. I am Bob Jimminy, and with me today is Carter Blake. We have a fun and jam-packed show for you today. We are going to be talking about our top picks to make the Superbowl this year, we have a surprise athlete stopping by for a quick chat and we are going to finish off with some NFL news.
Sound Effect – Whistle Blowing
Bob: So Carter, who are you expecting to come out as the champs this year at the Super Bowl?
Carter: I’d place my money on the Cowboys, they are looking solid this year, there’s no way they can drop from the top.
Bob: You can’t even compare their game with any other team at this point in the season.
Carter: I agree with you there. But it’s still too early to place those million-dollar bets, I’m holding out a few more games until I feel 100% about them.
Bob: Oh, you’re wavering. We’ll see what happens. Anyway time to move on, please welcome our special guest, Michael Jordan.
Applause Sound Effect Segue into Topic 2.
Sample podcast Introduction Script:
Now that you have an example of what a segment in a podcast script should look like, let’s break each part of the podcast script down and show examples of how successful and engaging podcast scripts can be created.
In the intro of the podcast script, you want to introduce the host and the title of the show. If you have any co-hosts, now is the time to make them known to your listeners. Now is also the time to give your listeners a preview of what they can expect to hear on the show. If you have something juicy and exciting to share in your last segment, for example, you want to share it right off the bat in order to entice listeners to listen the whole way through – or at least skip ahead to the segment that most interests them. You will also want to play your intro jingle at this point.
Here is an example:
Hi, my name is Lily Turner and welcome to ‘Talks with Turner.’ Today on our show, I am joined by Pete Saver, who will be my awesome co-host today as we talk about our favorite movies, the best costume party ideas of the year and later on we have a special guest – I don’t want to give it away, but she is a very famous model who is known for her costume parties. So stick around.
Sample Podcast Outro Script
In the outro of your podcast script, you will want to make sure you thank all of the guests that were on your show and recap a bit about what was discussed. Now is also the time to talk about any exciting future episodes that are coming up, and include a call to action for the listener. For example, you may want to promote a special event that is relevant to your podcast and/or brand or entice listeners to become loyal subscribers. You will also want to play your outro jingle at this point.
Here is an example:
Well, that’s all for today’s episode of ‘Talks with Turner.’ Thanks for listening, and thank you to Pete Saver for joining me today, along with Gerda Greets for sharing her tips for throwing the best costume party this year. Join us again next week when we talk about the top songs of the year and musician Teddy stops by for a chat. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you never miss an episode. Plus, if you haven’t got your tickets to our live show in Georgia next month, stop by our website at talkswithturner.com and hurry because tickets are almost sold out.
Sample of Guest Question Scripts
You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask your guest and group them based on the different topics you will cover. Keep in mind that to maintain the conversational flow of the interview, listen closely to the guest’s answers and ask follow-up questions based on their answers. You don’t have to ask the questions in the order you have laid out.
In the podcast example above, the host was chatting to a supermodel, famous for her costume parties. Here is an example of what that question sheet may look like:
Topic: History of costume parties thrown by Greta
Q1: Greta, thanks for joining us today. Pete and I have been talking a bit about what makes a great costume party, but before you share your amazing tips, tell us how your love of costume parties came to exist?
Q2: So of all the parties you have thrown, which one has been your favorite one?
Topic: Personal tips for throwing a great party
Q3: If I wanted to make sure that my costume party is one to be rivalled, what do I need to know? How do I prepare?
Where to Find Great Podcast Scripts
The above examples are just an introduction for how to begin writing a great podcast script. There are several places online you can go to get inspired to write the perfect podcast script. You can search for transcripts of your favorite podcasts on various sites such as Listen Notes – which has a ton of free transcripts available for some of the most popular podcasts.
Alternatively, you can simply listen to your favorite podcast and take notes on the different elements that comprise their podcast script and use some of those elements in your own scripts.
Other Podcast Script Elements to Consider
There are two voice over styles for recording your podcast that you should keep in mind when writing your podcast script. These include polished and freestyle.
A polished, professional sounding podcast, is similar to what you might hear in a newscast or documentary. The script is written out and rehearsed prior to recording. Generally this podcast may have particular themes that are explored in sequential order, demanding more structure and precision.
You should also adopt a more conversational tone of voice, speak to your audience and not at your audience. The 2018 Voices Trends Report discusses how a conversational voice is much more appealing and effective in creating an emotional connection with your audience.
Freestyle recordings are most similar to live radio shows or television interviews. Freestyle is an ad lib, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants recording style that can be unpredictable, engaging, and full of chemistry. This style may work best for podcasts with more than one host, highlighting their dialogue skills and spontaneity, or for individual podcasters that decide to record a verbal stream of consciousness, especially poets, announcers, and others that are recording impromptu or on location at live events. When writing a freestyle script, you may only need to include your segment theme and some point-form details within each segment. This way, you can refer to your freestyle script while recording without feeling nailed down to a finalized script.
Yield best results by combining these two methods and developing your own unique podcasting style. Once you have a listening audience, ask them for feedback about your show and gain valuable information that will help you to improve your podcast. They may even introduce new ideas that will give you an edge over any potential competitors and enhance their listening experience. Ideas that they provide might refer to the length of segments, topics discussed, guests on the show, and so on.