How to Plan a Podcast in 2023
Planning a podcast is something that everybody seems to be doing nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that each new podcast you hear about just materializes out of thin air.
In fact, behind every good podcast is a whole lot of planning. Even the most popular and prolific podcasters in the world map out a strategic plan that outlines episode themes, topics to cover, guests to invite, and so much more.
My Podcast Plan at a Glance
Let’s start by going over the 10 essential steps of planning your podcast.
How to Plan a Podcast in 10 Steps:
|1.||Brainstorm Podcast Topics: Make a list of subjects you’re both passionate and knowledgeable about. Take a look at what’s already out there to help you determine how your podcast will function as an extension of your content strategy.|
|2.||Decide on a Podcast Theme: Although your conversations will vary from episode to episode, this will be the overarching theme that your podcast is built around. If you’re stuck on choosing a theme, there are resources that can point you in the direction of future trends in podcasting.|
|3.||Give Your Podcast a Name: The right podcast name will help your show stand out and attract the right listeners.|
|4.||Write Your Podcast Intro Script: You need to grip your listeners in the first few seconds of an episode, and that’s why you’ll benefit from plotting out your words using a podcast intro script.|
|5.||Get the Right Equipment and Setup: For a professional-sounding podcast, you’ll need a good microphone, some voice recording software, and a home studio setup.|
|6.||Hire a Musician to Compose Your Podcast Theme Music: If you’re not a musician, you can always purchase stock music or hire a talented musician to write a musical theme for your show.|
|7.||Design Your Podcast Cover Art: Good podcast cover art will perform the same function as a movie poster, enticing listeners to check out your show.|
|8.||Invite Guests to Speak on Your Podcast: Featuring guests on your podcasts is a great way to add some variety to your episodes, consult subject matter experts to bring authority to the topics you cover, and even expand your listenership.|
To streamline the process of inviting guests, consider making a one-pager that sells a potential guest on why they should consider coming on the show. One-pagers typically include your show’s listenership stats, your website’s performance stats, social followings, etc. Use it alongside personal messages to your prospects to pitch your podcast more efficiently and effectively.
|9.||Devise a Podcast Advertising Strategy: Podcasts often have devoted audiences who are more willing to act on an advertisement served to them via a podcast they enjoy compared to a TV commercial, online video ad, or radio ad. |
Breaking into the podcast advertising space is a must if you want to generate revenue and collaborate with like-minded brands.
|10.||Generate an RSS Feed and Submit Your Show to All the Major Podcasting Platforms: In order for your podcast to reach your audience’s ears, you’ll have to generate an RSS feed and ensure your show is available wherever listeners find their podcasts.|
How to Write a Podcast Script
Before getting granular with each word of your podcast script, try to look at your show from a bird’s-eye view. What are the elements of your script that will make the listening experience feel consistent for your listeners from episode to episode? Will your show be fully scripted, ad-libbed, or somewhere in between?
A polished and 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. Each episode is typically edited by a podcast editor or audio editor.
If you’ve got writers block, get started with these free podcast script templates. There’s more below too.
You should also adopt a more conversational tone of voice—speak to your audience and not at your audience. Our Annual Trends Report underscores how a conversational voice is much more appealing and effective in creating an emotional connection with your audience.
Ad lib Podcasts
Freestyle podcasts are most similar to live radio shows or television interviews. Freestyle is an ad lib recording style that can become greatly successful with an engaging and charismatic voice.
This is most often where the host has a podcast plan that takes the form a list of bullet points of topics to cover in the episode. These few bullet points are known as “talking points” and could be questions, issues to be debated or topics to explore and uncover a unique perspective. This approach is very common when the host invites on a guest for a podcast interview.
Because it’s not fully scripted, the character and charm of the host, or their guest can really make for an enjoyable listening experience.
Aside from the introduction and the final closing remarks, it’s rare that podcast episodes have a word-for-word script for the entire show.
Yield the best results by combining these two methods and developing your own unique podcasting style.
Here’s an example of a podcast outline template that we’ve used at Voices.com for our 4 podcasts, and shared the template with hundreds of new podcasters. It’s easy to follow and fill in the blanks.
What to Include in the Outline of a Podcast Script
Podcast Script Template
1. Opening: A quick musical jingle or your brand’s sonic logo.
2. Introduction: A monologue-style intro outlining your guests and what you plan to talk about on your show.
3. Segue: This can be achieved using music or podcast sound effects, or a vocal segue.
4. Topic 1: Discuss the first topic for X number of minutes.
5. Vocal Segue: “We are going to move on and talk about…” or “In other news this week…”
6. Topic 2: Discuss the next topic for another X number of minutes.
7. Ad Insertion: This is the moment to insert a sponsored message or a podcast advertisement. It can be pre-recorded and inserted in post production (think radio commercial break) or you can speak about the sponsor in a conversational style that doesn’t feel like a commercial break.
8. Segue #2
9. Topic 3: Discuss this for X number of minutes.
10. Closing remarks: Thank your listeners and your guests, then provide a sneak peek of what will be discussed on the next show.
11. Closing Musical Jingle
What Goes Into a Podcast Introduction Script?
We’ve covered the 10 tips to planning a podcast and show structure template, and now it’s onto scripting. Again, not everyone needs to be fully scripted in order to deliver a compelling podcast, but components like intros and outros are most often scripted. Because of that, we thought you’d find these tips about what to include in a podcast intro, and an example of an intro, helpful.
What to Include in Your Intro
When writing the intro script for the podcast, you should consider that this intro format will bring each episode of your podcast to your listeners. It’s best to keep it short, say 10 or 15 seconds maximum. That way, the podcast intro won’t get skipped over with the +30 skip setting on most podcast players.
So what do you write? After (or even before) introducing yourself and any co-hosts you have, think Hook, Line, and Sinker.
3 Tips on Things to Include in Your Podcast Intro:
- Give your listeners the #1 coolest thing happening in the show and the lesson or take away that comes from it as a result. (If you didn’t already introduce yourself, do it now. But skip the CV to keep it short)
- If you have something juicy and exciting to share during 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.
- Play your intro jingle at this point to signal that the show is getting started.
Sample Intro Podcast Script
Hook: She wore WHAT to the costume party?! Hi, my name is Lily Turner and welcome to ‘Talks with Turner.’ Today on our show, I am joined by Pete Saver, my awesome co-host.
Line: We’re talking about our favorite movies, the best costume party ideas of the year, and later on we have a special guest.
Sinker: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 to hear her best—and worst—dressed stories and tips on throwing the best costume party around!
Creating Momentum With Your Podcast Script
Regardless of whether you’re creating a long-form discussion or a short and snappy show, you should keep the topics moving in order to keep listeners engaged.
Try to use guests as a way to break up the conversation, pace, and tone of your shows.
You can use musical backgrounds (also known as jingles or music beds) or other non-music interludes (referred to as stagers, sweepers, 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.
How to Structure (and Script) Your Podcast Segments
There is no “one size fits all” approach to a podcast as the very nature of podcasts is based on their broad variety and uniqueness from show to show.
That said, giving some thought to how your segments are structured and what they’ll consist of during the planning phase will set you up to deliver a consistent show format that your listeners will come to expect when tuning in.
The First Podcast Segment
The first segment should be the most interesting in order to sustain listeners’ attention. This segment should appeal to the entire audience. Broad content is encouraged to serve the majority. For example, news and current events related to your podcast subject matter are often of interest to an entire audience.
The Subsequent Podcast Segments
All subsequent segments can be more in-depth and focus on specific areas of interest. Depending on your comfort level, you can fully script these segments to make sure you’re speaking to them exactly as you want or you can make yourself a set of bullet points to speak to in a more conversational and free-flowing style. The latter option works best when you have guests on the show as scripting a full conversation with your guest tends to take some of the authenticity out of the podcast episode listening experience.
Podcast Interview Formats
If you are running a podcast that includes guests, you have additional considerations to keep in mind when crafting your podcast script.
For instance, you will want to prepare a list of questions to ask your guest and group them based on the different topics you will cover.
Being a good interviewer is an art form in itself (you can get tips on how to be an amazing host and interviewer here). As you’re interviewing, 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.
Tip: Many podcast guests appreciate receiving the questions ahead of time so they know what to expect and can have some answers top of mind, too.
In the podcast intro and outro script examples above, the host was chatting to a supermodel, famous for her costume parties.
Here’s an example of what that podcast interview sheet may look like:
Podcast Interview Sheet Example
Topic: Greta’s Experience and Advice on Hosting Costume Parties
Q1: 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?
Q3: If I wanted to make sure that my costume party is one to be rivaled, what do I need to know? How do I prepare?
Don’t Forget About Your Podcast Outro Script
In the outro of your podcast script, you will want to make sure you thank all of the guests who 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 can also direct your listeners to your show notes for links to videos or articles mentioned during the show so they, too, can enjoy those pieces to the fullest and better understand where you were coming from when talking about them!
You will also want to play your outro jingle at this point.
Sample Outro Podcast Script
“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 for the top songs of the year. Musician Teddy will be stopping by, and you’re not going to want to miss it. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify. Plus, if you haven’t got your tickets to our live show in Georgia next month, check out this episode’s show notes for a link to ticketbay.com.
Where to Find More Podcast Script Examples
The above examples are just an introduction on how to begin. There are several places online you can go to get inspired to write the perfect podcast script or outline.
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 podcast script template.
To get the creative juices flowing, visit our podcast voice over page to hear voice actor demos of podcast intros, advertising segments, segues, and outros!
Get Listener Feedback
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.
Keeping that bird’s-eye view in mind, here is a show template to help you identify what aspects of the show will become a part of every episode.
Sign up for a Voices account to find the voice for your next podcast intro, podcast ads, or segue music.
Happy podcasting in 2023!
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