How To Plan Your Podcast

Step by Step Development

Planning topics to discuss, possible guest interviews, and your show's length in advance will go a long way when producing a professional sounding podcast. Since you'll be recording your project in an almost live fashion, you will have the flexibility of going back and re-editing sections prior to committing your show as "podcast-ready".

Since nearly everyone has heard a radio program, you should expect that your listeners have grown accustomed to hearing material produced in a certain way. Here is a suggested framework for mapping out your production.

Sample Podcast Recipe - A Blueprint for Your Podcast

Shoot for a show length of 10-15 minutes. Keep topics moving, and limit topic coverage to 2-3 minutes. 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 ID's) 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.

Show Outline - Your Table of Contents

Here's an example of a show outline:

  • Show intro monologue (who you are, what you're going to talk about): 30-60 seconds
  • Intro music jingle (repeat for each show so listeners identify the jingle with your show): 30-60 seconds
  • Topic 1: 3 minutes
  • Topic 2: 3 minutes
  • Interlude (music or break): 30 seconds
  • Topic 3: 3 minutes
  • Topic 4: 3 minutes
  • Closing remarks (thank audience, thank guests, talk about the next show): 2 minutes
  • Closing music jingle (suggest same as Intro music jingle): 2 minutes

How to Write Your Script - Writing Relevant Copy

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.

Develop an introduction that will quickly explain and highlight the purpose of your podcast. This section should be roughly 2-3 sentences in length. Usually an announcer will read this portion of your podcast over a music bed. This intro can be reused at the beginning of each episode to build your brand.

Next, you will need to incorporate a brief salutation, roughly 30 seconds, greeting the audience and giving them a preview of the episode, and perhaps even an overview of the show's agenda.

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.

The wrap up should thank the listeners for joining the host, and if possible, provide an idea of what the audience can expect to hear in the next episode. Announce contact information for feedback and ideas. Usually an email address or website url is sufficient.

Close with an outro or music bed, ideally using the same theme music from the introduction to reestablish the branding of your podcast.

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.

Script Writing Style - Talking to Your Audience

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 news cast 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.

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 a live event. 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.

Summary - Key Points About Planning Your Content

In this chapter, we talked about the importance of planning your podcast and gave you some ideas about how to organize your podcast including a sample recipe. Now that you know what is required in the pre-production phase of developing your podcast, we can move ahead to the actual recording of your podcast. In the next chapter, we'll discuss recording equipment, software, basic recording techniques, and how to add music, sound effects, voice-over and more to enhance your podcast.

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