How to Write a Podcast Episode Script
Do you remember a time when we all thought that podcasts are going to be just another fad? Well, it turns out, podcasts are here to stay
Recent numbers suggest that podcasting is going mainstream. Podcasts appeal to many because they’re a great source of entertainment and education. They are incredibly easy and cheap to produce which allows people to target specific niches of the market with their content.
Podcasts have also proven to be highly profitable for business owners and their marketing strategies. Even content marketers place them in very high regard. For example, if you check out this simple guide for making a content marketing strategy, you’ll see that podcasts are ranked at the very top.
But just because lots of people are making podcasts these days, it doesn’t mean all of them are good. Like with any sort of medium, certain standards of quality need to be satisfied in order to have a decent chance of creating any kind of recognizable following.
Lots of different elements end up factoring into production quality. Whether you’re only doing audio or you’re trying to reap the benefits of video as well, a component that goes beyond technical aspects is structure. If you’ve ever wondered how to create a podcast script or even if you truly needed one, then it’s a good thing you’re here.
Different Types of Podcast in Terms of Scripting
There are three fundamental ways we can categorize all podcasts in the way they’re planned out, structured, and produced. All podcasts are either unscripted, semi-scripted or scripted.
1. Unscripted Podcast
Unscripted podcasts are highly flexible. You pick a topic and simply start talking. Or, if that’s too much of a “structure” for you, you can also just record whatever comes to mind and go with that.
Flexibility is often a good thing for creativity, which is why this model is highly suitable for podcasts that are meant to entertain. Comedy podcasts particularly benefit from extensive, improvised tangents especially there’s more than one speaker involved.
On the other hand, it’s usually not a good idea if you’re trying to do a podcast that’s meant to educate or provide people with instructions on how to do something.
Bear in mind that these types of podcasts are highly reliant on the charisma and storytelling ability of people doing do talking. For those who are struggling to keep people’s attention in conversation, this is definitely not the best choice.
Unscripted podcasts don’t require any preparation other than technical, which suggests that, at least in theory, you are able to produce them very quickly. Then again, because of their unpredictable nature, sometimes you’ll end up with unusable content on your hands.
In that case, you’re going to have to invest more time or money into editing everything down. This is exactly why, if you’re going to go off-script, you should always be sure to record extra content just in case you need to make some serious cuts in order to make it work.
2. Semi-scripted Podcast
As the term suggests, these types of podcasts have at the very least some sort of an outline that guides the flow of the episode and splits it into sections.
In preparation for a semi-scripted podcast, you’re required you write up the framework for each particular episode. Your segments can be consistent throughout, or you can change and add new ones along the way.
Aside from defining a particular topic, you’ll also need to write section headlines, short bullet points that drive the discussion further and assign desired time goals for each segment that you plan out. Finally, if you’re really trying to get an idea out there or you have a particular sentence in mind you’d like to be quoted on, add those into the script as well.
Semi-scripted podcasts offer a perfect balance of required preparation and flexibility, in terms of production. They are a recipe that relies on guided improvisation, allowing you to express yourself but also providing you with a topical cheat sheet that allows you to hit all the key marks.
It’s a standard approach for interview-style podcasts but it can also work particularly well for educational ones. For instance, if you’re describing a particular method or sharing a set of tips, it’s usually good to accompany hard scripted lines with sections of improvised stories or examples to make the whole topic feel less dry.
3. (Fully) Scripted Podcast
Lastly, we have a fully scripted, word-for-word, read-the-whole-thing type of podcast. This approach can be quite challenging because it’s very time consuming and requires a lot of work prior to the actual recording.
The fully-scripted podcasts are a place for good copywriters to shine. If your writing skills are exemplary, or you’re less confident about your speaking and improv skills, this is definitely the approach for you. However, if you’re not skilled at writing engaging content but you still insist on creating a scripted podcast, then you should probably hire a professional copywriter to help you out.
Like other podcast types, a scripted podcast can work well for one thing but not for the other. For instance, audio dramas, news, or some types of comedy podcasts work extremely well precisely because of the fact that they are scripted. Some types of educational podcasts can also benefit from having a full-script, provided the format is particularly engaging.
The challenge of doing a fully-scripted podcast for entertainment purposes is mostly in the delivery. If there’s not much variation in the way you express yourself vocally, there’s a good chance your podcast will come off as dry and cause people to drop engagement.
However, if you’re very skilled at dramatic readings or are simply able to hide the fact that you’re looking at a sheet of paper, then you have nothing to worry about.
Finally, scripted podcasts also come with a variety of challenges during the recording and production stages. Since everything needs to be read exactly how it’s written and in a particular way, there can be a lot of re-recording and editing included during production.