6 Tips for Writing a Podcast Episode
Updated: Jun 13
For new podcasters, writing a script for your first podcast episode can feel a little daunting. You may listen to many podcasts where the host sounds casual, the conversations flow freely, and each episode takes listeners on a journey. But the truth of the matter is that there is a ton of behind-the-scenes preparation that goes into making successful podcasts sound just like that.
So before you hit the record button, make sure you put forth a little bit of planning and effort behind your episode script, and this will set the tone for a great show. In the article ahead, we've compiled some of our best practices and tips for writing a podcast episode script.
Recommended Read: Quick Guide for Creating a Podcast
Podcast Script Tips
1. Outline Your Podcast Script
When you sit down to write your podcast episode, it's helpful to have a general framework to follow. This is the case with almost written work, whether it be a book, a speech, or a script. (An outline was created for even this very article!)
Having some sort of template or guide will make the process much easier and less daunting. Below is a sample of a very basic podcast script to help your episodes flow smoothly.
HOOK - 30 seconds to 1 minute
This is where you introduce the topic of your podcast episode and "hook" listeners in by making them curious to hear more. If it's an interview podcast, then you'd introduce the guest on your show and provide a quick background summary.
Your intro should be short but inviting. You don't need to use the exact same intro script for every episode, but it should more or less follow the same structure. For example, you may say, "Hello and welcome to [podcast name]! I'm [host name] and this week, we're going to be talking about [topic or subject] with our guest, [guest name and background info]. They're going to share with us [high level overview of episode, such as top secrets or best tips for a particular topic], so be sure to stay tuned in until the very end."
This is really the meat of your show where you'll dive into each segment, giving approximately 5-7 minutes per segment as a good rule of thumb. Depending on the length of your podcast, you'd like have at least two but no more than four segments.
Within each of these segments, you'd want to introduce the overall topic - or ask a new question if it's an interview podcast - along with any supporting stories, quotes or information.
This is where you'll wrap up your show and thank listeners for tuning in, as well as thank your guest for their time. You'd also likely want to include any call-to-actions, a message from your sponsors, and for those that have them, sound effects or other musical elements.
Sponsor Ad Messages
If you do have a message from your sponsor, there are a couple ways you can approach that in your script, based on how much control they have. Some sponsors provide a word-for-word script that needs to be followed exactly, whereas others provide you a little more wiggle room to ad lib so long as you touch on the key message or talking points. Regardless, you'll want to be prepared with what you plan on saying about your sponsor when the time comes. If it is a word-for-word script, we recommend practicing beforehand so that it sounds natural and unforced. This will keep your sponsors happy, and your listeners may be more curious about their products or services, as well, if you sound more authentic and genuine.
If you have a long-time relationship or have built a good rapport with your sponsors, you could also have a conversation with them about how you want to work in the message, and provide thoughts on what you think would be best for your audience.
Depending on your show and goals, you may have unique call-to-actions for listeners. But here is an example of a generic CTA you may use:
"If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Every rating and review helps us reach more listeners, and we are so grateful for your support!"
Recommended Read: 4 Ways to Start Monetizing Your Podcast
2. Decide on Your Format
Now that you've written your script, it's time to start thinking about the format of your show. This will help determine the flow of your episode, as well as how to best utilize your time - and your guest's time, if you're doing an interview.
Some common podcast formats include:
Solo shows: These are great if you're the sole host of your show and don't plan on having guests. This format gives you complete control over the conversation and direction of your show.
Co-hosted shows: As the name suggests, this involves having one or more co-hosts on your show with you. This can be a great way to add different viewpoints to your episode, as well as provide some friendly banter back and forth between hosts.
Interview shows: This is a very popular format, where you'll interview guests on your show. This can be a great way to bring in new perspectives and ideas, as well as help promote your guests' work.
Panel shows: Similar to an interview show, but with multiple guests instead of just one. This can be a great format if you have multiple people with different perspectives on a certain topic.
Now that you have your script, outline, and format ready to go, it's time to start thinking about how you want to deliver your content. This includes things like the pacing of your delivery, how much emotion to put into your voice, and how to use inflection and emphasis. Tips #3 and #4 will help with that!
3. Utilize Notes in the Margins
Once you have your script written out, jot down some notes in between the margins that you can use when you're recording live. If you're practicing your outline out loud, jot down where it would make the most sense for a dramatic effect, such as a sign or a pause. Then write down those notes, and practice a couple of times before you start recording. This will help your delivery sound natural and less robotic.
4. Not Too Slow, But Not Too Fast
When you're recording your podcast episode, it's important to find a balance in your delivery. If you speak too slowly, it can sound like you're dragging on. But if you speak too quickly, it can sound like you're rushed and flustered. Try to find a happy medium between the two, and practice a reasonable, consistent pace. Pauses tend to indicate a transition in between segments, or a change in topic. So when practicing your episode script beforehand, give close attention to your pace, pauses and breaths and do your best to plan them beforehand.
Tip: Make a note for yourself when on the air, such as "Slow down!" or "Breathe!" so you can be reminded to adjust your pace if you need to.
5. Be Yourself, Not Somebody Else
This is probably the most important tip of all. When recording your podcast episode, it's important to be yourself. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people try to imitate other podcasters or speakers when they record their own episodes.
Part of what makes podcasts so great is that they are personal and intimate. Your listeners want to hear your voice, your thoughts, and your personality. So don't try to imitate somebody else - be yourself, and let your own unique voice shine through.
6. Don't Just Wing It - Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when recording a podcast episode is to try and wing it. Sure, you might be able to get away with it if you're a natural conversationalist. But for most people, it's important to prepare beforehand so you can hit the ground running when it comes time to record.
This means having a script or outline prepared, as well as practicing your delivery beforehand. You should also make sure you have all the necessary equipment and software set up and ready to go before you start recording.
This doesn't mean you need to bind yourself to your outline script. If you want to deviate from it during the recording, that's perfectly fine. Going off-script and allowing for some riffing will keep your podcast sounding fresh, and will help you avoid sounding dry or boring. You never know what great ideas will come out when you let yourself be spontaneous, and you can always edit those moments out later if you decide not to air certain parts. But with that in mind, it's important to have a general idea of what you want to say beforehand so you can stay on track and avoid any awkward silences.
Launch Your Podcast Successfully with Personalized Help
Are you ready to launch your podcast, but feeling overwhelmed? Do you need help with the technical aspects of setting up your show? Sorrentino Media offers personalized podcast production and consulting services.
We will help you every step of the way, from pre-launch to post-launch. Get in touch with our crew today to learn more!