September 24, 2023

A step-by-step guide to writing a podcast script + templates to get started

Learn to write a podcast script with our guide. We include tips and a template for you to create engaging and professional podcast episodes.
September 24, 2023

A step-by-step guide to writing a podcast script + templates to get started

Learn to write a podcast script with our guide. We include tips and a template for you to create engaging and professional podcast episodes.
September 24, 2023
Mina Son
In this article
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Transcriptions


A good podcast episode sounds conversational and effortless. The best ones make it seem like the podcast host freestyles the whole thing. 

But to create natural, free-flowing, and exciting conversations, hosts have to prepare a lot before getting in front of a microphone. 

When starting your own podcast, knowing how to write a podcast script is a critical skill.

Podcast script basics

A podcast script can be anything from a word-for-word transcript of what should be said to a loose outline of the main points to discuss in an episode. Either way, it acts as a roadmap that keeps you on track to hit all the points without veering off course. 

A script keeps your narrative clear and reduces time spent on editing, so you can focus on your delivery. It also allows for team members to collaborate on the content of an episode.

Podcast script length varies. For instance, an hour-long fully scripted podcast can be 45–65 pages. But if you stick with an outline that hits your main talking points, your script could be a single A4 notecard.

Podcast script sections and elements

A good podcast script has certain key elements, regardless of podcast format or episode topic. These elements can help any new podcast draw in listeners.

Introduction

A good podcast intro hooks your listeners and tells them what they can expect from the episode. It should include: 

  • Your podcast’s name
  • The host’s name
  • The purpose or theme of your show
  • The topic of today’s episode
  • A teaser that will urge listeners to stick around to the end

Also, the music in your podcast's intro will set the tone for the show and get your listeners in the right mood.

EXAMPLE: Hi, my name’s [host name], and this is [co-host name]. You’re listening to [podcast title], where we discuss all things [theme or concept of show]. 

Today, we’re tackling [episode topic] and will have a special guest [guest name] with an incredible announcement. So make sure to stay tuned til the end!

Guest welcome

Introducing podcast guests onto your show is more than just mentioning the guest’s name. Research your guests and consult with them about how they want to be introduced. That way, you can include their credentials or a fun fact when welcoming them to your show and instantly build rapport.

EXAMPLE: Today, we’re excited to have [credential/profession/title and guest name], who [explanation of their expertise/reason they’re on the show]. Hi [guest name], welcome! Thank you so much for joining us!

Sponsor message

Some sponsors provide a complete script to read verbatim; others just give talking points or phrases to include. Remember to sound natural and represent your sponsor’s brand well when scriptwriting for sponsor messages.

EXAMPLE: [Your podcast name] is sponsored by [sponsor’s name]. [Insert sponsor name and products/services they want you to include and/or tagline].

Segue

All podcasts need segues to allow each episode to flow naturally. Even if you’re doing an in-depth single-topic episode, you’ll still need transitions throughout the show. Consider using sound effects, a musical jingle, or even a simple phrase. 

EXAMPLE: If you thought [topic 1] was [shocking/surprising/fascinating], just wait until you hear about [topic 2]. 

Call-to-Action (CTA)

CTAs get your audience to engage with your show. Some common CTAs to ask your listeners to perform are: 

  • Rate and review your podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
  • Follow your show’s social media accounts
  • Sign up for your show’s newsletter
  • Visit your show’s website
  • Email or message your show with comments, questions, or feedback

EXAMPLE: Check our Instagram at [insert Instagram handle] for details on our annual giveaway. And if you could take a minute to rate and leave a review for our show on Apple Podcasts, we’d really appreciate it. 

Podcast outro

The outro is the end of the show. This is where you can summarize the key takeaways of today’s episode, thank your guests and audience, and promote upcoming episodes or events. And if you have any staff or team members, you can thank them as you play the outro music.

EXAMPLE: That’s all for today, but tune in next week, where we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of [next episode’s topic]. Thank you to [guest’s name] for joining us. 

[Outro music begins] I’m [host name], and this is [co-host name]. Thank you to [mention any staff, like producers, editors, researchers, etc.], and thanks for tuning in to [podcast name]. [Outro music fades out].

How to write a podcast script

Writing a podcast script sets you up for success before you record. You’ll battle nerves, time crunches, and distractions so your recording session goes smoothly. 

Below is a step-by-step process to writing that foolproof script.

1. Set your goals

Before you start writing a podcast outline, know your podcast’s goals. Sit down and decide:

  • What you want to talk about: Topics, themes, message, and purpose of your show.
  • The tone you want to set: Informational and structured? Or more conversational and free-flowing?
  • Who you want to reach: Is your target audience fellow experts or complete beginners?
  • Target episode length: There’s no right length for a podcast episode. While most are 20–30 minutes, popular shows can range from as short as 10 minutes to as long as 4 hours.
  • Publishing cadence: How often will you release episodes? Will this be an ongoing podcast, or will you break it up into seasons with breaks in between? Or will you create a limited-run miniseries that’s over after a given number of episodes?
  • Podcast format: Will it be interview-style with guests, solo with one host and a microphone, or a co-host setup? Fiction or nonfiction? And importantly, will it be fully scripted or more off the cuff?

2. Provide context

If you’re just working from an outline, make sure it’s crystal clear so you’ll understand it even if you record it a week later. Provide context clues for your talking points to jog your memory. 

EXAMPLE: 

Instead of just writing down ‘Dog food story’, include a note, anecdote, or factoid for the topic. Something like: ‘Dog food story, discovering Rex’s allergies—a week from hell.’ 

3. Write as you speak

The way you write and the way you speak are sometimes different. How we write is more formal than how we talk. The key to writing a podcast script that sounds natural is to write the way you talk.

Talk out loud as you would to a close friend, and write down what you say. Sounds silly, but it’ll give your script a natural conversational flow that sounds like you’re talking to your listeners personally. 

EXAMPLE: It’s very important to find the right dog food for your furry friend.” Sounds great on paper. But “I can’t tell you how important it is to find the right food for your dog” sounds more conversational and friendly.

4. Don’t forget transitions

In everyday conversation, we use segues to transition from topic to topic. The same goes for a podcast episode. Segue phrases allow your audience to follow the conversation and give your episode a natural flow.

EXAMPLE: …That’s why a daily walk is so important. But exercise isn’t the only essential part of your dog’s health. I can’t tell you how important it is to find the right food for your dog.

5. Cover key points

To ensure you cover everything, list all the main and supporting points to discuss in your outline. From there, fill in your transitions, sponsor breaks, etc. 

EXAMPLE:

It’s hard to find the right dog food

  • Dry food, is it still ok to feed this to my dog?
  • Depends on what’s in it
  • Check the ingredients (protein content, fillers, vitamins)
  • Things to look out for
  • Does your dog have allergies?
  • Recent recalls—read up on the dog food brand

Canned dog food, it’s wet, does that mean it’s better?

  • Depends on what’s in it
  • Check the ingredients (protein content, fillers, vitamins)
  • Things to look out for
  • Recent recalls—what’s going on in those canning factories?
  • Canned doesn’t automatically mean better

Raw diet, we fancy up in here

  • Things to consider
  • Where was protein sourced?
  • Is this a balanced diet?
  • Different breeds need different diets
  • Can be expensive and time consuming

6. Give space for creativity

Your podcast script is a guide. It’s a tool to help, not stifle your creativity while recording. So leave room to tell a fun story or riff off a guest’s comment.

This is important for all podcast script types, especially word-for-word scripts. After all, a podcast should be fun. If you’re not having fun, neither will your listeners. 

EXAMPLE: 

It can be hard to know which kind of dog food to buy. There are so many options! First, you’ve got your dry food, which can feel a little old-fashioned to be feeding your dog—but it’s totally fine, as long as you check the ingredients. Especially if your dog has allergies. [If there’s time: Tell a story about Rex re-enacting The Exorcist all over the house.]

Podcast script examples and templates

The type of podcast script you choose for your podcast will depend on several factors, like the type of podcast you’re creating, your personal preferences, and the podcast topics you’ll tackle. 

Here are standard podcast formats and templates to get you started. 

Guest interview podcast

Interview shows, like Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness and The New York Times’ The Daily podcast, have at least one host interviewing a guest (or guests). 

A podcast script for this show type will include interview questions for each episode. When writing, think about things you’re genuinely curious about and write open-ended questions to encourage your guest to give more than just yes or no answers. Then, list your questions in a narrative order and plan for transitions between each question.

Interview podcasts leave the most room for surprises during recording because you don’t know what your guest will say. If you can, chat with your guest before the official interview. Tell them what to expect and maybe even send the list of questions so they can prepare thoughtful answers.  

Don’t feel you must keep to your script verbatim when recording an interview. Instead, allow flexibility to ask follow-up questions and for your guests to address things they want to discuss. But plan ways to steer the conversation back toward the script. 

Here’s a script template that works well for a guest interview-type podcast show:

Intro music

  • Show Introduction
  • Guest introduction
  • Sponsor message
  • Question 1
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 2
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 3
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 4
  • Optional followup question
  • Thank the guest, plug website and social handles
  • CTA
  • Outro
  • Sponsor message

Solo show

Solo shows, like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and The Sarah Silverman Podcast, have one host. In Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Carlin uses a combination of script formats to dive into his information-heavy topics. On The Sarah Silverman Podcast, Silverman uses a bullet point/improv-type script to discuss societal issues on her own and with guests. 

When creating a show, use whatever script type you’re most comfortable with. Experiment to see what brings out your best as a host. Remember that your script type may change from episode to episode, depending on how comfortable you feel with the topics you’ll discuss. So stay open and don’t get married to any one type of script too soon. 

A good template for a solo show script is:

Show theme song

Sponsor Message

Introduction

Topic 1

  • Main point
  • Supporting point
  • Data

Segue

Topic 2

  • Main point
  • Supporting point
  • Data

Segue

Outro

CTA

Sponsor message

Co-host show

Co-host shows, such as You’re Wrong About and Just Break Up, feature multiple hosts who chat with one another throughout the episode.

When creating a podcast with someone else, you and your co-host must be on the same page about how structured you’d like your script to be. If you have a strong rapport with your co-host, you can leave room for off-the-cuff banter, but there’s also greater danger in getting off-topic. To stay on track, prepare a script for the big topics and note who’ll speak on what to avoid talking over one another.

Here’s a template for writing your co-host show script:

Show theme song

Introduction

Sponsor message

Host 1 presents topic 1

  • Main point (host 1)
  • Discussion (host 1 and 2)

Segue

Host 2 presents topic 2

  • Main point (host 2)
  • Discussion (host 1 and 2)

Segue

Outro

CTA 

Sponsor message

Word-for-word podcast

The most common type of word-for-word podcast is a fiction podcast, like Lore with Aaron Mahnke. Lore explores myths, urban legends, and supernatural phenomena to creep you out and educate you. It’s fully scripted and carefully rehearsed. But Mahnke’s use of a word-for-word format for this subject matter is perfect—it makes the listener feel like he’s sitting in front of a fire telling you a story. 

But nonfiction podcasts can use a word-for-word script, too. The most famous example of this is This American Life, which uses painstakingly scripted narration to tell true stories on a theme. 

Podcast script tips and best practices

Each script type is unique but shares the same best practices.

1. Try delivery notes

Delivery notes improve how you present your podcast's information or scripted content. These notes will indicate what words to emphasize, where to pause, where to laugh, and even where to slow down or speed up in your script. These notes will help you present your script more naturally. 

Here’s an example:

EXAMPLE: 

Example of delivery notes

2. Mind your pacing

Pacing isn’t just the speed at which you talk, but also how quickly you reveal information. Go too slow and your audience may lose interest. Go too fast and you may lose them altogether. You want to be like Goldilocks—just right.

That doesn’t mean setting up a metronome to keep the same pace for an entire episode. Just use a pace that makes sense for your topic and format. For instance, if you’re telling scary stories, create suspense by slowing down or speeding up, but always ensure your audience understands you. 

3. Be authentic

There are literally millions of podcasts out there. Chances are, someone else already talks about what you want to talk about. But you have something they don’t that’ll set your podcast apart—you.

It’s tempting to imitate a successful podcaster, but you are unique, and you will make your podcast special. Remember that when writing your scripts.

4. Plan for music and audio

Music and audio clips are essential to bring life and dynamics into a script. You can also use music and audio to create drama, build suspense, or even tug at your listener’s heartstrings. 

Sometimes, music becomes synonymous with a show. Think about the theme song to Friends or Seinfeld’s distinctive bass riff that transitions viewers from one scene to another. 

As you write your script, put in placeholders for music interludes, sound effects, and other audio clips to engage your audience further. 

5. Add as many examples as possible

Podcasting is an audio medium, so be descriptive. Provide examples illustrating your concepts or ideas to add clarity for your listeners. Give various examples so your listeners understand.

Sound like a pro with Descript

Show format, topics, and key components—there are many things to consider when writing a podcast script. Planning is key, but make it sound like you’re freestyling on your show. The templates and tips above will help you create a compelling script.

Then, when you’re ready, Descript’s Podcast Studio will allow you to record, edit, and even publish your podcast. This powerful tool gives podcasters a leg up with features like:

All you have to worry about is creating amazing content. No wonder podcasts with over ten million monthly listeners, like Freakonomics Radio, use Descript. Check out Descript today to get started.

Podcast script FAQs

Do podcasters read scripts?

Yes. Most podcasters work from a script to stay organized, hit all their talking points, and minimize the time spent editing episodes in post-production. But there are many kinds of scripts, like word-for-word, outline, bullet points, etc.

How long should a 15-minute podcast script be?

The length of a podcast script varies, depending on the type of script a podcaster uses. For instance, an outline-type script, could be a single page or notecard. Then a word-for-word 15-minute script would be around 15 pages.

How does a podcast script work?

A podcast script serves as a roadmap for an episode that outlines the content, structure, and flow. It includes the host's introduction, main talking points, interview questions, transitions, and closing remarks. It ensures a cohesive and organized podcast episode while allowing for spontaneity and improvisation.

Mina Son
Mina is a writer, video game narrative designer, and all-around word nerd. When not writing, she embarks on adventures with her husky, Moro.
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A step-by-step guide to writing a podcast script + templates to get started

Microphone for podcasting and computer


A good podcast episode sounds conversational and effortless. The best ones make it seem like the podcast host freestyles the whole thing. 

But to create natural, free-flowing, and exciting conversations, hosts have to prepare a lot before getting in front of a microphone. 

When starting your own podcast, knowing how to write a podcast script is a critical skill.

Podcast script basics

A podcast script can be anything from a word-for-word transcript of what should be said to a loose outline of the main points to discuss in an episode. Either way, it acts as a roadmap that keeps you on track to hit all the points without veering off course. 

A script keeps your narrative clear and reduces time spent on editing, so you can focus on your delivery. It also allows for team members to collaborate on the content of an episode.

Podcast script length varies. For instance, an hour-long fully scripted podcast can be 45–65 pages. But if you stick with an outline that hits your main talking points, your script could be a single A4 notecard.

Podcast script sections and elements

A good podcast script has certain key elements, regardless of podcast format or episode topic. These elements can help any new podcast draw in listeners.

Introduction

A good podcast intro hooks your listeners and tells them what they can expect from the episode. It should include: 

  • Your podcast’s name
  • The host’s name
  • The purpose or theme of your show
  • The topic of today’s episode
  • A teaser that will urge listeners to stick around to the end

Also, the music in your podcast's intro will set the tone for the show and get your listeners in the right mood.

EXAMPLE: Hi, my name’s [host name], and this is [co-host name]. You’re listening to [podcast title], where we discuss all things [theme or concept of show]. 

Today, we’re tackling [episode topic] and will have a special guest [guest name] with an incredible announcement. So make sure to stay tuned til the end!

Guest welcome

Introducing podcast guests onto your show is more than just mentioning the guest’s name. Research your guests and consult with them about how they want to be introduced. That way, you can include their credentials or a fun fact when welcoming them to your show and instantly build rapport.

EXAMPLE: Today, we’re excited to have [credential/profession/title and guest name], who [explanation of their expertise/reason they’re on the show]. Hi [guest name], welcome! Thank you so much for joining us!

Sponsor message

Some sponsors provide a complete script to read verbatim; others just give talking points or phrases to include. Remember to sound natural and represent your sponsor’s brand well when scriptwriting for sponsor messages.

EXAMPLE: [Your podcast name] is sponsored by [sponsor’s name]. [Insert sponsor name and products/services they want you to include and/or tagline].

Segue

All podcasts need segues to allow each episode to flow naturally. Even if you’re doing an in-depth single-topic episode, you’ll still need transitions throughout the show. Consider using sound effects, a musical jingle, or even a simple phrase. 

EXAMPLE: If you thought [topic 1] was [shocking/surprising/fascinating], just wait until you hear about [topic 2]. 

Call-to-Action (CTA)

CTAs get your audience to engage with your show. Some common CTAs to ask your listeners to perform are: 

  • Rate and review your podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify
  • Follow your show’s social media accounts
  • Sign up for your show’s newsletter
  • Visit your show’s website
  • Email or message your show with comments, questions, or feedback

EXAMPLE: Check our Instagram at [insert Instagram handle] for details on our annual giveaway. And if you could take a minute to rate and leave a review for our show on Apple Podcasts, we’d really appreciate it. 

Podcast outro

The outro is the end of the show. This is where you can summarize the key takeaways of today’s episode, thank your guests and audience, and promote upcoming episodes or events. And if you have any staff or team members, you can thank them as you play the outro music.

EXAMPLE: That’s all for today, but tune in next week, where we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of [next episode’s topic]. Thank you to [guest’s name] for joining us. 

[Outro music begins] I’m [host name], and this is [co-host name]. Thank you to [mention any staff, like producers, editors, researchers, etc.], and thanks for tuning in to [podcast name]. [Outro music fades out].

How to write a podcast script

Writing a podcast script sets you up for success before you record. You’ll battle nerves, time crunches, and distractions so your recording session goes smoothly. 

Below is a step-by-step process to writing that foolproof script.

1. Set your goals

Before you start writing a podcast outline, know your podcast’s goals. Sit down and decide:

  • What you want to talk about: Topics, themes, message, and purpose of your show.
  • The tone you want to set: Informational and structured? Or more conversational and free-flowing?
  • Who you want to reach: Is your target audience fellow experts or complete beginners?
  • Target episode length: There’s no right length for a podcast episode. While most are 20–30 minutes, popular shows can range from as short as 10 minutes to as long as 4 hours.
  • Publishing cadence: How often will you release episodes? Will this be an ongoing podcast, or will you break it up into seasons with breaks in between? Or will you create a limited-run miniseries that’s over after a given number of episodes?
  • Podcast format: Will it be interview-style with guests, solo with one host and a microphone, or a co-host setup? Fiction or nonfiction? And importantly, will it be fully scripted or more off the cuff?

2. Provide context

If you’re just working from an outline, make sure it’s crystal clear so you’ll understand it even if you record it a week later. Provide context clues for your talking points to jog your memory. 

EXAMPLE: 

Instead of just writing down ‘Dog food story’, include a note, anecdote, or factoid for the topic. Something like: ‘Dog food story, discovering Rex’s allergies—a week from hell.’ 

3. Write as you speak

The way you write and the way you speak are sometimes different. How we write is more formal than how we talk. The key to writing a podcast script that sounds natural is to write the way you talk.

Talk out loud as you would to a close friend, and write down what you say. Sounds silly, but it’ll give your script a natural conversational flow that sounds like you’re talking to your listeners personally. 

EXAMPLE: It’s very important to find the right dog food for your furry friend.” Sounds great on paper. But “I can’t tell you how important it is to find the right food for your dog” sounds more conversational and friendly.

4. Don’t forget transitions

In everyday conversation, we use segues to transition from topic to topic. The same goes for a podcast episode. Segue phrases allow your audience to follow the conversation and give your episode a natural flow.

EXAMPLE: …That’s why a daily walk is so important. But exercise isn’t the only essential part of your dog’s health. I can’t tell you how important it is to find the right food for your dog.

5. Cover key points

To ensure you cover everything, list all the main and supporting points to discuss in your outline. From there, fill in your transitions, sponsor breaks, etc. 

EXAMPLE:

It’s hard to find the right dog food

  • Dry food, is it still ok to feed this to my dog?
  • Depends on what’s in it
  • Check the ingredients (protein content, fillers, vitamins)
  • Things to look out for
  • Does your dog have allergies?
  • Recent recalls—read up on the dog food brand

Canned dog food, it’s wet, does that mean it’s better?

  • Depends on what’s in it
  • Check the ingredients (protein content, fillers, vitamins)
  • Things to look out for
  • Recent recalls—what’s going on in those canning factories?
  • Canned doesn’t automatically mean better

Raw diet, we fancy up in here

  • Things to consider
  • Where was protein sourced?
  • Is this a balanced diet?
  • Different breeds need different diets
  • Can be expensive and time consuming

6. Give space for creativity

Your podcast script is a guide. It’s a tool to help, not stifle your creativity while recording. So leave room to tell a fun story or riff off a guest’s comment.

This is important for all podcast script types, especially word-for-word scripts. After all, a podcast should be fun. If you’re not having fun, neither will your listeners. 

EXAMPLE: 

It can be hard to know which kind of dog food to buy. There are so many options! First, you’ve got your dry food, which can feel a little old-fashioned to be feeding your dog—but it’s totally fine, as long as you check the ingredients. Especially if your dog has allergies. [If there’s time: Tell a story about Rex re-enacting The Exorcist all over the house.]

Podcast script examples and templates

The type of podcast script you choose for your podcast will depend on several factors, like the type of podcast you’re creating, your personal preferences, and the podcast topics you’ll tackle. 

Here are standard podcast formats and templates to get you started. 

Guest interview podcast

Interview shows, like Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness and The New York Times’ The Daily podcast, have at least one host interviewing a guest (or guests). 

A podcast script for this show type will include interview questions for each episode. When writing, think about things you’re genuinely curious about and write open-ended questions to encourage your guest to give more than just yes or no answers. Then, list your questions in a narrative order and plan for transitions between each question.

Interview podcasts leave the most room for surprises during recording because you don’t know what your guest will say. If you can, chat with your guest before the official interview. Tell them what to expect and maybe even send the list of questions so they can prepare thoughtful answers.  

Don’t feel you must keep to your script verbatim when recording an interview. Instead, allow flexibility to ask follow-up questions and for your guests to address things they want to discuss. But plan ways to steer the conversation back toward the script. 

Here’s a script template that works well for a guest interview-type podcast show:

Intro music

  • Show Introduction
  • Guest introduction
  • Sponsor message
  • Question 1
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 2
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 3
  • Optional followup question
  • Question 4
  • Optional followup question
  • Thank the guest, plug website and social handles
  • CTA
  • Outro
  • Sponsor message

Solo show

Solo shows, like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and The Sarah Silverman Podcast, have one host. In Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Carlin uses a combination of script formats to dive into his information-heavy topics. On The Sarah Silverman Podcast, Silverman uses a bullet point/improv-type script to discuss societal issues on her own and with guests. 

When creating a show, use whatever script type you’re most comfortable with. Experiment to see what brings out your best as a host. Remember that your script type may change from episode to episode, depending on how comfortable you feel with the topics you’ll discuss. So stay open and don’t get married to any one type of script too soon. 

A good template for a solo show script is:

Show theme song

Sponsor Message

Introduction

Topic 1

  • Main point
  • Supporting point
  • Data

Segue

Topic 2

  • Main point
  • Supporting point
  • Data

Segue

Outro

CTA

Sponsor message

Co-host show

Co-host shows, such as You’re Wrong About and Just Break Up, feature multiple hosts who chat with one another throughout the episode.

When creating a podcast with someone else, you and your co-host must be on the same page about how structured you’d like your script to be. If you have a strong rapport with your co-host, you can leave room for off-the-cuff banter, but there’s also greater danger in getting off-topic. To stay on track, prepare a script for the big topics and note who’ll speak on what to avoid talking over one another.

Here’s a template for writing your co-host show script:

Show theme song

Introduction

Sponsor message

Host 1 presents topic 1

  • Main point (host 1)
  • Discussion (host 1 and 2)

Segue

Host 2 presents topic 2

  • Main point (host 2)
  • Discussion (host 1 and 2)

Segue

Outro

CTA 

Sponsor message

Word-for-word podcast

The most common type of word-for-word podcast is a fiction podcast, like Lore with Aaron Mahnke. Lore explores myths, urban legends, and supernatural phenomena to creep you out and educate you. It’s fully scripted and carefully rehearsed. But Mahnke’s use of a word-for-word format for this subject matter is perfect—it makes the listener feel like he’s sitting in front of a fire telling you a story. 

But nonfiction podcasts can use a word-for-word script, too. The most famous example of this is This American Life, which uses painstakingly scripted narration to tell true stories on a theme. 

Podcast script tips and best practices

Each script type is unique but shares the same best practices.

1. Try delivery notes

Delivery notes improve how you present your podcast's information or scripted content. These notes will indicate what words to emphasize, where to pause, where to laugh, and even where to slow down or speed up in your script. These notes will help you present your script more naturally. 

Here’s an example:

EXAMPLE: 

Example of delivery notes

2. Mind your pacing

Pacing isn’t just the speed at which you talk, but also how quickly you reveal information. Go too slow and your audience may lose interest. Go too fast and you may lose them altogether. You want to be like Goldilocks—just right.

That doesn’t mean setting up a metronome to keep the same pace for an entire episode. Just use a pace that makes sense for your topic and format. For instance, if you’re telling scary stories, create suspense by slowing down or speeding up, but always ensure your audience understands you. 

3. Be authentic

There are literally millions of podcasts out there. Chances are, someone else already talks about what you want to talk about. But you have something they don’t that’ll set your podcast apart—you.

It’s tempting to imitate a successful podcaster, but you are unique, and you will make your podcast special. Remember that when writing your scripts.

4. Plan for music and audio

Music and audio clips are essential to bring life and dynamics into a script. You can also use music and audio to create drama, build suspense, or even tug at your listener’s heartstrings. 

Sometimes, music becomes synonymous with a show. Think about the theme song to Friends or Seinfeld’s distinctive bass riff that transitions viewers from one scene to another. 

As you write your script, put in placeholders for music interludes, sound effects, and other audio clips to engage your audience further. 

5. Add as many examples as possible

Podcasting is an audio medium, so be descriptive. Provide examples illustrating your concepts or ideas to add clarity for your listeners. Give various examples so your listeners understand.

Sound like a pro with Descript

Show format, topics, and key components—there are many things to consider when writing a podcast script. Planning is key, but make it sound like you’re freestyling on your show. The templates and tips above will help you create a compelling script.

Then, when you’re ready, Descript’s Podcast Studio will allow you to record, edit, and even publish your podcast. This powerful tool gives podcasters a leg up with features like:

All you have to worry about is creating amazing content. No wonder podcasts with over ten million monthly listeners, like Freakonomics Radio, use Descript. Check out Descript today to get started.

Podcast script FAQs

Do podcasters read scripts?

Yes. Most podcasters work from a script to stay organized, hit all their talking points, and minimize the time spent editing episodes in post-production. But there are many kinds of scripts, like word-for-word, outline, bullet points, etc.

How long should a 15-minute podcast script be?

The length of a podcast script varies, depending on the type of script a podcaster uses. For instance, an outline-type script, could be a single page or notecard. Then a word-for-word 15-minute script would be around 15 pages.

How does a podcast script work?

A podcast script serves as a roadmap for an episode that outlines the content, structure, and flow. It includes the host's introduction, main talking points, interview questions, transitions, and closing remarks. It ensures a cohesive and organized podcast episode while allowing for spontaneity and improvisation.

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