You may be interested in starting a podcast because you have a seemingly endless amount of information and insight to share on a topic that fascinates you. If this sounds like you, then consider yourself a viable candidate to host a podcast. Even if you feel like you could talk for hours about your area of interest, it is always a best practice to prepare for every live show or recording in advance with at minimum some notes or a full script for your entire presentation. If you need help organizing your thoughts on creating a script for your podcast, our advice below will give you the structure you need to prepare for your first episode confidently.
Let’s Explore the Two Types of Podcast Preparation Styles
Depending on your comfort and confidence when you see the word Live or Recording flash on your screen, you may want to either create a detailed script for your podcast or create an episode plan or outline.
Type 1: Podcast Script
A podcast script is a document in essay format that you will read verbatim on air. The primary benefit of writing a script is that you will never need to worry about forgetting your train of thought or letting your speech wander on a tangent. One popular podcast that follows this format is Serial which is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig where she narrates a nonfiction story over multiple episodes.
The possible downside of structured lines is that for the best experience for your listeners, you will want to deliver your lines as if you were speaking conversationally (i.e., not reading a script aloud). It takes practice to develop the skill of oration and not sound forced, awkward, or uncomfortable. You may need to practice longer than it took you to write the script to deliver your lines like a pro—but the practice will be well worth it when you are recording.
Type 2: Podcast Episode Plan
An episode plan is a much more informal approach to your on-air speech. Rather than reciting scripted lines, you will outline what you want to talk about, and for how long, and refer to notes throughout your broadcast to trigger your memory as to what you need to discuss next and to ensure you fit in all your thoughts in your allotted time. A good example is a podcast that we produce with Steve Barkley called Barkley Ponders Out Loud. In this podcast, Steve draws upon his experience as an education consultant to touch upon various topics relevant to teachers, administrators, instructional coaches, and parents.
The main benefit of an episode plan is that you won’t sound scripted since you will be improvising based on your notes. There is a risk, however, that you might forget what you want to say or not remember everything you wanted to discuss on a particular topic. Also, depending on your public speaking skills, even if you have confident knowledge on a subject, you might not realize that as you speak, you tend to overuse certain “filler” words, phrases, and sounds, like “um,” “you know,” and “like.” Such habits can be distracting for your listener and detract from your message. Practicing your delivery can help, as can some training in public speaking.
How to Create Your Podcast Script
If you choose to go the route of the detailed script, treat it like a formal writing assignment. Start with an outline that includes an introduction, sections of organized and related content, and a conclusion that summarizes your main points. After you have your draft, read it out loud and make revisions to ensure your script sounds casual. Add notes for yourself for where you want to pause or emphasize specific words and phrases. These notes will help you deliver your lines in a way that sounds casual and unrehearsed (even though your presentation is formal and highly practiced).
How to Create Your Episode Plan
Your episode plan will be a slightly more detailed version of the outline you would use to create your script. Without full sentences, you will still want to detail the main points that you want to make, in order, starting with an introduction and ending with a synthesizing conclusion. To ensure you have just enough content to fill your episode length, determine how long you aim to speak on each section, and make those notes in your script. Practice your delivery several times and make additional notes to ensure you know what you need to mention in each section to fill your time slot.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Podcasting is one part topic-knowledge and one part public-speaking-skill. Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes you a few episodes to develop the creative confidence needed to deliver your lines or ad-lib your show flawlessly. Even the best on-air talent will tell you that it took time and practice to hone the skills that make them famous today.