Topic 4 Writing a script

After you’ve determined the format of your podcast, you can start working on a script for your first episode. A script provides a guide to what you want to talk about in the episode and gives you support during recording. It can also provide a structure for editing. A script can be a very detailed elaboration of what you want to say and/or ask, but that’s not necessary. What matters is that it is helpful for you.

If you do not yet feel comfortable behind the microphone or if you find the subject of the conversation difficult, it can be nice to work with a more elaborate script. As you are trying to create conditions for opening up discussion, it can be helpful to aim for an open style, leaving some room for creativity and improvisation. If you find making a podcast easy and don’t expect too many challenges, then a script with a few talking points might be sufficient.

If you will have a guest, it might be useful to send the person a script with questions or talking points before the recording. This gives them the opportunity to prepare the interview well. You can also consider a preliminary interview in which you go through the entire script together.

When writing a script, it can be useful to first make a sort of table of contents with an overview of the different parts of your podcast. Then you can elaborate on each part. Below, we describe three basic blocks you can start with: the introduction, the middle and the end. When you are setting up your podcast, think about how long you want to spend on each part. This will help you estimate the length of your podcast.

The Introduction

It’s often the first few minutes of your podcast that determine whether or not people keep listening. A catchy introduction will draw attention to your podcast and the topic at hand, and ensure that your listeners don’t drop out prematurely. For example, start your intro with a good question, or relate it to something that is currently in the news and of interest to the target audience. You might choose to present a provocative question or proposition, but keep in mind the tone that you are trying to set for an open discussion. The introduction of a podcast is often preceded by a short intro tune or jingle, make sure this is a good match for your audience and the content of your podcast. If you are using someone else’s music remember that you might need permission.

The middle section

The middle section is the core of your podcast. This is where you go into more detail about your topic. How you do this depends largely on the format you choose. In the case of an interview with a guest, you could divide up the middle section according to your questions. For variety it can also be interesting to divide your podcast into different segments. For example, in addition to an interview segment, think of a segment in which you talk about your experiences with the topic, or in which you deal with listener questions or responses.

The closing 

The closing is the moment when you briefly look back on what has been said in the podcast episode. It’s also a great time to encourage listeners to listen to more of your podcasts. Tell them about the next episode and how they can subscribe to your podcast. If you want to widen the conversation then encourage listeners to comment on the episode and/or send in questions for the next episode.

How long should it be?

The appropriate length depends mainly on the content of your podcast. But it does make sense to take your audience into account. If you expect your audience to be busy or have a short attention span, then it might be a good idea to adjust the length accordingly. When you start podcasting you can experiment a bit with the length. It’s useful to know that many podcast platforms give you insight into the average listening time of your audience and the moment when they drop out. At the same time, some consistency in length may be useful at some point, so regular listeners know what to expect.