When it comes to creating a podcast, good things come to those who plan. Learning how to effectively research and script an episode of your show is crucial to building trust with your audience. If you know what you’re talking about – and sound good saying it – the rest will follow.
How to find the right podcast format
Someone ancient once said, “know thyself”; perhaps foreshadowing, by a few thousand years, the importance of knowing what format your new podcast should take. Deciding a format dictates both the structure and nature of your show. Popular podcast formats include interviews, roundtable discussions, TV-show recaps, storytelling and daily news shows, but there’s plenty of room for bold new ideas.
Once you’ve settled on what type of show you’re making, you can drill into the specifics. Will you always open with a short monologue, before moving into your guest interview? Will there be a weekly round-up of listener questions at the end of every show?
You might already have an idea of your format. If you don’t, take some time to listen to some of your favourite podcasts. Make a note of what type of show you think they are, and how they’re structured. That said, while it’s helpful to take inspiration, it’s also good to think outside the box. Just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it won’t work.
How important is it to have a set format every episode? And how should you approach developing one?
“I think it’s very, very helpful to have a set format for each episode and for each individual podcast! Every minute doesn’t have to be planned but in general you, your guests, and your listeners should know what to expect. Consistency is good! Think about shows like Jeopardy that have stood the test of time. Reliable format plus predictability in structure highlights the variability in content. For Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, I always has the guest’s bio followed by a conversation that starts with them describing what their book is about and ending with advice to aspiring authors. For SexTok with Zibby and Tracey, we chitchat for a minute followed by my reading three anonymously sourced questions that she answers, followed by a tip or challenge of the week. Every show needs a structure! ”Zibby Owens
Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books
How to write a podcast script
If you’ve got a story worth telling, then you owe it to yourself to write a podcast script. Even if you’re planning on speaking from the heart, it’s important to have at least a general idea of what you’re going to say. You’ll save yourself from extreme rambling and keep the show focused. If you’re telling a more complicated story, this work becomes even more important.
First up, you need to understand your audience. Who are they, and why are they listening to your podcast? This will inform the tone of your script, but also how much research you need to do.
If you’re speaking to a niche fanbase, they’ll know their stuff so you’ll be able to go into much more detail (and will need to prepare accordingly). Likewise, if you’re speaking to a broader audience about something they don’t know much about, you’ll need to cover the basics and potentially tell your story in a simpler way.
How do you write scripts that are in quick reaction to current events?
“Staying across the news cycle is absolutely crucial - if you're already aware of news as close to it breaking as possible, it's a massive help. It gives you the necessary time to formulate the show's own thoughts on the subject. These can then be informed by opinion pieces by others in the industry. From there, it's easier to judge what our listeners want to hear.”Pete Donaldson
The script itself should provide the blueprint for your episode – guiding you on what to say when, and giving the whole show its shape. How closely you want to script yourself will be a question of style. Some people find it useful to script themselves word-for-word, particularly when they’re explaining or introducing more complex matters. It helps keep things considered and saves the subject from getting lost in the talk.
Then again, if you’re presenting a more informal conversation, a bullet-point script, reminding you what to discuss next, might do the job.
How to begin (and end) a podcast episode
There’s no set way to begin and end a podcast. Your intro and outro will depend on the content, tone and format of your show. There are, however, some things to consider when recording yours.
The intro is a deceptively important part of your episode. Remember, for many people this will be the first time they’ve ever listened to your podcast – and if they’re not engaged by the first couple of minutes, there’s every chance they’ll switch to something else. It’s your chance to set the scene and convince them to stick around. Explain who you are, the overall concept of the podcast, and maybe a note on who the intended audience is – a show for “hockey enthusiasts” or “people who want the stories behind the headlines”. Now you’ve set the scene, you’re ready to introduce this particular episode, previewing everything your listener has to look forward to.
By the time your listener gets to the outro, they’ve already enjoyed the good stuff, so keep it snappy. Thank them for listening and then let them know all the ways they can continue to engage with the podcast now the episode has finished: follow the show, leave a review, find us on social media, and so on.
We’ll go into this more in our monetizing tips, but the end of the podcast is a great opportunity to build a loyal listener base. Leave a good impression by teasing your next episode and welcoming them into your community.