Hand writing a podcast script on a sheet of white paper

How to Write a Podcast Script: 3 Examples

Podcasters sometimes shy away from the word "script" or "outline" thinking it might make their show sound too formal, or that the process of writing a script will stifle the creative process.

For most hosts, this couldn't be further from the truth, and all those podcasters who appear to breeze through their words are often doing so because of good preparation and quality scripting.

Choosing a podcast script style is an excellent place for beginner podcasters to start before launching their first episode, and experienced hosts can always benefit from going back to basics.

Why does my show need a script?

While the word "script" might conjure up ideas of stilted word-for-word reading, your own podcast script can be as structured or casual as you decide. Think of a podcast outline as existing on a spectrum with verbatim scripts at one end and simple, bullet-pointed notes at the other. 

In other words, scripts are a fully-customizable skeleton of your episode and a styling tool that helps create the overall feel of your show, as well as keep it flowing, natural-sounding, and free of excessive rambling or pauses.

If you have a laid back hosting style and tend to ad-lib a lot, you can draft a rough outline that includes a few reminders of what to say and where to say it. If your podcast features frequent guest interviews, and you enjoy shooting from the hip, a simple list of questions for your guest might be all the scripting you need.

But if the thought of ad-libbing terrifies you, or you want to create a feeling of more structure to your show, you can create your outline accordingly. 

No matter your show's style or format, a podcast script allows creativity to flourish by keeping show hosts focussed, and it frees up brain space so you can deliver your message more effectively. Because now, you don't have to worry about how, or when, to communicate your next thought.

Questions to ask yourself before choosing a script style:

  • Do I tend to be an internal or external processor? External processors work through their thoughts by talking them out, while internal processors like to think, or write, their thoughts before communicating them verbally. Both communication styles are valid and have strengths and weaknesses. We think it's important to know how you best communicate, as different styles lend themselves to vastly different script approaches and show formats.

  • What kind of script writing fits well with both my communication style and the style of my show? Make sure your show's style isn't at odds with the way you communicate. Try not to stretch yourself beyond what you can consistently do well.

Types of podcast scripts and formats:

As with most things in podcasting, you have total creative control when making your podcast script, and what works for one show host, might not work for you. 

We encourage podcasters to know their communication style before deciding on a podcast format. 

Again, each of these script styles exists on a spectrum, and you can embellish or simplify whichever one you choose. 

There's truly no right or wrong, and we think it's best to play to your natural strengths.

1. The bullet point approach

This format is one of the most common outlines show hosts use. A bullet-pointed draft is a good choose for a show that is mostly freestyle banter with a cohost or guests, like you see on radio shows. These scripts, obviously, don't take a lot of time to jot down, and for some people, they provide just enough structure to get an episode off the ground. 

Best for: 

  • Shows featuring a cohost and frequent guest appearances and interviews

Pros: 

  • Requires less preparation than other methods
  • Provides some structure with plenty of opportunity for improvisation and ad-libbing
  • Loose show structure can make for an easier editing experience 

Cons:

  • Less structure means more opportunity to forget important points, ramble, get side-tracked, etc.

Podcasts that's use this format: 

2. The detailed episode outline

Detailed episode outlines are a great in-between option for hosts who want more structure than bullet points can offer, but don't feel the need, or have the time, for a word-for-word script. 

A detailed outline typically includes a podcast intro, sponsor ads, music jingles, an outro with closing remarks, and segues where appropriate. 

We think this structure suits the majority of podcaster's needs and has all the structural elements needed for a well-executed episode. Download Buzzsprout's detailed podcast script template if you feel this format is the right one for your show!

Best for: 

  • Shows with a cohost
  • Interview-styled podcasts

Pros: 

  • Provides flow and structure to an episode, while still being casual
  • Ensures hosts thoroughly cover main topics as well as supporting points and data

Cons:

  • Takes more preparation and editing than more free-style approaches

Podcasts that's use this format:

3. The word-for-word script

Verbatim scripts can be a bit daunting, but for the right podcast, a word-for-word draft can be beneficial and even necessary.

Best for:

  • Audio dramas
  • Solo show podcasts
  • Shorter, education or advice-oriented shows 

Pros: 

  • Allows hosts to be confident they are thoroughly communicating all their content 
  • Adds professionalism and structure

Cons:

  • It can take practice for hosts to learn the art of reading a script naturally
  • Can make the recording process tricky, since the format doesn't allow for many mistakes
  • Can lengthen the process of creating an episode (from script preparation, recording and post-production) 

Podcasts that's use this format:

Downloadable Script Examples:

Featuring a solo host, fully-scripted: Five Minute Mondays "How Much Time Should it Take to Make a Podcast?"

Featuring a guest (partially scripted): Podcasting in Real Life "Chase Cupo "Black Room Movie News"

Featuring a cohost (partially scripted): Ep. #1 "How to Start a Podcast"

Tips and best practices for podcast scripts and outlines

Some podcasters find it helpful to include a set duration time for each topic. The duration is a rough estimate of how long you should spend on any given section of your script so that you communicate your content while still leaving room for the rest of your key topics and supporting points. 

Using this script timer is a great way to figure out how long your script will take to read. 

If you choose a word-for-word script or occasionally write out monologues and announcements for your episodes, it can be beneficial to print out a hard copy of your text and jot down notes indicating where to slow down or speed up, and what words to emphasize. 

Reading off a hard copy with helpful notes can vastly reduce mistakes made during recording, which results in a faster recording session and less time spent editing out errors in post-production.

Podcast script segment examples:

Even if you don't choose to have a word-for-word script for your entire show, scripting certain segments is a great way to ad structure to your show, even if the rest of the episode is totally ad-libbed. 

Sponsor message:

Sometimes sponsors will give hosts a script to read from verbatim, and other times the host will be able to craft their own sponsor message. Since these ads often occur in the beginning of a podcast episode, it's important to take the time to craft a quality sponsor message that kicks your show off well, accurately reflects your sponsor's brand, and sounds natural.

Example: "[Your podcast show name here" is sponsored by [insert brand name.] [Sponsor] is a company that [describe company values and products as well as their relevance to your audience.]

Intro

Example: "Hello and welcome to Episode 2 of "How to Start a Podcast," the podcast that teaches you how to create a podcast from scratch. I'm your host, Travis Albritton, and helping me again with the episode today is the self-proclaim number 1 fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team, Alban Brooke!"

Lead-in to topic

Example: "In this episode, we're going to tell you which microphone to buy, and which software to use. Because it's really easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options." 

Segue

Your segue can be a phrase, a sound effect, or a musical jingle. The important thing is that It serves to provide flow between topic changes and helps create a cohesive episode.

Outro/Closing remarks/Call to action

Example: "In the next episode, we're going to continue to help you frame your podcast by helping you nail down the details that will give structure to your new podcast! Wish you could be featured on a future episode of "Podcasting in Real Life"? You can! Just click on the link in the show notes to submit your application." [Outro music]

Podcast script template example & free download

This template example is a detailed episode outline as mentioned in template style option #2, and can be customized to fit any script preference. You can download an editable version of this template here!

[Sponsor message]

Intro: Duration: ( ___)

  • Set the stage for your episode. Include details that set up your episode’s theme. State podcast name, why your show exists, who you are, etc.  

Opening music jingle & sound effects

[Lead into episode’s content]

Topic 1: Duration:( ___ )

  1. Main point 
  2. Supporting point
  3. Supporting data
  4. Supporting quote

Segue (can be a sound effect, short musical clip, or a phrase)

Topic 2: Duration:( ___ )

  1. Main point
  2. Supporting point
  3. Supporting data
  4. Supporting quote

Sponsor message

Topic 3: Duration:( ___ )

  1. Main point
  2. Supporting point
  3. Supporting data
  4. Supporting quote

Segue  (can be a sound effect, short musical clip, or a phrase)

Outro: Duration:( ___ )

  • Closing remarks (summarize episode themes) 
  • Call to actions 

[Sponsor message]

[Closing music jingle/sound effects]