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Should you write a script for your podcast episodes?

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Scripting your podcast episodes isn’t a good idea

When you’re new to podcasting it’s natural to want to script everything because having words on paper can feel like a warm security blanket.  But reading from a script on your podcast immediately distances you from your audience.

Why?  Because you’re more focused on the page than you are on them.

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Having a plan is important

Being prepared before you get behind the mic is essential if you want your podcast to sound polished.

However, there’s a difference between being prepared and being so wedded to your script you forget about the people listening.

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What’s the best way to prepare?

If you go into the record with your entire show written out on paper, it’ll be impossible to connect with your audience and keep them engaged.

If you’re with a co-host it’s even worse because you can’t have an interesting and engaging conversation with someone who’s constantly looking at their notes wondering where they’re up to.

The best conversations sound fluid and like they’re unfolding in the moment.  Even if you’ve put a lot of time and preparation into thinking about what you’re going to talk about you still need to be present in the moment when you press record.

If you’ve scripted parts of your exchange or over practised what you’re going to say you won’t be able to be present because you’ll be waiting for your next line.  And that’s never going to lead to engaging content.

Instead, it’s important to have the structure of your show written out, ideally in bullet points rather than paragraphs of text.  These bullet points serve as triggers designed to remind you of what to say in the moment.

If you’ve done the prep beforehand you can trust your brain will deliver the content naturally, so you don’t have to rely on a script.

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My preparation method

I go into the studio with a bullet point list of trigger words.  Or, if I’m interviewing, I’ll have a list of questions with keywords highlighted or in bold.

Basically, I want my notes to be so easy to read all I need to do is quickly glance down at the page to see where I’m going.

Having notes like this means when I’m with co-hosts or an interview subject, I can maintain eye contact and stay in the moment the whole time.

This ensures I don’t miss any opportunities for the conversation to follow an unexpected, more interesting path and I can really listen because I’m not distracted trying to find my place.

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If you’re stuck to a script it’s easy to get lost

Going into a record with a bullet point list means you can quickly find your place if you get distracted.  If you go in with a full script it can take a long time to find where you’re at and this can make you really flustered in the moment.

That’s ok if you’re recording by yourself and don’t mind starting again.  But if you’ve got a guest or co-host with you it can really throw you off your game.

Ideally, you want to avoid this because to be a good presenter you have to sound cool, calm and in control.  And madly searching for where you’re up to isn’t the best environment for that.

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Don’t believe me?  Try it and see.

To test the difference, record yourself reading a script and then presenting using only bullet points and listen back.

Try and put yourself in your audience’s shoes and pay close attention to how reading distances you from your listener.

If scripting is a confidence thing remember you don’t have to release the first episode you record.  You can practice for as long as it takes to get comfortable working off a bullet point list and then start releasing your episodes.

You listeners will think you’ve always sounded this professional!

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

1 Comment
  1. Val Selby says:

    As I’m researching podcasts in my niche to be interviewed on I am able to easily pick out those that are reading scripts. I dislike the lack of audience connection. It sounds like they are reading an ebook to me and I tune out and click away.

    With now many seem to be doing it I figured I was doing it wrong on my podcast lol Thanks for the back up that my easy notes are perfect and to go with the flow of a conversation.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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