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PodSchool Podcast | Should you write a script for your podcast episodes?

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Scripting your podcast 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.

The problem is, reading from a script 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.  Your audience deserves a show that’s had time and effort put into it and all that happens at the planning stage.

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

How to find content for your podcast

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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 engage your audience, or your co-host.

In fact, if you’re hosting your show with someone else, scripting is an absolute no no.

Interesting conversation is fluid and sounds unpredictable and that means you have to be able to go where the wind takes you.  If you’ve scripted parts of your exchange or over practiced you won’t be able to fully listen because you’ll be waiting for your next line.

It’s important to have a basic structure for each show written out, with topics or the points you want to hit.  But ideally this will be a bullet point list of words or phrases rather than paragraphs of text.

These bullet points serve as triggers designed to remind you of what to say.

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.

How to be a kick-arse podcast co-host

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My preparation method

All through my radio and podcasting career I’ve gone into each record with a bullet point list of where I want to go.

Ideally the font is big enough that if I was in the middle of something and my list fell on the floor I’d still be able to see it.

This was an old habit from my days presenting live radio when you didn’t have the luxury of stopping the show to say “sorry guys, I’ve just lost my place.”

Now that most of my work is in podcasting I still use the same method especially when I’m interviewing.

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

This means, if I’m with co-hosts or an interview subject, I can maintain eye contact the whole time and just glance down at the piece of paper to see where to go next.

It allows me to stay present in the moment and ensures I don’t miss any opportunities for the conversation to follow an unexpected, more interesting path.

Interviewing tips for your podcast

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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 were.

That’s ok if you’re recording by yourself and don’t mind wasting time 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.

How to keep an audience engaged when you’re presenting solo

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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 really distances you from the listener.

If scripting is a confidence thing remember you don’t have to go live with your first record.  You can practice for as long as it takes to get comfortable working off a bullet point list.

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.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the PodSchool Podcast. My name is Rachel Corbett and it's a delight to be back in your ears again this week. Today I'm going to be talking about the easiest way to disconnect from your audience. The truth is that when you're podcasting or doing a show of any type the only real way to get people to come back in the long term or to be fans of your show is if you connect with them there are a million different ways to do that. But it is so important at the base of everything to establish a connection with the people on the other end of the earbuds.

One of the ways that you can easily stop that from happening is by reading. This is something obviously if you are new to podcasting that can be a bit of a crutch because you can feel like you need a word for word roadmap in front of you when you sit down to record. And while I'm an advocate of being prepared and making sure that you know where everything is going there is such a thing as too much planning. And by that I mean writing down a script. It's very difficult for even the most accomplished Oscar winning actor to read and sound like they're not reading.

If you record a version of your podcast reading a script and then another with just a bullet point list it will help you hear the difference. If you have bullet points there and you just use them to jog your memory for the information that you're delivering or the story that you're telling and you trust your brain to come up with the stuff you need at the moment you will be delivering that in much more relaxed conversational style which is really important for the person on the other end.

The truth is if you feel like the person that's delivering the content to you isn't engaged or isn't right there with you it's very easy to tune out from the content. And obviously you can understand why you'd want to give your listeners as few of these opportunities as possible.

Rather than going in with a script and feeling like you need to be wedded to that to feel comfortable and confident, make sure you plan as much as possible before you sit down in front of the microphone and trust that if you've read all you need to read if you've written your notes and you've gone over them if you're drawing from personal experience and personal stories you have all that information in your brain and if you have a few trigger words on a piece of paper exactly what you want to say will come out at the time it's supposed to . And at the end of the day if you do it and you record it and it is an absolute balls up you can always edit it or re-record.

It's very important to give yourself the greatest chance of connecting and holding your audience's attention as possible. And reading is a really simple way that you can lose that connection.

So that's today's tip, I hope you found that helpful and I hope you will trust yourself and your brain enough to know that you can podcast and present without having to read a script. You've got this and it will make a huge difference to how you present your podcast. As always you can get in touch with me on Twitter @RachelCorbett or via my website - rachelcorbett.com. Please send me any feedback on the show or any questions you would like me to answer because I'd love to help.

And you can head to PodSchool.com if you're looking for help that's really step by step and in-depth. If you like this show please leave a review wherever you download it and I will see you again next week. Until then happy podcasting.

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