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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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GET MY FREE PODCAST GUIDE

WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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