How to Write a Podcast Script [With Examples & Template]
What do Serial, Freaknomoics, and The Daily all have in common? Besides being exceptionally well-crafted, top-rated podcasts, they all work within the confines of a script.
Whether you have an interview podcast, deep-dive narrative, ad-libbed commentary, or branded audio drama– behind every great podcast lies a well-written script. Why? Because no matter your podcast format, scripts are a vital link in the podcast production chain.
Scripts can help prepare you for your recording sessions, they can also keep hosts focused, and create consistency across all your episodes.
But not everyone is a professional scriptwriter– and we understand that. So, here's an in-depth overview of how to write a podcast script
Why is a Podcast Script Important?
Most podcasters think of a podcast script as something resembling a play or movie script. Reams of text with every single word carefully planned and thought out. That's why so many podcasters shy away from scripting a show. The restrictive and time consuming nature of sitting down and mapping out each episode. Most brands don't have the time or manpower to do that. Besides, don't scripts prevent free-flowing conversations? Won't having a script rob a host of any form of personality and essentially sound monotone and rigid?
Remember, a podcast script doesn't need to be word-for-word (although that may be a great starting point for beginners). It's a creative free-for-all that can contain as much or as little as you need in order to voice your messaging and content in a way that suits your brand.
Think about them as an aid to make life easier, not a redundant chore.
Scripts allow you to get really creative.
Scripts free the mind and reduce recording anxiety.
Scripts help prevent tangents, rambling or extended pauses.
Scripts allow for collaboration and guidance throughout the production process.
"Not only is it good for you and your guest, but also if you're outsourcing any other post-production to other editors," explains producer Ryan Sutton. "It's great for them to see what your vision is on paper and get that across in the audio."
"Scripts are another way to prepare and another way to take the stress out of things. There's enough to worry about when you're recording. I don’t want to be improvising my lines when it comes to record. Depending on the show and the organization, there might be a review process, there might be engineers or co-hosts or guests and I don’t want to waste their time.
- Andrew Ganem
Podcast Script Outline Template: A Bird's Eye-view
In the initial planning stages it's nice to get a bird's eye view of your episode's script. To do that, you need to get some basic structuring done. The template below provides you with the bare bones to flesh out your podcast topics, intro & outro layout, transitions, segment duration, talking points, and sponsorship messages. Think of it like a drum beat, setting the pace for an episode.
** If you are interviewing a guest, replace the topic segments with a bullet-pointed questions list.
# 1 Introduction: Set your episode up. Include the show's name, who you are, who your show is for, your episode's theme, etc.
# 2 Intro Music/sound effects
# 3 Guest Bio/ explanation of what's in store
# 4 Topic 1 or Guest Questions [Duration____ ]
* Main point
* Supporting point
* Supporting data or report
* Supporting quote or audio snippet
# 5 Segue: Sound effect, change in speaker, sponsor ad/message, short clip, or musical sting]
# 4 Topic 2 or Guest Questions [Duration ____ ]
* Main point
* Supporting point
* Supporting data or report
* Supporting quote or audio snippet
# 6 Sponsor message:
#7 Topic 3 or Guest Questions [Duration ____ ]
* Main point
* Supporting point
* Supporting data or report
* Supporting quote or audio snippet
# 8 Segue: Sound effect, change in speaker, sponsor ad/message, short clip, or musical sting]
# 9 Outro: Include a recap, thank listeners, tease the next episode, production credits, etc.
# 10 Call to action: Ask listeners to rate, review and subscribe, visit your website, etc.
# 11 Sponsor message
# 12 Outro music/sound effects
Which Podcast Script Will Work for You?
Format is the structural backbone of any show and is often the driver for all other creative decisions related to podcast content. Understanding your podcast's format can significantly influence how you approach a script.
Say you're developing an interview podcast. More than likely, you won't be relying on pre-written scripts. Instead, you may enjoy the freedom of riffing with your guest from subjects pulled from a bullet-pointed list.
But, if you're creating a digital marketing podcast that utilizes a substantial amount of sound design, and relies on the input of multiple speakers and interviews, having a well-written script is essential.
While we're not in the business of pigeonholing things, there are some common podcast formats that require different levels of scripting:
Interview: Interview-style podcasts typically have hosts or co-hosts who interview a guest. These shows are often lightly scripted, with the host using headers, questions, and bullet-pointed notes as guides. Intros, outros, and ads/sponsorship messages are often partially, if not, fully scripted.
Scripted fiction: Scripted Fiction podcasts are audio-only theatrical productions. As you can imagine, this kind of show is usually a fully-scripted production, with little room for improvisation. The scripting process can be long and heavily production-focused.
Monologue: A single individual produces a monologue or solo podcast (solo-cast). This format usually suits experts in a particular field; narrative storytellers, comedians, news reporters, or anchors. Monologues are usually fully scripted or at the very least have well-constructed scripted segments or written prompts.
Narrative: A popular format is the narrative podcast style. These shows often require a lot of sound design, including scripted voiceover, sound effects, music, and interviews.
Conversational: A host or a panel of hosts engage in entertaining or informative conversations on a specific topic. Scripts are often incredibly light and usually consist of a few notes or headers for prompts.
Option 1:The Word-For-Word Podcast Script
It's a simple premise; what's written down is what the host will say. The reason many podcasters either commit fully to this method (or at least partially) is that it's ideal for new hosts who don't yet feel comfortable ad-libbing. Or, those who haven't established a good microphone technique yet.
Why they're great:
It almost guarantees that you'll cover everything you need
Ensures fewer mistakes– making post-production life much simpler.
Word-for-word scripts can help map out how much time gets spent with each guest and subject.
They give you a lot of control.
Ideal if you want to be deliberate about what you are saying, primarily if you are covering a topic that is sensitive or technical
But reading from a script is a difficult talent to master– nobody wants to sound robotic and lacking emotion. "This is a very challenging skill as a host," points out producer, Erin MacIndoe Sproule. "It's not something that you can just pick up one day and be perfect at it. Some people may have a more natural affinity than others, or who have been training for this in various ways."
FOR BEGINNERS: we recommend, at the very least, scripting the intro, transitions, outro, and any calls-to-action. Once you're more practiced, you might prefer a less confined structure that covers the major points. Read: How To Be a Good Podcast Host for further guidance.
Listeners want to engage with their podcast hosts, and a monotone voiceover can seriously disengage an audience, so write as you speak. When it comes to reading your script, you will sound more conversational.
Proper Microphone Techniques & Placement Explained: Improve your audio with some simple microphone techniques, and take your podcast from average to professional!
Word-for-word scripts allow you a lot of control. That means that complex subjects, sensitive subject matter, and narrative storytelling can benefit from being heavily scripted. "It can be more productive and safer to stick to a script rather than have to do damage control on the back end," explains producer, Elizabeth Amos.
And it's true. With online vetting, "cancel culture," and individuals quick to take you up on a mistake creates one more reason why careful scripting is essential. A vocal misstep has taken down many successful media entities. Being deliberate and talking from a place of correctness means that you need to be mindful of your voice. Crafting a word-for-word script could be the way to go.
Option 2: The Planned Podcast Script
For podcasters who need the structure of a script but don't want every word written down, a planned podcast script can provide an outline that helps to form an episode. Our brains are noisy places. When you create a podcast outline (also referred to as a "Treatment"), you are mapping out your initial podcast ideas before adding a more in-depth structure. Planned podcast scripts rely less on detail and more on simple outlining.
Erin's Sample Podcast Treatment - Three Act Structure
What are the ingredients that go into your treatment?
Host V/O Narration: Voiceover from your host to provide context and transition between different sections.
Interview: Audio from guests that have been interviewed, which may or may not include audio of the host asking questions.
SFX: Sound effects or soundscape, that you have recorded or sourced, that can bring the listener into the environment with you.
Music: That can help provide the emotional tone for the piece.
**Note: Not every script will include all of these ingredients. It all depends on the flavor you’d like in the podcast you are cooking up.
INTRO: This section will usually tease a bit of what you will hear in the rest of the episode, and sometimes provide a bit of a summary. **Pro tip: Don’t give everything away! A little mystery can keep the listener engaged.
ACT 1 - THE BEGINNING: The first section of your script or the “beginning” of your story. In terms of what to put here, see the ingredients above. How does your story start?
ACT 2 - THE MIDDLE: The second section of your script or the “middle” of your story. In terms of what to put here, see the ingredients above. What feels right for the middle of your story?
ACT 3 - THE END: The third section of your script or the “end” of your story. In terms of what to put here, see the ingredients above. What feels right at the end of your story?
OUTRO: This section will usually summarize a bit of what you heard, and if you are working on an episodic series, this might tease what the listener will hear in the next episode.
A short set of section headers will help guide hosts and make sure that they cover all of the main talking points in the episode. Conversational podcasts benefit from this type of format the most because they leave room for the possibility to improvise.
Pro TIP: We are only human. Mistakes happen. There is always the chance you'll leave a point out, make a mistake or go off-script. But remember, it's a podcast, not live radio! You can always pause and redo it – either on the spot or during post-production.
Option 3: The Ad-Libbed Show: A Flexible Script
Go in blind- come out laughing. That's the name of the game with ad-libbed podcasts. Or so many people seem to think.
"The inverse of the word-for-word script is the ad-lib script," says Andrew. "There are tons of amazing ad-libbed podcasts; I think most of the comedy podcasts that I love the best are ad-libbed. And, it's really hard to get that chemistry and personality and surprise in a scripted show."
Jokes and chemistry aside, while this format allows for a free flow of conversation, there is often some kind of plan behind-the-scenes.
"Let's make something clear; ad-libbing is not being unprepared. It's just a different kind of preparation," Andrew continues. "Lots of the best ad-libbed podcasts are hosted by people who have done thousands of hours of improv. Or by co-hosts who have known each other for decades and have that amount of time to develop a rapport."
WTF podcast is a heavily ad-libbed podcast
Every podcast episode needs some structure; a beginning, middle, and end. So if you're not thrilled by the thought of constructing the Romanesque pillars of a full script, then at the very least, put a couple of tent poles in place. By that, we mean use headers that represent themes or topics within the episode. Follow them up with bullet points. These can act as prompts and reminders of where you're going.
rogue isn't suited for everyone, but ad-libbed podcasts are ideal for
generating engaging content, especially if you know your subject well.
"These are great if you've got the personality and the energy for
them," mentions Ryan. "If you've got an innate ability to deliver
things like that in an engaging way, then they're perfect."
How to Write a Podcast Script
Try to look at your show from a bird's-eye view before getting granular with each word of your podcast script. What elements of your script will make the listening experience feel consistent for your listeners, episode-to-episode? Will your show be fully scripted, ad-libbed, or somewhere in between?
For podcasting beginners and old hands alike, every host should prepare some kind of script ahead of time to ensure they hit all intended talking points.
Here are a few tips that will help you craft an engaging podcast script.
How To Write a Podcast Intro
To tune in or not tune in?- that's the question. According to NPR, the masters of the gripping intro, a "typical" podcast episode, loses between 20 to 35 percent of listeners within the first five minutes. Listeners are often quick to judge and decide whether to commit to an episode within those first few critical moments.
"A mediocre episode with a good introduction will almost always perform better than a great episode with a poor intro." - NPR
If you want to avoid being part of the "typical" crowd, you need to hook listeners in from the get-go. An intro explains a podcast's purpose, introduces the host or speakers, and allows listeners to understand what's ahead.
There are no strict rules for your podcast intro except that it should work to your unique style and format. While some incredible shows might open cold with a short teaser from the episode, others begin with a brief host introduction over music.
Regardless of your preference, all the best podcast intros are short (30-60 seconds max), unique to each episode, and show listeners who you are, what your podcast is about, and why they should listen.
Let's take a closer look at each section to explain what you could include.
# 1: Introduce the Show
Your show introduction isn't the place to go into great detail. Instead, give a quick one-liner overview explaining what your show is about and what your audience can expect from your podcast. Mention your podcast title and the episode's name and number if necessary. Episode details can help listeners orient themselves within a podcast series.
"People can pick up your podcast at any time," notes Elizabeth. "They're not necessarily listening from the very first episode and don't have all the context of every episode that has come before. It's very important that each episode of a podcast is able to welcome in new listeners in a way that's not going to immediately alienate them."
“Hey everybody, this is _______ from _______ and you’re listening to the _______ podcast, episode _____ [name and number] the show that [explain the purpose of your show] _______.
# 2: Introduce the Host(s)
Your audience needs to know who is speaking. Mention your name (and co-host's name) and title depending on your podcast's format. Explain your connection to the podcast topic if you feel it's relevant.
# 3: Introduce Your Guest(s)
Your guest's profile will determine how in-depth you go into introducing your guest. For example, say you're interviewing the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. He's well-known and, therefore, probably needs little to no intro.
However, if you're interviewing someone who specializes in their niche but isn't well known in the wider sphere, you may need to establish why this person is important.
By demonstrating your guest's expertise and experience in your podcast intro, you add that little extra incentive for your audience to continue listening.
As Andrew sees it, don't just list what's on their LinkedIn or resume. "You want to give the audience something that either helps them visualize this person or helps them understand them. One or two things. It doesn't have to be a self-portrait or anything."
“Welcome [guest name] to [podcast name]. She/he/they are here to [their purpose for being on the podcast: provide expertise, answer questions, tell their story, etc.]."
Today, we're talking about _______ with [guest name], who [outline a few credentials/ successes and explain why your guest is an expert on the topic]. We'll discuss everything there is to know about [the episode topic: include a teaser to hook listeners]. Thanks for joining us, [guest name]!
# 4: Establish Who Your Show is For
If you've adequately planned your podcast, you will already have a firm idea of who your target audience is. For some podcasts, including a statement about who it's for allows audiences to identify if they're in the right place or not. While this may seem counterintuitive– to have listeners tune out– you want to be filtering out those who won't be engaged with your content.
Hi! I'm Kate, and this is Ripping Yarns, a podcast for knitters."
It cuts straight to the point and explains what the podcast is about in just a few beats.
Keen listeners will invest in a show. Meaning they will leave feedback, regularly tune in, share episodes, interact with your content, and invest in products and services that are on offer.
# 5: Define The Tone
In a matter of moments, audiences should understand the kind of podcast they’re about to hear. And utilizing music is a great way to set the mood.
Ensure that the backing track(s) are on-brand with the show. It needs to compliment the host's personality and overall context rather than overshadow the speaker. For example, if your podcast covers lighthearted topics in a comedic way, craft an intro to reflect that. For more serious or technical topics, avoid out-of-place sound effects.
Here are some examples of setting up the tone of a podcast using music:
Making Sense hosted by Sam Harris : Dramatic and thoughtful. Prepares listeners for a deep conversation
What If World : Light and energetic. Highly memorable and catchy
NPR's How I Built This : Simple and unimposing. Perfect for voice overs and narrated intros
Adding music to a podcast intro can quickly establish the ambiance you're looking for. You can define where you want to add music by using tags such as [Music], [Intro Music], or [SFX] within the script.
Get Your Free and Paid Music:
Free: YouTube Audio Library, Pixabay, The Free Music Archive, Bensound, Free Sound
Paid: Soundstripe, Epidemic Sound, Audioblocks, Artlist, Music Rights Clearance, Audiio
# 6: Mention Podcast Sponsors and Studios [Optional]
While this may not apply to all podcasts, including the name of a sponsor or podcast production company may be necessary. An advert might appear at the very beginning of an episode, the very end, or somewhere between.
These slots are known as:
Pre-Roll – Before the content starts
Mid-Roll – during the main content of the episode
Post-Roll – At the end of the podcast, after the content has finished
These can come in multiple forms, such as the host read ads, which are often ad-libbed, giving the host free range to add their creative spin.
Scripted ads are where the host reads the ad verbatim from a script.
Most of these ads will have some points you need to cover that will be given to you via the brand representative and can come in the form of a few topic bullet points or a full script. Depending on your pre-agreed contract, the lengths vary from 15 seconds to 60 seconds.
"From NBI studios, this is Truth and Justice, a crowdsourced investigation in real-time. I'm Bob Ruff."
"Today's episode of ___ is brought to you by our friends at Better Help Online Therapy. [Include an anecdote that includes the brand] Better Help is here to help. [Talk about the product/brand/service and why someone may need it].
We detail scripting a branded and podcast sponsorship message below: See How to Manage a Brand Sponsor Script.
# 7: Include a CTA [Optional]
Calls-to-action (CTA) invites listeners to take some desired action. More than likely, you would have seen a CTA example in persuasive writing. But it can be just as effective in podcasting. Although CTAs aren't essential in a podcast intro and are often utilized more in the outro, they have their place when written well.
Before you write your call to action, determine the goal you're trying to achieve:
Do you want to increase subscriptions?
Direct listeners to your website?
Would you like your listeners to review your show on Apple Podcasts?
Once you know what you want to do, you can think about how to do it. The best call to action phrases are brief and use strong verbs, "Join our community," "Subscribe," "Click the link in the show notes."
Just make sure whatever you're asking of your listeners is clear, that they know what to do, how to do it, and that you don't overwhelm them with loads of asks.
"Remember to head on over to the show notes amy.online/352 to grab the template for a pitch email that you can use." - Amy Porterfield
"Make sure you hit subscribe if you haven't already. And, if you'd like to check out my YouTube channel, it's not quite as big as Matt's, but hopefully just as great – you can check it out at YouTube.com/PatFlynn" – Smart Passive Income.
Keep it Short. Your CTA should never take away from the main point of your intro.
# 8: The Cold Open [Optional]
A cold open (also called a teaser sequence) is a narrative technique used in television and films. Traditionally it's a way of jumping straight into a story before the title sequence or opening credits.
Podcasts can offer a similar way of introducing an episode by using audio clips from the upcoming episode to give listeners a taste of what's to come.
According to recent data, only 14.04% of surveyed podcasts use the cold open in their intros. Why is that important? Cold opens are pretty rare, and therefore give podcasters a creative edge.
"The cold open is basically where you start with a clip or some clips from the podcast itself to get things going. This can really help to draw your listener in by hearing a little bit of content that they're going to be hearing in the episode right away. It can add a little mystery sometimes." Erin MacIndoe Sproule
Cold opens hook audiences in within the first few moments, dissuading them from skipping forward or tuning out altogether. A cold open must be compelling, surprising, or unexpected.
The cold open isn't something that you're going to be able to script until you've done the interview or completed the episodes. "Add a placeholder in the script that you want to start with a clip of your guest saying something about 'X' to start. Something that frames what you're going to be talking about."
# 9: Open Ended Questions [Optional]
Tapping into a listener's pain point or piquing their curiosity using an open-ended question is an old marketing tactic that translates well in podcast intros.
By asking a question like, "How is Crypto going to make you money?" or "How is fintech going to affect your retail business?" you're priming the audience by letting them know they'll have the answers by the end of the episode.
#10: Podcast Taglines [Optional]
You may recognize a tagline as a line of text often seen accompanying a logo or title. Their sole purpose is to clarify a message and help people connect with a brand in the shortest time possible. In addition, a tagline can help clarify a show's title, create uniformity, and identify what listeners can expect from a show when it comes to podcasts.
"It could be a few words or a few sentences that explains a bit about who you are, what you are doing and creates that identity for your audience," mentions Ryan.
"Welcome to Reply All, a podcast about the internet."
"A podcast that helps you boost your eCommerce sales."
# 11: Disclaimers [Optional]
No one likes nasty surprises; that's why some podcasts need to include a disclaimer. Disclaimers can address specific points regarding liability that fall outside your Terms & Conditions agreement; affiliate link usage, medical risks, atypical results, adult content, etc.
Maybe your series is more suited for mature audiences, you're working with an affiliate program, or the opinions stated in the podcast may not reflect those of a network. Then, the intro is the ideal place to add this disclaimer.
A good example is Gimlet's, Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel. Their intro disclaimer informs listeners that, "None of the guests are ongoing patients of Esther Perel. Each episode of Where Should I Begin is a one-time counseling session. For the purposes of maintaining confidentiality, names and some identifiable characteristics have been removed, but their voices and stories are real."
A disclaimer sets the audience up to understand that an element of a podcast may not be suitable.
"This episode contains subject matter that some audiences may find offensive. Listener discretion is advised."
"The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this Podcast are for general information only, and any reliance on the information provided in this Podcast is done at your own risk."
Podcast Intro Script Tips to Get New Listeners Hooked: An in-depth overview of how you can create a podcast intro that grabs your listeners and keeps them hooked. Click here to read Podcast Intro Script Tips to Get New Listeners Hooked now!
Full Podcast Intro Example:
LawHer: Interview Style Podcast / Narrative
LawHer, is a brand new podcast from Rankings.io. They're here to shine a light on some of the brightest and boldest women in the legal industry. Here's their intro script outline:
INTRO SEQUENCE: [Music] > Cold open > Host voiceover > Guest clip > Welcome > Introduce the Show > Host Intro > [Music] > Guest introduction > Topics to be covered > [Music fade out].
What's so great about LawHer's intro is that host, Sonya Palmer, breaks down the who, what and why of the episode, setting the scene within a few short minutes.
* BONUS: Use Your Show Notes As an Extension of Your Intro
Podcast hosts only have a limited time to hook listeners in with the introduction. Certain points or details get lost when you're trying to set the scene in under a minute. Your podcast show notes play such an essential role in forming the bigger picture and can take the pressure off you trying to cram as much information within your introduction as possible.
Podcast show notes should house more about the episode's content, guests, important information, and any additional resources mentioned within the episode itself.
How to Script a Podcast's Main Segment(s)
While the bulk of a podcast script is designed to layout the main topics and ideas within an episode, the content can vary wildly depending on your podcast format and desired effect. For example, a narrative podcast usually relies on scripting, with voiceover segments taking precedence.
However, an interview podcast with one or more guests will most likely contain a list of interview questions rather than a full script. Regardless of your format, here are some points to keep in mind:
# 1 Write as You Speak:
Be yourself. Write your script according to how you would naturally speak. To avoid making your recording sound rigid or robotic, you may need to ask yourself a few questions: What dialect do you or your speaker use? Are there words or phrases that would make the tone more natural? Do you need to use academic or more casual language when talking about your topic?
READ your script out loud! The way we write and the way we talk are often very different. So say your ideas aloud before writing them down to ensure your script reflects your speaking pattern and maintains a natural flow.
"If you're writing for an audio medium, you want to make sure that what you've written sounds good," explains Andrew. "Something can look great on the page and sound really awkward coming out of your mouth."
If you're writing for someone else, there are a few things to keep in mind. Where are they from? Who are they communicating with? What kind of dialect do they use?
# 2 Keep Things Simple and to the Point
A script should lay the foundation for how your recording should sound and how you approach a topic. When writing a podcast script, try and keep it to the point as much as possible.
"Keep it simple," mentions Andrew. "Don't have complex sentences with a lot of clauses. They're harder to say as a host, harder to follow as a listener. More words isn't always better." Simple language is much better than bombarding listeners with a lecture. By keeping things simple, you can better understand your podcast's central message.
"If we're writing for us, or for hosts, we're writing for some very specific person- that might mean our audience gets left behind sometimes," points out Elizabeth. "They don't always have the insider scoop. We know what we're writing about. We know what we're talking about; podcast guests and hosts know what they're talking about. But, we're just talking in an echo chamber unless the audience is let in, in a way that makes sense to them."
Include the details you need to expand upon during the recording, and bin the fluff and filler.
# 3 Research Your Topic(s)
No one wants to sound foolish or misinformed. Proper research is essential for scripting a successful podcast. Sometimes, good research can take just as long as the scripting itself in many instances.
But, having all the facts and information available helps refine the supporting points for your main topic and provides greater insight into your audience's needs, pain points, and challenges.
# 4 Know Who You Are Speaking To
You need to always have the audience top of mind during the scriptwriting process. Who are you speaking to? Does your audience know a great deal about your main topic? Or are you introducing a completely new angle to an idea? Should the tone be light, or should it aim to be more serious or academic?
The more you understand your audience, the easier it is to provide solutions and information while cementing yourself as a valuable resource.
# 5 Leave Room for Improvisation
Improvisation may appear challenging, especially for first-time podcasters, but it's a great way to add a natural tone to a script. The primary step is to take the time to prepare for your initial recording. The more you prepare and research for a podcast topic, the more comfortable you'll be when providing supporting information and detail during a live recording.
Remember that podcasting isn't live radio. Anything that doesn't work can be edited out in post-production. So, in other words, research your topic as much as possible and trust yourself.
How To Write a Podcast Outro Script
Statistically, 52% of podcast listeners stay tuned until the end of an episode. While that's a relatively high percentage for the podcasting world, it may beg the question, what about the remaining 48% percent of the episode? Well, you win some and you lose some.
Whether almost half of your listeners continue to listen or not, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't put thought into your podcast outro. New audiences often listen to an entire episode to learn more. Passive listeners on their commute may wait for the current episode to end, so it automatically continues to the next and a podcast's outro is the essential icing on the cake.
Your Outro's Goal:
Convert listeners into subscribers
Ask for and share listener reviews
Showcase your social media, website, merchandise, or sponsors
Credit your collaborators, such as your producer, network, designer, or composer
So, how do you structure a podcast outro script template?
# 1 - Thank Your Listeners
Your listeners are the life force of your podcast. Your show wouldn't exist without them. Therefore, make your audience feel valued, acknowledged, and included enough to return.
Always end your podcast with a "thank you." It doesn't have to be a grand gesture; just a simple 'thanks for listening' will do.
"Give shout-outs to listeners who have left comments. Name names of people who have asked really great questions, or contributed, or supported your podcast in some way," suggests Ryan. "It's much more about community now than it probably ever has been. Acknowledging that and ensuring that they're being heard and listened to and that they're part of your experience is really important to them."
Here's a perfect example of how you thank your listeners (and everyone else who helped create the show) from the hosts at Still Processing.
# 2 - Thank Your Team
Most podcasts are a team effort, so it's only polite to thank those who have made the show possible. This "thank you" list could include anyone from the hosts and guests who appeared on the episode to the producers, editors, writers, researchers, transcriptionists and graphic designers!
The podcast outro is ideal for listing the credits. Keep this list as short as you can otherwise, you risk your listeners stopping the episode before you're done. You may want to put a complete list within your show notes for longer credit lists.
# 3 - Recap the Episode
The most effective way for a human to remember something is through repetition. Your podcast outro is the perfect place to touch upon the key takeaways covered within your episode. Help your listeners consolidate their new knowledge by mapping out what they (and you) have learned in a pointed bullet list.
Recapping not only helps your listeners understand what they have just heard, but it reaffirms that you've delivered exactly what your episode title and intro promised.
Interactive Minds: At the end of every single episode, host Louisa Dahl provides a few key action items mentioned within the episode for listeners to try.
"My recommended action item from today's show is to look at your landing pages and lead magnet with fresh eyes and check that they lead your audience to the logical next step."
# 4 - Call to Action
Most podcasts are available for free. That means that if a listener engaged with your episode's content, they got something for nothing. So, why not ask for something in return?
A Call to Action (CTA) asks a lead or prospect to take a specific step or action. Some of the most common podcast outro CTAs include:
Subscribe to the podcast
Leave a rating and review
Visit your website to join an email list or find extra resources and info
Follow you on social media
Buy you or your sponsor's products, merchandise, tickets etc
If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to help support the podcast, please subscribe and leave a rating and review. To stay up to date with [the podcast's name] and get all the behind-the-scenes content, you can follow me on Instagram [@UserName] and on Twitter [@UserName].
Radio Lab have an exceptional CTA offering for their Radio Lab members- but they don't tell you what it is until you sign up.
Like your podcast intro, you don't want to overwhelm your listeners. Limit your CTAs to a maximum of three per episode– don't give listeners a CTA shopping list.
Which CTAs you pick depends on what your current priorities are. For example, if you're just starting and looking to build your status within Apple Podcasts, asking for a rating and review can help. Or, if increasing download numbers is a must, then asking listeners to recommend you to friends and family could be your best bet.
# 5 - Tease the Next Episode
Encourage your listeners to tune into the next episode by adding a teaser of what's to come. While this isn't a staple for podcast outros, teasers add that extra layer of intrigue. Piquing a listener's curiosity will help persuade them to subscribe so they can join you again in the next episode.
Some podcasters will quickly mention who the guest will be and the topics they'll cover. Others choose to use audio snippets to add another audio dimension.
Here are a few examples of teasers you could use:
"In our next episode, we'll talk about..."
"We're going to cover..."
"This week's episode will feature..."
"Coming up on next week's episode of [name of podcast] [EPISODE AUDIO CLIP]
# 6 - Sponsorship Recognition
Depending on your sponsorship agreement, you may be asked to do a post-roll ad (an advert at the end of the podcast).
The podcasts that get asked to create pre-roll and mid-roll ads will often thank their sponsors again in their episode outro. Overall, thanking sponsors is a common courtesy that could see you gaining another advertisement opportunity in the future.
Thank you for listening to the MRC Podcast. This podcast has been brought to you by our sponsor ____.
Thanks again to our sponsor ___ for sponsoring this show.
EXAMPLE: Serial: Season One: Outro
Since 2017, Serial's first season has garnered more than 300+ million downloads. As Adnan Syed's story came to a show stopping end, Sarah Koenig's well constructed outro brought the series home. The script below is a prime example of a great (albeit longform) outro, especially because she has used most of the touch points mentioned above.
How to Manage a Brand Sponsor Script
Scripting a message from your sponsor will depend on how much control the brand wants over its ad's messaging. In some cases, a sponsor may provide a word-for-word script that you need to follow to the letter. Others will provide a bullet-pointed list of talking points, lending itself to ad-libbing opportunities.
In both cases, you'll want to outline how you approach the ad and what you need to say so you sound natural and convincing. Here, the goal is to get listeners to buy into the sponsor's messaging and encourage your sponsors to keep coming back.
According to Podchaser the average Podcast Ad Word Count is:
10-second ad = 24 words
15-second ad = 36 words
30-second ad = 72 words
60-second ad = 144 words
Basic Sponsor Script Idea:
Today's episode is brought to you by [sponsor name]. [Sponsor name] is [speak about the benefits of the sponsor's product or service and why the listener should buy it or be interested in it].
"When you have ads in your podcast, it's most effective when you have really integrated into a story, and your host is able to speak about it in an authentic way," says Erin.
EXAMPLE: The Bald and the Beautiful. The host speaks naturally and fluidly about the product, creating a realistic narrative around why the brand and the product is so important.
Word-for-Word Sponsor Script
More prominent brands and businesses will often have a team of copywriters furiously working away and creating a script. This is to ensure that their message is on point. Podcast hosts should read this script verbatim. It's important to become familiar with the script they've sent you. And if possible, try to inject some creative input. If that means collaborating with their team to reach scripting perfection, so be it.
A Podcast-to-Podcast Sponsorship Script
Occasionally, you may be approached by a fellow podcaster to help promote their show. These are referred to as podcast host-read or producer-read ads. In our experience, there is usually an emphasis on "natural-sounding" host-reads rather than fully scripted.
You'll often receive a form or email containing talking points they want you to touch on. Of course, all sponsors are different in how they format these talking points, but here's the most common scenario:
"We would love the host to give honest opinions based on their experience when listening to a few episodes and use some personal experience prompts in the read, such as:
# Which episode did you listen to?
# What topics were covered that you found interesting?
# Who do you think would enjoy this podcast?
Description: [the podcast's description and host information]
Episode topics : [a bullet-pointed list of episodes and the topics covered, e.g. The trials of starting a new business and what you can do to ensure you're positioned to succeed. Bulletproof business plans, funding options and how to develop relationships with key stakeholders.]
Guests Include: [a bullet-pointed list of the guests and a brief mention of their credentials]
Call-to-action: Sponsors will often mention their preferred CTA [Listen to brand new episodes of Cadence Bank's "In Good Companies" on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts] "
As you can see, there is a lot of scope for improvisation and personality. Sponsors want to tap into your audience, and you are the voice that will help convince them to listen. What that means is, a host-read ad script should reflect how you would normally speak to your listeners.
Transitions, Segues, and Music
What sets your podcast apart from the others will be its content. But a big part of how that content lands with listeners is its delivery. As a species, we can be a very distracted bunch; that's why monotone monologues don't often work in the podcasting world.
"Humans have the attention spans of goldfish," states Elise, "Not actually - but pretty close. So it is our job as producers to make sure that we keep the audience engaged." One way to do that is to incorporate transitions and music to ensure an intriguing tempo to the story.
As the person owning the script, it's your job to note where those transitions are and when your audience will need some help moving from one brain space to the next.
You can indicate what kind of transition you need by simply including the notation:
[Voice over / narration]
Alternatively, you can be more specific depending on your script format.
"Cue Intro Song [name of song]"
"SFX [type of sound effect]"
"Cue [speaker's name] voice over,"
Transitions: are used to indicate a change from one point of the narrative to another and help listeners understand where they are in your episode. These can come in the form of a change in speaker, a music bed, or even sound effects and musical stings. Indicating these within the script, you will have to review the content you've written already and identify where transitions would make the most sense.
"A good rule of thumb is 30 seconds max of one voice. Transitions also help seamlessly introduce new topics or speakers," says Elise. "Shows like Radiolab or Invisibelia are good examples of pushing the boundaries of engaging sound.
Write transition phrases or annotations into your podcast script to help listeners move between segments.
Writing a Script for an Interview
Scripting, especially for interviews, guides a conversation from A to B without falling into tangents and conversation traps along the way. Interview scripts often require a healthy level of preparation and thought. For example, anyone hosting a podcast interview needs to know what to ask a guest and incite a gripping and informative conversation.
Research your guest and the topics you're going to cover. The deeper you dive during the information gathering stage, the more in-depth and appealing your questions.
But don't just look at their academic or career background, "Take a look at other interviews they have done and pieces they have written. Elise notes. "This is a good way to get a sense of what is important to them and what you may want to dig deeper into."
How much preparation is too much? Well, the consensus is that you always want to prepare more questions than is needed for the available time. So, create a list of questions and interesting talking points to guide you through the conversation.
Remember, your question outline is designed to guide you at a glance.
Before You Record: Script Preparation
Once you have a cohesive script together, you may feel like you're ready to go ahead and record. Nonetheless, you could encounter some difficulties when delivering the material, especially initially. So here are some tips to consider before you hit that record button.
One thing every good podcast script should include is delivery notes. Also referred to as "Mark-ups," these notes help to add a visual cue to the script. For example, you can signify pauses, laughs, dramatic effects, laughs, the phonetic pronunciation of words, and emphasis. What these elements do is add a little life to the text.
Grab your red marker; it's time to annotate!
"You can make your lines bold, put them in a bigger font. Those things I find really helpful as a guide to make things easier for you as you're reading," says Andrew.
Here are some ways you can annotate your script.
Whether you are writing a script for yourself or a co-host, you will want to add notes on tone for every script segment. Excited? Authoritative? Somber? Angry? Perhaps happy and lighthearted? Tone annotations will help you reset your narrative style for every episode topic.
Underlining can be used to either separate ideas, add emphasis, or act as a guide when reading a list aloud. If you're trying to make a point, or there's a particular word, phrase, or concept you want the listener to take in, underline it. That way, you've set a reminder to focus on this particular part of the paragraph during recording.
Taking a moment is really important when recording a podcast. Sometimes when we're focused on reading out the content, we can forget to breathe. Use "[pause]" or a "/" wherever you think a natural break is needed.
Sometimes some words just evade us. To make sure you're saying words correctly, provide pronunciation notes. Then, you can either break the word into its syllables or write it out phonetically to ensure you're not making any pronunciation faux pas.
POINT 2 - Practice Reading Your Podcast Script
For most beginner podcasters reading from a script can feel unnatural and maybe a little be awkward. Finding the right tone without sounding like you're "reading" is hard. The non-professionals amongst us could struggle to do an authentic script reading.
One way to mitigate this is to practice. "The more you say something, the more you can put into your own voice or change things that are awkward," states Andrew. As your voice warms up and you begin rehearsing a few segments, you'll notice your confidence in the script changing. After a while, you'll find your natural rhythm and cadence.
Creating a Full Podcast Script
Now it's your turn. Understanding how to write a podcast script takes time. It's a lot; we know that. While several details do need careful consideration, hopefully, these tips can help lay the foundations for structuring the right content for your audience.
Working around all these details for each show can seem challenging and sometimes daunting, but it will become much easier in time if you pre-plan and refine your scripts now.
LOWER STREET CAN HELP
Effective script writing is one more task within the podcast preparation process. If you're short on time, that's where a podcast service can really help.
A full podcast production service like Lower Street can provide overall support for each episode. Plus, assist in gathering topic ideas, guests, scripting, editing, and even guide you through the script reading process.
Regardless of your podcasting goals, aspirations, or capabilities, having a guide to help you through each step can grow your audience's reach and ultimately provide your listeners with the best content possible.