Podcast listeners are absolutely spoiled for choice these days. With new podcasts arriving on the scene daily, you need a way to stand out. That comes down to mastering the art of writing an ear-catching podcast script.
As someone with over 6 years of experience doing just that, I’m here to share everything I’ve learned so you can master this skill fast.
Start by knowing your audience
The first step to creating a great podcast script is putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. Empathy is the most critical skill to writing something that resonated with an audience.
Consider the typical audience member you’re aiming to appeal to. When are they listening to your show? How are they listening to your show? Think about how your podcast fits into these moments.
Overall, don’t be the podcast host who creates whatever they feel the world should like and then gets annoyed when the listeners don’t come. You need to be humble and always listen to feedback. That’s how you hone your craft. Still, one trick for learning about your audience is to become your audience.
Listen to other podcasts and take notes
Think about your own experience listening to podcasts you love (or ones you unsubscribed from right away). What delighted you? What annoyed you? Use these as starting points by building lists of what to do and what not to do.
Then, try listening to podcasts that are similar to what you’re trying to create and take more notes. Write down what could be improved, when you got bored, and what engaged you. Once you’re done, you should have a list with plenty of dos, don’ts and general inspirations to use in your own podcast scripts.
Hook them early
Once you’ve got a good sense of your audience and what you do and don’t want to do it’s time to start creating. One perennial rule of script writing is to hook your audience early. Remember those podcasts you unsubscribed from after hearing a few minutes of content? They failed at this task.
Many podcasts do this by starting off with a quick preview or even an engaging clip from the show (you can do this by recording an intro after you’ve recorded the main body). You can even test this by posting intros on a website or Facebook page and asking listeners which ones they find the most engaging. In other words, focus on hooking the listeners and always be experimenting.
Establish a tone
Besides the words coming out of your mouth, other audio elements can help create a tone and atmosphere. The goal here is to get your audience in the right headspace and mindset for the show.
For example, let’s say your show is about running software development teams. Most of your listeners probably have that job and might listen to your podcast on the way to or from work as a way to gain useful ideas about how to do their job better. So, your intro might want to focus on getting them excited and ready to improve their teams. But how can you do that?
One great way to quickly establish a tone is with music. Lots of podcasts use a few seconds of music as a fast way to communicate to listeners what kind of show they’re in for and to prime them for what’s coming. You can find tons of free or very cheap music for podcasts online.
Just say it
With or without music, another great way to establish tone is to just communicate it. Something as simple as “Hey this is your host John Smith and you’re listening to SAAS Management Talk, now get ready for some amazing insights that will transform how you manage your team.” can work well. In this case, you simply tell the listener what to do as a fast way to get everyone on the same page.
Signpost to keep your audience engaged
When you’re going through a script, you’ve got everything clearly written in front of you. That means it’s easy for you to know where you are in the narrative. However, it’s not so easy for your audience, especially when they’re listening surrounded by potential distractions. That’s why it’s so important to signpost.
Signposting is when you remind a listener where you are, IE what just happened, what is happening, and what’s going to happen.
For example, I noticed that when listening to a podcast centered around stories (like history podcasts), it was easy to space out for a moment and suddenly realize you don’t know what’s happening. The best way to prevent this is to avoid using too many pronouns and to try and consistently remind listeners what happened, is happening, and will happen. This makes following along and staying engaged easier.
Finish with a call to action!
When you get to the end of your podcast script, there’s always some kind of an action you want your listeners to take. This could be telling a friend, checking out your business’ website, or just leaving a review. Not finishing with a call to action is missing an important opportunity to get more value out of that episode.
That said, be sure to do this in such a way that it doesn’t get too boring or repetitive. Try and mix up your calls to action so your audience won’t tune them out.
Experiment with microcontent
Perhaps the single most effective (and under-utilized) way to improve your podcast scripts is micro-content. This involved breaking up your episodes into smaller clips, distributing them on your social media channels, and seeing which ones engage your audience the most.
This technique allows you to precisely test various moments to see which ones resonate. That said, it won’t allow you to test how you can create a larger narrative over the course of an entire episode. But learning what engages your audience can help improve your hooks and generally build in more moments that delight.
If you want to learn more about this, you should really learn from the master of content repurposing.
When you need it, get help from the experts
One of the hardest things about creating a great podcast is just getting feedback. It can be a very solitary task, so working with trusted experts who can spot areas for improvement is invaluable. So whether you’re still developing a concept or looking to take your podcasting skills to the next level, get in touch.