Creating a Podcast Script
There are three basic parts to a successful podcast: opening, content and closing.
The opening bumper should state the title, give a brief overview, and include background music. Recording the bumpers in a voice opposite the gender of the content offers a professional touch. If the podcast will include images or video, be sure that it has a branded appearance. For official templates, visit NMSU's Branding site.
It is smart to always write a script before trying to record your audio. Have the script proofread and practice it at least once. Another helpful hint is to add cues to remind you where to pause, add emphasis, etc. Don't be afraid to make mistakes in your recording, just say "cut" and try again, the file can always be edited later. Be sure to save your Audacity project file as well as the MP3 export.
As with the opening, the closing bumper should be recorded in a gender opposite that of the content and should include background music. It should also point the audience to a source for more information related to the podcast. A podcast must use references, funding information, and copyrights where necessary.
Writing Your Podcast Script
1. Provide an overview, then give specifics
In your Podcast, give a short overview on what your listeners can expect. This is especially important if you will be covering a couple different topics, as it allows your users to scroll forward and skip anything that doesn't interest them.
Sample overview: "In the first half of today's Podcast, we'll talk about the important roles parents play in building their child's vocabulary. Then, we'll talk with a child nutritionist on simple changes you can make to your child's snacks."
2. Write tight
In audio, you need to get to the point. Read and re-read your copy, eliminating redundancy. Find shorter ways to say just about anything. Readers can skim the written article, but must listen to the entire Podcast. Write succinctly to keep their attention. Write your script, then read it out loud to yourself and time it. Imagine you have to trim 10 seconds off the final narration. Keep editing, trimming 10 seconds, repeatedly, until you can't possibly trim any more without losing important content.
3. Write for the ear and your tongue
The ear is much less forgiving of extra-long sentences and sentences that don't flow well. When writing, read it out loud; if it isn't easy to say, re-write it. You'll want to use shorter sentences and conversational vocabulary. Remember that you'll be reading this, possibly when you are a bit nervous about your voice. Write out numbers and addresses. Be especially careful with dollar amounts. Avoid numbers and dollar signs: "$4,567,555" Write out numbers: "over four and half million dollars."
4. Be active, positive and present-tense
Avoid passive voice descriptions in which the action is done unto something, instead of something doing the action. Avoid negative words such as "not", "no", "don't", "doesn't", "won't", etc. Phrase things in the present tense as much as possible.
Avoid passive voice: "The charge was denied by the President" Use active voice: "The President denies the charges." Avoid the negative: "The dairy producers don't believe the rates will increase before next year. Re-write in the positive: "Dairy producers believe rates will stay low throughout the rest of the fiscal year." Use present tense: "The University supports the initiative." It is easier for the listener to understand than other tenses: Avoid: "The University is supporting the initiative." And "The University has supported the initiative."
5. Make it personal
Imagine you are writing for one person, a friend who trusts your information and opinions. How would you make your topic of interest to them? How would you make sure you would keep their attention during the 5 minutes you have with them at a dinner party? Ultimately, a Podcast is a one-to-one relationship between the listener and you. Make a connection with them by making them feel you have them in mind.
- Is there a short overview?
- Have you removed as much text as possible?
- Have long or awkward sentences been removed?
- Are numbers re-written as words?
- Have passive verbs been replaced with active tense?
- Have negative words like "don't", "can't" and "won't" been removed?
- Is present tense used throughout?
- Would a listener feel you are talking directly to them?