Podcasts are all the rage these days. Using a podcast script template is certainly useful when striving to create better audio content. In this article we examine podcasts and how to craft a successful template.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
What is a Podcast?
Podcasts are essentially an audio media format playing different kinds of content. They are mostly episodic, and users may download them.
Most podcasts usually feature one recurring host (or a team of recurring hosts). Some podcasts maintain a certain theme or topic throughout the different episodes (ie: sports, history, etc). They may be free or use a subscription model. They may also use different forms of audio advertising or none at all.
Some podcasts use scripts but others have a lose approach. This usually depends on the type of podcast: interview podcasts seldom use a script, for instance. Audiobooks are more heavily scripted.
Video or No Video?
Podcasts are an audio format. The audience will simply listen to them. Today, however, there are such a number of platforms, that it makes sense to stream a podcast in several ways.
YouTube, for example, features a large number of podcasts that have made the jump to both audio and video, simply by filming the recording of the podcast itself.
Note, however, that it would be inaccurate to call these podcasts vlogs. Even calling podcasts with a presence on YouTube ‘video podcasts’ may be misleading. At the end of the day, a podcast on such a platform is still just a podcast that is being played on YouTube.
Essentially a straight-forward interviewer/interviewee setup, and a conversation which may or not be confrontational/debate. This type of podcast may feature heavy debate between a host and a guest or between several guests, moderated by a host.
The Joe Rogan Experience
Joe Rogan is a stand-up comic, UFC commentator, martial artist, and podcast host. ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ is arguably the most well-known podcast in the Western world. Each episode has an audience in the millions and at the time of this writing, it had reached Episode # 1429.
It is important to note that ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’, although a podcast, is transmitted in both audio and video formats. The video format is typically streamed on YouTube and basically films the podcast as it happens. The following is one the episodes with the largest audience, featuring Mike Tyson:
There are several things that we can learn from this podcast when crafting a podcast script template.
The most apparent thing is that Joe Rogan does not rely on a script. In that sense, it is necessary to recognize his ability to sustain a conversation for so long; some episodes easily surpass two or three hours.
It is important to note, however, that Joe invites people whom he admires and/or whose work he knows. Moreover, his producer, Jamie Vernon, adds a secondary ‘layer’ so to speak, to provide clarifications, look things up, etc. The biggest lesson here is that knowledge of the topic and the interviewee is essential when crafting podcast script templates.
Serialized Audiobook Podcasts
A very interesting trend in podcasts is the appearance of serialized audiobooks. These are basically long-form stories which are told over a series of episodes. ‘To Live and Die in LA’, by writer Neil Strauss is one such example. It is the true-crime story of the disappearance of actress Adea Shabani, told over a series of episodes.
Note that this type of podcast is often much more scripted than a typical interview/debate podcast. The use of a simple podcast script template will probably be insufficient and a full traditional script will be needed. Sometimes, this type of podcast is the literal reading of a book, serialized in several episodes. Other times, it is a less rigid and more conversational form of storytelling.
Hybrid podcasts mix several different things. They may have a host or several hosts. There may be several different people, guests, scripted speeches, debates, segments, etc. As podcasts continue to evolve, hybrid podcasts will be used more frequently.
Storytelling: The Basics
Three-act structure is the underpinning of great content. This is true in podcasts as well, and strikingly so.
Three-act structure usually goes like this: The story begins with an inciting incident, which propels the action. The first act ends with a turning point, which leads to the second act. This second act is the longest one and is usually divided in two, with a midpoint. The second act finishes with another turning point, leading to the third act and the final climax and resolution of the story.
This is a rough sketch of a three-act structure that underpins many forms of storytelling, be it film, television or documentaries. Podcast creators can benefit from keeping this framework in mind when crafting a podcast script template.
The Hero’s Journey
Another important element in storytelling is what is called ‘the hero’s journey’. This is essentially the most basic genre of story; perhaps we could refer to it as ‘myth’ genre. Moreover, it is a simple framework for organizing a story.
This framework begins with an ordinary world, where a hero receives a call to adventure. The hero meets with a mentor and sets out on the journey, crossing a threshold, enduring tests and battling enemies as well as making friends and allies. The hero eventually approaches a metaphoric inmost cave where a final ordeal and battle is fought and a reward and victory is won.
Although this story framework is metaphoric, it does point out the basic building blocks of successful storytelling. They are useful when building a podcast script template as well.
The Elements of Story
There are other elements that are useful when creating a podcast script template.
Story is all the elements in a narrative, in chronological order. It is everything that happens to the characters in a straight line. Plot, on the other hand, orders story elements, uses subplots, flashbacks, flash-forwards and other dramatic tools.
The other essential elements in a script are characters and incidents. These incidents must be organic to the story itself.
A final element of great importance is theme. The theme of a story is what the story is really about. It dictates a particular dramatic movement and resolution.
Podcast Script Template vs. Full Podcast Script
A script is a detailed blueprint for a piece of content. Scripts are used, as we know when crafting film or television. They may also be used when crafting podcasts. The more ‘rigid’ a podcast is (a serialized audiobook podcast, for example), the more a script must be ‘lock and loaded’, so to speak. The more free and unpredictable a podcast is (an interview podcast, for instance), the less we need a full script, but rather a podcast script template.
When a podcast does not require a full script, we talk about a podcast script template. A podcast script template is simply a broad design for a podcast. It must contain the main points and be organized in a loose three-act structure, but everything else will be dictated by the podcast, as it happens.
This is an example of a fictional podcast script template:
Bunny Studio Podcast Script Template
Two hosts who work at Bunny Studio.
Each podcast episode will last 45 minutes.
The podcast deals with the essential things that Bunny Studio does: Audio Ads, Voice Over, Writing and Translation. It is geared at clients who wish to outsource their creative needs.
The theme will be articulated as a ‘Question of the Day’. Such a question may be something like:
- Are podcasts successful marketing tools?
- How to craft successful audio ads?
- What makes a great copywriter?
(11 minutes) The first act will be the most scripted. It will feature (i) a basic scripted live-read of what the podcast is about (read by Host 1) (ii) a basic scripted live-read of what Bunny Studio does (read by Host 2).
If the podcast finds a specific sponsor, the live-read advertising for the product will be thoroughly scripted as well.
Note that all sounds effects will be scripted in: At the very least, the theme song at the beginning and at the start of the debate.
(22 minutes) This act will be the least scripted. It will change every time. The moment when the guests are introduced, may or may not be scripted.
For the most, part, it will feature an interview with two different experts. These experts will engage in a debate over the question of the day.
Throughout the debate, the two hosts will moderate and ask questions. They will try to steer the conversation towards a resolution of the question of the day.
(12 minutes) This final act will feature an impromptu summary of what we have managed to learn about the guiding question.
Finally, there could be a small scripted section titled ‘Outsourcing Tip of the Day’, about a quick tip on outsourcing any project (writing, audio ad, voice over, translation).
Finally, the concluding remarks of the podcast could also be scripted. They could be a simple invitation to listen to the next episode and a simple good-bye.
The Gist of It
There are different types of podcasts: straight-forward interviewer/interviewee setups or conversations which may be confrontational/debate-style. A very interesting trend in podcasts is the appearance of serialized audiobooks. Hybrid podcasts mix several different styles together.
There are elements to a story, which are useful when creating a podcast script template, such as theme. Three-act structure is also an underpinning of great podcasts.
When a podcast does not require a full script, we need a podcast script template. This template is a rough outline of the episode, which includes the scripted bits and makes room for the non-scripted parts too.