To Script or Not.

Scripting is the backbone of the podcast. Do you script fully? Do you use bullet points? Do you script fully and then allow hosts to wander of script to allow synergies? Or do you just wing it? I’ve worked with all these and each has it’s place.

Each style impacts the editing process and the time to publication. The tighter the scripting the quicker the editing, as a rule.

So for World Organic News I write the script out fully. I’m making a case for a particular way of seeing the world and don’t want to miss any key points. I can craft the episode with quotes from sources and linking paragraphs. These need to be fully scripted for me to feel secure in my recording. For the documentary style, this works well too. The scripting links the audio recorded in the field.

For the interview show and the interview sections of a documentary style show, the scripting relates to the questions asked. This requires a certain flexibility in approach. The questions prepared may have a logical flow but matters can arise in the interview which require a different line of enquiry. That being so, the scripted questions are tossed out the window.

A scripted two host show requires an understanding of the people involved. The original script requires rewriting, often many times as each co-host edits their words to ensure they are in the correct voice. This is doable but requires time and flexibility from both parties. The better they know each other’s voice the better. This forms a structure and the co-hosts can go of script. But and this is critical, whoever goes off script knows the next section coming and needs to bring the show back to where the overall show is headed. Normally the off script moments are just a change in words and sentence structure rather than a complete re-direction of the show. If that arises, the whole premise of the episode needs to be reassessed.

The bullet point style of scripting can sound more “natural” but it can also sound disjointed, sloppy and amateurish. You really need to know your topic, where you’re headed and why if you take this route. The same is also true of the fully unscripted show. Here the knowledge of the presenter is exposed to full light of day. If you know your stuff, it shows. If you know your stuff but are uncertain of your voice, that shows too and can destroy your authority in the area.

So the fully scripted show is a much quicker edit. You both know what you want to say, you say it and as you’re recording you will know where you make slips of the tongue, ums and coughs etc. You can mark these on the audio file by clapping or using a clicker or some other way of making a distinctive wave form in the audio file. Editing is then a matter of going to those points, removing the offending sections, saving the file and sending it off to auphonic.

The other styles of show usually, for me anyway, require a full listen through to ensure there aren’t any glitches or mis speakings to ensure a smooth a audio experience for your listener. I know there are podcasters who do live shows and don’t edit. The file is what it is and send it out to the world. If that’s your sound vision, as discussed in the previous post, then fair enough. As a listener, I find these as unsatisifying as the “live” album from musicians. It’s never as good as it could be. It is a style but not one of which I’m enamoured.


  • Scripting means more upfront work and less editing.
  • Bullet points and unscripted can sound less stilted and more “natural”.
  • Beware of the “live” episode unless that’s what you want.