Deciding whether or not to script your podcast or live webcast can have a lasting and defining influence on virtually every aspect of what you’re presenting. Being scripted gives you a defined and exact set of expectations going in to recording while a basic starting point off of which to improvise your speech allows you the freedom to inject more personality into the podcast. So, which is better? Should you script your podcast?
In order to determine whether or not you should be using a defined script for your presentation, you should first consider everyone that may be on-screen or at a microphone when the recording takes place. Not everyone functions well reading from a script, just as not everyone does well without one. You have to decide who the primary speaker(s) are and what works best for them. Ultimately, this should be the most important consideration as it will determine whether or not your show comes off polished and fluid or incredibly amateur.
A host that is more accustomed to improvising their talking points and visualizing what they are going to say will likely have a difficult time carrying over their personality as they read words from a set script. On the same note, someone that has difficulty coming up with something to say, or how to put something into words in front of a camera will often find a teleprompter to be a great way to focus their energy and present the material in a clear, concise manner. People rarely pause or use crutch words like “umm” and “uhh” when they have the words they’re looking for right in front of them.
A script can make sure every point you intend to make on the podcast is made in exactly the way you intend to make it. For podcasts that have a single speaker, this is a great way to present various points without having to worry about missing something important after the recording has stopped.
Multiple speakers generally have a harder time with interaction in front of a teleprompter. What would come off as a casual and natural conversation can appear blatantly scripted and canned. It’s hard for many speakers, even trained ones, to express natural emotion while reading a teleprompter. You may notice this while watching Saturday Night Live, on occasion. They have a single week to write and rehearse what amounts to an entire show worth of dialogue with no significant pauses between sets to go over lines. Because of this, a teleprompter is used that the actors can reference during the sets. On less rehearsed material, you’ll notice their eyes shifting and slight delays in their speech as they determine how to physically respond to the statements being fed to them through a teleprompter.
Ultimately, determining whether or not to script your podcast depends on what works best for your particular show. There is no set rule that every single-hosted or co-hosted show should go by. This decision is every bit as much a question of style and preference as it is any other aspect of the overall presentation. Once you’ve made a decision, it’s important that it remain in place unless there is a very good reason not to have it there. Your audience will notice the shift between scripted and unscripted portions of your show, and unless it’s carried out just right, they may perceive it as a fault.
Whether you’re an amateur audio podcaster operating out of a home office or the host of the Tonight Show, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with referring to a script to keep the material you’re presenting on topic and consistent.