It’s easy to sound boring and wooden when you read a script in a podcast. Several things can cause this. A poorly written script. A bored presenter. Or, reading it rather than speaking it.
Article in Brief
- Don’t read your script but speak it
- Visualize someone and speak the script to them
- Practice first by adlibbing in front of a mirror
As you may have read elsewhere, I’m a big fan of writing a script before you record your podcast.
Scripts give your brain the bandwidth to focus on how you sound rather than taking up valuable “thinking space” for working out what to say next.
However, just having a script doesn’t guarantee you’ll sound good. Your approach to using it is important. As is the way in which you deliver it.
People who agree with me about the importance of having a podcast script often talk about the importance of “reading your script.” I don’t like that expression.
“Reading your script” makes me think that scripts are written for reading. But they’re not.
Audio scripts – whether for a podcast, video voice over or elearning – are for speaking.
Whatever you do when presenting a podcast, don’t read your script. Speak it.
Visualize Your Listener
An easy way to “speak your script” is to visualize your listener as you read it out loud. Think of someone in your audience and talk to them using your script as a guide.
Don’t worry too much if you get one or two words wrong or find you need to correct yourself. One or two stumbles will just make you sound real.
Instead, pretend you are having a conversation with that person.
I was lucky to have a mentor when I started out in radio. The late Alex Vale used to say to me, “visualize your girlfriend and talk to her. It will sound much more natural.”
One of my good friends who has presented television and radio news and worked in just about every part of the media told me she would visualize and talk to her mother,” when reading a script.
Act as If You’re on the Phone
Podcasting is a personal medium. We often forget that. It’s “warm and real” as a colleague used to tell me back in my broadcasting days.
As such, your listeners will feel as if you are speaking to them on the telephone if you will only “speak your script”.
If you “read your script” you’ll sound dull and lifeless. As if you’re reciting John Donne poetry in high school.
Practice in the Bathroom
If you’re really struggling to sound personal and real, practice aloud in the bathroom mirror. Yes, wait until everyone has left home and you’re on your own so you don’t embarrass yourself.
Then, pull some ads out of the newspaper and read them out loud in front of the bathroom mirror. Feel free not to read them exactly as written but adlib around the information in front of you.
Picture someone you know and convince them to buy the product or service in the ad. After a while, start doing the same with a script you have written.
You’ll find that in time you develop the skills of sounding personal and conversational.
This article by Jonathan Halls was originally published on Podcasters Portal in 2006