This is an excerpt from The Podcast Scripting Book.
If your podcast consists of interviews or conversations between you and one or more guests, I’d suggest not using a script at all. Instead, write out a list of topics you want to discuss with your guest, and share this list with him. However, do not send the precise questions you’re planning to ask. Why not? Because some guests, believe it or not, will scribble out their exact answers and then expect to read them verbatim during the recording session. This is especially true when someone is nervous and has little experience with interviews.
In my early days of podcasting, I wanted to be nice, so I would send people questions in advance when they asked for them. As a result, I had to stop people dead cold in the middle of one of their answers to say: “Wait a minute. You sound a bit stilted. Are you reading? Please don’t. Let’s have a conversation instead. You’ll thank me later.” And they did.
Needless to say, I no longer email exact questions to guests in advance – just general question areas.
Why am I so against this type of reading? Unless you’re a trained voice actor, you’re probably not very convincing reading your answers. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll read in a monotone and bore people to death. Trust me: They can tell you are reading. The structure of your language and the tone of your voice are giveaways.
As the podcast host, if you are afraid of forgetting something, by all means write your main points down as a checklist for yourself. This includes the questions for your podcast guest. Keep in mind that your podcast will most likely be edited. In the worst case, you can record and add forgotten content later. So, don’t worry about leaving something out.
In my experience, the best interviews happen when I start off with questions that are merely guideposts, and let the conversation branch off naturally, with an easy flow. Don’t worry if you ask only five of your seven planned questions, as long as the content is good, and your listeners will benefit from hearing the conversation.
Want to learn more? Check out The Podcast Scripting Book.