Question to Podcast Listeners. Which is Better: Free Form or Scripted?

gtrack_stand_cw-webIf a fellow were going to record a weekly podcast (not saying that he will but if) would a listener rather hear something extemporaneous or scripted? (all things being equal, that is).

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26 comments

  1. It would depend on how good that fellow is at either of these approaches. Is he a great writer who can write well for the ear? Is he a great off the cuff speaker?

  2. I am a fellow who does this and my recordings are always scriptured. But I always reserve the right to be extemporaneous. If you can maintain this freedom, and, as Chad says, are able to write for the ear, it works really well.

  3. Neither; have some outlines for yourself about the subject and what you want to say but all scripted tend to makes a podcast a bit forced. (In my experience that is).

    Scrpted, freeform or otherwise, I think it would be interessting en instructrive if you would do a podcast.

  4. I prefer scripted for an individual’s podcast since I use them as ‘classroom’ learning. For free form, however, I enjoy listening to discussion and the interaction helps me learn as alternate viewpoints may be presented. I listen to both and like both for what each can do.

  5. I think the NPR show formats are a good indicator of what works best. For example, if you like Terry Gross’ interview format, then the more extemporaneous and free form would work. However, if you like “This American Life” the scripted format works really well. My preference is a combination of both- free form or scripted depending on the content and substance rather than a hard and fast rule.

  6. Well-done podcasts are tricky. Everyone wants it to be freeform and feel conversational, but it also has to be _listenable_ – and a totally freeform podcast tends to be very unlistenable.

    There are 2 potential solutions:

    Script it, but make it sound/feel freeform. The same way many of the best non-scripted preachers do it. You have an outline in your head of what you want to say, you may have your opening down cold, and you have down your rousing close. But you allow yourself to formulate the exact wording of the in-between bits as you go along.

    The other way is to do it totally freeform, and then go back and edit out all the unlistenable parts, and potentially re-order what you’ve recorded so that there is structure and it builds, etc. Which is what broadcast interviews tend to do.

    But in either case, don’t believe people who say they want freeform. What they mean is they want a certain style. But typically, totally freeform podcasts don’t get listened to.

  7. Scripted with liberties granted for sudden burts of insight. Latin phrase(s) for the week, a question answered section, heretics in history section, and a crayon colored theologian picture of the week.

  8. I prefer a mixture of both. Have some kind of outline, but remain free to speak from your immediate thoughts. I personally love the way the White Horse Inn shows are composed; the crew never gets sidetracked from the topic and the show never sounds contrived. I hope this individual goes on to make a weekly podcast!

  9. Dr. Clark,
    If it were that same fellow who did a podcast before called crosstalk, then I would say that he ought to go with extemporaneous. Why? Well because while the few Crosstalks that were done had good content, it still didn’t bring out the classic ethos of that particular fellow that people (like me, whether I agree with the particular argument or not) really enjoy and appreciate. All ethos was virtually hidden behind the script in the Crosstalk. So I would suggest that that particular fellow, with all the wonderful knowledge that he has, ought to go with free from. For what its worth.

  10. I’d agree with Jeff as well. The worst quality podcasts I’ve listened to have been extemporaneous. Same goes with prayers. Interview formats tend to be the exception if they have some direction.

  11. I think it actually depends upon the format of the show. If it is you only scripted would be just fine, particularly if you can write for the ear. Many of the greatest writers and speakers in history scripted out their radio addresses, even if they were weekly (I’m thinking primarily here of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters). If you’re interviewing someone, responding to emails, or some other dialogue, obviously scripted is not the way to go.

    The only caveat I would make to the scripted option is this: Do not us a script if you can’t it read it like a conversation. If it sounds read it will feel read; if it sounds conversational it will feel conversational. My preference is for a written manuscript that is delivered in such a way that it feels like the speaker is “just talking”–it allows for more memorable phrases and phrasings will protecting me from the feeling that I’m listening to a robot.

  12. Dr. Clark,

    As long as it’s you we’re talking about – either would be great (and much appreciated).

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