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How to Write a Talk Show Script


Writing a script for a talk show is a somewhat contradictory notion. Much of the appeal of a talk show comes from its unscripted nature. Still, the interviewer and presenter must be prepared before they sit down in front of the camera or microphone. When writing a script for a talk show, you must be prepared for contingencies. A talk-show script is largely the synthesis of these contingencies with interesting questions and an appealing introduction.

Do your research. Familiarize yourself with any experts that you may be interviewing about the topic at hand. You don't need to be an expert. However, it is important to know the ins and outs of the subject, as well as any controversies that exist. Further, biographical and professional information about people that you interview will pay off when you begin writing.

Write your introduction. Introduce your guests and the topic at hand. Your introduction should be thought provoking and grab the viewer's or listener's attention. It should introduce both the subject and guests in such a way that makes people want to know more.

Write basic questions. You should have a list of open-ended, thought-provoking questions for your guests. These questions should engage them and require answers that are longer than a word or two. Use your questions to draw the guests out, to get them to really contribute to the subject and maybe even catch them off guard a little. Nothing is more boring than a list of predictable questions with simple one-word answers.

Be prepared to follow up. Have a set of secondary questions at your disposal. You have a rough idea of where the conversation may go. Keep a list of questions to follow up on any material you are almost certain that your interviewee will delve into.

Keep to the matter at hand. It is easy for interviewees to become diverted from the topic at hand or digress onto a subject of only tangential importance. Use your script to keep the focus on the subject matter.

Write a brief summary and thank you. Your talk show should end with a summary of the issues as they were discussed. It is also important to take a second to thank the person you have interviewed for making time in their schedule to come on your talk show.

About the Author

Nicholas Pell began writing professionally in 1995. His features on arts, culture, personal finance and technology have appeared in publications such as "LA Weekly," Salon and Business Insider. Pell holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

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