On the surface, the most important part of your podcast episode is the main body. The part where you discuss or address what was promised in the title.
But before you get to that, you’ve got the very important task of setting the scene for your listeners. Some may have heard every episode you’ve ever put out before, but for a few, this will be their very first impressions of you.
They’ve absolutely no loyalty or obligation to you or your podcast in these opening minutes. They’ve possibly got a playlist of other shows already downloaded and ready to listen to. They’re giving you a chance, but you don’t have long.
Just like if they’ve picked up a book, or switched on a TV show, there’s a few questions subconsciously running through their head. Does this seem interesting? Does seem well made? Do I know what’s going on? This is where your podcast intro needs to do its job.
What Makes a Good Podcast Intro?
Put yourself in the shoes (or earbuds) of a brand new listener – someone that you’d consider to be in your target audience. They’ve downloaded your latest episode and hit play.
As I’ve said already, they’ve no loyalty to you. They’ve probably never heard of you, and – at this moment – aren’t interested in you personally.
They’ve downloaded this episode for their own benefit. They want something from it. And whether that’s to learn something, or to be entertained, they want to know as early as possible that you’re going to deliver.
What Should I Include in my Intro?
I don’t want you to think that there are extremely restrictive “rules” with podcast intros and outros, because there’s still an immense amount of creative freedom. Podcasting wouldn’t be very interesting if every single show sounded the same.
Nevertheless, there are some things I’d suggest you always include in your intro.
- Your name. Doesn’t need to be your full name, could even be a nickname. Just let your listener put a name to the voice as early as possible.
- What is the podcast called? You might assume they already know this, but they might be working through a huge playlist of new podcasts they’re trying out.
- Who is the podcast for? If your show is aimed at people who want to learn how to speak Spanish, make that clear early on. If someone who is listening doesn’t want to learn Spanish, there’s no benefit to anyone for them to keep listening. On the other hand, the person who does thinks “this is exactly what I’ve been looking for”.
- What is the overall theme of the podcast? What’s the show about?
- What problem is the podcast series here to solve?
- What problem does this particular episode solve?
Presenting a Problem – & Solution
Being clear on laying out your subject matter is great, but making your listener relate to it by mentioning something they’re struggling with will really pull them in.
So, for example, on our show Podcraft, our target audience are people who want to learn how to podcast. Some of their big struggles are learning about microphones and audio equipment, learning about editing and mixing digital audio, growing their audience and monetising their show.
The overall struggle they have is that they want to learn how to podcast, and our major solution is that we can help them to do that.
Each episode deals with a specific subtopic of its own though, which provides a solution that helps them work towards their overall goal. We want to mention this briefly at the start of each episode so the listener knows they’ve come to the right place.
So, on an episode about media hosting, we could present the problem “Have you ever wondered how you upload a podcast online, and make it available in iTunes?”
Then we offer the solution “Well, on this episode that’s exactly what you’ll find out. We’re going to walk you step by step through the process, and by the end of it you’ll be able to submit your show to iTunes quickly, and easily.”
Set your episode up by mentioning the overall problem your podcast is here to help them with (eg; learning how to podcast), and then the particular problem you’ll be dealing with in this episode (eg; getting your podcast in iTunes).
“Hello and welcome to the ___ podcast, this is the show for ___, all about ___, and on this episode, have you ever struggled with ___?, well that’s exactly what we’re going to help you with on this week’s show, where you’ll learn how to ___”
You don’t need to copy this verbatim, but make it the framework of your intro. This will mean that everyone you want to keep listening is going to make it through to the main body of the episode, and then you can win them over with your content.
What Makes a Good Podcast Outro?
The final minute or two of your episode goes towards creating a lasting impression of the podcast in the mind of your listener.
You might have done a great job with the intro and the main body, but if the show ends poorly that could end up being the difference between a new listener hitting the subscribe button or not.
The job of the outro is essentially to thank the listener for listening, and to point them in the direction of any vital details that emerged during the episode.
It’s also the part where you can ask for something in return. If someone has stayed to the end they’ve probably enjoyed the episode you’ve put together for them, so they might be willing to respond to your request for something like an iTunes review.
What Should I Include in my Outro?
Again, there are no “rules” as such, but if you want to close your episode effectively, you should consider the following.
- Thank them for listening. There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, and they’ve chosen to listen to yours.
- Point them to the shownotes at your website for links to everything that was mentioned in this episode.
- If possible, offer them a teaser of what’s in store on the next episode.
- Send them to ONE place – your website. There’s no point in reading out your email address, Twitter handle, Patreon page, Facebook URL, when you can have clear links to all this on your site.
- Include a ‘Call to Action’ (CTA). This is your opportunity to ask for something in return. You should only do one CTA per episode. If you give someone too much to do, the chances are they won’t do any of it, so just pick one and be clear about it. You might want to ask your listener to…
- Subscribe to the podcast
- Share the podcast, or tell a friend about it
- Rate/review the podcast on iTunes
- Sign up to your email list, or download your ebook
- Buy tickets for your event or conference
- Support you on Patreon, or pledge to your crowdfunding project
This shouldn’t seem like a lot of red tape, or something that’s going to restrict your creative license. On the contrary, the job of your intros and outros are to support and enhance the actual content of your episodes.
You don’t need to overthink them, or spend loads of time on them. It’s just about putting some good practices in place that make sure you’re not needlessly losing listeners, and that you’re always steadily growing your audience.
Over time, the things you want to include at the beginning and end of your episode will become second nature to you. Your main focus should always be on your topic.
Hopefully that’s given you a good idea of how you can make some improvements to your episodes though. Or maybe you’re already doing all of these things.
If I’ve done my job though, I should be able to put out a ‘CTA’ now. If you’ve found this useful, would you mind sharing it with someone else who you think mind benefit from it?
And thanks for reading. I know there’s a lot more internet out there 🙂