Almost every podcast known to man has an episode structure, an outline, bones if you will. There are the things that are in every episode and just vary in their content. There can be some variation from podcast to podcast, but inside a podcast these same things are in every episode.
The Standard Episode Structure.
We think of a standard episode structure as sounding something like this:
- Pre-intro bumper,
- Standard Introduction,
- First sentence from the host,
- Main Episode blocks,
- Last Sentence from the host,
- Standard Outro.
Lets dive into each of these.
We made a worksheet that will walk you through the steps to creating your episode outline.
What is the first thing a listener hears when they play your podcast? Is a new listener going to stick around? Can a regular listener tell what this episode is going to be about?
All of these questions are answered with a pre-intro bumper. When someone hits play on your episode this is the first thing you say to them. In general it is a standard formatted sentence or intro line. It gives the specifics of this episode.
For example in the Photographer and Model podcast we started every episode with “This is episode XXX of the photographer and model podcast. The one where Shawna and Ron interview Model/Photographer ZZZ”
That was it. It tells people what you are going to be doing in that episode clearly and concisely.
You can add a little more information. A teaser if you will to get them to listen to the episode.
It leads directly into the…
This is the pre-recorded introduction to your podcast. Exactly the same thing every time. Generally a voice over music talking about what the podcast is about in general. Probably introduces the hosts.
You don’t want this to be the first thing your listener hears because it is exactly the same every time. Say a listener is behind a few episodes and starts listening to find out if they want to listen to an episode. If this intro is the first thing they hear, then every episode sounds exactly the same, and they have to skip over it to find out what is going on.
This intro shouldn’t be too long because regular listeners are going to hear it over and over. But it shouldn’t be too short because new listeners need to know what the show is about in general.
The First Sentence.
After the intro ends you are going to start out with something. Like the pre-intro bumper, this needs to have a standard structure. Again an example from Photographer and Model.
“Welcome to the Photographer and Model Podcast, I’m Ron Davis…
and I’m Shawna Rencher and today we’re talking with Photographer XXX”
After you do your standard beginning, you can launch into the main part of your podcast. The meat of the podcast also has its own structure, which we’ll talk about in a minute since it can vary from podcast type to podcast type.
The Last Sentence From the Hosts.
After you finish the main part of your podcast, you are going to end with a standard ending sentience. Like the beginning it won’t vary much if at all from episode to episode. For the Photographer and Model podcast it was always,
“That’s it for the Photographer and Model Podcast. I’m Shawna Rencher… and I’m Ron Davis. Until next time, keep creating beautiful images of beautiful models.”
This tag line should say something about your podcast. Giving a standard ending lets listeners know you are actually finished.
The Standard Outro.
After that line you go into your Standard Outro, another pre-recorded bit. It tells people where to go to find out more about your podcast. It also has any ending credits you might have.
This rough outline is also something you can send as part of your podcast guest guide to give them an idea how the episode will go.
The Main Part of the Podcast.
Alright, let’s go back and dive into the main part of each episode. The center of your episode structure if you will. It has a structure as well, but what that structure is depends on the show and its type. The key is to figure out what your show is going to do and write it out. Then fill it in before each episode. There are a few episode format structures in the worksheet that accompany’s this post.
For Photographer and Model the the main parts had blocks like this:
- Banter/News Topics – Where Shawna and Ron shot the bull about relevant topics.
- Inclusion/Introduction of the guest – We always told our guests they knew it was their turn to talk when we asked them a question. Generally this was a banter question. After they answered it we’d do a formal introduction of the guest.
- Specific Guest Questions – We tried to come up with questions relevant to the guest themselves and would start with those questions.
- General Guest Questions – We did have a set of questions we could ask any guest and would use those as well.
- Concluding Standard Questions – For our podcast we stole a set of questions from Inside the Actors Studio and asked all our quests those questions.
- Guest Plug Time – “Is there anything you want to tell the audience we haven’t covered? Where can they find out more about you?”
- Listener Questions – When we had them we’d answer them at the end of the episode.
- Standard Ending Line.
Aaron has a different middle structure for his show and it is in the handout available with this article.
Speaking of the handout. There are some worksheets in there to help you figure out what each of the parts of your episode structure for your podcast should be. Download it and think your way through the worksheet. Let us know if you have any questions.