How to Structure a Podcast Episode
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
Podcasts are an amazing way for content producers and even companies to connect to a wide audience, but if not structured correctly, it can end up with you having very few listeners that actually find value in what you are saying. A lot of people think they can talk about something for hours, so therefore they should just be able to wing their episodes. However, while you might be able to provide some content mixed into your long rant on whatever topic that might be, having a strategic mindset behind your podcast episode will provide a lot more value to your listeners and to a larger audience.
First off, a solid podcast structure starts with choosing a topic. This may be harder than you think though because there is a science behind choosing a topic that is not too broad and covers too many things, but also not being so specific that you have no content to cover depending on how long your podcast is. So, a good way to go about picking a topic, is evaluating your target demographic/audience and thinking about how you can provide them value through a particular topic. Furthermore, if you choose that topic, what is the intended outcome that you wish for them to walk away with. It is better to strive for thousands of true fans who consistently listen, rather than having millions of subscribers and only a very small fraction of them actually listen. Also, when picking a topic it is important for you to set aside your audience for a second and ask yourself if you could talk about that topic every week for the next three years because it may be something that you love, but will you be able to make the necessary amount of content needed from it. Make sure it is a passion, but that it also makes sense in the long run.
Secondly, after you have your topic narrowed down, the next step is choosing an intriguing title that relays to your audience why they are going to click on and listen to your episode. A good headline will provoke a little bit of emotion, maybe point out a need, and it may even be controversial. The point of the title is to be catchy enough so that people stop and consider listening to your episode and to make them curious and search for more. Then once you have chosen your title, then you get into the intro for your episode. A solid intro should hook people in and give them a sneak peak of what the episode is going to be about and what they are going to get out of it. After your amazing intro, then it is time to transition into your main episode content. However, it can be a rough transition if you say welcome and then go straight into the content. So, you can do a fun icebreaker before you jump into the episode, especially if there is a guest because it helps get the jitters out and helps the audience get to know the hosts. It doesn’t necessarily have to be goofy or funny because it needs to fit the tone of your podcast, but it can be industry news or anything else that pertains to your topic.
Proceeding the transition from your intro your main content! Ideally this segment presents a problem that your target demographic has and then provides them a solution for it. Painting a picture of what their reality is and then sharing an explanation on how to overcome that particular thing is how you are going to provide value. This is why it is important to always tell your listeners what they are going to learn and reassuring them that is the reason they are here and being guided through this. If you can explain their problem in a way that they cant even explain to themselves, you will effectively convince them you can bring them value. It is all about explaining the problem your audience has better than they can explain it! Also having confidence in the subject of your episode builds credibility and establishes you as an authority on the topic. Besides being confident, another way you can help develop more trust, is bringing evidence to the table that supports what you are talking about, which is a result of doing research and being prepared. Plus, it adds more flavor to your podcast when you use outside sources! If you just wing this section of your episode, it is easy to forget things that you wanted to say and you can sound discombobulated because there is no order or plan for your though points. If prepared, you can present to your audience why they should care or act and how they can find meaning in the information you have provided.
A common thing you see in podcasts, is guest appearances, which is a great way to diversify content and to share knowledge and ideas! Therefore, when there are guests, the episode tends to be very conversational, but it is important to have questions prepared for the guest when there are those awkward lulls in the conversation because it helps move the interview along in a productive way. People love hearing guests stories and the feelings/thoughts behind them, but even though a guest is telling their own experience it is still vital to inform your guests about the structure of your podcast, the questions you are going to ask them, and any segments you include. A good way to hear your audiences insight about a guest is to ask them what they want to know from a particular guest. This helps build excitement and gives them a reason to look forward to listening to your podcast.
Furthermore, once you are through your main content, it is essential to remind your audience what you have talked about and why they should care, and then you are ready to transition smoothly into your outro. A good outro consists of thanking the audience for watching/listening, it there is a guest, thank them for taking their time to making an appearance, and most importantly, include a call to action. This can be subscribe, follow us on social media, let them know where they can get valuable tools and resources, or drive them back to your website. This is how you will be able to keep your audience engaged after the podcast is over and it is how you will make a connection with them. Also, if people want to know more about the topic you covered or about you or the guest, it is great to provide them with places where they can find more information.
Overall, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts and more than 29 million podcast episodes, so it is important that you have your podcast structured in a way that is easy for listeners to learn from, to engage with, and one that encourages them to come back and listen to your next one!