Struggling with how to structure a podcast? Not to worry! We are going to walk you through how to structure a podcast in five clear steps. 🖐
First we are going to talk briefly about why structure is important in podcasting. Then we are going to describe each step you should take to put together the perfect structure for your podcast:
- Relationship to Topic
- Specialized Segment
Note: If you have the capability of inserting chapter markers (on Ausha you do!), feel free to use them to help lay out your structure to your audience.
Ready? Let’s start! 🧑🚀
The Power of Structure
A short media history lesson
Back in the day, when media was limited to television, radio, and print newspaper, there was a lot of structure built into content creation. Shows needed to run for an exact period of time. Articles need to be a very specific length, a very specific word count. 📺
With the internet, all that changed. Streaming videos, whether they are TV shows or YouTube clips, can be just about whatever length their creators want to be. Articles on news websites do not need to worry about how much page space they are taking up.
Podcasts, born with the age of the internet, inherited this characteristic. Episodes are not bound to an exact time limit or really any structural constraints at all. While this has been liberating and overall great for content creators and consumers alike, it can bring one unfortunate consequence– a lack of structure in episodes. ⏰
When you do not any hard and fast time codes to hit, it can be tempting to just turn on mic and see where things take you. The problem with that is your listeners are probably not going to enjoy that. On the flip side, your fans will love when you do have structure! 😍
Examples of How Powerful Structure is
Humans love structure in terms of taking in content. Think about the content that has some of biggest followings in the world: Sports matches, religious ceremonies, etc. They all have structure that repeats itself in every “episode.”
Let’s take a basketball game for example. Fans know that the players first warm up, then the starting line-ups are announced, then there is tip-off, then there are official time outs after a certain amount of time, including halftime. When the game ends, there are handshakes and a media interview or two. 🏀
Fans do not get bored of this structure even if they watch thousands of games throughout their life. In fact, they love it! Many become die-hard fans who will spend their precious time and money to take in this content.
Do not underestimate the power of structure when developing and maintaining a fan base! 🙌
Ok, now that we have hopefully convinced you of why you need structure, let’s jump to exactly how to do it. ⬇️
Step 1: Introduction
The first bit of structure you need to make is your introduction. ☝️
Podcast Name and Host Name
It should almost always include the host’s name, the name of the podcast, a one sentence description of the podcast.
Episode Title or Number
If your podcast is very linear, you should probably also include the episode title and/or number. For example, if you have a podcast series that tells the story of a historical event over six episodes, you probably want to say what part of the story you are at now. In these cases, sometimes it is helpful to even to a quick recap of what part of the story you covered last episode. 🤓
If you have a guest, the intro is a great time to very briefly introduce them– just their name and a quick description.
You should also use intro music, ideally the same intro music each episode. Again, this is about structure and helping your listeners get in the head space to enjoy your show. 💆
Finally, you can consider inserting a quote from later in the interview in your intro. This gets your audience’s brains excited about what is to come and what will lead the episode to that exact quote. Sometimes podcasters will actually put this quote at the very beginning of the episode, before anything else, even the intro music. This is called a “cold open.” ⛄
Use a Script
It is usually a good idea to read off a script for the introduction. It keeps things easy for you and it sounds nice a crisp to your listeners.
Goal: Prime Your Listeners
Overall, do not worry about trying to entertain your audience in the intro. No need to reinvent the introduction wheel each time. Just keep it simple and straightforward. You main priority here is to prime your listeners’ brains for the rest of the show.
You are Pavlov ringing the same bell every time, and your listeners are Pavlov’s dog, responding with lots anticipation and drool (metaphorically speaking… probably). 🐶
Step 2: Relationship to Topic
The next step in how to structure your podcast is establishing what your host’s and/or guests’ relationship is to the topic or topics you are going to cover that episode. 🤝
To explain, let’s use an example: Let’s say your show is about the financial landscape of fossil fuel investments and divestments. This episode is going to be about University X divesting from fossil fuels. 💰
If the format is just you as a solo host, no guests, this part of your structure could look something like you saying “Last week, I was at the grocery store when I got a news alert on my phone that University X divested in fossil fuels. I was super surprised and immediately started to dig for more information right there in the cereal aisle!”
If the format is you hosting one guest, this part of the structure could be something like, “With me today is Fred Frederson who has been working on this issue for a long time. Fred, what did you think when you first heard the news about University X divesting? Where were you? Did you know it was coming?”
You can see how this can be adapted to any podcast format. 👍
It is best not to read off a script for this structure. You should sound organic and welcoming. Of course you will want to be prepared, and even rehearse if needed, but it should sound natural during the recording. 🧑🌾
Goal: Personal Connection
The goal of this part of the structure is to introduce the personal slant of what your topic is going to be. Why do you care? Why are you covering this topic? What little story do you have that brings it to little life? How is your guest related to the issue?
This helps engage the listener. It also helps them place where you and/or your guest are in relation to the topic you are going to discuss. It can be a great place to build rapport with your listeners— a little bit honest or self deprecating humor can go a long way here! 😬
This part of structure also acts a segue from your introduction to your topic. 🛵
Step 3: Topic
This is the meat of the episode. Whatever message or point you want to get across, or whatever questions you want to ask, this is the main place to do it.
It is usually best to have an outline to refer to during this part of the structure, with room for jotting down notes. You want to make sure to cover all the main points, but you want a naturally flowing dialogue or monologue. 📋
Depending on how dense the material is, you may want to include a music interlude or two. 🎶
Step 4: Specialized Segment
Here is our secret sauce tip for how to structure a podcast: Make a specialized segment. A little bite-sized morsel, if you will. It keeps things fresh and yes, helps provide more structure! 💪
Using the example of a podcast about the financing landscape of fossil fuels, this segment could be something like “Off the Grid” where you spend one minute highlighting any fossil fuel power plant that has been slated to be pulled off the grid and what impact it will have.
And here is what makes this segment our secret sauce: It is a great opportunity to get a sponsor! For example, you could pitch an outdoor recreation company to sponsor the aptly named segment. “This is our Off the Grid moment, sponsored by Joe’s Outdoor Gear Shop. Get the gear you love so you can enjoy a weekend off the grid.” 🤠
Sponsors and Puns!
Short, sponsored segments like this are fun for everyone and obviously have ton of potential for fantastically terrible puns. 😂
Step 5: Outro
You have made it to the end! The part of your structure is very similar to your intro, meaning you do not need to spend much time or energy on it. Just get it how you want it and then use it every time. 🔁
Use a Script
We are back in the safe hands of using scripts here. Readers expect you to read from a script to tick off the final boxes so do not worry about sounding scripted here. ✅
Call to Action
A big part of the reason to write and read a script here is because you do not want to accidentally skip any of the call to action. The call to action is when you ask your audience to take action or two.
Lots of times this is something along the lines of “Follow, rate, and review our show wherever you listen to podcasts.” If you want to funnel people to the video version of your podcast, be sure to point them to where they can find it. 👈
A good host will also give the guest an opportunity to make their own little call to action during the outro. Usually it is to follow the guest on their social media, check out their own podcast, etc. 📲
Thank the Guest
This is a small, but mighty thing to do. Always thank your guests in your outro. If you heavily relied on a reference source in creating the episode, thank that source too. Not only is it polite and thoughtful, but you are giving your audience a sense of gratitude and community as well. 😌
Podcast Name and Host Name
Signing of with your podcast name and host name might sound a little old-timey, but there is a reason the method has lasted for so long. The sign-off helps people remember you show. It gives them familiar, reassuring repetition. It even provides a nice sense of closure and maybe even instant nostalgia. 🥰
Outro music is a little more flexible than intro music. You are not necessarily trying to prime your audience for anything so you can chose a different song or sound for different episodes, if you want. 🎷
Don’t let the outro music play too long or listeners who would stick around for the next episode might click away. Also, make sure it fades out nicely and does not cut off awkwardly.
Summary: How to Structure a Podcast
No matter what format, no matter what topic, no matter what frequency you publish episodes, this step-by-step guide is going to be a great resource for you as you figure out how to structure your podcast.
Feel Free to Individualize
Of course, you do not need to stick exactly to it. Build your episodes how you see fit. 👩🎤
Test out a certain structure, make a tweak, and see what works best. 🏗️
Ask your audience if they have any feedback on your structure. 📣
Get inspiration from other podcasts’ and their structures. 🤔
Structure Will Make Things Easier
Whatever you do, just make sure you do give your episode some kind of structure. It makes producing and recording easier for you. It makes listening and enjoying easier for your audience. 🧘
Making yourself structure your episode might seem hard at first, but it will actually save you time and energy down the road. Before you know it, you will always be thinking about your podcast in terms which structure segments to stick what information in.
This will also make it easier for your guests to prepare for your show. They can listen to past episodes and know exactly what structure to expect. It is always really fun when a guest says something like “oh I have been looking forward to this” showing your listeners that they are fans themselves! 😁
As always, if there is ever anything we can help you with, be sure to reach out at hello[email protected]! 💜
Launch your podcast with Ausha
All-in-one platform to easily launch and grow your podcast.Start for Free