The opening script for your podcast episodes can make a big difference. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. With your podcast, some people may get their first impression when they listen to episode number one; for others, their first might be episode #301. But all of them will start at the beginning of the first episode that they listen to, so it’s crucial to hook the audience in the first minute of every single podcast episode.
One of the most common mistakes we hear new podcasters make is to chit-chat at the top instead of diving right into the meat of the episode. This causes listeners to tune out. You can avoid this issue by making sure you include these elements in the first 60 seconds of every podcast episode:
1. Tell the audience what the podcast series is about.
Don’t assume that people already know what your show, as a whole, is about. Even if they do, it’s beneficial to remind them. Ideally, you can condense the essence of the show into a short tagline:
- “This is the podcast about Detroit concerts, comedy, food, drink, museums, festivals, and more.”
- “The show for foodies who love travel and travelers who love food.”
- “Hear my backstage conversations from at the Detroit Jazz Festival.”
2. Introduce the podcast hosts and guests.
Use the opening script of your podcast episodes to tell the audience whose voices they are hearing. If you have co-hosts, introduce them and allow them to say hello so listeners can identify their voices. If you have a guest coming on, tease their appearance.
3. Tell the audience what the podcast episode is about.
Note that you want to tell audience what your podcast series as a whole is about, but also what this particular episode is about. Explain to them why they should spend their time with you.
Optional elements for your podcast opening script:
There are other elements that some podcasters include in the first minute of their podcasts. Decide if any of these are right for you:
- Produced Intro: Many podcasts include a produced introduction at the start of each episode, much like the opening credits and theme song at the beginning of a TV show. Your produced into can be just a short snippet of music or they can use a voiceover talent. Keep these intros short — no more than 10 seconds.
- Episode Numbers: If you think that you will want to direct the audience back to previous episodes (eg, “we talked about this topic back in episode number 17 if you want to learn more”), episode numbers are useful.
- The Date: If your content is very timely, it may be important for the audience to know when you are releasing the episode. For example, many episodes of The D Brief podcast cover Detroit arts and entertainment events that are coming up in the next week; we include the date at the beginning of these episodes.
- Teaser Quote: Many podcasts, especially those in the storytelling journalism style of public radio shows, begin episodes with a “pull quote” or teaser — an interesting snippet from something that will happen later in the podcast. The goal of this element is to suck listeners in.
- Sponsorship Read: If you have a sponsor for the podcast, you may do a “pre-roll” read, or an ad before the episode begins. However, to make the show as welcoming as possible for new listeners, I recommend finding a way to include the first advertisement after the elements mentioned above.
New listeners will size up your show very quickly, and if you don’t tell them what your show is about and why they should listen, they will move on to something else. By including these elements in the first minute of your podcast, you improve the chances of growing your audience.
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