If your podcast is going to compete with the near limitless media options out there, it needs a podcast script template that hits all the right notes. After all, if your audience isn’t following it only takes one tap to switch off your podcast. Another few taps and they’re unsubscribed. Looking for how to write a podcast script, or how to create a podcast outline? Read on.
Now that person has begun to establish a “I don’t want to hear more” attitude towards your brand. Avoiding that worst case scenario is in large part about finding a balance between the familiar and the exciting.
Shows that are strictly formulaic can keep things interesting (think of procedurals like Law and Order) but doing the reverse is far more difficult. Think of a podcast, TV show, or other piece of media that abandons any structure to rely purely every episode carrying itself on entertainment alone. If nothing comes to mind, there’s a good reason for that.
Put simply, your own podcast needs the right structure to succeed.
The good news is that the right script template for you is out there, you just need to find it.
Planning Your Podcast Script Template and Structure
Whether you’ve been an obsessive podcast listener for 15+ years like myself or have barely heard of them, you probably haven’t given their structure much thought. So, let’s start with a rundown of the basics before seeing how various masters (podcast examples and podcast script formats) of the craft riff on those basics.
1. Music Intro
Nearly every podcast starts with music for a reason. It establishes a tone, a feeling, and a sense of place. When I scroll through the dozens of podcasts I subscribe to, only a few don’t begin with music (for example, NPR’s Fresh Air which can begin with it’s iconic host’s voice alone because it’s had decades to establish itself). Intro music doesn’t need to be fancy or long (a few seconds is usually all you need) but it does need to capture something about your brand and tone. Fortunately, YouTube has a great library of free songs you can use.
2. Host introduces show, guest, and topics
Most good presentations are built around three steps: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. As dull as that may sound, it’s a formula you’ll begin to see everywhere once you look for it. Listeners want to know what they’re in for, not be forced to wait around and find out (unless they’re already heavily invested). So step 2 is generally about setting expectations so listeners know whether to keep listening.
3. Topics are discussed
This may sound like the most obvious part, but it helps to come in with some pre-planning. We recommend coming into a discussion with 5 talking points. These work as a starting point, depending on where the talk goes (and how comfortable you are), it may be helpful to make adjustments along the way. The key is to figure out what works for you.
4. Special Segment
Remember when I mentioned a balance between formula and excitement? Special segments are a great way to nail that balance. You can tease “something special” back in step 2 and put it in here at step 4. This is your chance to go the extra mile, show your audience that you want to give them more. The timing could hardly be better because that good will pays off with step 5.
5. Parting thoughts and CTA
Now that you’ve established a tone, let the audience know what's coming, given them some valuable content, and thrown in something special, you’ve created one of the most valuable things in business: good will. Your closing remarks and CTA are where you decide what you’d like to do with that good will. Maybe you ask them to subscribe, check out a new product, or maybe you just want to keep building that good will for a big product launch.
5 Script Template Intros to Emulate
The areas where you’re going to get the most “bang for your buck” will always be the beginning and end. You need to convince a listener to keep listening, then finish by convincing them to take action. Here’s how 5 of our favorite podcasts and shows nail their intros, and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to these podcast script examples.
1. Impact Theory
Teaser: “When people first encounter the science that we have and also the idea of messing with these intuitions it can be uncomfortable and some people don’t like going down this path, like to make a little disclaimer or to say that I think people can feel very out of control and there’s something jarring about learning that the things that feel most true to you about reality are possibly not structured that way…”
“Hey everyone, welcome to Impact Theory. Today’s guest is a New York Times bestselling author who is challenging some of our most fundamental notions of what it means to be a conscious being. She is an editor and consultant for many esteemed science writers and specializes in making the notoriously difficult to comprehend topics of neuroscience and physics accessible to the masses. Her writing has not only appeared on bookshelves far and wide, but has also been featured by some of the most prestigious outlets in the world, including the New York Times. From best-selling author Adam Grant to theoretical physicist Sean Carroll some of the brightest minds on the planet have publicly championed her work, her ideas, and her uncanny ability to explain hard things well…”
Impact Theory starts with a logo and a bit of music. This lasts for just two seconds, but that’s enough to establish the show. What follows is a roughly 30-60 second teaser clip taken from the show. Then comes the 10 second show intro, establishing who the host is and what the show is about. Again, it doesn’t take long to do this if it’s done well.
Overall, in the span of about a minute, IT tells you what show you’re watching, shows you a juicy clip to whet your appetite for the topic of that episode, then runs a quick intro to get you emotionally in the right space to start the show. It’s a very focused and effective minute of content. After that, there’s an in-depth explanation of why the guest is interesting and important (quoted above) to make more arguments for why you should commit to watching this hour long interview.
How to Make It Your Own
The main idea here is to start with a great teaser clip. You want to get to that clip ASAP but you can’t just do a cold opening. The trick here is to very quickly establish the show, get to the teaser content, and then set up the main event all in a minute or less.
Choosing the right teaser clip is about knowing your audience (what is going to interest them) and finding a clip that shows them just enough to whet their appetite without giving them enough information that they feel they don’t need to watch any more. This could be something funny, unexpected, or profound.
If you’re also interested in giving your guest an extended introduction to further hook your audience, be aware of how long your overall introduction is relative to the rest of your content.
Fun music into with Marie dancing along with the title of the show
“Hey it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business, and life you love.”
“Today, we are talking with an incredible actress, businesswoman, mother, and wife. Like so many of us, she is multipassionate and she’s here to share a bit about her journey to creating a life she truly loves.”
Clips of the guest with more explanation about her accomplishments
Mairie’s show and podcast vary their intros quite a bit. Sometimes she jumps right in and begins talking about her guest while other times a longer intro will include an ad for her book or an adult language warning. Often, there will also be a short sentence introducing the mission behind her show as well. Again, this format benefits established shows with listeners who are willing to wait for the main content.
How to Make It Your Own
One benefit of Marie’s approach is that it’s easily customizable. Each component mentioned above can be added or removed as necessary. Having a few opening portions that you use regularly can mix up your intros and allow you to experiment freely. Sometimes you can promote a product, other times you can try a teaser reel. The benefit here is not locking yourself into one approach.
3. Hot Ones
Clip of the guest wiping their nose, “I’ve gotta approach this like Buddha would”
Quick logo with calm music and a one second ad
“Hey what’s going on everybody, for First We Feast I’m Sean Evans and you’re watching Hot Ones, it’s the show with hot questions and even hotter wings, and today we’re joined by…”
As the host explains the guest’s accomplishments, a slideshow gives visual clues to what they’ve done.
Hot ones takes a rule established above by IT and breaks it, jumping straight into a cold clip from the show before a few seconds of a logo followed by an intro by the host. The difference here is that the celebrities being interviewed speak for themselves. Most people watching are either already fans of the show or are there to see the specific guest. In either case, jumping straight into an engaging clip from the interview works to convince them to keep watching.
How to Make It Your Own
If your content or guests fall into the “my next guest needs no introduction” category in your industry, this strategy can work for you. It establishes a fast, and dynamic atmosphere by wasting little time with a punchy and catchy intro (I’ve seen lots of fans quote the intro word-for-word, showing how effective it is). The visuals show that showing a logo or picture for a second or two can be all you need to get information across.
Lastly, the intro creates contrast. The host is calm despite the truly insane gauntlet he and the guest are about to go though. This works with the show’s technique of slowly building up the intensity and spice level throughout each episode.
4. Masters of Scale
LATE NIGHT RADIO ANNOUNCER VOICE: You’re tuned in to the M-O-S FM Red Eye Radio Hour. The only radio show dedicated to all you hard-working entrepreneurs who routinely burn the midnight oil.
The time is 3:30am and we’ll be here with you until dawn, or until you pass out from nervous exhaustion.
Now it’s time to vote for your number one stress-reducing classic of the week in a segment we call “Now That’s What I Call a Work-Obsessed Entrepreneur.”
Your choices are: “Barely Stayin’ Alive” by the Hairy Disco Dudes, “Nuthin’ But A Work Thang” by No-Dollar-Bill-Gates, “I Haven’t Seen My Kids Since Christmas” by Work Binge Crosby, and of course, “Forgot To Feed my Dog Again Blues” by Johnny Cash-Flow-Crisis.
Tweet us at @MastersOfScale with the title of your favorite song and you just might win a special prize: a signed photo of your own family, so you can remember what they look like.
REID HOFFMAN: If you’re a founder, then no doubt you can relate to those songs. Because constant pressure is the soundtrack to your life. Your long hours and all-consuming focus will play a huge role in making your company successful. But they’ll also change you. And, if you’re not careful, consume you.
It isn’t entrepreneurship itself that’s the dangerous ingredient in this heady cocktail. The real peril lies in believing the myth of the infallible founder. The pervasive tale that you can — and that you must — work inhumanly long hours. Put yourself under enormous stress. Forego sleep, meals, relationships and life’s other pleasures. And that doing so is a fundamental part of the founder’s journey. Taking too many gulps of this particularly popular flavor of Kool-Aid is a path paved with peril.
I believe that to survive your entrepreneurial journey, you have to learn how to recharge yourself. Call it “balance”, call it “wellness”, call it “Yin Yang”. Your business and your life depends on it.
HOFFMAN: This is Masters of Scale. I’m Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, investor at Greylock, and your host. And I believe that to survive your entrepreneurial journey, you have to learn how to recharge yourself. Call it “balance”, call it “wellness”, call it “Yin Yang”. Your business and your life depends on it.
Entrepreneurship is grueling. So grueling that I have a speech I give to every startup I’ve ever invested in at that inevitable moment when the team is about to give up. I’ll share it later in this episode, in case you or your team needs it.
The way you respond to the trials will determine your success, but not always in the way you think. Many founders will trick themselves into believing that a relentless pace is right for them.
You’ll tell yourself: “Sure, I’m tired. But I’m still delivering. My performance hasn’t suffered terribly.” You should forgive yourself for these moments of delusion, because you’re an entrepreneur. Optimism is your opiate. Treat yourself to as many hits as you need to survive the journey. But also recognize that every scale entrepreneur has a blind spot — and it’s the belief that the law of diminishing returns applies to everyone but you. And sometimes it takes the calamity of a burnout before you realize you need to re-think.
I wanted to talk to Arianna Huffington about this, for reasons that will soon become clear. Arianna is now two years into her new venture, Thrive Global — a platform to promote wellbeing. Before that, she achieved one of media’s most dramatic scale stories with The Huffington Post. But the success came at a cost.
The single rule of an MoS intro is that you never know what you’re going to get. This is another example of an intro breaking all the rules. They’re generally several minutes long and don’t appear to have anything to do with the topic at hand for many of those minutes. Like with Hot Ones, the key is that the show can get away with this because they have a passionate fan base and top tier guests. Listeners are willing to wait to understand the point of a rambling 3 minute intro before appreciating how brilliant it is in retrospect.
How to Make It Your Own
This is perhaps the most high-risk and high-reward template in this list. It also requires a lot of creativity from your team. If you’re a big brand and/or have top tier guests along with an amazing creative team, this could be one to try. In particular, it relies on making each episode have a kind of narrative arc which is constructed after the interview and turned into an intro.
5. The Tim Ferriss Show
Intro music with exciting quotes from movies, culminating with a robot voice announcing the show
Quick musical transition
Quick musical transition
Well hello boys and girls, ladies and germs, this is Tim Ferris, welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferris show where it is my job to deconstruct world class performers, to teach you about the thought processes, best practices, and so on that you can hopefully copy and paste into your own life in some fashion to test out the toolkits of the people who are the best at what they do. My guest this episode is a return guest, Josh Waitzkin, he was in fact the second ever guest in this podcast. We’ve known each other for a long time. Josh Waitzkin is author of The Art of Learning, he is an 8-time US national chess champion, a two time world champion in Tai Chi Pushhands and the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt…
Ferriss keeps it simple: a 24 second intro that’s engaging and introduces the show with fun movie clips that establish the feel of the program before a few ad reads separated by music. After the ads, another quick second of music leads you into a description of the talk/guest that’s to follow.
How to Make It Your Own
If you’re not running ads, there’s still a lot to like about this straightforward approach. It boils down to an interesting intro clip that doesn’t change with each episode before a verbal intro recorded after the interview to allow you to better tease what’s to come. This is a classic podcast intro style for a reason, it’s simple and effective making it an ideal choice for a lot of shows just getting started.
Start with a hook before the intro
For most shows just getting started, you’ll need to hook your listener ASAP. That’s why it pays to start with a nice hook taken from the middle of the show.
Pick a short jingle
Remember that a jingle in your intro is there to quickly establish a tone. Fortunately, a few seconds of audio or video is all it really takes to do that. Anything more and you risk losing the audience of people who just don’t have the patience.
Recap what your show is about for new-comers
People don’t like to feel lost, it’s as simple as that. Be sure to throw in something to ground listeners who are new or may not have listened for a while. This context is going to make everything that follows more effective and engaging.
Putting Your New Knowledge to Use
If you’re feeling ready to create a podcast for your business, let’s talk. But if you’re like most people and still wondering how to use media and storytelling to drive your business, you should subscribe to hear us share more hard-won insights and ideas.