The intro of your show is incredibly important for setting the style and the tone of your program. But trends are changing. Are you keeping up?
Typically, consistency is important when producing a podcast. And when someone — subscriber, casual listener, or first-timer — hears your work, it needs to grab them right away. But what they are listening to can’t be a mystery, so you need to “intro” each episode.
This week, I’m exploring elements of podcasting where I’ve had a change of approach. The ability to change your mind and your implementation is quite important in the fast-moving medium of podcasting.
Back in the early days of podcasting, we were all doing we were taking from the world around us — TV and radio. That led to many early podcasters going with the “canned intro” approach. We’d write some compelling (?) copy and then have a professional (?) voiceover actor narrate that for us. We’d produced it and then drop it in at the front of each episode. Some were short. Most were terribly long.
Others took a different approach, choosing to do a “fresh” intro. Often times this wasn’t much more than “My name is Bob. You’re listening to my podcast. My guest today is…” And that style is still around today.
Which is better? Well, my opinion has recently shifted. Back in 2016 when I jumped back into podcasting, but this time as a consultant with clients looking for me for advice on what to do, my advice was old-school: Write an intro and can that intro so that you’ve a consistent experience that meets your listener’s expectations.
But lately I’ve been changing my tune, and now I’m recommending my new clients take a “fresh” approach. My reasons for making this shift are twofold:
- If you listen to a lot of podcasts you’ll hear the trend is definitely moving towards shorter intros. Getting people to the “meat” of content quicker is a smart move.
- Many new podcasts are eschewing professional voiceover talent in favor of the natural voice of the host or hosts of the program.
So because of that clear trend, I have been recommending my new clients record a “fresh” intro for each episode.
But there’s a challenge with that.
Several episodes ago I talked about the similarities between a hoagie sandwich and a podcast. Specifically, I called out that the way people eat a hoagie is very different than the way that a hoagie was made. And it’s the same thing for a podcast. The way people consume a podcast is linear. But the best podcasts aren’t made linearly.
But back to the challenge. When doing a live fresh intro… it kind of encourages the bad behavior of narrating the fresh intro and then introducing your guests in the same take. And since you’re already narrating those two things, you might as well kick out the interview with the guest in the same session, right?
Wrong. That’s lazy. Yeah, it’s faster, but it’s not better in many many cases in many cases. It’s still better for you to compartmentalize and focus on each segment of your show, even if those segments are largely invisible to the audience.
The problem is this: it’s the podcaster’s voice on all three segments. And all three have all been recorded discreetly and at different times.
The “canned” intro is your voice six months ago or six years ago. Maybe you had a cold. Or you have a cold now. Maybe you had a totally different microphone. Maybe you recorded that in your grandmother’s closet. That segment has your voice from six months or six years ago.
Then the listener hears your “today” voice as you open the episode with whatever info you want to give them before you get into the meat of the program. It’s very difficult to get the sound of this version of your voice to match how you sounded six months or six years ago when you recorded the canned intro.
And after that, there’s yet another totally different version of your voice as you interview your guest (assuming you have guests). And actually, this version of your voice should sound different, because you’re talking to your guest and not the listener of your program.
So now you have three versions of your voice. That’s just weird and can be a bit off-putting to your listeners.
The new way of doing things is to get rid of canned intros all together and do them fresh — as fresh as you can on each individual episode. This means there are at most only two versions of your voice on the episode (again, if you’re interviewing a guest). And that’s very OK.
Go fresh with your intro and make it roll in nicely into your opening segment. Make it short and sweet, giving out just the information that a new listener needs to know what they are in for. You don’t have to sell your entire podcast archive at this point. Your goal is to get them to keep listening past the intro and setup.
That’s the growing trend, and that’s what I’m doing now with all of my clients. I think you should do that too.
And if you need some help with your podcast; consider my firm? We launch podcasts for businesses all around the globe and keep them running. Go to https://PodcastLaunch.pro to see all the services we currently offer our clients. And if you have questions or something special, email me at email@example.com.
This article is a human-readable text-version of the 165th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast about podcasting (a “PAP”, as they are known), but is focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen.
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.