What Your Listeners Want From Your Podcast Intro
Posted by Zach Magnuson in / December 5, 2016
Does my podcast introduction really matter?
Though it is often overlooked, the introduction may be the most important part of any podcast. For many new listeners, you have less than ten second to make a positive impression. If people don’t like what they hear, they’ll move on and may never give you another chance. That is why it’s vital that you nail your podcast intro.
So what do listeners actually want when it comes to opening of your podcast? How can you get them to get them to listen to the actual ‘meat’ of the show and keep coming back every week?
A Catchy Tune
Music is powerful and can form strong emotional connections in our brains. Take advantage of this bit of human psychology by using theme music for your podcast. Whenever I hear intro music of my favorite podcasts I recognize it immediately and start tapping my foot. I just can’t help myself. That is the kind of response you want.
You could use an entirely original song complete with lyrics like the intro to Ask Science Mike. Or you could use a more subtle approach with music that you talk over. One great example of this second approach is Design Life.
In fact, both of those shows have excellent introductions so take some notes if you’re trying to plan your podcast opening. Adding some kind of soundtrack to your intro will make your show feel more polished and professional to the listener.
What Am I Listening To?
This may sound obvious, but tell your audience what they are about to hear. A lot of people listen to podcasts when they are driving or working out, so it’s not always safe or convenient to check their phone. So start with the name of your podcast.
What listeners really want to know is what show they are listening to and what this particular episode is going to be about. What are they going to get out of the time that they’re investing in your podcast?
You don’t necessarily have to do this as a rigid, straightforward announcement. One great method of introducing the episode topic is to choose a compelling quote from your show and insert it at the very beginning of the episode. This can pique the listeners’ interest and introduce the topic in a more natural way.
Feel free to introduce yourself and any hosts or guests if you can fit it into your opening. But remember that people are innately selfish; we care more about what we’re going to get out of the show than we do about the host’s name. That is what you should focus on in your podcast intro.
Keep Your Podcast Intro Short
Time is our most valuable resource. Be respectful of your audience by keeping your podcast opening engaging and succinct. Let your listeners know what to expect right from the beginning. Then they can decide for themselves if the topic is something that is worth their time.
It’s better to have a listener skip an episode than for them to feel like they wasted 20-60 minutes listening to something that didn’t apply to them. The last thing you want is for people to feel that your podcast wasted their time. Once that happens, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever win those listeners back.
I understand the approach of easing into the show with some small talk, but you need to take care to find a good balance. Too much chit-chat can cause the audience to lose interest while jumping in head first may feel abrupt.
This is a tension that you will always have to contend with as a podcaster. While there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, my opinion is to error on the side of brevity. You should constantly tailor your approach as you get to know your audience better.
To summarize, this is what listeners want to hear in your podcast intro:
- The name of your podcast and what it’s about.
- The topic and goal of this specific episode.
- Music that fits your show and creates an emotional connection.
That’s it. Every podcast and audience is unique. You should constantly improve through iteration in order to serve your listeners best. These four basic points of emphasis provide a solid foundation for your podcast introduction.