Your podcast intro is the first thing your listeners will hear. It’s critical to make sure your intro will grab them and make them want to hear more; here’s how to do just that.
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What Exactly is the Podcast Intro?
Your podcast intro is the very first piece of your podcast. It’s the piece that draws the new listener in or reconnects with your regular listeners. Usually, the intro lasts about 30 seconds and, well, it introduces your show. Often it connects with the outro which comes at the end of the show. You’ll learn more about this in just a bit.
Think of the first page of a book or the first segment of a TV show. If it’s boring or bad, why continue? You’ve got other shows to watch and better books to read. Or think about the “hook” your high school English teacher kept stressing every time you wrote a paper. You had to entice the reader to carry on. The same holds true for your podcast. If your intro isn’t catchy enough to grab listeners, they’re going to doubt the rest of your podcast is interesting enough to invest their time in. They’ll move along. Unless, of course…the intro hooks them in.
What are the Elements of a Podcast Intro?
A podcast intro is that piece at the beginning of your podcast. But what elements does it contain? There may be more than you think, but you don’t need to include everything in your intro, just enough to make it captivate your listeners in that 30 second time chunk.
According to Podcast Motor, here are the elements that can make up a podcast intro:
- Name of your podcast
- The episode number
- The episode title
- Cool Music and sound effects
- Host Identity – Let the user know who you are
- Purpose or tagline of the podcast
- Introduce what the show is going to be about or summarize the episode
- Any other important data like the name of your network, the recording date, sponsors, or disclaimers
So let’s take a look at these…
The Name of Your Podcast, Episode Number, and Episode Title
These are pretty self-explanatory. You always want to introduce your podcast with its name. Some podcasters like to include the episode number and/ or title so listeners know where they are in the episodes. Also, for those podcasters that put a lot of thought into the names of their shows, they like to include them in their intro.
Cool Music and Sound Effects
This is a pretty big element in podcast intros. Music and sound effects can define your podcast. Think about the podcast, Serial. Its music was created just for the podcast and has become iconic in the world of podcasts. Podcast music can also be played throughout the show to offer cohesiveness. When coordinating music is in the intro, segment breaks, and the outro, there is a nice flow to the show that comes all together. It also signals the listeners of these times…the outro music signifies it’s time to sum it up, reflect and say your goodbyes just as the podcast intro music lets the listener know that their favorite podcast is gearing up to begin and they can be ready to listen and enjoy. Think of the music like a jingle, a catchy piece you can’t get enough of.
Be careful with music, though. There are a lot of copyright laws surrounding using other people’s music. Your best bet is to create it yourself or have someone you know do that. If not, make sure the music you are using has royalty-free music options. This way you won’t get caught up in any legal issues regarding your music.
As for sound effects, think about what your podcast is about and if a sound effect would enhance the intro, or just be annoying. If it works, it’s a great way to help brand your show. For instance, the podcast, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, uses sound effects very effectively:
They have a fun intro with sci-fi sound effects that overlap a short introduction to the show. On their “From the Vault” episodes, they even throw in an old creaking door sound effect to let you know that it is an oldie, but a goodie!
Host Identity, Purpose, and What the Show Is About
Here is your chance to identify yourself as the host of the podcast. Buzzsprout offers good advice about this part. In one sentence, introduce yourself and list your credentials and why your opinion matters in for the topics you cover. It’s your chance to let listeners know who you are and what you’re about. It’s not the time to give all of your background credentials or why they should listen. Just be short and sweet.
In this part you also should include why they should listen, a call to action, and what your show is about. Often podcasters will include a call to action here. That could be “follow me on Instagram” or “rate our podcast on Apple Podcast” or “listen to my other podcast” or even “tell your friends about us.” A general blurb on the show itself as well as the specific episode is all you need. You know, that teaser. Remember, all of this needs to be clean and simple. It’s just the intro. The meat comes in the main part of your show.
The Don’ts of a Podcast Intro
So the above are the things a good podcast intro would have. What about mistakes that podcasters make with their intros? Take a look at some of these don’ts when it comes to podcast intros so you can avoid them.
This article shares a big don’t. Don’t make your intro too long. Thirty seconds should do it, any longer and your listeners will tune out. Leave the advertising and commercial plugs for later. This intro should be short and sweet, don’t make it long.
Another don’t is don’t play your music too loud. Your intro words should be more important than your music so don’t let the music drown out what you are saying. Also, some people advise against music with lyrics. Others say words are fine in your music as long as you’re not talking during those words. Remember, clean and simple.
Staying Cohesive Throughout the Podcast
You can use your intro to be your guide throughout the podcast. It can bring cohesiveness to the podcast by using the same music throughout. So when you introduce your podcast with specific music, you can bring that same music throughout the show. Use it for segment transitions and in your outro. Music can be a consistent factor that ties your show together, even with the different parts of it.
Some podcasts stick to the same topic throughout each episode, and cohesiveness isn’t an issue throughout the show. Others switch topics or go from an interview to a story to a guest host. When this is the case, music can send a gentle reminder to the listener that it’s all connected. It’s also nice to separate segments or commercial lead-ins with music. Think transition clues. With music or the same sound effects in the outro, the listener can come full circle with the podcast. Some say to play the music a bit quieter or slower in the outro. It sends the signal of closure and a time to reflect.
Not only can the intro tie the parts of each episode together, but it can also tie each episode together. When your listeners know what to expect in your intro, they’ll feel comfort when they hear it. It’ll be like turning on a favorite TV show and hearing the opening music. It sets the mood for each show and also reaffirms that bond between host and listener in every single episode. Consistency is crucial for this.
Voice Overs in Podcast Intros
There is no right or wrong here. Many podcast hosts love to voice their own intros. It adds that connection to the listeners. Others like to have a voice-over actor voice the intro, or at least part of it. And that is also a great idea. Think about talk show hosts – they always have their announcer call their name, and then they come out and greet the audience. So some podcast hosts like to have both their voice and a voice over in the intro. The voice-over may be just a few words of introduction, then the host describes the show.
So you can see you have all kinds of options. It all depends on what effect and what vibe you want your intro to send. If you are looking for a voice-over, there are plenty of ways to find the perfect voice. You could use a friend, a freelancer, or turn to a professional agency like our own Bunny Studio. Just make sure that the voice you choose represents the personality of your show that you are striving for.
Summing up Podcast Intros
To sum it all up, podcast intros are a critical piece of your podcast. They set the stage for the show, bond with the listener, bring new listeners in, and display the personality of your show. That’s a lot of responsibility for just 30 seconds. But when you create the perfect intro, you can use pieces and parts of it more than once. Think about your music; it’s a constant in all of your podcast intros. And your introduction may stay the same, too, while your show description and call to action may change with each show. If you think you want help with this, don’t be afraid to find it. Your main job is hosting this show. If you’d like help finding the perfect music or perfect voice over, get it. Then you can focus on hosting an awesome show. After all, you’ll have a great introduction to start you off.