Podcast Format & Episode Structure : Best Options !
Well , now that you decided to start a podcast , selected a topic , found a nice name for it and planned your season, its time to get a bit more technical. Podcast format and episode structure is nothing but how you organize the content of your shows.
You can have the same format for the entire season, or you can change a bit depending upon what’s the show about. There are some parts of the show however, should remain the same for giving some kind of consistency to the listener.
Here are some popular podcast formats
- Interview Podcast format
- Solo or monologue format
- Educational podcast format
- Conversational format
- Panel discussion podcast format
- Storytelling format
- News and reviews podcast format
A typical podcast episode structure will consist of
- A beginning section : The beginning of a podcast will generally be some intro music , introduction to your podcast and what you are going to cover in that particular show.
- Middle Section : The main crux of the show
- End section : The end suction is generally a summery of the today’s podcast and some little bits about what to expect next time to build some suspense for the audience.
Why Podcast format and episode structure is needed ?
The first thing to keep in mind here is that there are no rules. This is the best part about podcasting , what should be the format and structure of your podcast is decided by you and only you. Well, this has advantages and disadvantages as well. Since there are no rules , the number of options in which you can structure your podcast can be overwhelming.
Before you break the rules , you must make some rules! Podcast format gives a foundation to your show and we strongly suggest having one.
Please remember that podcast format and episode structure a re two different things but go hand in hand. Podcast format is overall structure of your show while episode structure is more detailed outline of your episode on a timeline.
People in the radio business actually use the equivalence of a wheel or a clock to determine when to do things, what to play when, and so on. At the top of the hour (wheel), they play a cheerful new hit, then they play another song, and then at quarter past the hour they go to a commercial break.
After the commercial break, they play another great hit, followed by an old favorite, and so on. The entire day is structured by this wheel, with different songs, advertisements, and promotions being worked in at the appropriate times.
After listening three or four times to your podcast , people expect certain things at certain time. We may like it or not , people like structure and they come back to your show expecting something and structure is one of them!
Podcast format or structure also gives you guidelines to pace your show and give sufficient time for the important thing. People want to get to the interesting part quickly. If you have a defined structure that you follow, they know when to expect that.
In summery following are some of the reason you should have a podcast format and episode structure :
- It gives a foundation to your show
- It gives some clarity and flow to your podcast episode
- You can allot right amount of time for the main part of your show
- Audience gets familiar and expects you to stick to that format
Most popular Podcast Formats :
There are many popular podcast formats. There are not episode formats but an overall podcast format. Here is the list of 7 formats that you can select from to start with. You can always create your own version of it but its s a good starting point.
Interview Podcast Format:
An interview style podcast generally has a host and a guest who is being interviewed. The guest brings in his/her experience or expertise on a topic of discussion.
After an initial round of introduction and some information about the guest to the audience , the conversation on the topic begins. Host will lead or guide the conversation by asking questions about the topic. Many times, the audience has already mailed some questions on the topic that they want answer for , host acts as a middleman to get that information to them through this interview.
In some cases, the interview can be not on a topic but to get to know the guest better from audience point of view or more personal in nature than professional.
One particular podcast season can have guests related to a particular theme , this helps the audience to select and download what they want.
This is a very popular podcast format but at the same time involves a lot of work. Needs a good setup with multiple mics and recording equipment , needs to arrange the guests and match their timings , preparation for interview is also a key.
Generally, these types of podcast run once a week for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Solo or Monologue Podcasts
This is by far the most common type of podcast format and also very easy for beginners. Nothing much is required in terms of equipment , you just need a mic and free recording software and you are good to go.
You need some knowledge on a topic or some kind of expertise or skill which people are interested in. You can decide everything and just start recording.
You can decide when to record , what to record and when to air an episode. This is why this podcast format is the most popular , it gives you complete freedom.
Since there is no conversation however , it can get a bit boring for audience and hence it is essential for the host to strike a conversation with audience itself.
The show’s success or failure depends on you and you only which is a positive and negative as well.
Educational Podcast Format
This can either one of the above two formats. It can be a mono podcast if you are the expert and you are giving some kind of education to people interested in this topic.
In some cases, you can call guests and do the session together in a question answer format or a discussion format. The idea here is education and not entertainment and show must be focussed on that topic.
Conversational/Co-Hosted Podcast Format
This is another common podcast format. It involves two people known as co-hosts having a conversation on a topic , they generally have a good chemistry and run the show in a cheerful manner.
Unlike interview podcast format, both of them are hosts and take specific roles to run the show. Both have their responsibility during the show and sometimes time as well.
In many cases, each host will play a specific role in the conversation. One might report the news roundup while the other provides explanation or brings a comic sense. One might tell stories while another draws inference from them etc.
This type of show needs a bit more equipment and investment but is a little easier to conduct. One person does not have to talk continuously, and the overall show is more conversational and easier on ears. It can also bring out different perspectives on the same topic which help listers.
The Panel Podcast Format
A panel podcast format is similar to an interview podcast, but with more people involved in the show. Each episode has a single host and many guests.
It is more of a discussion rather than just question and answer. The host will generally throw to question to the group, and everyone will bring in their perspective.
Such types of shows are very expensive and difficult to record in terms of technicality. These will also require a lot of equipment and post production work.
There is always a chance of show not remaining focussed and going in all possible directions. The host plays a key role in keeping things on track.
Storytelling Podcast Format
This can be further subdivided into nonfiction and fiction storytelling.
In case of a nonfiction storytelling you can cover personal life stories , travel stories , crime stories or any other real-life true stories or even historical events.
This will need a lot of research and knowledge about the subject but can really intrigue the audience and keep them engaged.
In case of fiction type storytelling also known as podcast theatre, fiction stories are told across multiple episodes. Large product budget podcast in this are can also have multiple people , sound effects , music etc.
In some cases, it can be a solo or monologue type of podcast as well.
News and Review Podcast Format
This is also a popular podcast format. It involves a single or multiple host taking a roundup of news on a particular topic or location. Tech reviews , movie reviews , sports roundup etc.
Content is not a problem and such podcasts can run multiple times a week as well. Since a new movie is coming out every week , a new game is being played every weekend , a new product getting launched every day there is a lot to cover.
The only downside is the life of the show is very limited and the content will get dated very soon. People are not going to listen to old news by downloading your podcast and hence active userbase is the key here.
Now that we know about podcast formats let’s take a closer look at episode structure.
A Typical episode structure
The podcast is not something that runs continuously throughout the day. It has a definite time duration, 15 to 60 minutes in general. It is better to have a beginning section , a middle section and an ending section for your podcast.
As you are developing the format for your show, keep in mind that your show is a podcast, not a radio broadcast. People who depend too heavily on radio as a model for their podcast find themselves breaking up podcast segments with music and then reintroducing their guest or topic, as is always done in radio.
They do this in radio because radio is live, so listeners don’t necessarily hear every moment of the program. Podcast listeners are there from the beginning of the program to the end, so reintroducing guests or topics is not necessary.
The beginning section of podcast:
The beginning of a podcast will generally be some intro music , introduction to your podcast and what you are going to cover in that particular show. Depending upon the type of your podcast the beginning section can also have some news round up , round up of emails from audience etc. select what best suits you.
The beginning section should generally not be more than 20% of your total podcast length. Too long an entry section can bore the audience as they are eager to get to the meat of the show. In many cases podcast listening tools provide ways for people to skip a definite time at the start of the podcast and go to the main part directly.
Unless and until your beginning section is interesting and useful to the audience, people will skip it and go to the middle section which is supposed to be the main part of the show.
There will be many who have downloaded your podcast for the first time and this section of the podcast will create the first impression for them to decide whether to continue or not.
The middle section of podcast
This is the main section of the podcast , after a short introduction of what you are going to cover in the podcast the main section must live up to its expectations.
This is the part of the podcast that audience is really interested in. Depending upon the format of your show it can be the actual movie review , all the main news in detail , the interview of your guest etc.
Middle section should just be you speaking with the audience and establishing a connect , once should avoid any music or commercials in this part of the show as it may not be liked by the audience.
Make sure that you have enough material with you to do justice to this part of the show. The success of the podcast depends upon how well you carry out this part of the show.
The end Section of the Podcast :
The end suction is generally a summery of the todays podcast and some little bits about what to expect next time to build some suspense for the audience.
You can also do some marketing stuff in this part of the show , share your website address or ask people to visit your affiliate targets etc.
Outro music is also very popular at the end of the show.
Having a podcast format is critical and you should have one to lay the foundation of your show. There are two aspects to it, choosing the format for your show and selecting the right structure for your episodes.
Overall podcast formats include interview , solo , educational , news and review , storytelling , conversational , panel show etc. You can select which is right for you based on your requirement.
Episode structure is more personal and can create a base for all your episodes. Episode structure is something your audience will get used to and like you to maintain.
Podcast format and episode structure both go hand in hand and can be a influencing factor in the overall success of your show.
Welcome to your podcasting journey with quickstartpodcast team.
Below paragraphs have links to all our posts in a logical manner starting from being a podcast listener to being a podcast creator.
The podcast Listener phase :
The podcasting journey generally begins with various questions such as what is a podcast , what a podcast is used for ? how to listen to a podcast , what are the best android and iOS apps to listen to podcast .
Depending upon the things that you like you will search for fiction podcasts , educational podcasts etc. Most of the people restrict their journey in podcasting to this level. They just end up being listeners to podcasts. Some of then take the next leap of faith and decide to start their own podcast.
Podcast creator Phase :
How to start your podcast ? is the main question they are faced with . Once that you have decided to start a podcast , what should be the name of the podcast , what should be the podcast format , which podcasting niche should you chose , what should be episode titles , what are popular podcast formats and what should be mine and so on ..
What is the right equipment for creating a podcast , what are the best XLR , USB , Condenser and dynamic microphones available. Can I record my podcast in an iPHONE , What should be the polar pattern , should I use an audio interface or a mixer , do I need a POP filter . There are so many question . How much podcasting will cost me , what are different setups based on my budget.
Once you in the journey of podcasting you will need to decide how should be a great podcast intro , how to record the podcast , how to record podcast online , how to test the mic , what should be length and frequency of my podcast , how to make great sounding podcasts and finally how to make money from podcasting ? ..
Whats is a podcast host and do I need one ?? , Uploading podcasts to google podcast and Apple podcasts are also crucial steps.
The journey starts from being a podcast listener going all the way to being a great podcast creator and quickstartpodcast is there with you in all this journey.