Unlike many forms of social media or written content, podcasts can enchant your audience by telling captivating stories and is a much more direct form of communication.
You see, you can interact with this medium while doing other chores like folding laundry or driving to work, and this makes it so that you can focus on what you want and when you want without having anyone intrude upon your thoughts.
Podcasts are similar to traditional radio broadcasts in that you are creating audio that is delivered to your listener.
The significant difference is that instead of broadcasting to a broad audience via radio wave, you’re reaching a specific audience of interested listeners. You can do this by recording a radio interview or taking listeners’ calls.
A good podcast is no different than television or radio programming. If you flip on your radio or TV, the first thing you will notice is the host of the show has a script.
The script drives the show and keeps it moving every step of the way. There is also an introduction, content, and an outro.
The newscaster also has a script to read during the weather, sports, and other parts of the show. It can be a good practice example to follow when writing a podcast script.
While blogs have taken the internet by storm – with over 23 million YouTube channels and countless websites – podcasting has stayed true to its roots.
There are only 800k podcasts on Apple Podcasts (compared with 750k blogs and 29 Million for YouTube) which means there’s still plenty of opportunities out there to impress people with your own compelling stories!
What may seem like uncharted territory today will surely be crowded and competitive long before too long if you don’t seize the moment now!
What is Podcast Structure?
Structuring a podcast episode is about as easy as constructing a building that lasts. The individual components must be in the proper order and sound just right to not fall apart during delivery.
Podcast structure is your choice on arranging each aspect of your show or segments and how they fit together.
In some instances, it may also refer to simply having a framework composed of certain elements that have already been set up by someone else who created their own best practices.
How can one keep the listeners engaged in ways that might appeal to new audiences while appealing to loyal fans?
What are some common mistakes made when structuring an episode to avoid losing listeners along the way? How to make it fun and engaging?
15 steps on How to Structure a Podcast:
#1 Plan the podcast in advance
When planning your episodes, don’t just think about the most direct and simple way of getting your point across. Think of what might make you mad if you were the one listening to it.
Take a moment to consider how people are likely to react – because this is what will draw them in and get them hooked!
Creating episode structure takes careful thought and planning, but ultimately it’s worth the effort because you save yourself time in the end.
When it comes to recording your audio, having a detailed plan to follow means that you don’t waste energy trying to figure out how each of your story points relates to one another — sure, you might get there eventually.
Still, you’ll be a lot less prone to mistakes if you implement an efficient structure.
#2 Learn about the elements of a podcast
Podcast episodes consist of three major components: the introduction, the main content, and the conclusion (with intro and outro music acting as bookends).
There is much room for creativity here; however, you can add distinct segments to your main content section and break up parts of your show with segues/voiceovers and sound effects as you wish.
#3 Choose a podcast format
There are several podcast formats to consider, and each has different benefits. Before you choose one form, it’s essential to ask yourself some questions to ensure that you are making a decision that aligns with your long-term goals.
Ask yourself these questions: What’s the theme or genre of my podcast? Do I want there to be distinct segments in my show? How do I prefer to interact with my audience?
Ultimately, this should help you understand what type of episode structure will work for your particular show.
#4 Structure of an interview show
Most podcasts feature guest interviews so that the host doesn’t have to interview them themselves. It offers a brilliant chance to learn from and engage with experts in your field.
Invite guests to your podcast to listen as they share their experience and knowledge of the topic you cover. You can interview guests directly or record over Skype or Zoom, then edit the podcast in Audacity.
For an interview podcast, start with an intro, introduce your guest and yourself, record the entire interview process, summarize it, and finish with an outro!
#5 Structure of a solo show
Recording a podcast alone might be a safe option, but it has its challenges. Sure the no-brainer thing is you don’t need to book guests or co-hosts, but this also means you have double the work – and you’re doing all of it by yourself!
The biggest challenge is that talking to one person makes everything effortless and thought-provoking.
But it becomes a lot harder when there’s no one else to bounce your thoughts off of as some topics can get boring if they are repeated over and over again without any variation.
You start your show with an intro, talk about a few issues with segues in between, summarize it, read out emails or social media comments of your audience, and finish off with an outro.
#6 Structure of a roundtable show
The roundtable podcast can be slightly different from other podcasts because it usually’s longer than a typical episode and generally features three to ten participants.
The number of guests may vary on each episode depending on an expert in the field that week!
As a solo show, start with the intro, introduce your guests, complete your discussion, arrange a Q&A series, summarize the show, and finish with the outro.
#7 Decide the length of your podcast
A rule of thumb for podcast length is to keep your episodes short when starting because they can always be edited down once you’ve laid down the primary content.
It might take three recordings or so before you find the perfect length for your audience. Still, it’s better to have too many than not enough, given that podcasting is most effective when producing regular content.
Hence, you want a show format that allows for consistency and the possibility for easy editing.
When you’re about to start your podcast, try using scheduling software to help you organize your show!
For example, if you are releasing a weekly podcast, your episodes should be around 15-60 minutes long. On the other hand, they should be roughly 60-90 minutes long if you release monthly episodes.
#8 Increase the duration over time
Wikipedia uses the example of The Big Bang Theory. Like the show, they suggest starting with shorter episodes and increasing the duration of your first shows as you build trust with your audience.
It is not a hard and fast rule, though, so definitely test this out in your podcast world. No matter how often you release episodes, it is always recommended to keep your episode length crisp and short to get your necessary message across.
#9 Write down your script
There are many ways to write a script for a podcast. You don’t have to read word-for-word from a piece of paper, and you don’t have to go in with a formal, monotone approach either.
Truthfully, your script doesn’t even have to be written down – it could be as simple as an outline in bullet points that helps you stay on track with what you want to say.
It could also be freestyle depending on how much trust between the hosts and if they know each other well enough.
A script can also give you some valuable insight into how to break up your elements, how much time to spend on each one, and where you could include sponsor/ad reads as well.
#10 Select the theme of an episode
A theme is like a thread weaved through your podcast to provide direction and unity throughout.
On the other hand, topics are like individual pieces of fiber combined with said thread to create something more intricate and powerful.
A good rule of thumb when making podcast episodes is to ask yourself: “What central idea or lesson do I want my listeners to take away from this?
” Having a precise “driving” theme for your podcasts episodes will help you maintain focus throughout the writing process by focusing on what it’s all leading towards.
#11 Use a three-act structure to keep it engaging
A compelling podcast involves a three-act structure. This three-act structure is a proven narrative format found in many popular movies and TV shows, and it’s also one of the most common structures used in business presentations.
The three-act structure is made up of three essential parts:
- Act 1: The setup. In this section of your podcast, you want to tell your audience what they will learn in the podcast. State your main point(s), give some background information, and set the tone for the rest of the podcast.
- Act 2: The body. In mid-act two, you expand on the setup and reveal a few hints about the main point of the podcast.
- Act 3: The resolution. In this act, you tie up all your loose ends and present your key point(s) again in a memorable way.
The basic idea is to create three acts in your story to create dramatic tension. Every story needs a beginning, middle, and end, so the three-act structure of a podcast is just a way to make a podcast flow.
It can get confusing and hard to follow if a podcast doesn’t have a three-act form.
#12 Take care of the pacing issues
Problems with pacing can occur when events start to outpace each other as the story moves forward.
When struggling with this issue, your episode may come off as confusing (too many occasions, too little time to fully register) and disorienting for your audience.
The best way to combat these severe pacing issues is by effectively defining your story’s three-act structure and moving in between different structural markers such as the inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, climax, and denouement.
These various structural origins should help keep your listeners on track while enjoying a smooth narrative flow that will be both pleasant to listen to and rewarding for their attention, all in equal measure!
#13 Promote your other content in-between
As your goal is to reach as many listeners as possible, you’ll want to promote your content and monetize from it as often as you can. During the episode, feel free to mention your other work.
When you promote your other content, you must know where the most contextually relevant references are in your structure.
When advertising, you can either mention your previous episode and make references from it, or you can refer to a few of your earlier shows so that your audience will feel compelled to check them out!
#14 Be Transparent to your Audience
Tell your audience when the next episode is coming out – and don’t forget about announcing what will be covered during that episode!
Maintaining a fair and transparent relationship with your audience will help build mutual credibility, resulting in a long-term association.
#15 Be a good host
A good host has the power to attract a bunch of new listeners every day. Be humble and say things in such a way that relates to your audience.
Bid them adieu by properly giving your audience a thank you note! Thank your contributors and your sponsors at the end.