I hear from a lot of folks who want to get a professional intro/outro produced for their podcast or videocast. Sometimes they have their own script already prepared, but other times they struggle to figure out what to include. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my top 5 tips for scripting a great podcast intro.*
*What makes me qualified for this? Well, I have personally been a podcaster since 2009, having been a host or producer of five separate shows, each with its own unique flavor. As a voice actor, I have written and voiced many dozens of intros for other podcasts. And, I have trained in script development & copy writing. Plus, I have an opinion – and this is the internet, after all!
Keep it short & sweet.
This is by far the most important thing. You want your podcast intro to get the listener excited and set the tone for the host, but if it’s way too long it will just get tiresome. Aim for 10 – 15 seconds for the intro. Just a few seconds of music, the name of the show, an interesting or funny tagline or description of the show, and the name of the host, followed by a fade-down of the music usually suffices. The outro can be longer, 30 seconds or less, with a call to action.
Choose music wisely.
Music can really help set the tone for your show. Although a variety of types of music can work, you have to make sure your music is a match for your show in a number of ways that are seldom considered.
Is the music overwhelming the voiceover on your podcast intro and making it hard to understand?
Is the music interesting enough to hear over and over again every time a listener plays your show, but not annoying?
Does the tone of the music “fit” with the tone of your show? (Example: I love Revolution Health Radio with Chris Kresser, but I really think he could use an update to his theme music. I think it’s supposed to connote… mystery-solving? Sleuthiness? But it just doesn’t do it for me.)
Is your music unique enough to differentiate your podcast from others? (This is important… case in point: I always used to laugh because several years ago, I subscribed to two very different podcasts – the Cato Institute Podcast and Sex Is Fun Podcast – that both used the same stock music as their theme song!)
Is your music royalty-free or at least “podsafe?” (If you need help choosing podsafe music, check out my guide here!)
Include personality & branding early.
Everyone has a short attention span these days. Your podcast intro is the audio equivalent of a first impression – and just like an in-person first impression, you only have a few seconds to convince a listener who is tuning in to your show for the first time of why they should stay tuned in. So, show a little bit of personality! Connect with the listener. If the listener hears something pithy and clever, something that makes them laugh, or something that inspires them to think, “yeah, this show will solve a problem for me or give me something I want” then they will continue to listen. Then, you’ve got a chance to establish a relationship with them, and convert them into a loyal fan – or maybe even a customer. But it’s up to you to provide that initial hook as early as possible!
Limit calls to action, and put them at the end.
People will pretty much only remember to take action on the very last thing they hear at the end of your podcast, if they do at all. And if they hear it over and over again, it will be tuned out.
If you have several things you’d ideally like your listener to do – for example, email you their questions and comments, subscribe to your podcast feed, visit your website, sign up for your email list, follow you on social media, tune in next week, etc… – consider instead picking one of these things each week and ending your podcast content with that request in your own words. If it’s worded in a fresh way each time and coming straight from the host, instead of a podcast outro from an announcer figure that repeats every week by asking the listener to subscribe, rate, review, donate, follow, and share… well, it’s likely to get more traction.
You can rotate your calls to action and focus on one each week at the end of your show for maximum impact.
Keep it fresh. Consider alternate intro/outros.
There’s a strange phenomenon wherein the more times someone hears a piece of audio… the less likely they are to actually listen. Think about commercials that you’ve heard over and over, and could recite from memory, but yet you’ve never actually visited that website or bought that product! Same goes for podcast intro/outros/bumpers. They can be a great way to establish your brand and personality, but they can also easily get stale and boring, especially if your podcast is long-running and has a lot of episodes.
To keep your listeners engaged, consider making a slate of intro/outro/bumpers for your podcast, and then rotating them – or, just updating them every so often. Pat Flynn does a new (usually funny) intro on his Smart Passive Income podcast each episode, which is a great way to keep listener engagement and also showcases his personality and helps him connect with the audience. Sovryn Tech is an example of a podcast that overhauls its podcast bumpers every 25 episodes, yet they are all tied together as part of an ongoing spy-themed audio drama that runs concurrently with the podcast. As you can see, there are many creative ways to keep things interesting with your podcast intros, but still stay consistent with your message and brand.
I hope this post has been helpful in developing your podcast intro script. If you’d like to talk with me about voicing it, please get in touch!