A podcast without an intro is like a TV show without titles. Regular viewers might know what they’re watching, but someone jumping in for the first time would have no clue.
Your podcast is no different. Sure, your show may have a catchy title, but the title does little to convince a potential listener to stick around after the first 60 seconds. And with over 2 million podcasts out there covering countless niches, your podcast needs an intro that will grab the listener before their attention runs out and they move on.
Podcast Intro Ideas
So, all podcasts need some kind of intro. But how long should a podcast intro be? What should a podcast intro sound like? Should your intro change for each episode? In this article, we’re going to cover all of this, and you’ll come away with some ideas of how you can structure your intro in a way that works for you and your audience.
You don’t have to pick just one of these podcast intro ideas. You may opt for using 2 or 3 of these elements to craft something that provides value, lets the listener know that they’re in the right place, and gives the show some brand identity.
Avoid super long intros though. There’s no ‘correct’ length for a podcast intro – it depends on your show and audience, but keeping it under 30 seconds is a good starting point. Ideally no more than a minute, and for intros on the longer end of that scale, ensure that you’re adding value in the intro as well.
Let’s get into the 6 podcast intro ideas!
1. Show Description
The show description or general description is possibly the most common type of podcast intro. This is simply a brief, enticing description of your show that you can use for every episode. Your description needs to do three things –
- Introduce the show, e.g. “You’re listening to The ___ Show.” You may also want to introduce yourself here.
- Briefly describes what the show is about, e.g. “…where we talk to ___ about ___…”
- Specifies who the show is for and how they’ll benefit from it, e.g. “… so that ___ like you can ___ and ___.”
Your description doesn’t have to follow this formula exactly, but you’ll generally want to cover these three points. It needs to be snappy and it needs to convince your listeners that this is the podcast for them, ideally in under half a minute.
The show description will normally go with music, to help bookend the podcast, set the tone and give it some brand identity. We’ll go more into music later on in the article.
A show description is a great option and is a perfectly suitable intro to most podcasts. Check out the rest of the ideas below, though, as combining a general description with an element that is specific to each episode can be more effective at pulling in the listener.
2. Episode Overview
The episode overview is a short overview of a single episode. This would be recorded individually for each episode of your podcast. Some points that would be covered in an episode description are –
- The focused topic for the episode
- Who your guest for the episode is (if you have guests)
- The main talking points
- The key learnings that the listener will come away with
- The episode number
What’s great about including an episode overview in your intro is that it gets your listener excited for what’s to come. They’ll be more inclined to stick around for the whole thing so that they can benefit from the outlined learnings.
Listen to The NLP Zone for an example of an episode overview.
There are some types of podcasts where this kind of intro might not work as well for, for example a ‘write in’ show or comedy show where things are less scripted. Generally speaking though, adding an overview of the episode is a great option for including in your intro.
3. Music Theme
A musical theme for your podcast is a great way of signposting the start (and end) of your podcast whilst giving it some brand identity. This could be a song that plays before your episode starts, it could be a ‘bed’ underneath your episode description, or it could come in with the start of the episode, and gradually fade out.
Listen to Recruitment Mentors Podcast for an example of how music can be used to open a show.
Some podcasts even invite the listeners to create a new theme and submit them for each episode! Although this approach will only be suitable for a small number of podcasts (see If I Were You on Headgum).
What music should you use for your podcast though? Are you allowed to use copyrighted material? I would advise against using copyrighted songs. And we never use them in the intros that we create for our clients. There are loads of websites that you can source royalty-free music from. Some are free, like Pixabay or Freesound. Others charge a fee for the rights to use a song, like Envato. And there are also services that charge a monthly fee for unlimited use of the music found on the platform, like Epidemic Sound and Soundstripe.
In terms of what song to pick, it should be something that’s on-brand and also sets the tone of the podcast.
Most podcasts can benefit from some musical branding, and whichever kind of intro you go for, music can usually play a part. The music may need editing from episode to episode, to fit to the length of an episode description for example. If you hire a professional editor, though, this will be done for you.
4. Teaser/Cold Open
The teaser opens cold into a clip from later on in the episode that the listener is hearing. During the editing stage, a funny, shocking or super interesting soundbite will be copied and pasted at the beginning as the first thing that the listener hears. The great thing about a teaser intro is that not only is it giving value to the listener immediately, it also whets their appetite for what’s coming up. If it’s an irresistible clip, they’ll want to listen through to hear the context.
Typically, the teaser wouldn’t be used on it’s own. You’ll most likely still want a general show description of the podcast as well, so listeners know that they’re in the right place, and to break up the teaser with the main content. Or, at the very least, a music theme. So, you could put this together as [Teaser] > [Show Description] > [Main Content].
Check out The Angry Designer intro to hear how this sounds.
5. Advert/Call To Action (CTA)
Some podcasters start their podcasts with an advert placement or a call to action (subscribe, leave a review etc.). If you want to ensure that your listener hears from your sponsor or takes that call to action that will help grow your show, placing it right at the start is a surefire way of doing that. Even if your listener drops off after the first 5 minutes, they’ll have still heard the ad. You would then ideally follow this with your musical ident and/or your show description.
However, this is risky business. By directly advertising to the listener before they have taken any value from your podcast whatsoever, you’re risking alienating them before they’ve even given the show a chance. Some services, such as Apple Podcasts, offer potential new listeners a 30-second sample of your podcast. If a potential listener samples your show and all they hear is an advert, is that really going to convince them that this show is right for them?
As with anything, it does depend on your audience. If your show has an extremely dedicated audience and you rely on them more than you do new listeners, you may be able to get away with opening with an ad. Very large podcasts, like Smart Passive Income, are also more likely to get away with it. Alternatively, you could place an ad in the intro, but only after you’ve delivered some value to the listener, in the form of a teaser or episode description.
6. Straight In
With this approach, you’re effectively forgoing any kind of formal intro to your podcast. Rather than describing the show, or any of its contents, you might go straight into a story, or a conversation. A brief, unscripted introduction to the host or show might come a little later on.
This approach only works for a select few podcasts, such as shows with established fan bases that know exactly what to expect (like The GaryVee Audio Experience). An intro-less show is more common with amateur/hobbyist podcasts.
Which is Right for You?
So, which of these podcast intro ideas works for your show? I imagine that while reading through them, you were imagining how they might sound applied to your podcast. Remember though, you don’t have to pick just one of these ideas. As long as your intro is concise and works for your brand and your audience, you can combine two or three of these ideas to create something that provides brand identity and entices the listener.
Perhaps you could go for an episode overview that goes into a general description over some music. Or a teaser, followed by a brief general description and a quick CTA. There are also other elements that you could include that haven’t been covered here, too. Some podcasts need a disclaimer at the top for legal purposes, for example. Others go for something completely unique, like in Smart Passive Income, which includes an amusing fact about the host. Get creative!
Creating Your Intro
Your intro is likely going to be your first impression with the listener. So putting together a high-quality and professional-sounding intro is key. How do you put these elements together, though? If you have some audio skills, you can record your intro yourself, source any music and place the elements in the right order at the front of your show. If this isn’t your area of expertise, you want your intro to sound professional, or you simply don’t have time, you can get your intro made for you.
We, for example, provide an intro creation service where we can write the show description, source the music and even get a professional voice actor to record it. And then put it all together for you. Some podcasters prefer to go down this route if they’re after the most professional result possible for their brand.
Going Out With A Bang?
Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned outros yet! An outro for your podcast is also important for branding, bookending the show and for giving you the opportunity to drop a final call-to-action. For the lowdown on some outro ideas and how to put one together, keep an eye out for the article coming soon.