“You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” I am willing to bet that you’ve heard this saying at least once in your life. Or that, at some point, these infamous words adorned a poster in one of your high school classrooms. But as cliché as this saying may be, don’t dismiss the sentiment just yet! These words couldn’t be truer in terms of your podcast, and the necessity of a great podcast intro.
Statistics show us that an opinion based on a first impression forms within the first seven seconds of any interaction. That’s not long at all! If we put that in the context of your podcast, essentially that means you have less than 10 seconds to grab the listener’s attention and turn them into a loyal fan. And while I have no doubt that your episode content is full of value, it can’t all be communicated within those very limited seven seconds. Your content is ultimately what your audience needs to hear, but they may never get to the substance of your episode without “something” to lead them there. That is why a strong podcast intro is so important. Not only do strong intros create a positive first impression of your podcast, but they also give your podcast an air of professionalism, whilst being enticing and informative. Think of your intro as the bait that gets potential listeners “hooked” on your podcast, all through capitalizing on the power of a great first impression.
But just how do you create this great first impression? What does a catchy intro actually consist of? We’ve thought about this long and hard and have come up with 10 elements we think are key to creating that all-important, amazing podcast intro. Make sure your intro has these elements, and you’ll turn that curious listener into a fully-fledged fan!
1. The Name of Your Podcast
For a podcast intro to be effective, it must first be informative. This means stating the name of your podcast in your intro. Do not take for granted that listeners know the name of your show from seeing it on your eye-catching artwork, or from seeing it on your podcast’s profile page on whichever platform your listeners use. A strong intro should always state the show’s name to help keep your listeners oriented to what they’re listening to.
Remember, some podcast platforms, like Spotify for example, create podcast playlists for their users based on algorithms. This means that your show might feature on an automated list, and not one the listener has curated themselves. This should serve as an even greater motivation to state your podcast’s name in your intro so that there’s never any doubt as to which podcast they are listening to.
Related read: How to Find the Right Name for Your Podcast
2. The Name of the Host(s)
Part of the appeal of podcasts is the almost personal relationship that develops between a show’s hosts and its listeners. This is why another very important element of a strong podcast intro is introducing yourself, as well as your co-host or guest host if applicable. Knowing your name allows listeners to really get to know you. You can use your actual name or an alias, that decision is up to you. It’s just important that whatever name you choose to use, you remember to say it!
Related read: The Top 8 Benefits of Having a Podcast Co-Host
3. The Episode Number
Including the episode number in your podcast intro is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps orientate your listeners to where they are in relation to your podcast’s history. This is particularly important if they are listening to your episode as part of the afore-mentioned playlists. Knowing the number of an episode is also important if your listeners want to refer back to something in your show notes. Knowing what episode’s notes they are looking for will make finding those show notes that much easier, and endear you to your listeners even more!
Related reads: The Benefits of Show Notes and How to Use Them Effectively For Your Podcast
4. The Title of the Episode
Just as the episode number helps to orientate your listeners, including your title in your intro can help orientate your listeners to your content. Your title can give clues as to what the episode will be about, or who may be appearing on your episode, and help whet the listener’s appetite for what is to come. A great intro is one that helps build anticipation, and including your title is one of the key elements of an intro that helps to achieve this.
5. Music and Sound Effects
Music and sound effects are great tools to help cement your show’s identity in the minds of your listeners. Music has long been used to set the desired tone and create the desired atmosphere. Why not harness these qualities and leverage them on your podcast? Depending on your show, music could help create that upbeat vibe you want your listeners to experience or could help create intrigue around the mystery your podcast uncovers. Sound effects can help flavor your intro with your personality and lure your listeners into your episode. Music and sound effects are one of the key elements that will identify your podcast as “yours” and can be one of the quickest ways to make that great first impression.
Related read: 10 Podcasts that Use Sound Effects to Stir Emotion + CEO of Soundsnap Weighs In
Pro Tip: If you are under the impression that effective music and sound effects are out of your league and out of your budget, think again! There are a number of royalty-free websites that can provide you with all the music and sound effects your ears desire. You’re bound to find something that suits your needs. Know any local musicians? Many would be happy to collaborate with you to create a jingle or background music for your show. The musician can give you the permission you need to use their music in exchange for some great exposure, or you could buy the music and the rights and help support the arts in your community.
Related read: 26 Resources for Royalty Free Podcast Music and Sound Effects
6. The “Who” of Your Podcast
A great podcast intro focuses on “who” your podcast is for, or in other words, your target audience. One way to do this is to use your tagline in some shape or form in your intro. A great tagline effectively sums up the essence of your podcast, letting listeners know who your show is for, and serves as that extra confirmation that they should keep listening.
And while we’re talking about your target audience, remember, no one knows your audience better than you! Leverage that knowledge to create an intro tailor-made to their needs. Think about what angle is going to grab your listeners’ attention, and what tone and tempo you should use. All of this will help you make an effective, attention-grabbing intro!
Related read: 10 Things You Can Learn From Surveying Your Podcast Audience
7. The “Why” of Your Podcast
So now that your listeners know who the podcast is for (them, obviously!) and you’ve got them on the hook, you need to reel them in with the “why” of your podcast – letting them in on why this is the podcast for them. This means filling your listeners in on the purpose of your podcast. Again, this could be accomplished by incorporating some form of your tagline, which, in itself, should encapsulate the purpose of your podcast in your intro.
Top Tip: If you don’t yet have a tagline for your podcast, now would be a great time to write one! Your tagline is a statement that sums up the purpose of your podcast with a clear message as to who your podcast is for and what it aims to achieve. Not only will it help make your podcast intro effective, but it’s also super handy for marketing purposes.
8. The “How” of Your Podcast
The “how” of your podcast is that element of your intro that gives your listeners some information or clue as to what happens on the show. This could be letting your listeners know you’re picking up where you left off in the last episode or letting them know that you’ve got a great interview lined up. This element in your intro also helps new listeners get a feel for your show, its format, and what it has to offer them.
9. The “What” of Your Podcast
The “what” of your podcast will be different for each episode as it should serve to give insight to the content of that specific episode. How you choose to do this will be up to you and your podcast. You may give a quick summary, or you may give hints or clues as to what’s coming, or perhaps recap what was covered previously. Let your knowledge of your audience help guide your decision to find the perfect fit for your podcast intro.
10. Your Personal Spin
A personal spin is just a fancy way of saying “be unique”. What will make your intro truly great is creating one that reflects the personality of both you, the host, and your podcast as a show? You should aim to hone in on what makes your podcast special, what makes it yours, and consequently, what makes it unique. A strong podcast intro is one that has all the necessary elements but also has tonnes of personality and original flavor, setting it apart from all the rest.
There are two other possible elements that you should include in your podcast intro if they apply to you and your show.
If your show, or a particular episode, has been made possible by a sponsor or sponsors, your intro can be an appropriate place to give them credit. When mentioning sponsors, always ensure that you abide by any stipulations you are contractually required to fulfill in your mentions. Also, be sure to tailor it to your content and weave the sponsor message into your original tone of voice to help with an easy transition for the listeners.
Any disclaimers applicable to your show should also be included in your intro. If, for instance, your show is a play-by-play of each episode of a current series, you should state that the episode will definitely contain spoilers. This gives your listener the chance to skip an episode if they have not yet watched the latest episode.
You should also put in a disclaimer in your intro if your episode contains content not suitable for children or sensitive listeners, or when it covers topics that are mature in nature or that may trigger certain listeners. Not doing so could result in you losing, rather than gaining, listeners.
So there you have it, our list of the elements we believe are key for a strong podcast intro. If your podcast intro is already ticking all the boxes, well done! You’ve taken another great measure to set your podcast up for success. If you find that your podcast intro is missing some of these key elements, or perhaps you simply did not see the need for a podcast intro (until now that is!) why not take a little time this week and create a stellar intro! Include these key elements and you’ll have new listeners hooked on your podcast quicker than you think!