You only get one first impression.
A podcast intro is no different from your favorite TV show’s opening theme. It has to explain the context, prepare the audience for what’s to come, and keep them intrigued. And regardless of which podcast hosting software you use, you only get five minutes to capture an audience before they click off to the next option.
While the success of a podcast depends on the force of ideas and skillful execution of content, nailing the introduction can go a long way toward helping your podcast stand out amongst an ever-expanding market of free and easily accessible audio entertainment.
What makes a good podcast intro?
A good podcast intro should support the central idea that drives the content of a show. It reinforces the overarching theme that unifies the disparate episodes of a given series. The podcast intro must set the tone, reflect your personality, and communicate the context of an episode without spoiling it for the audience.
There is no strict way to create an introduction for your podcast. When deciding what makes a good podcast, you want to do what makes the most sense to you. Don’t blindly follow what worked for someone else. Create a structure that is unique to what you want to talk about.
That being said, there are a few fundamental elements that should be kept in mind when deciding the best way to introduce or close your podcast.
How to start a podcast intro
When a new listener stumbles across your podcast, you get one chance to impress them. Unlike your veteran audience members, they have no reason to trust you or the content you produce. So, it would be best if you had them riveted from the outset.
The best way to accomplish this is to convey that your podcast will cover something you know your target audience will care about. A good podcast intro makes a promise to the listeners; it lets them know who’s talking and what they'll be talking about and teases what value they’ll gain from listening to the content of a show.
New listeners will often make their decision based on whether or not this promise aligns with their interests and needs, so it’s crucial that you are upfront about the core idea that’s driving your series as well as that particular episode.
Podcast intro elements
Here are some of the common elements of a successful podcast intro:
- Intro music: Works similarly to a TV show's opening theme. It helps your audience get into the right headspace, and also creates brand awareness which can help in promoting your podcast.
- Podcast name: Followed by a quick one-liner to explain your show or a tagline associated with your podcast.
- Episode number and title: Prepares the listeners about the theme for the episode and guides new users to tune in from the beginning.
- Host's name: Your audience wants to know whom they are listening to. Usually works best with just your name and title.
- Brief episode overview/context: A sneak peek into what the episode contains, perfect for keeping the audience hooked.
- Sponsorship shoutout: Add a few seconds to talk about your podcast sponsors, if any.
Another critical aspect of a good podcast intro is setting the right tone. For instance, the opening must be lighthearted and funny if you host a comedy podcast. If it's a crime podcast, match the same intent and avoid adding weird sound effects or voices to your intro.
Mistakes to avoid when making a podcast intro
As tempting as it might be to elaborate on all the fun details you have in store for your audience, the golden rule of a podcast intro script is to keep it short and sweet. You only need to reveal enough to hook your listeners – anything beyond that point should not be spoiled.
A typical intro runs for about 30 seconds and is usually 75-80 words. However, feel free to deviate from those numbers as you see fit, as long as you clearly and concisely tell your audience what to expect.
Also, avoid pre-recorded intro clips. Your intro's theme and structure should reflect each episode well. It might not stay relevant if you keep using the same pre-recorded clip for every episode. Plus, your regular listeners will soon grow tired of listening to the same thing every time they tune in.
How to produce a podcast intro
Once you have all the intro elements, it's time to put them together. Choose the best podcast hosting software that provides plenty of server storage space to keep your audio files. Some of these tools even have the added functionality of providing insights into your podcast's performance.
You’ll also want to put each audio file into an audio editing software with each item on a separate track. These tools let you cut and trim audio files to your liking, change the pitch and frequency of a track, and even remove extra noise from your recordings.
After that, it’s up to you to start cutting, arranging, and adjusting until you have an intro and outro that sounds exactly how you want it. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t turn out perfectly right away. Learning audio editing takes time, and putting together a finished product can be hit or miss at first. Stick with it until you get it right.
Making an outro for a podcast
The outro for your podcast is just as important as your intro. Your podcast outro is where you can jump in with a CTA and convince your listeners to keep coming back for more.
If someone's listening to your outro, chances are they liked your show enough to stick around through the entire thing, which is fantastic! Now that the listener has invested substantial time into your content, it's the perfect opportunity to ask something of them.
Consider using this closing segment to prompt your listeners to subscribe to your show, leave a review on their platform, or even donate a small amount of money to a Patreon account that you can set up to support your podcast financially. Some podcast hosts also plug their merchandise, courses, memberships, or books at the end of the episode.
Remember to be grateful for every comment and subscriber your show garners; receiving support to create content full-time is one of the coolest jobs in the world. Make sure that gratitude shines through in your outro!
is the projected number of podcast listeners in the United States by 2024.
Standardizing your podcast intro and outro
One of the most powerful outcomes that an intro and outro can have on a podcast is that they can help establish a show's brand. By standardizing your show's opening and closing segments, you can give your audience something to unify their experience and help them build a relationship with your content.
Below are some of the tools you can use to help you accomplish this:
Script and voice
One of the most common ways to standardize your content is by preparing a podcast script for how you want your intro or outro to sound. This can be as simple as a few lines of written dialogue, a signature phrase, or a fully fleshed-out overview of the current episode.
Consider finding professional vocal talent to read the script if you want to add extra production value to your podcast's intro. Voice123 and voices.com are excellent resources to quickly and easily find voice-over artists for your introduction. Both are free to use and let you listen to samples and auditions done by interested voice talent before selecting. However, you do need to pay the voice artist.
While this is a nice touch, it can be expensive and irrelevant for your podcast to succeed. However, consider adding this if your show picks up steam.
Music is not necessary to introduce or close out your podcast. That being said, it can be a valuable tool for setting the mood of your podcast and giving your listeners something familiar to orient themselves with at the start of each episode.
When selecting music for your intro or outro, you want to find something distinct. Choosing a song that’s been used hundreds of times by other content creators will make your show feel bland, which is the exact opposite of what you want when building your podcast’s brand.
Free podcast intro music
Paying royalties for a song to use in your intro or outro can get pricey fast. If you’re just starting your podcast, chances are you don’t have a large budget to support your show. Below you can find some websites where you can get access to royalty-free music:
- Epidemic Sound: Started in 2009, the purpose of Epidemic Sound is to make potential outcomes and advantages around music in all stages. It’s regarded as one of the best places to get music that isn’t locked under copyright.
- TeknoAxe: TeknoAxe website has over a thousand tracks of all genres. While the music here is completely free to use, make sure you cite their website or youtube channel.
- YouTube Audio Library: The YouTube audio library is one of the easiest to use and most popular sources for finding free music on the internet. It has hundreds of royalty-free tracks and sound effects that can be filtered by genre, instrument, mood, duration, and attribution.
- Filmstro: Filmstro is another great option with a wide variety of music to choose from. You can download static MP3s for free or grab a license for a fairly reasonable price to get a broader range of songs and files.
It's time to tell your story.
Putting together your podcast intro turned out to be easier than you thought, didn't it? By using these basic tips you can also elevate your audience's experience each time they tune in to something freshly brewed.
Your podcast's intro and outro are some of the best ways to grow your audience and also find new listeners. By carefully crafting a standardized hook that conveys your show's core idea, you can build a community of like-minded individuals around your content.
Looking for more information on starting a podcast? Check out our guide for a complete overview of everything you need to know.
This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information.