At this point, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you’d like your podcast to be about. But have you really sat down and considered how you plan to structure your show?
There are many different types or styles of podcasts you can create for your audience. And there’s certainly no hard, fast rule that says that you need to stick with a single format.
In fact, lots of people use multiple formats for their podcast based on whatever they are trying to accomplish at a given time.
Short segments lend themselves to solo shows, where longer shows might be better suited to a group or interview style.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to try to be consistent and offer your listeners some kind of predictable structure. There’s nothing that turns people off more than uncertainty.
So if you start just “winging it” with a solo show on odd-numbered Tuesdays and an interview every month that has two full moons, you’re going to confuse people.
And they’ll eventually tune out.
So now let’s take a look at some of those different formats, and how they can best be used.
Most podcasts are solo, simply because it’s usually individuals who start them. And the fewer moving parts, the easier it is to start and keep consistent with.
Solo podcasts generally consist of one individual talking about a particular subject during each “episode.”
The downside of solo podcasts is that it’s lonely work and some people might find themselves losing momentum simply because there’s no one else to be accountable to or to bounce ideas off of in the moment.
Duos are also popular, with two people talking together about the topic. Duos are often spouses or friends, but may be business partners, or other close acquaintances.
The reason most duos are close is that their personalities need to mesh well for the podcast to be interesting.
For these types of shows, a major part of the appeal is the chemistry between the two presenters. You’ve got to have someone who’s the Jazzy Jeff to your Fresh Prince.
To really be successful, duo teams need to feed off each other, joke around with each other, and be able to read each other to understand where the other one is going with the conversation and respond thoughtfully.
Like duos, interview based podcasts also typically involve two people. The difference is the relationship between the two.
Instead of having two hosts, there’s usually one host and a different guest that’s featured on each episode. The host’s responsibility is to ask the questions and guide the conversation in a way that’s engaging for the guest and the audience, while the guest is there as a featured resource to provide information and shares their strategies, and experiences within the podcast.
The interview format is a simple one: The host provides a set list of questions ahead of time, giving their guest a chance to review the material and prepare for the episode.
Just like in any other podcast scenario, it’s always best to have a pre-written outline of what you plan to cover within the podcast, as well as opening and closing remarks.
Interview based podcasts can work especially well if you manage to get well-known people in your industry to participate, because those established names can draw in additional listeners.
It’s because of this synergy and mutual benefit that I think that interview-style podcasts are the easiest to grow.
Not only will you promote your episode, it’s likely that your guest will also promote your podcast to their own fans or followers.
Truly a win-win situation all around!
The group format isn’t very common, and for a few different reasons. But they can be very successful if they are properly moderated.
One of the ways they can be tricky is because powerful personalities often have difficulty taking a backstage to each other. Having two strong hosts in a duo is completely different than having 4 or 5 people all trying to get a word in at the same time, especially over passionate issues.
But done right, it does make for good entertainment if executed correctly.
If you’ve ever watched a show like Real Time with Bill Maher or The View, you’ve pretty much seen how interesting, and dynamic this type of format can be.
Another reason it can be tough to pull off the group format is because of potential scheduling conflicts. If you thought it was hard to coordinate two people’s schedules, try doubling or tripling that and seeing how it goes!
And finally, the sheer cost for equipment, and the complexity of editing that many competing voices and audio channels makes this a format that is best for those who have been podcasting for a while and who have their foundation and systems already in place.
As I mentioned before, you don’t have to stick to a single format. You might run your podcast as a single format most of the time, and switch to other formats here and there, or you might switch it up all the time. It’s totally up to you, and what you hope to accomplish.
If you are just getting started with podcasts, you’ll probably want to start with just a solo podcast format.
This way, you can cut your teeth on the process involved in creating great podcast content, gain experience and become more comfortable speaking to your audience.
Then, as you become more familiar with the process and feel prepared to try a new format, consider the interview-style format where you can welcome a guest from within your niche market to appear on your podcast.
This is where things really get fun and where you can build lots of momentum.
Branching out into interviews is a great way to network with others in your industry while giving your listeners helpful information that will motivate them to continue tuning in each week, or month.
Plus, with interviews, you aren’t required to come up with as much content as you would in a solo-format. You simply create a list of questions and let your guest provide the answers. In exchange for them appearing on your podcast, you could promote one of their products or website.
It really is a win-win!