Top 7 Podcast Formats

While a podcast sounds more like a free-flowing conversation, there should always be a red line from start to finish. Like any form of storytelling, a podcast needs to have a structure, or else it will feel all over the place. This in-depth guide will cover all the best Podcast templates and formats so you can find which one is right for you.

A Podcast Episode Template

Before we discuss the different podcast formats out there, we need to go over the universal template all podcasts follow more or less. A basic begging, middle, and end template you can use to plan each episode.

Podcast Episode Template:

Opening

The opening of a podcast has to make your audience want to listen more. What you need is a “hook” to draw their attention. This is why the first segment needs to be interesting. 

You can either achieve this with a teaser or highlight of the podcast. A teaser is the most exciting part of the podcast that you can put right at the start, so people will know what is coming.

Middle 

Once you have your listener’s attention with the opening, you need to worry about keeping them engaged. The middle segment will be the longest part and will include all the topics you want to cover in that episode.

It is crucial to break up the conversation and tone of your podcast throughout its run time. This could be through musical jingles between topics. You can also use sponsors or titles as breaks. Having different inputs from guests or hosts can also be extremely useful in avoiding monotony.

End

The end should wrap up the podcast in a nice way without leaving any loose threads. Ideally, a good ending also teases the next episode, leaving your viewers more excited for the next installment. Maybe you can hint at what topic will be discussed or who the next guest will be.

Transitions

Plan out how to get from one section of the podcast to next. It could be through sound effects or music. You can also use sponsored ads as small breaks between your topics.

Length: 

Podcasts can range from 10 minutes to 3 hours and anything in between. There is no ideal length for a podcast. You need to find something that works best with your topic and style. 

Also, think about how frequently you will release a new episode. For example, releasing a 1-2 hour podcast every day is probably not realistic and a bit overkill. 

If you release an episode every month, try to make longer episodes, around 1-3 hours. On the other hand, if you release a podcast every day, it does not have to be longer than 5-30 minutes.  

Podcast Formats

Once you have found a theme and idea, it is time to find what podcast format works best. Here we have a list with the top 7 podcast formats you can choose from right now.

Interview format

The interview format consists of (usually) one consistent host with a new guest on each episode. This podcast format is labor-intensive; it requires finding interviewees and preparing questions. It will require you to network and send a lot of emails. All the work will be worth it, though, as interview podcasts have become very popular and work with almost any topic or subject. You just need to get creative. 

If you want to do a podcast series about a particular subject, but you are not an expert yourself, an interview format could be the right fit for you. Because you bring on guests with knowledge, you don’t need to position yourself as an expert. You are learning as you go along for the ride with the audience.  

Pros
  • Minimal editing required
  • Hard to run out of things to say
Cons
  • Labor intensive: Having to find interviewees, research and preparing questions

Freestyle conversation

The personality of the hosts is the main driving force in this podcast format. There are usually several hosts engaging in free-flowing conversation, without much structure. Many viewers love this style; to them, it is like overhearing close friends chatting. To use this structure successfully, you need to get creative and find ideas and topics to keep your viewership coming back for more.

This podcast format does not require much editing or planning, making it easy and fast to produce content.

Pros
  • You have more input, ideas, and thoughts from more people.
  • Proven podcast format: Many have done it before, and it has proven addictive for listeners.
Cons
  • Competition: There are many freestyle podcasts out there.
  • Expensive setup: Having more people means more mics, headphones, and a way to bring it all together, which means more costly equipment.

Solo Podcast

There are many podcasts with one solo host. This format focuses on the host’s own experiences and thoughts. Going solo means having complete control over your content. It is also a lot easier and faster to produce content than other formats. The main con is that you don’t have a partner to exchange ideas with or help you cover the whole topic. 

Pros
  • Complete control over your content
  • Easy and inexpensive setup: mainly just one microphone with a pair of headphones.
Cons
  • Not having a partner to exchange ideas and thoughts with.

 News Podcast

There are many ways people get their news; one of them is through Podcasts. This format is structured around reporting and talking about news stories. You could have several stories in each episode, or just one. You could do it solo or bring a panel of people with different views. 

Pros
  • Addictive to viewers, many want to get their news this way.
Cons
  • Labor intensive: Requires research and planning at a faster pace. You have to release the content while the news stories are still relevant.

Educational Podcast

Educational Podcast’s primary purpose is to inform and educate your listeners. Many people love to educate themselves when doing something less mentally stimulating, like driving, working out, or housework.

Any passion, hobby, or expertise you might have could be shared with other people this way. You could also do interview episodes where you bring on an expert guest.

Pros
  • People love to learn and be productive.
Cons
  • A lot of planning and outlining to present the content educationally.


Non-Fiction Storytelling Podcast

Unlike just presenting news stories and discussing them. This podcast format focuses on one larger true story presented by a host or hosts. Think of it as a kind of audio journalism.

Compared to other formats, nonfiction narrative podcasts are pretty labor-intensive as a lot of research, fact-checking, and notes go into the creative process. Then you also need to present the story in a way that is engaging for your listeners. This work can pay off well, though, if done the right way.

Pros
  • Proven podcast format: Many have done it before, and it has proven addictive for listeners. 
Cons
  • Competition: There are many of these podcasts out there.


Fiction Storytelling Podcast

Fiction storytelling in a podcast format is pretty unique but has had success. As it becomes more mainstream, there might be some opportunity. As the title implies, this is a podcast focusing on a fiction narrative. A lot of creative work goes into producing the stories. 

Pros
  • Not a crowded market yet, less competition.
  • Enables you to express your creativity
Cons
  • Very labor-intensive: You have to create and present a story in an engaging way to your listeners.


How to Pick?

What podcast format you choose should also be based on your strengths and weaknesses. Are you good at interviewing people? What do you have experience with? What people do you have access too? Asking these questions will help you decide which Podcast format is right for you.

Hybrid Podcast Formats

Many podcasts are combining formats. There are no rules for how a podcast should be structured. The podcast formats above were just some inspiration to get you started.

Repurposing Content

Repurposed content can also be turned into great podcasts. If you are already creating content, like a blog, vlog or other types of content can easily be converted into a podcast format.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, you need to think for yourself, what reason do my listeners/viewers have to listen to my podcast and not somebody else’s. In other terms, what makes your podcast unique and provide the most value compared to what is already out there. In the end, that is what it all comes down to.

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