Choosing a podcast format for your show

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For most people who are just starting a podcast, deciding on a format for their show seems to be a decision that overwhelms them. They often feel that they have to stick to a fixed format for their show and their is no space to experiment with different formats to discover the right fit for their personality and their listeners.

It is a common misconception that most podcasts have to be an interview show, while the interview format is a common choice amongst podcasters, it is not the only choice for hosting a successful podcast.

Here we will be evaluating 7 podcast formats to help you identify which will suit your show.

1. The Interview podcast format

A staple in the podcasting world the interview podcast features a consistent host (or hosts) and a new guest on each episode. It can be anybody you want, like an expert who is very knowledgeable on a particular topic or a friend who wants to share their business and life experience. You will need to work on your interviewing skills so that you can have insightful conversations with your guests.

Pros

  • It opens your show to a new audience as guests can share the episode with their followers on their social media profiles.
  • You can do it from the comfort of your home
  • You won’t run out of things to say as each guests bring their unique perspective to the conversations at hand.

Cons

  • Booking guests can be tricky. You will need to email and arrange for new guests consistently, scheduling a convenient time for you and your guests to host the interview can also be very challenging especially if your guest is very busy.
  • If your guests don’t come to your studio for the interview, conducting interviews over the internet can be tricky as you are at the mercy of Zoom or Skype connections which can be spotty.
  • You will need to add a unique spin to your show to stand out as there is an abundance of interview shows.

Examples of the Interview podcast format

2. The Solo Show podcast format

If you want to start a podcast and you have no co-host or guest in mind to interview then the solo-show is a format you can adopt. It is the easiest way to get your show started as all you simply need to do is talk into your microphone. You can talk about anything that you are passionate about and share your expertise with your listeners.
This format provides your audience with an opportunity to really know you.

Pros

  • Releasing episodes is easy because you don’t have to worry about anyone’s else availability.
  • Editing one voice is way easier than editing many. You are also more likely to stay on track when you are presenting a solo show.
  • It allows you to build your personal brand and build a deep connection with your audience.

Cons

  • It can be very draining because you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off during the recording.
  • If you don’t have a lively personality or you are not recognized in your field, it might be difficult to keep your audience engaged.

Examples of the Solo Show podcast format

3. The Co-Hosted podcast format

This podcast format usually involves two or more people who ideally should have great chemistry together. They could discuss on a specific topic such as a boxing fight or they could talk about a diverse range of issues such as dating, technology, education, poverty and family life. Often times the hosts will offer different perspectives on issues and their listeners will tune in because they want to hear what the diverse views offered by the hosts. In some cases listeners can contribute while the show is live or offer their contributions in real time via twitter or other social media platforms.

It is a popular format used in different types of podcasts such as sports, movies and gaming podcasts.

Pros

  • It makes planning for each episode of your podcast easier as you have someone you can bounce off ideas with.
  • It has the potential to be very exciting especially if you and your co-hosts have great chemistry.
  • This format is perfectly suited to airing some episodes with a live audience.

Cons

  • Everyone needs to be on the same page. If one of the co-hosts interest in the show fizzles out or the hosts have a lot of personal issues or disagreements it will likely cripple the cripple the growth of the podcast.
  • If you and your co-host are based in different locations you will be at the mercy of spotty internet connections when you talk over Zoom.
  • It is generally more difficult to edit especially if you record the tracks separately and edit them together.

Examples of the Co-Hosted podcast format

4. The Panel/Group Discussion podcast format

This format involves a single host who might serve as the moderator and a group of guests who are experts in their fields. The invited guests are usually different for each episode of the show. Getting a group of guests for your show could be very difficult especially if your podcast is fairly new or not very well established in your field.

Pros

  • It exposes your audience to unique perspectives, insights and information from various experts in your field
  • It makes the job of the host easier as the guests do majority of the talking. The host simply needs to steer the conversation in the right direction and ask poignant questions when necessary.
  • As a result of the amount of information shared on each episode you can easily repurpose the content for other mediums such as blog posts or workshops.

Cons

  • It can be challenging to book guests for your show. This challenge is more pronounced in this format because you need to book multiple guests for your show and coordinating the schedule to find a time that is suitable for everyone. In most cases producers work behind the scenes to make this shows successful.
  • The host (moderator) needs to make sure that your guests don’t spend more than the allotted time for each segment of the show. Also the host needs to how to cut people off seamlessly so that it does not feel awkward.
  • It is technically more difficult and expensive to record as you will need a good podcast mixer along with extra microphones for recording all the audio.

Examples of the Panel/Group Discussion podcast format

5. Fictional Storytelling podcast format

This is also referred to as Podcast Theater podcast format. It involves telling fictional stories spanning various episodes in audio format.
If you are into fictional writing or theater and short films, this format provides you with an opportunity to experiment with your storytelling skills in a new medium. To keep your show interesting you need to do than just read your stories into a microphone as this format is often more of audio cinema than audiobook. You will need a lot of sound effects, music and possibly a voice-over artist, experience with a good recording and editing software is also necessary.

Pros

  • It is a boon to creatives who like to create characters, fictional words and intriguing plotlines to keep their listeners hooked.
  • When executed properly this can be a very addictive format for your audience because they want to know what happens next.
  • At the moment the market for these shows is not yet saturated.

Cons

  • It is not a very popular format so building an audience takes a lot of time and effort.
  • It takes a lot of work because you need to write a complete story, add effects and work with voice actors.
  • It is especially challenging for those who are not very imaginative or creative.

Examples of the Fictional Storytelling podcast format

6. Nonfictional storytelling podcast format

These are podcasts that are about real life events. It can focus on a different story on each episode or it can be an entire series dedicated to investigating real life murders or recreating an historical event. On a lighter note you can simply report on the news.
This format is ideal for listeners who love mystery, investigative journalism, learning new things, ideas, cultures and are generally curious about the world around them.

Pros

  • You can be creative with editing and production as you can splice in various audio elements such as actual interviews, news broadcasts, movie clips, narration or ambient sounds.
  • This format is ideal for listeners who want an in-depth knowledge of a specific topic hence it is often a very addictive format.
  • It provides an avenue when addressing an issue.

Cons

  • It is extremely difficult to stick to a consistent release schedule because some episodes might take longer than others to produce.
  • This is a difficult format to produce without a large team behind you because it involves lots of planning and research.
  • Listeners are less forgiving of mistakes made when sharing or disseminating information because the show is based on real life events which could affect people’s business, careers, relationships and ultimately lives.

Examples of the Nonfictional Storytelling podcast format

7. Repurposed Content podcast format

Repurposing content is taking content that already exists and making it usable in another format by tweaking it. In some instances you can simply merge snippets from related episodes into a single episode and it will add a lot of value to your listeners. Some examples of repurposed content include a blogger transforming his articles to podcast episodes, a speaker or lecturer could recording his lectures and release them as podcasts. A church could also release their sermons as podcasts or a liveshow might be repurposed into a podcast.

Pros

  • It is easy to produce because you already own the content. In most instances all you simply need to do is strip off the video from your content and release it as a podcast. Even if you need to record or edit your content into a podcast it will be pretty minimal because you are reusing content that has already been created.
  • It will either cost nothing or an extremely low amount of money to produce.
  • It increases the range of ideas or topics you can use for your podcast.

Cons

  • Not all content is suitable for repurposing as podcasts. A video tutorial showing how to code or perform some specific operations is totally unsuitable for podcasts.
  • Even when the content is usable as a podcast some content might not translate properly into a podcast format. For instance, a football show might show the highlights of a contentious goal in a football match and analyze the VAR decision that awarded the goal but the listeners can’t see the goal so they won’t be able to come up to their conclusion on whether the goal should have been awarded or not.
  • Since the content is available in other formats people might not really listen to the podcast.

Examples of the Repurposed Content podcast format

8. Your Podcast Format

The awesome thing about podcasts is you are not restricted to the format you can adopt for your show. You can try out different formats in different episodes or try out different formats on the same episode by having distinct segments.
For instance you and your co-host might regularly discuss issues together while you might occasionally invite guests on some episodes.
You can mix and match formats to find out what resonates with you and your audience.

Pros

  • Gives you an opportunity to experiment with different formats.
  • It has the potential to attract diverse audience because different listeners would resonate with different episodes.
  • It can make for an interesting show due to the variation in content.

Cons

  • The unpredictability of your show might annoy listeners.
  • It is easy to be very inconsistent in releasing episodes due to the wild variation in content.
  • It’s easy to burn out quickly because the show might lack direction.


Conclusion

Now that we have discussed the various types of podcast formats, what format do you want to adopt for your podcast. Your podcast format will determine how you record and edit your episodes, whether you invite guests or not as well as your workflow.
It is important not to fill limited by this list rather it is a great means of knowing your options and guiding you to create an awesome show that will wow your listeners.

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