Before I dive into this, I want to address something.
You might be thinking, “Don’t you produce podcast intros for a living? And you’re going to tell me how to do it?”
Yes. And yes.
Look, not everyone can afford to hire us to produce their intro (and as much as it stabs my ego in the heart to type this… not everyone even WANTS to).
So think of this post as my way of putting some good mojo out into the universe. And maybe the SEO gods will reward me with lots of new people happy to shower me with cash in exchange for the best dang podcast intro & outro ever.
Let’s get into it.
There are really 3 core building blocks of the kind of podcast intros we think are awesome:
“But Tim… what about the sound effects?!”
I’m actually not a big fan of crazy sound effects and swooshes and echoes and sirens.
There’s been a big shift in our culture lately -- one that’s been reflected incredibly well in the way smart companies are choosing to advertise.
People want REAL.
I see it in every single voiceover audition I get. “Please read this in a conversational, non-announcer style.”
Smart marketers and companies recognize that in order for their marketing to be effective, they need to CONNECT on a higher level than ever before. It’s no longer about bludgeoning people over the head with your sales messages. It’s about connecting, showing people you get them, and bringing them along for the ride.
And I believe that crazy sound effects and over-produced intros are the antithesis of that.
I’m going to drop a cliche. I’m going to do it. Don’t judge me.
K.I.S.S. It really applies here. Keep it simple, stupid.
Ok, back to those building blocks. Let’s talk about them.
My dear friend, I know you’re really awesome. You’ve done some amazing things. You have a great story to tell. You want everyone to know, like, and trust you.
And you might even think you need to tell people that in your intro.
The intro has two main jobs:
Get people excited to listen to the show.
Give people a memorable connection to the show -- something they’ll think back to later.
Far too often, I hear intros that are 30 seconds long, full of impressive details about the host. And far too often, I turn the show off before ever hearing it.
Well, my attention span sucks. And yours probably does too. And your listeners? Theirs probably does too.
Let’s get people to the content! Fast!
All you need to do is give them the gist of what the show is all about, quickly brand yourself, and get them in there.
My favorite script I’ve ever written was for the James Altucher show. It went like this:
“This isn’t your average business podcast, and he’s not your average host. This is the James Altucher Show on the Choose Yourself Network.”
Two lines. Really simple. Straight to the point.
You get that he’s a weirdo. You get that he’s special and unique. And you get that it’s about business. And then James can do this thing.
And here’s the thing -- if you know James Altucher, you know I could have said a whole lot of amazing things about him. The dude is incredible. He’s inspirational. He’s done stuff most of us will never get close to doing.
But I’ll let him get to that. I’ll let his show do the talking. I’ll let his expertise do the talking. I’ll let his guests do the talking. I’m just there to set the tone and get people to you. That’s all.
So how do you come up with your script?
Well, ask yourself… what’s the one key thing about your show that makes it worth listening to?
Is it that you have some unique take on a tired old topic? That your show does things in such a unique way? That you have some odd experience that makes your perspective amazing?
Tell it and get out of the way.
Let’s say you talk about health and fitness.
How do you differentiate yourself?
Perhaps you’re different because you think carbs are the best thing since sliced bre… wait…
Your intro could say:
“If your favorite things are your six pack, your other six pack, and your secret stash of Snickers bars, this is your show. Welcome to The Carb Captain Podcast with Monica Muscles.”
Nailed it, right?
Here’s another one (a real one)…
My friend Rick Mulready has a show where he talks a lot about Facebook Ads -- a super saturated market. But Rick himself is a unique guy. He’s cool, he’s fun, he’s a rocker.
His intro is like this:
“What do you get when you combine simplified digital marketing, proven ROI strategies and Metallica blasting from his headphones? You get Rick Mulready, of course. So strap in, grab your bulletproof coffee, and get ready because this is The Art of Paid Traffic. Here’s Rick…”
3 ½ sentences. Perfectly sums up the show. And you instantly relate (or don’t) to Rick.
Need another option for your script?
Try being pinpoint precise about your value proposition (what people will get out of listening to your show).
“You’re about to learn how to flip houses without taking out a loan, even if you have no idea where to start. This is The Flip Show with Flip Williams!”
“What do you do if you want to sell your business for top dollar? You listen to The Exit Plan, with Suzie Sellers. Hey… lucky you… you’re already here! Here’s Suzie.”
“If no amount of lullabies can get your kid to sleep at night, don’t lose hope. A full night’s sleep for your baby is in your future, when you listen to The Baby Sleep Show. Here’s your host, certified baby sleep expert, Sleepy Sam.”
I’ve got a worksheet you can use to help you write your script. It’s free… or is it? (Yeah, it is.) Click the button below to grab it.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the same song being used on a bunch of different podcasts, I’d have at least like $23.
Here’s the deal with music: If there’s one thing that’s going to stick in peoples’ minds and make them think of you again and again, it’s music.
Which is funny, because it won’t really help them remember the details of your show, and has nothing to do (in general) with the great stuff they learn from your show…
But music is catchy. It stands out.
My favorite example of this is The Dave Ramsey Show. I literally can’t hear “Baker Street” without thinking of Dave Ramsey. “Do, dee do doo, dum dum dah… do, dee do doo, dum dum dah dannn, waaaaaaaahhh.” Every time.
Now you probably aren’t going to pony up the cash to pay for the rights to a song like “Baker Street”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a song that people will instantly identify with you.
A couple things to consider when it comes to music:
First off, what’s the tone of the show?
This one is probably obvious, but this wouldn’t be a comprehensive guide if I didn’t mention it.
If your show is somber, relaxed, etc, it doesn’t make sense to start the show with some dubstep (is dubstep even still a thing?).
I won’t continue to hammer this point home -- but just consider the tone you want to set.
Second, what’s reflective of you?
I think a lot of the time, it’s easy to get caught up in what we think our listeners will want to hear.
You’ve got a podcast about business, so you use some corporate elevator music. You’ve got a fitness show, so it’s upbeat techno. A movie podcast with trailer music.
And all of that is fine, but remember how personal a podcast is.
People are going to stick around because they relate to you. You reflect something in them that they see (or want to see) in themselves. They like you for you. (There’s a Blessid Union Of Souls reference in there somewhere... hello, 2001!)
Don’t be afraid to be reflective of who you are and what your style is.
I wouldn’t hate listening to a podcast about parenting that started off with a heavy metal song. Don’t we all sometimes feel like venting our parenting frustration in a mosh pit? What… just me?
Get what I’m saying? Be reflective of your uniqueness.
Going back to Rick Mulready -- his Facebook Ads show has a head banging rock song starting it out. Totally his style. You get what you’re in for.
Finally, would it be worth doing something totally different and weird?
Maybe your show starts off with a really unique style of music you might not think of.
How about just some percussion? Maybe you hire out someone to create a song specifically for you? Maybe since your show is gonna be super high energy, you start off with something more laid back to give just a bit of contrast to the craziness of you? (And the voice talent who voices your intro should be laid back too).
Don’t be afraid to try something different.
Want a couple of resources for finding great music? We’ve got our own directory, but you could check out:
One thing to note, though. When you grab your music -- make sure you get the appropriate license.
Most sites will allow you a certain amount of listens or downloads for one license, but if you get more than that, you’ll need a bigger license.
My suggestion? Buy the license you think you’ll need some day. Trust me -- when your show blows up down the road, you won’t be thinking, “My show is blowing up! I should upgrade my license for my intro music.”
And just a note… when you hire us, you get a lifetime, unlimited license to the music. Just sayin’.
I won’t lie, this building block of your intro has the most potential to get me all riled up, so I’m going to try to rein it in.
Yes, I am biased, but please trust me on this... When it comes to the voice for your intro or outro, if you really care about your podcast (and I know you do, or you wouldn’t have made it this far), there are truly only two viable choices:
Voice it yourself
Hire a superawesomebadass professional
Notice that one of the choices is not “use *that* website to hire someone for cheap.” (If you’re not sure which site to which I’m referring… consider yourself lucky.)
Please… please trust me on this.
Although the average person may not be able to tell the difference between someone with an ok recording set up who has an ok voice and a professional voice talent in a professional studio… it DOES make a huge difference.
A superawesomebadass professional voice actor can get your listeners to feel however you want them to feel.
You can find people who will record a voiceover for you that sounds just fine, but they won’t be able to completely nail the exact tone you’re looking for, without you being able to tell them what that tone is.
They won’t be able to connect to your audience.
They won’t emphasize the right words, the right way, subtly.
They will likely focus entirely on “sounding good”, instead of telling a story with the limited script they have.
So, I return to my choices: do it yourself, or hire a professional.
My top recommendation is very much to hire a professional, but if you’re not going to do that, I’d suggest doing it yourself.
A few things to note if you’re going to do it yourself.
First, make sure you’re recording in a well-treated space.
The best microphone in the world will still sound like hot garbage if it’s being used in a poorly treated space.
The cardinal sin of recording your voice? Room reverb. Room reverb is your voice bouncing off the walls around you. A lot of people will call it echo, but it’s a bit different.
When your recording has a bunch of room reverb and you go to put it over a music bed, your voice will sound like a spaceship full of nails crashing into a chalkboard factory… in other words… bad.
The easy fix for this is to record in a closet full of clothes. I’ve recorded huge national network promos in hotel closets full of my clothes and my clients have been nonethewiser.
Second, be you.
I know I keep saying this, but your audience will really tune in because they connect with you. If you insist on being your own voice talent for your intro, bring all of yourself. Don’t try and change your sound just because it’s your intro.
So what if you want to hire a professional, and you’re going to be smart and actually get someone who’s worth their salt?
Well, obviously I’m going to tell you about our roster.
The folks on our roster are some of the absolute best in the world. They’re characters in your favorite video games. They’re in animated films. They voice major movie trailers. TV promos. Commercials. Podcasts. They’re the voices of your favorite local news networks.
These folks are world-class.
But, if you wanna be a jerk and go somewhere else (I’m kidding, we’ll totally stay friends), my best suggestion would be to go through a talent agency.
Yes, there are casting websites, and you can get lots of auditions that way… but it’s really hard to know what to listen for (and you’ll be inundated with a mix of pros and amateurs).
Talent agents will be able to help you find just the right voice for your project -- and best of all, they only sign pros. So you’ll never get sent someone who sucks.
If you’d like a referral to some great agencies, send me an email and I’ll happily refer you.
Or… ya know, you could just save yourself the time and hassle and just hire us. The choice is yours.
Putting it all together.
Now you’ve got the building blocks. If you’ve followed my advice, I applaud you. You recognize my genius.
Putting it all together into a great sounding production can be really simple, or you can do some ninja stuff and make it sound extra amazing.
Unless you’re an experienced audio producer, I’d encourage you to keep it really simple. Otherwise, you run the risk of trying to overproduce and making it sound worse than if you just went the simple route.
I’ll assume that since you’re a podcaster, you’re using some kind of recording software. I use Adobe Audition, but it’s not a requirement.
The simplest way to put it all together is to put your music on one track and your voice on another. Take a listen and adjust the volume levels of each so that the voice is clear and easy to hear.
If you used a professional voice actor, they probably sent you a recording that sounds perfect. If not, you’ll probably want to apply a little bit of compression and then normalize it to -3dB.
Don’t forget to download the script writing worksheet by clicking the button below. It really is free (I was just pulling your leg up there).
And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this…
I hope this guide helps you, but if after reading this all, you’ve decided it’s too much work and you’d rather just hire a pro team to do it for you… ahem… allow us to be that pro team!
When you hire us, we write your script, find your music, choose your voice actor (from our amazing roster), and produce it all for you.
It’s literally the easiest process you could imagine -- and we’re really dang good at what we do.