Picking a format
The format of your podcast — the way each episode is structured and presented — isn’t set in stone, but you should have an idea how your episodes will be laid out before you start recording.
If you haven’t already considered your podcast format, think about how you’ll be most comfortable. These formats work regardless of whether your show is fictional, factual or purely for entertainment, as it’s about how you tell the story.
Two hosts, two mics. Of course you can add more co-hosts as you see fit, but this is a good solid format that gives you lots of flexibility. You may find that one person does the majority of the presenting, perhaps even acting as interviewer, or as a representative of the podcast listenership.
The key is to pick a co-host you have a great rapport with already. If this is your first time podcasting together, record a pilot episode or two to get a sense of how you work together, where you might differ in opinion, and how you play off each-other. You’ll know when you hear it if the energy’s right, but it might not fall into place on the first or second try.
Host and guest
This is another popular format, and can sound easy to do, but finding a new guest for each episode can be hard work. However, if you want to interview experts in your field or showcase voices other than your own, the guest format can be a great way to bring variety to your podcast.
Start by listening to some of your favourite interviewers, either within podcasting or further afield. What do you like about their technique? Is it the way they draw questions from their guests, how comfortable — or uncomfortable — they make their guests feel, or is it something in the interviewer’s personality? Remember that with an interview format, your guest is the star, and if you’re starting with a small audience, those listeners will likely be showing up for your guest.
This style is very popular among those that have transitioned from traditional radio into podcasting. It uses sound design and editing to tell a story or draw focus to one particular topic, often with a handful of voices or more.
Most narrative podcasts take a lot of production time. If you’re going solo, pick a schedule you can comfortably stick to, and don’t be over-ambitious with how you source your audio. If you need to interview someone about a breaking story, a recorded phone call is more sustainable than a plain trip.
A solo podcast is technically the easiest to produce, but isn’t for everyone. There are a couple of ways to approach a one-mic podcast: either as a scripted piece, or one that’s more off-the-cuff.
A good approach is to work from bullet-points, that way you’ll sound natural but also be able to stay on message. It can be easy to ramble, so notes will help you stay on topic.
There are other formats you can explore, or you can mash them up and create something uniquely you.
Usually a variant of the one-mic format, a briefing is a short podcast, usually more frequent in nature than with most other formats. They work really well for smart speakers too. Good examples include Six Minutes and Podnews .
Very similar to the regular two-header is the roundtable format, sometimes with a host in the driving seat, sometimes just with a collection of voices. Usually the panel are made up of the same voices each week, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Good examples include the SMR Podcast and The Adventure Zone .
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can try a panel of guests or semi-regular contributors. This format is a hybrid of the roundtable and the guest format, where one host chairs a panel that changes with each episode. If this is your first podcast project, you might want to consider making life a little easier, as this format is a lot of work. But if you can dedicate the time and you have a good team behind you, it’s a wonderful way of bringing different perspectives to your listeners. Good examples include The Bugle and the Daily Tech News Show .