There are around 30 million podcast episodes out there so making sure your podcast hooks your listeners is more important than ever. Having engaging content throughout each show is essential.
With that said, at Riverside, we’ll explain how to hook listeners with your podcast intro and share some great examples of podcast introductions to inspire yours.
How Important Is A Good Podcast Intro?
Studies have shown that podcasts loose between 20 to 35 percent of listeners in the first five minutes, which is much higher than the dropoff rate for the entire rest of the episode. The importance of having a good podcast intro is in the evidence: if you’re not hooking your listeners in the first five minutes, they’re not going to continue listening.
So, What Does A Great Podcast Intro Sound Like?
A great podcast intro should show new listeners who you are, what your podcast is about, and why they should listen. But, at the same time, it needs to engage your existing audience.
The best podcast intros are unique to each episode and include a teaser of content from later in the show to hook listeners. They often include on-brand music or sound effects. Many also have a CTA too. For example, this could be encouraging listeners to follow you on their preferred podcast platform.
The above episode by the hugely popular How I Built This with Guy Raz, which is recorded using Riverside, is an excellent example of a great podcast intro. The podcast has millions of monthly listeners, and ticks all the boxes on what a great podcast intro should include:
Show why people should listen: after the sponsorship message and CTA, the episode dives straight into a teaser of the guest’s interview, immediately demonstrating the value of listening to the show. It features a key story from the guest’s story making the audience want to hear more.
Another great way to hook listeners is by starting your intro with a question that your audience wants to know the answer to. They’ll keep listening to find out what you’ve got to say.
Explain who you are:
- What is the podcast and who is it for? The host gives a brief explanation of what How I Built This is about and gives an intriguing introduction to the episode to hook the audience.
- Introduce host/guests/credentials: By demonstrating expertise and experience in what you (or your guest) are talking about in your podcast intro, you add an extra incentive for your audience to continue listening.
Set the tone with music and sound effects: the backing tracks are on-brand with the show’s personality and match what the host is saying. The music is slower and dramatic during the episode teaser; upbeat and inspiring during the description of the podcast.
Keep it short: How I Built This usually has long episodes - this one is 88 minutes long - but the podcast intro is still kept short in comparison at 2 minutes 20 seconds.
Include a CTA: Guy Raz encourages listeners to support the podcast by buying his book.
How To Hook Listeners With Your Podcast Intro
This section will look at:
- What to include in your podcast intro script
- How long your podcast intro should be
- What music to use for your podcast intro & where to find it
- How to optimize your podcast intro CTA
What To Include In Your Podcast Intro Script
Below, you’ll find a sample script that you can use to inspire your podcast intro. This script is from an episode of Indie Hackers, some of whose episodes have had over 100,000 downloads.
“What’s up everybody, this is Courtland from IndieHackers.com and you’re listening to the Indie Hackers podcast. More people than ever are building cool stuff online, and making a lot of money in the process, and on this show, I sit down with these Indie Hackers to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, and the strategies that they’re taking advantage of so the rest of us can do the same.”
This is a short, snappy introduction to the podcast in general. It’s just 30 seconds long and explains exactly what the podcast is about and why listeners should tune in. The intro has a backing music track and ends with a sound effect signaling the start of the podcast itself.
In this example, there’s no episode teaser, and instead, the host dives straight into conversation with the guest. Even so, this is a great sample script for a podcast introduction. It’s casual and engaging, making the listener feel like they too are in conversation with the host. By including motivations for the audience to continue listening - learning how people like them have made money - it hooks listeners, making it a great podcast intro.
So, when writing your podcast script, you should always:
- Say the podcast name and explain what it’s about
- Show why listeners should tune in
- Introduce the host and any guests
Sample Podcast Intro Script Template
Working from the basic outline below, you can create your own podcast intro script. Try to let your podcast’s personality show through! You can add episode teasers, music, and sound effects, and a CTA if relevant.
Introduce the show
“Hey everybody, this is _______ from _______ and you’re listening to the _______ podcast, the show that [explain the purpose of your show] for people who love _______.
Introduce the guest and episode
Today, we’re talking about _______ with [guest name], who [explain why your guest is an expert on the topic]. We’ll discuss everything there is to know about [the episode topic: include a teaser to hook listeners]. Thanks for joining us, [guest name]!
How Long Should A Podcast Intro Be?
Short answer: it depends on the length of your podcast episode. Shows with established listeners will always be able to get away with longer intros, as their loyal fans will continue listening no matter what, but it’s important to get the length right if you’re starting a podcast.
How long your podcast intro should depend on the length of your podcast episodes. As in the Indie Bites example we looked at earlier, a shorter show requires a shorter intro. Whereas, in the above example from Meditative Story, the longer 30 minute plus episode allows for a longer intro.
This doesn’t harm Meditative Story’s success: in fact, with an estimated 38,000 listeners, Apple Podcasts’ data shows it to have the highest engagement of any podcast in the world.
Whenever you include a teaser from the show, the introduction will be longer, so there’s a balance to strike between hooking your listener with your content and keeping the intro short and snappy.
What Music To Use For Your Podcast Intro
Not all podcast intros include music, but having a great track or sound effects that are consistent with your podcast’s personality is a great way to hook listeners and set the tone for what’s to come. Road & Kingdom’s podcast The Trip does this really well.
They tailor the music and sound effects in their podcast intros to the content of each episode, as you can hear in the example above. This helps listeners feel that they’re in the destination talked about in that particular show. Being a travel podcast, this is a highly effective way to hook the target audience of travel fans.
When using music or sound effects in your intro, remember they should complement your podcast rather than overshadowing it. Make sure your added sound:
- Fits your brand & sets the mood. Music and sound effects should keep the same tone and personality as the rest of your podcast.
- Is powerful. If using a song, use the middle of a track, rather than the slow build-up at the beginning. Remember that memorable jingles are a great way to stay in your listener’s head!
- Doesn’t distract from what you’re saying. It shouldn’t be too loud: edit the music so listeners can hear your words.
Where To Find Music For Your Podcast Intro
The main thing to bear in mind when looking for music for your podcast intro is that it’s copyright-free. You don’t want to risk any legal battles for using someone else’s song! We’ve noted down some of the most popular platforms to find royalty-free or creative commons license music for your podcast intro.
There are plenty of free sound libraries out there, which is great if you’re starting your podcast on a budget. However, for an established podcast, investing in a paid subscription to one of these platforms is often well worth it.
- Free: YouTube Audio Library, Pixabay, The Free Music Archive
- Paid: Soundstripe, Epidemic Sound, Audioblocks
Related article: Where To Find The Best Royalty-Free Music for Podcasts 
Alternatively, you could pay someone to make music specifically for your podcast. You’ll find many different people with the skills to write music or create sound effects tailored to your podcast intro on freelancing platforms like Fiverr.
How To Optimize Your Podcast Intro CTA
Adding a call to action to your podcast intro isn’t essential, but it is a good way to remind listeners to follow your show or to sign up with your sponsor. Having said that, it is important to optimize the CTA in your podcast intro to make sure it doesn’t put listeners off.
Best practices for your podcast intro CTA:
- Make it short and snappy. The CTA should not be the main feature of your podcast intro. It should be an added extra that doesn’t distract your listeners from the rest of the episode.
- Make it worthwhile for the listener. If asking them to follow or subscribe, explain that this will allow them to easily find your podcast to listen to again, rather than saying you want a boost in the podcast charts!
Record Your Podcast Intro With Riverside
Having a great podcast intro is key to hooking listeners and being a successful podcaster. Now that you’ve heard some excellent examples of successful podcast intros and learned our best practices for creating your own, the next step is to write your script and get recording. Riverside makes this part easy, allowing you to record studio-quality podcast intros wherever you are.