Podcast intro: How to start your podcast with an unforgettable opening

Podcast new episode notes intro

First impressions are incredibly important. That’s why you dress your best on the first day at a new job, and clean all the discarded VCRs off your front lawn when you go to sell your house.

Your podcast intro is no different. As the first thing listeners hear from your show, your podcast intro helps people determine whether they keep listening to your podcast. You got them this far—maybe through word of mouth, your reputation, or your killer cover art. Now it’s time to seal the deal and turn them into a loyal listener. 

You’ve only got a matter of seconds to hook your listener. Here’s how to do it with a standout introduction, complete with podcast intro examples from some of the world’s biggest shows. 

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

What is a podcast intro?

A podcast introduction informs listeners about the tone, subject matter, and quality of your podcast. If this is their first time listening, it could be the moment they decide whether they’re going to keep listening or skip to something else.

“Podcasting, much like any other medium, thrives on novelty and the element of surprise. Through introducing different intros, I aim to capture the essence of each episode's theme and the personality of the guest, offering listeners a sneak peek into the conversation that awaits them.” —Michał Sadowski, podcast host

In addition to setting the tone and delivering the show’s basic information, a good podcast intro will draw new listeners in. A great podcast intro will get them excited—like the moment you see “Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away” in a new Fast and Furious movie. 

Cracking the podcast intro code: 4 key elements

Now we know what a podcast introduction is, let’s break down each element so you can create an intro that grabs the listener’s attention.

Introduction and host’s greeting

You might be thinking, “Don’t listeners already know the name of my podcast?” Yes, but podcast listening apps will usually play podcasts in the order they’re released. A listener who is subscribed to multiple podcasts might roll right into your new podcast episode after finishing another one from a different show. It’s helpful to let them know up front which show they’re listening to by reminding them of your podcast name within the first few seconds. 

Plus, introducing yourself by name personalizes the podcast and puts your stamp on it. Listeners will come to identify it as your work; something you’re proud to have your name on. They’ll also start to feel a relationship developing with you—a key driver of podcast listenership (a few may become stalkers, but they will also buy lots of merchandise and help you monetize your show). 

💰 Start earning: How to monetize a podcast in 9 easy ways

Purpose and episode content overview

Once you’ve welcomed people to your show, give a brief overview of how your podcast works. Depending on your own podcast format, this could be an episode number, the episode title, the particular subject of this episode, or a combination of all three. 

Including this context in your podcast intro lets the listener know which episode they’re about to hear, which can save them time and improve listener retention rates. People don’t have to get further into the podcast episode and realize that they’ve already heard it, or that they accidentally skipped one.

Hook or engaging story

The next segment of your podcast intro should be a tagline or key message that expresses the value you want a listener to get from your podcast. Tell them what they’ll learn, who they’ll meet, and how you’ll advance the story. 

In this episode of the Jay Shetty podcast, for example, the creator convinces people to keep listening with this short sentence spoken by the podcast guest: “I think envy is the thief of joy.”

Call to action or episode preview

The final segment of your episode should tell people what to do using. A call-to-action (CTA) is a simple way to keep new listeners in your sphere of influence—whether they’re listening to the next episode or subscribing to your email list. 

CTA examples you could use in your podcast outro include:

  • Leaving a review in their podcast player
  • Subscribing to the show on YouTube (if you do a video podcast)
  • Tipping you via Patreon or Buy Me A Coffee 
  • Shop your podcast merch 
  • Following you on social media 
🎧 Syndicate your show: How to upload your podcast to Apple Podcasts: A guide

3 podcast intro script examples

If you’re concerned about your ability to remember all the things you want in your podcast intro, consider leaning on one of these podcast intro templates to keep you on task. 

1. Generic podcast introduction

If your podcast doesn’t follow a particular format and you’d like to gently introduce the theme of a new episode, use this podcast introduction template:

“Welcome back to [name] podcast. I’m your host [host name] and in today’s episode, we’re talking about [topics], with a particularly interesting discussion on [topic]. Keep listening to find out more, and remember that you can keep the show running (and get exclusive content) by donating to our Patreon. The link is in the show notes. Now, onto the episode!”

2. Interview podcast introduction

Interviews are a successful podcast format because it gives listeners the chance to hear different people’s perspectives from a single show. 

Here’s a short podcast script to introduce listeners to an interview-style episode:

“Hi, I’m [host name] and you’re listening to the [name] podcast, a show that [tagline]. Today we’re chatting with [guest] about [topics]. [Guest] is [short biography], so you know this is going to be a fascinating conversation. Keep listening to learn [action point], and remember to subscribe to the show if you enjoy the episode.”

3. Podcast sponsor introduction

If you’re looking for a way to monetize your podcast, your intro is valuable real estate. Those who click on your podcast episode are likely to listen to the first few seconds, making pre-roll ads the go-to advertising slot for brands with a budget to invest in creator sponsorships. 

Podcast networks like Buzzsprout will manage ads for you. If you’d rather have more control over sponsorships, pitch those with the best overlap with your audience. As a rough guide, you could earn around $18 per 1,000 downloads for a 30-second ad in your podcast introduction—a figure that soon adds up once you increase your listener base. 

Here’s a quick template to get you started:

“This show is powered by our friends at [sponsor]. [sponsor] is a [description of products/services]—which is why we love recommending them to [brief description of your target audience]. Learn more about [brand] at [website]. Now, onto the show.”

Mastering podcast intros: 5 best practices

You’ve got the first draft of your podcast nailed down. Here’s how to take it to the next level. 

Hook the audience

Humans have a limited attention span that seems to be decreasing by the year. In terms of podcasting: You’ve got around three seconds to make an impact. Fail to grab someone’s attention within that time frame and you could lose new listeners for good, but make it good and there’s a good chance that they’ll stick around and buy into your show. 

Many creators use teasers to hook their audience. The Diary of a CEO podcast, for example, takes the most shocking or surprising clip from the episode and plays it in the introduction—like this one for its interview with Jada Pinkett Smith. People get a sneak peek of what’s to come. This curiosity can keep them listening once the intro ends. 

Brief and clear content

Podcast intros shouldn’t be crammed with every detail about your show. Keep it tight and respect your listener’s time. 

The introduction to a podcast should be less than 30 seconds and ideally less than 15. Ad reads and previous episode recaps might make an intro longer, but never more than two minutes. The intro for the world famous Serial podcast, for example, comes in at just a minute and a half. This is enough time to include an ad read, theme music, and a “previously on” recap. 

Highlight your value proposition

When a first-time listener tunes in, they’re questioning whether it’s the right show for them. That’s why the best podcast intros talk to their target audience and communicate the show’s value proposition (USP) from the jump.

Let’s put that into practice and say you’re hosting a true crime podcast. The space is crowded; there are several hundred podcasts in the true crime category on Spotify alone. 

What makes your show stand out is your quick-fire questions with experts who worked on the case—rather than just speculation from enthusiasts with no real experience. Communicate this USP with a short tagline like, “Welcome to the [name] podcast, your favorite true crime show where we get a psychologist’s point of view on some of the world’s most famous cases.” 

📚 Continue learning: How to start a podcast: A step-by-step beginner’s guide

Show personality

Studies show that 87% of podcast listeners tune into their favorite shows to be entertained. Your podcast introduction might only be 30 seconds long, but you could win over first-time listeners with one that showcases your personality and keeps people entertained. 

Some creators use a catchy jingle to show their personality. Others tell a joke or a funny anecdote from that week—all of which capture a listener’s attention more than a bog-standard introduction.

“Stay authentic and let spontaneity guide you. While it's essential to maintain a professional tone, it's equally crucial to let your genuine curiosity and excitement shine through. Remember, your intro sets the tone for the entire episode, so make it count!” —Michał Sadowski, podcast host 

Use background music

Intro music isn’t required, but it can help make your podcast stand out and be more identifiable—especially if it’s a unique sound rarely used by other creators. 

Royalty-free music is widely available—many stock music sites have dedicated sections for high-quality music suited to podcasters. But if you can afford to commission a composer to write original music, it will help your podcast stand out from the crowd.

If you’re editing your podcast in Descript, you’ll find thousands of royalty-free tracks and sound effects. Just record your voiceover and add podcast intro music over the top.

 Image of Descript interface where user is looking for royalty free music 

Record and edit your podcast with Descript

Podcast intros are a powerful tool to hook listeners and convince them to keep listening. The secret is to keep them short and simple, including only what you think is beneficial. 

Create the perfect podcast intro with Descript’s podcast editing and recording features:

  • Add royalty-free background music and sound effects
  • Record your podcast remotely in 4K—ideal if you have a guest or co-host
  • Use Studio Sound to record your intro using professional-grade audio 
  • Save your podcast intro and insert it into every new episode 

Take a free tour today and see why some of the world’s top creators use Descript to power their podcasts.

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