Show Structure: Podcasting’s Character Selection Screen

5 minute read

 

Howdy folks. Welcome back.

 

In today’s beefy blog, we’re going to be examining show structure. I’ll take you through all the different formats your podcast can be and then I’ll freestyle a bit on their drawbacks and benefits.

 

Let’s get into it.

 

People often trip on show structure and for good reason. After all, it’s a big decision. Your show structure will come with a unique set of requirements and benefits, it will change your perception and it will change your content.

 

So, before we get into the specifics, let’s take a look at all of our options.

 

 

  • Single Host Format: just you and nobody else
  • Co-Host Format: you and a colleague, buddy, peer, etc.
  • Interview Based: you as the interviewer, asking guests questions
  • Hybrids: mixtures of any of the above formats

Single Host Format

 

I’m going to start off by saying that a single-host format is not for everyone. 

 

I mean for one, it’s intimidating. As a host, you’re expected to fill all the spaces of your show. Podcasts are uninterrupted content – so no co-host or guest to bail you out. It’s all you, all the time. 

 

What you’re really going for in the single-host format is intimacy and connection. This presentation is so much more personal, audience members are directly spoken to. For coaches, or experts that are trying to educate or persuade, this may be your format.

 

Remember, this structure demands a lot from the host. Even if you are talented at public speaking, you will need to prepare and outline your thoughts at the very least. Feel free to have it in front of you – but have it organized and planned out beforehand. You aren’t relying on conversation or others to help drive the content, it’s your ideas and opinions. 

 

Co-Host Format

 

This structure requires a bit more planning and obviously more collaboration. After all, you’re creating something with someone else.

 

Your podcast will be a shared vision, a shared endeavor. 

 

In short, you have to be able to play well with others.

 

But here’s the thing: If you can find a great co-host, someone you vibe with and you guys agree on a shared vision, a goal, all that good stuff – then this format can be one of the most rewarding out of the ones discussed here.

 

With a co-host, not only do you have an extra pair of hands, you also have a partner that can help you make decisions and deal with problems, which can come in real handy.

 

Additionally, having a partner will add an extra layer of accountability that you don’t get with a single-host or interview format. It’s easier to be consistent and harder to quit when you have another person connected to the project and its outcome.

 

Functionally speaking in a recording setting, having a co-host takes the heat off of you. Not only do you get interaction and conversation that can make the content more compelling, you also get a teammate that can pick up the slack for you. 

 

Keep in mind that this structure will contribute to a more conversational, more relaxed presentation. The co-hosts typically know each other, or like each other. There is expected to be a warmness and familiarity that you don’t get with a single-host or interview-based. You can also get the benefit of an extra perspective, an extra set of experiences and another person for the audience to identify with.

 

With the right co-host, the sky’s the limit. 

 

Interview-Based

 

Interview-based podcasts are probably the most involved in terms of preparation and work – but in the right circumstances, it can create strong content.

 

The only drawback with having guests is: the guests.

 

I’m not being an asshole, it’s true.

 

One of the biggest challenges to an interview-based format is the guests themselves. It’s ironic because guests are also the format’s greatest benefit, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

 

So, few things to consider when selecting a guest. First things first, you need to research. Before you reach out to your guests, you need to find them and study them. 

 

What do they have to offer? What would they like to talk about? Can they address a need that your audience has?

 

Have they been on a podcast before? If so, how did they do? If not, would they be comfortable with being on a podcast?

 

As you refine your process, you’ll have some common questions you’ll ask and some things that you’ll look out for in general – but don’t slack on the research and preparation, seriously.

 

You also have to consider your guests fit with your content and by extension, your audience. If your audience consists of new investors that only know the basics of the stock market, you may want to save that expert who specializes in complex capital structures for a later episode. It’s good to find guests that you may like, but keeping your audience’s needs in mind is also paramount.

 

As far as style, you have to be comfortable being conversational. You’ll have questions prepared (hopefully), but you have to be able to be light on your feet as well as able to guide the conversation and your guest.

 

Unfortunately, these are skills that are discovered and improved under live fire. You have to get in there and get a little dirty before your true style and a sense of comfort or control will start to emerge.

 

All trouble with the curve aside, interview-based podcasts are frequently among some of the most interesting and insightful shows. Each episode is so different and the freedom to choose guests gives you the ability to really open up your content. Just imagine the experiences, advice and perspectives you can capture in 10 or 20 interviews!

 

Hybrids

 

Hybrids are just that, mixtures of these formats in one way or another. These can have mixed results, sometimes creating something better, other times it will need adjusting.

 

Consider the example of the comedy podcast “Your Mom’s House” with Tom Segura and Christina P. 

 

They have a traditional co-host format, where they essentially review clips and cover relevant topics – which can cover an entire episode. Other episodes have a guest, but they’re always brought in mid-way through the podcast after Christina and Tom catch up 

 

Even on the episodes where it’s just the two of them, they still have frequent interactions with their studio crew. They aren’t co-hosts per se, more like side characters, akin to The Howard Stern Show.

 

Similar comedy podcasts “Bad Friends” and “2 Bears 1 Cave” have the same co-hosts for most of their episodes. However, every once and a while, a guest will fill in for one of the co-hosts. This can expressly be for the purposes of getting a celebrity guest on the show, or to account for a scheduling issue that one of the regular hosts may have.

Either way, their audiences respond to the change-up, as these episodes are among some of their best performing. 

 

The bottom line with hybrids here is that they can work – they do catch some concepts that fall through the cracks, so don’t be afraid to explore some combinations.

 

Conclusion:

 

Show structure is important – it should reflect your style and your personality. I know it must be exhausting to hear that everything is “important” in nearly every blog. So with that being said, keep this in mind: You probably already know what format would suit you and suit your show.

 

ALSO, your format isn’t a life sentence. It’s nice to get it right the first time, but no podcast has ever suffered from a little experimentation.

 

Podcasting is the Wild West, you have to hop on your horse and go. Like anything else, the tough part comes down to simply making the decision.

Aaaaaaand, if you have any questions about these formats that wasn’t covered in this blog, feel free to reach out to me at jack@podcastprinciples.com

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