How to Pick the Right Podcast Format for Your Brand

Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Looking to grow your profile or start a discussion? Successful podcasts do not happen by sheer luck. To create a show with a devoted following, a lot of thought has to be put into determining the podcast format. Most people assume that a podcast is just two people talking about a given subject, but podcasts provide a great platform for storytelling.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing the various types of podcast formats that exist, and which one best suits your brand or business goals by helping you stand out in a crowd.

Solocasts/Monologues

Solocast podcast format
Photographer: Soundtrap | Source: Unsplash

Most podcasters start out with solocasts. This is where you and your listener chat away, sharing thoughts on whatever your podcast topic is about. Solocasts are one of the easiest podcast formats, as they tend to be based on the host’s experience. Your audience will get to know you, and you are free to bring in a guest once in a while.

Solocasts are ideal for sharing your unique slant on the world. They are commonly used by comedians, narrative storytellers, and thought leaders. If you are looking to build trust with an audience, then solocasts would be your ideal podcast format because they make the audience feel as if you are talking to them directly.

Examples

Pros

  • Ideal for building a personal brand as your audience gets to know you intimately.
  • Easy to set up – all you need is a microphone and a podcasting software
  • The recording can happen at your convenience time and place since there are no guests.
  • Solocasts give you room to exercise complete creative control over your podcast content.
  • They are easy to edit as there’s just one track.

Cons

  • With no one to bounce off of, holding down the fort on your own can be challenging
  • Unless you have an established online presence, having no guests on your show can decrease its credibility to some listeners.
  • With just a single voice, solocasts tend to lack audio variety. This may lose the attention of the audience

Co-hosted Shows

Co hosted shows
Photographer: Kate Oseen | Source: Unsplash

The co-hosted podcast format can be likened to overhearing a chat between two friends. Usually, these types of podcasts have two or more either discussing a certain topic with each other, interviewing a guest about it, or incorporate both. They are low-effort, fun-filled podcasts that easy to record and listen to. Listeners that tune in to such podcasts do so because they like the hosts’ personalities and the conversation they are overhearing.

The co-hosted format is very popular in the marketing world.

Examples

Pros

  • If you have great chemistry with your co-host, these are shows that quickly build a fan base because people want to be part of the ‘club’.
  • Two or three heads are better than one when coming up with content for a weekly show. If you have creative co-hosts that come with a lot of creative ideas, the content planning process with be a creative dream.
  • No need to worry about running out of what to say as there will always be someone to bounce off of should that happen.

Cons

  • Your schedules have to line up in order for it to work.
  • It’s technically harder to edit two or more voices as compared to one.
  • Listeners can hardly relate to insider jokes and references unless they are constantly kept in the loop.
  • Unless you and your co-host(s) are professional comedians, it is hard to keep your audience engaged. This is why podcasts with this format tend to appeal to the co-hosts’ family and friends.

Interview Podcast Format

Style Philosophers podcast host MICHAEL PERRIS interviewing guest Kim Cihlar as producer Jason Charles works the mixing board.
Photographer: Gregory Cole | Source: Unsplash

This is usually the format that most people think about when they hear the term ‘podcast’. This format typically features a consistent host (or hosts) and a new guest in each episode. The guest is invited to speak about their unique expertise or insight. The host leads the discussion by asking questions and giving the guest a chance to answer them. Due to the different voices in each episode, the content feels fresh and the audience gets to learn more about a topic they are genuinely interested in.

Examples

Pros

  • The guest provides the majority of the content since they are the ones doing most of the talking. Your role as the host is to simply guide the flow of the conversation.
  • Interviewing well-known individuals who are experts in their field builds the credibility of your show.
  • Podcasts with this format are lively and engaging as there is room for multiple voices to give different viewpoints, thus encouraging discussions between the host(s) and the guest.
  • Exposing your audience to a diverse range of perspectives keeps them sticking around, helping you build a loyal following.
  • Your guests are more likely to share the podcast episodes with their following, exposing your show to an audience that’s already interested in the topic.

Cons

  • Securing high-quality guests is not a walk in the park. You should be prepared for last-minute cancellations and adjustments.
  • Some guests may end up not being lively contributors especially if they are either nervous or are having a bad day. It takes a skilled interviewer to bring out the best from such guests.
  • Finding a time to record can be difficult especially if you are looking to interview someone with a busy schedule.
  • Researching guests for your show consumes a lot of time. Unless outsourced, this is one of the reasons why most interview-formatted podcasts pod fade.
  • It’s hard to stand out among other interview-based podcasts as there are so many of them out there.

Panels or Roundtable Podcasts

panel discussion podcast format
Photographer: Christina @ wocintechchat.com | Source: Unsplash

This format is quite similar to the interview one, only that this one has more than one person. One or two hosts introduce three or more semi-regular guests to talk about a given topic. This type of podcast format creates a multi-tiered conversation with multiple viewpoints, making it sound like an organic conversation between a group of friends or colleagues.

Commonly used to discuss games and politics, roundtable podcasts are typically longer than the standard podcasts. This is because of the wide range of opinions, hence trying to keep the duration at standard levels could result in narrowing down a given topic.

Examples

Pros

  • Your listeners are exposed to a wide range of opinions and insights due to the constantly changing line-up, giving them a comprehensive view of a given topic.
  • With additional people in the room, the content pressure is taken off you. Even though you may need to moderate the conversation, you will get way more content than you could dish out on your own.
  • Hosting multiple leaders and experts builds the authority of your show.
  • Hosting different lineups helps with your marketing effort should each of the guests share your episodes to their audience.

Cons

  • Getting a time slot that works for all the guests can be difficult. It may also take more time to research each of the guests as you prepare for the interview.
  • Moderating a large group of people and preventing them from talking over one another is a skill. While interrupting a normal conversation is natural, it may end up sounding messy and confusing to the listeners.
  • The technical set up connecting several guests is more complicated as each guest will need a microphone. If remotely done, all of you will be at the mercy of your internet connection.

Mixed Podcast Format

Mixed nuts
Photographer: Usman Yousaf | Source: Unsplash

Since there is no rule to podcasting, most podcasters try out the various formats alternatively or at the same time. Just because you started out with a solo podcast does not mean you can’t throw in a few roundtable or solo shows now and again. If you find that those perform better than your standard ones, then it would make sense to produce more of those. Besides, you can always revert back to your standard format any day!

Examples

Pros

  • Allows for creative freedom for you to present information in a way you see fit.
  • Makes for an exciting show as you can take bit and pieces of each podcast format and create a unique podcast.

Cons

  • This format involves a significant amount of planning and editing.
  • Constantly changing the format can be off-putting to your listeners.
  • A larger investment may be needed in order to create a set up that will facilitate the creation of various different formats.

Over to You…

There you have it, the most popular podcast formats to choose from. Before choosing a podcast format, consider the production process.

If you’d enjoy exercising your creative freedom, the solo format would be your best choice. But if you hate scripts and just can’t imagine constantly researching for content, you probably should consider the interview or co-host format. It’s ultimately about finding a podcast format that you will enjoy working on.