I walked outside my house today and saw a 100% solar eclipse.
My friend, just 11 miles away, wasn't in the path of totality. He saw about 99% coverage.
There's a big difference between 100% and 99%. For an eclipse, it's literally like night and day.
Imagine being in a marriage that's "99% faithful." That's not "faithful."
Nobody in Alcoholics Anonymous abstains from drinking 99% of the time. For them, it's all or nothing.
Same for you and your podcast. All or nothing. A podcast episode that feels "99%" might as well not exist. Listeners want more – something that feels complete.
The "Complete" Podcast Episode Format
Here's a simple podcast episode outline that gives listeners a complete experience and is easy to produce.
- Intro — Let people know what they’re listening to. Guide them into the "main section" of your episode with an entertaining story that grabs their attention, builds curiosity, and keeps them listening.
- Main Section — A single "big idea." See below for various ways to do this.
- Call-To-Action — What's do you want listeners to do with the information you've just given them? What's the "next step" for them to take?
That’s it. You can build upon this format, but make sure you have all of these elements in every podcast episode to give listeners the best experience possible. This is what will keep them coming back to your podcast and get them to tell their friends about it.
As far as the "main section" of your episode, I suggest a single, hyper-focused element such as:
- a single news item - "This is Podcasting Today and Google just did something you need to know about…"
- a single tip or strategy - "This is Running 365 and here’s today’s strategy for building endurance…"
- a single big idea - "This is CEO Breakfast and I want you to consider this as you work today…"
- one question with one answer - "This is Christianity Explained and Bob from Kansas sent me this question about Jesus…"
- a single call-to-action - "This is Conservative Callers and today's action is for you to call your Senator about…"
Obviously, you can build upon this format or have variations of it, depending on the nature of your podcast. As long as you have an episode foundation that feels complete to listeners, you'll be fine.
Listeners don't want 99% from you, they want totality. Don't let the equivalent of "driving 11 miles" keep you from delivering on that.