Intro and Outro — how much is enough?

First impressions count! We might not like it but there you are. We must deal with reality as we find it. What’s to be done?

Intros come in a variety of flavours. There’s the straight into the show, no music, no hello, nothing type of Intro. These can be a bit brutal. The other extreme is the three plus minutes of music with or without a voice over followed by a round up of where the hosts have been, what’s been going on in their minds and what they had for breakfast.

The first intro has its place, not to be used lightly but maybe for a breaking news item, perhaps. In my mind the latter example should be avoided like the plague. It disrespects the listener’s time. Most examples of this style of intro are self indulgent ego stroking claptrap.

There is but one show that has a variation of this type of intro to which I listen. It is a podcast version of a radio show and I know that every episode will have a two to three minute into. I skip forward until I hear voices speaking and then play from that point on. The show is chock full of interesting content, to me. I imagine there are many people who do not value the content sufficiently to work their way through the intro.

Think carefully about this. A short sharp intro is best, I think. It brands your show, triggers people’s memories and reminds them it’s your show that’s starting. Do not use copyright material in your intro! You will eventually be found out. This is especially the case when you become world famous. The lawyers will descend with cease and desist notices. You will then have to re-edit the material out of all your past episodes and that’s a pain.

YouTube has a page with freely available, legal to use, music here. There is also the musical loops on Garageband or you could put together a little tuneful intro yourself. The Sound Bible has sound effects with creative commons attributions and others you can purchase for a small fee. Get creative and have something distinctive for your show!

Outros are not dissimilar to intros. The show with the long intro has varying lengths of outros depending upon the length of their interviews during each episode. The good thing about annoying outros is the skip forward button available on most podcatchers, earbuds and headphones. Again go for simplicity and consistency. For World Organic News I use the same morse code sound bite for intro and outro. Sort of brackets around the show. It is, as with all things podcasting, up to you. But remember to keep your listener’s experience in mind when design your bookends.

Takeaways

  • Shorter is better
  • Consistency is important
  • Respect your listener’s time
  • Do not breach copyright