7 Best Podcast Formats: Types of Podcasts Explained   

Have you ever wondered what types of podcast formats are available? Well, you’re in luck because in this article we will explain the different types of podcast formats, as well as the differences between a podcast format and structure. You’ll also find some great examples — let’s get started.

So, you’ve decided to become a podcast host. But first, you need to learn about the different podcast formats to decide which one best suits your podcast idea. So let’s check out the best format for your podcast. 

What is a Podcast Format?

Think of podcast format as the blueprint for your show’s success. It’s like having a personalized playlist that showcases your unique vibe. So whether you love lively conversations, captivating stories, or sharing your expertise solo, there’s a format that suits your style like a glove.

As a podcast creator, choosing the right podcast format is essential to capturing your audience’s attention. It’s the key ingredient that adds flavor and personality to your show. For example, are you a natural at engaging interviews, where you get to pick the brains of fascinating guests? Or maybe you have a knack for storytelling, weaving narratives that leave listeners on the edge of their seats. 

If spirited discussions and diverse perspectives are your thing, then conversational podcasts (or interview podcasts) are the way to go. And if you’re a one-person powerhouse, embrace the solo podcast format and let your unique voice shine.

What is a Podcast Structure?

In the enthralling world of podcasting, structure is the glue that holds your chosen format together. It’s the framework that shapes the flow and segments of your show, ensuring a seamless and captivating listening experience. As we delve deeper into podcast structure, let’s explore the essential elements that make every episode shine.

The podcast structure is made up of three segments:

  • The intro: It sets the stage for what’s to come. It should also hook the listener with a compelling teaser, and persuade them to stay and listen longer.
  • The content: It’s the essence of your chosen format. It’s the captivating storytelling or informative discussions. Here’s where you share your knowledge with the audience.
  • The outro: This is where you wrap up the episode, and suggest what your listeners will hear in the next episode. 
  • Plus a CTA: Remember to tell your audience that they should subscribe, rate or review the episode. A call to action is a must, either made throughout the episode or at the end. 

Now, keep in mind that podcast structure varies across different formats. Whether you’re delving into interviews, storytelling, or discussions, each format will have its own unique way of organizing and presenting content. However, these critical elements—intro, content, and outro—remain the pillars that support every successful episode.

MORE: How to write a successful podcast script

Difference Between Podcast Format and Podcast Structure

Wondering what the difference between podcast format and podcast structure is? We’ve prepared a table highlighting the differences between the two:

Podcast FormatPodcast Structure
DefinitionRefers to the overall style, length, and frequency of episodes.Deals with the organization and flow of individual episodes.
FocusDetermines the general characteristics of the podcast.Determines how an individual episode is crafted.
ScopeDescribes the overall approach and tone of the podcast series.Describes the arrangement and flow of content within an episode.
PurposeHelps creators and listeners choose podcasts that align with their preferences.Helps create engaging and well-structured episodes.
ConsiderationsConsider the target audience, content delivery style, and desired outcomes.Consider the sequence of segments, transitions, and pacing.
ImportanceGuides the overall production and presentation of a podcast series.Influences the listener’s experience and engagement within a single episode.
FlexibilityCan be adapted or changed across different episodes or seasons.Can be adjusted to suit the topic, guest, or theme of a specific episode.
LongevityTypically remains consistent throughout the podcast series.Can vary from episode to episode based on the desired structure.

There are different types of podcast formats, as we mentioned before. We’ve listed the most common podcast formats with examples. Which one is going to be your favorite?

1. Interview Podcast Format

The interview format involves interviewing guests with expertise or interesting stories to share. The host engages in conversations, asking questions and guiding the discussion. Interview-based podcasts often provide valuable insights and perspectives. 

The interview podcast format is very similar to the conversational podcast format. Many times these formats are merged together. As the name suggests, a conversational podcast is more of a conversation between the host and guest than the interview podcast format.

Example: On Purpose with Jay Shetty, hosted by Jay Shetty.

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

If you plan to have guests on every episode, and if you want that to be the main focus of your podcast, then this podcast format is the one you should opt for. 

2. Narrative Storytelling

In this format, podcasts tell a compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end. These podcasts often incorporate elements of investigative journalism, personal narratives, or fictional storytelling. Narrative podcasts are known for their immersive and engaging storytelling techniques.

Example: Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig. 

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

If you plan to elaborate on stories and dive deeper into storytelling, then the narrative podcast format is the one for you.

3. Panel Podcast Format or Roundtable Podcasts

This format involves a group of hosts or experts engaging in a discussion on a particular topic. Panel discussions allow for different viewpoints and opinions, creating a dynamic and diverse conversation. These podcasts are great for in-depth analysis and lively debates.

Example: The Bill Simmons Podcast, hosted by Bill Simmons. 

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

If you’re not afraid of disagreeing with your guests or co-hosts on various topics, but still want to hold an interesting discussion, then the panel podcast formal is the one for you. 

4. Solo Shows or Monologue Podcasts

As the name suggests, solo shows feature a single host presenting content without guests or co-hosts. Solo podcasts are typically informative or educational, where hosts share their knowledge, experiences, or thoughts on a specific subject.

Example: The Tim Ferriss Show, hosted by Tim Ferriss.

Why might it be right for my podcast? 

You might not want to talk with anyone else on your podcast, in that case a solo show is much better than other formats which you won’t be comfortable with. 

5. Hybrid Formats

Some podcasts combine multiple formats to create a unique listening experience. For example, a podcast may start with a solo segment, or simply with a co-host. Then it can transition into an interview and conclude with a roundtable discussion. Hybrid formats offer versatility and keep the audience engaged.

Example: The Joe Rogan Experience, hosted by Joe Rogan.

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

Sometimes it’s nice not to stay flexible. If you don’t want to follow just one format, a hybrid one will be just right. Just make sure not to mix and match too much so it doesn’t confuse your audience!

6. Video Format

The video format has to have a mention here too. After all, this type of format is definitely a more unique one. Not everyone shows their face when it’s easier to talk with just a mic. YouTube podcasts have become increasingly popular, and it’s no surprise. We all love to see our favorite influencers and celebrities. If you feel brave enough, this type of podcast format will be a treat for your podcast listeners.

Example: The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett, hosted by Steven Bartlett. 

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

If you want to show your face to the audience, then why not try a video format. There will be some extra work involved, but in the long term, it gives much better exposure.

From the statistics provided by Statista we found out what the preferred podcast format is, in the US, as of October 2022:

  • The video format is most popular amongst Gen Z (42%) and Millennials (43%).
  • The video format is preferred by most generations except Gen X, who prefer to listen without video (31%) rather than with (28%).
  • Overall, 32% of all US adults prefer to listen to podcasts with video, and 26% prefer to listen to podcasts only in audio format.

7. Your own format

Who’s to say what type of format is best or worse? Or that you have to stick to one. If you want to make up your own format, it’s totally up to you. If you create something unique, even better. Remember, people love to see originality. Could your podcast format be the one that everyone falls in love with?

Why is it suitable for my podcast? 

Because you want to do something unique that no one has done before. 

Pros and Cons of Different Podcast Formats 

Here’s a pros and cons table comparing the leading podcast formats:

Format StyleProsCons
Interview Podcast Format– Provides diverse perspectives and insights.– Dependent on guest availability.
– Engaging conversations and dynamic exchanges.– Reliance on guest chemistry.
– Offers opportunities for deep exploration of topics.– May require significant pre-interview preparation.
Narrative Storytelling– Captivating and immersive storytelling experience.– Requires meticulous planning and research.
– Builds suspense and keeps listeners hooked.– May have a slower pace or require longer episodes.
– Blends elements of journalism, personal narratives, etc.– Crafting compelling stories can be time-consuming.
Panel Podcast Format or Roundtable Podcasts– Offers diverse viewpoints and perspectives.– Managing multiple voices and maintaining balance.
– Dynamic and lively conversations.– Difficulties in scheduling multiple guests.
– Allows for in-depth analysis and debates.– Potential for overlapping or conflicting opinions.
Solo Shows or Monologue Podcasts– Provides direct connection with the host’s expertise.– Requires a host to carry the entire episode.
– Freedom to share personal insights and experiences.– Limited opportunity for discussion and different voices.
– Control over the pacing and flow of content.– Requires strong solo hosting and storytelling abilities.
Hybrid Formats– Offers versatility and a unique listening experience.– Requires careful integration of different format elements.
– Keeps the audience engaged with varied content.– Potential for disjointed transitions between segments.
– Can cater to different preferences and interests.– Requires seamless blending of different format styles.
Video Formats– Visual element adds an extra layer of engagement.– Requires additional resources for video production.
– Allows for non-verbal communication and visual cues.– Accessibility challenges for audio-only platforms.
– Provides opportunities for visual demonstrations.– Requires careful consideration of audio-visual balance.

Remember that the suitability of each format style may vary depending on the podcast’s specific goals, target audience, and the capabilities of the podcasting team. Therefore, it’s important to consider these factors when choosing the best format for your podcast.

Expert tip 

Each podcast format and structure has its own merits and caters to different interests and preferences. Whether you enjoy thought-provoking discussions, captivating stories, or informative monologues, there is a podcast format that suits your taste.

MORE: Learn how to promote your podcast

What is the Best Podcast Format for Your Show?

Unfortunately, we can’t decide that for you, and it will come down to your unique offering. What we do know is that choosing the best podcast format for your show depends on factors such as knowing your target audience, content goals, and personal preferences. 

Consider the type of content you want to create, your hosting abilities, and the format that aligns with your strengths. Next research your target audience’s preferences and interests to select a format that will resonate with them. Experimentation and audience feedback can help you determine the best format for your show. 

How to Switch a Podcast Format?

After choosing a podcast format, you might decide that it’s not the one for you. And that’s ok. If you’re considering switching your podcast format, planning and communicating the change is important, which is why you should consider the following steps:

  • Evaluate the reasons behind the switch and how it aligns with your content goals.
  • Inform your existing audience about the upcoming change through social media, website announcements, or a dedicated episode. 
  • Provide them with an explanation of why you’re making the switch and the benefits they can expect. 
  • Adapt your podcast structure to fit the new format and ensure a smooth transition for existing and new listeners.

And there you have it. Switching to a different podcast format doesn’t have to be too scary if you know what to do. 

Takeaway Points

 Here’s a recap of what you should remember after today:

  • A podcast format refers to a podcast series’s overall style, length, frequency, and tone. 
  • The podcast structure deals with the organization and flow of individual episodes.
  • Common podcast formats include interview-based podcasts, narrative storytelling, panel or roundtable discussions, solo shows, and hybrid formats.
  • Understanding different podcast formats helps creators and listeners choose content that aligns with their preferences and interests.
  • Choosing the best podcast format for your show involves considering your target audience, content goals, and personal strengths as a host.
  • If you’re considering switching podcast formats, plan the change carefully and communicate it to your audience through various channels.
  • And last but not least, experimentation, audience feedback, and staying up-to-date with industry trends can help you refine your podcast format and structure over time.

Recommendation

Phew, that was a lot of information. If you’re ready to start your journey as a podcaster now, you simply have to check out our podcast name generator. In just a few simple steps, you’ll have the perfect podcast name.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

There are many types of podcasts, including interview-based podcasts, narrative storytelling podcasts, panel or roundtable discussion podcasts, solo shows, and many more. The type of podcast depends on the content, style, and focus of the show.

The three common types of podcast formats are episodic podcasts, serialized podcasts, and hybrid podcasts. Episodic podcasts feature standalone episodes that can be listened to independently. Serialized podcasts follow a continuous narrative or theme across multiple episodes, where each episode builds upon the previous ones. Hybrid podcasts combine elements of both episodic and serialized formats, featuring standalone episodes while also incorporating an overarching theme or narrative.

Podcast structure refers to the organization and flow of a podcast episode. It involves elements such as the introduction, segments or topics, transitions, advertisements, guest interviews, listener questions, and conclusion. The specific format of podcast structure can vary depending on the style and content of the show, as well as the preferences of the host.

The most common file format for podcasts is MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3). MP3 files balance audio quality and file size, making them easily downloadable and playable on various devices and platforms.

Spotify supports podcasts in the MP3, M4A, and OGG file formats. However, MP3 is the most widely used and compatible format for podcasts on Spotify.

MP3 is generally the recommended format for podcasts due to its smaller file size and wide compatibility. WAV files, on the other hand, are uncompressed and offer higher audio quality but result in larger file sizes. Unless you have specific requirements for lossless audio, MP3 is the preferred format for podcasts as it balances audio quality and file size efficiently.

Five key elements of a podcast include having an introduction to set the tone, organizing sections into particular segments, including smooth transitions, advertising and wrapping up the episode.

Ways to structure a podcast include a linear structure (that is, presenting content in a linear, chronological order from start to finish), a modular structure (breaking the episode into distinct segments or modules that can be rearranged or listened to independently). A podcast can also have a seasonal structure (organizing the podcast into seasons, where each season focuses on a specific theme or topic and consists of a set number of episodes). And last but not least, a mixed structure (combining different structures within the podcast).

Author

Dominika Kaminska

Dominika Kaminska

Amazing content you need, amazing content we deliver. Whether you need marketing, e-commerce, or business information, Dominika is here to guide you through it all.

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