Secret to Podcast Growth: Hook Your Audience in 5 Minutes

Did you know there are over 5 million podcasts globally with a cumulative 70 million episodes between them? If listeners aren’t keen from the very beginning, chances are they’ll simply find another. 🤷

That’s why your podcast intro really matters — especially when capturing new listeners. 

An intro that hooks an audience can mean the difference between growing exponentially or getting lost among the millions (literally!) of other podcasts. 😥

But good podcast intros can be a science, an art… or a little bit of both. 🎨🧪

There’s an infinite spectrum of intros — from the “rolling start” Joe Rogan Experience to the super-polished NPR news show. All of them can work! Your job is to craft the best podcast intro for *your* unique show and listenership. 

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • Podcast intro basics and best practices
  • The science of a good intro with real-life examples
  • And when it can work to break all the rules and take a more “artistic” approach

Let’s jump in!

🎙️ The Basics of the Podcast Intro

Creating the best intro for your podcast comes down to two factors:

  1. Knowing the value your show provides your audience. What are your audience looking for when they listen to you? Do they want to learn something? Be entertained? Laugh? Cry? Be inspired?
  2. Deliver value ASAP. Once you know your unique value prop, your intro should deliver that value within the first few minutes or seconds. The sooner your audience gets the “hit” they’re looking for, the more likely they will keep listening. For example, if they want to be educated, your intro should tell them exactly what they’ll learn in this episode. If they’re tuning in to laugh, jump right in with a funny rant or joke.

From there, determine the best format for your podcast.

Formal, pre-recorded intro with music? Informal live intro? “Rolling start”,  jumping right into convo or banter?

The ways to craft your intro and hook your audience are endless. Below, we break it down into different approaches: Science vs. Art.

🔬 The “Scientific” Approach

By “scientific,” we really just mean a more polished and formal intro that you plan out ahead of each episode. No lab coats required.

Here are a few examples of popular podcasts that use this approach!

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Intro format (5 min):

  • CTA (Guy’s book)
  • Short snippet from the episode
  • Formal intro w/music and quick episode summary
  • More detailed introduction of the guest
  • Jump directly into conversation with the guest

Huberman Lab

Intro format (3 min):

  • 10-second pre-recorded intro w/music
  • Live read episode summary (what you’ll learn, what he discusses, what you’ll understand by the end of the episode)

On Purpose with Jay Shetty

Intro format (3 min):

  • Sponsor reads
  • 10-second pre-recorded intro w/music
  • Live read episode summary (what you’ll learn & why you should listen)

Now, these pods have a few things in common that make a more formal introduction work well:

  • They’re mostly educational. Their audience is tuning in to learn something, making it more important to have an intro that explains what the episode will be about.
  • They have a predictable structure, and each episode follows the same format.
  • There’s usually a business objective behind the pod. That means there’s often a CTA built-in to every episode, thus making a predictable and succinct intro more important.

Sound like your show? Read these tips for creating a killer formal podcast intro. 👇

  1. Introduce the show, hosts, and what it’s about/who it’s for. This allows listeners to understand if this episode is relevant to them right away, which will keep them tuned in longer. It can be pre-recorded and set to music or read live.

For example, here’s an intro script you can steal (that we stole 😜) from

“Hey everybody, this is _______ from _______ and you’re listening to the _______ podcast, the show that [explain the purpose of your show] for people who love _______.  Today, we’re talking about _______ with [guest name], who [explain why your guest is an expert on the topic]. We’ll discuss everything there is to know about [the episode topic: include a teaser to hook listeners].”

  1. Choose your hook. Is it a question you’ll answer for them? A quick list of what they’ll learn? An interesting story? A juicy snippet of the episode conversation?
  1. Keep it short and sweet. Most listeners decide if they’ll keep listening within five minutes, so you want your intro to be at least shorter than that but ideally 2-3 minutes.
  1. Set the tone with music. Music isn’t necessary, but it can set the tone of your podcast (upbeat, serious, fun, etc.). It can also make your podcast more memorable – like a commercial jingle. Just make sure you’re using non-copyrighted music!
  1. Sponsors or CTA? If your podcast has sponsors, ad reads, or a CTA (such as promoting your brand/business) you *CAN* include them in your intro, but try to keep it as brief as possible. If you can expand on them later in the episode, such as a mid-roll, you’ll be able to hook your audience more effectively. Nothing annoys listeners more than having to speed up through ads for the first several minutes of a show!

🎨 The “Artistic” Approach

Of course, anyone who’s listened to one of the most popular podcasts in the world, The Joe Rogan Experience, knows you don’t *need* a formal structured intro (though JRE does have a quick jingle at the beginning). 

You can hook your audience just as well with a juicy conversation, co-host banter, or rant. 

Here are a few examples of popular podcasts that break all the “rules” of formal intros:

Indie Hackers

  • Jumps right into co-host conversation and informal introduction of guest
  • Guest joins the call in the middle of the conversation
  • No music or pre-recorded intro

The Tim Dillon Show

  • Jumps right into rant and informal conversation with co-host
  • Throws in a CTA (mention of an upcoming comedy show)
  • No music or pre-recorded intro


  • Few seconds of unrelated banter with co-hosts
  • 10-second pre-recorded intro w/music
  • More co-host banter while they wait for the guest to join

This is definitely a more “artistic” approach that may not work for every show but can be highly effective for podcasts that are:

  • Hosted by multiple people or one highly charismatic host who loves to rant
  • Focused on entertainment, comedy, story-telling, etc.
  • Already have a large following and therefore might not require the formal introduction to new listeners

Whether you choose a structured intro with fancy music or jump right into a rant about the new Barbie movie, the overall takeaway is this: 

Your podcast intro should give your listeners enough reason to stick around – in 5 minutes or less. 

🎙️ So know thy audience and value proposition, and deliver – pronto!

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