Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Podcasting 101

IDEA Lab Workshops


Often times, the first step in creating a podcast is deciding your topic or subject matter. Some questions to ask yourself: 

  • What makes you want to create this podcast? What are your interests or passions?
  • Who is your audience? What do you hope your listeners walk away with? How do you want them to feel?
  • Is it just you, or are you working in a group or with a partner? Try having a meeting solely dedicated to ideation. Talking can help you hone in on the main point of your show, come up with a name, and identify colors that you associate with your idea and might want to include in branding. Even if you are not working with a team, podcasts are rarely created alone. Reach out to a friend or us at the IDEA Lab for help whenever you need!

Storytelling vs. Interviewing

There are two general styles of podcasts: storytelling and interviewing. A storytelling podcast can be fictional or factual, but no matter what, they usually deep-dive into a specific event or topic. An interview-style podcast is different in that it is more open-ended, featuring one or more guests answering questions or holding a conversation with the podcast host.

For a storytelling podcast, you will want to prepare a script.

  • Read your script out loud and see if you can catch any flow problems or hiccups. Use this as an opportunity to see if your script fits within your time constraints.
  • Have another person edit the script. Getting an outside opinion can help catch plot holes or other issues you may not have foreseen. If you are a group creating the podcast, do a table read!
  • As you write and read, note places where you may wish to add sound effects or foley work. Consider whether or not you need to create your own foley work or use pre-existing recordings online.

In place of a script for an interviewing podcast, try preparing your questions or an outline beforehand.

  • Will you welcome one guest? More than one? It is very important to avoid interrupting your guests in an interview. Having more than one host or guest can make this more likely to occur, and it can be confusing for listeners trying to tell multiple voices apart from one another.
  • Are your guests in the same room as you, or will this interview take place remotely? Will you be using zoom?
  • Will you send your guests the questions prior to the interview? Sending guests the precise questions can make their answers sound rehearsed, and you could lose an organic feel. Consider sending a more general outline instead to just give some context for the interview. You can also encourage guests to bring their own talking points!
  • Make sure your guests are aware that the recording will be edited. If you need to cut parts of the interview, it can be a courtesy to let them know to make sure no one feels misrepresented or misinterpreted.

Putting Pen to Paper

Once you have identified your topic and style, you are ready to start storyboarding! People do this in many, many ways. We like to think of this as the fun part, so get creative! Using a graphic organizer or drawing to lay out your thought process can be a huge help. You can also try following a classic structure like climbing the Mountain or In Media Res:

Writing a script can be a lot like writing an essay. If you know strategies that work for you, try approaching this in a similar way. Many, many podcasts exist to educate and inform others; crafting your podcast like you would a lesson plan can be another helpful tactic! A large part of this includes ensuring your sources of information are accurate and trustworthy. If you are looking to conduct research for your podcast, don't forget all the library resources you have at your finger tips!

Podcast Structure

Many podcasts have the same structure across each episode to create a pattern. Elements of common podcast structure:

  1. Teaser – Hint at what the episode is about, garner enthusiasm
  2. Intro – Opening theme; this can be recorded once and used in each episode
  3. Main content
  4. Midroll – In a longer podcast, it can be nice to take a break; use this time to promote your social media or tease the next episode 
  5. Main content (continued)
  6. Outro – Wrap up the episode, usually done with a theme song or with information about how to subscribe