Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

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How to Outline a Podcast Episode in 4 Steps (w/ Examples)

girl-writing-podcast-episode-outline

Emily Kingland

Lead Writer at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

Recording a podcast episode with no outline is like going ziplining with no zipline.

It’s not going to go well.

ouch-meme

So, instead of falling to your inevitable death, make an episode outline. I know, I know — you clicked on this link to answer one question…

How do I make a podcast episode outline? To make a useful podcast episode outline, follow these steps:

  1. Do keyword research to find topics.
  2. Do research on your guest.
  3. Schedule a pre-interview to determine main talking points.
  4. Use the notes from the pre-interview to outline the Introduction, Transition, Interview, & Conclusion.

We’re going to get into the details of these steps. But if you’d rather jump to the interview-based outline example, go ahead and click here, antsy Nancy. Doing a solo episode? Get to those tips right here.

Otherwise, start here. 👇

1. Keyword Research for Business Podcasting

To create a valuable piece of content for your desired audience, keyword research has to happen. This isn’t just for SEO purposes either. Keyword research helps you get into the mind of your ideal customers.

Without an understanding of what your audience is looking for, it’s that much harder to create content that they care about.

Google Alphabet Soup

The keyword research method that our team has found extremely useful is called Google Alphabet Soup. Here’s how it works:

Kate is in charge of finding relevant topics for her organization’s podcast called The Mindful Marketer. One of the main themes of the show is content marketing. She opens up Google and… 

  1. Types in content marketing a to see what queries Google auto-suggests. Suggestions include content marketing awards, content marketing associate, and content marketing and seo.
  2. Content marketing and SEO make sense to discuss on The Mindful Marketer. Kate notes the search query in her list of topic ideas.
  3. She then actually searches the query to see the questions under People also ask. One of the questions is What’s the difference between SEO and content marketing?
  4. This question makes for a great episode topic (and title). Kate lists it under content marketing and seo.
  5. Once she notes all of the relevant auto-suggestions for content marketing a, Kate deletes a and types in b. She repeats the same process.

It’s a simple but powerful process. Good luck running out of ideas now! 😉

[READ: Don’t have a podcast marketing plan yet? Here’s an easy-to-use template.]

Customer FAQs

Another effective way of coming up with relevant podcast topics is to use common questions from your customers.

question-dwight-schrute-GIF

Your entire show should be centered around your ideal customer and their expertise. That’s how you get them to be interviewed. However, it might make more sense to use a customer FAQ for a solo episode.

[READ: Wanna make a kick-ass solo episode? Here’s how to do it.]

Say your company provides SEO services to small businesses. Your customers are always asking what the difference between SEO and content marketing is. So, you make a solo episode to discuss the difference.

Now, you have an asset that answers a question for your current customers and your potential customers. It’s a win-win… win. ☺

2. Guest Research

If you don’t know your guest personally (and even if you do), it’s a good idea to do research on them before the pre-interview. Research ends up saving you and your guest a ton of time.

[READ: Not sure how to schedule guests for your show? This is how.]

Avoid Stupid Questions

Yes. There are such things.

heartburn-meme-guy

When you’re preparing to interview an industry influencer, take the initiative to listen to or read some of their previous interviews. Read a few of their recent LinkedIn posts or tweets. Look to see if their name pops up in any recent news.

Doing this benefits you in three ways:

  1. You avoid asking stupid questions that frustrate your guest (i.e., where’d you grow up?).
  2. You save your guest a lot of time when they don’t have to explain everything.
  3. You find a unique & timely angle to the interview that no other interviewer has taken w/ that guest.

Want to conduct an outstanding interview with an industry thought-leader? Do your research.

3 Types of Podcast Guests

In order to build out an effective podcast outline, determine the kind of guest you’re interviewing. For a business podcast, there are three main types:

  1. External Guests: These guests are from outside of your organization. They likely match your ICP and that’s why you’ve asked them to be on your show.
  2. Internal Team Members: These are the people you work with. They could be your CEO, CMO, Director of Sales, VP of Audience Growth… anybody within your organization. (These guests oftentimes have some of the best insights!)
  3. Current Customers: Another great source for podcast guests is your current customer base. While they can speak to your company and/or product, keep it on-topic — no one wants to hear an infomercial.

Once you understand which category your guest falls, you can create a more informed episode outline.

Pro Tip: Ask your guest how to pronounce their name before you hit Record. Write it down phonetically if you need to. Mispronouncing a guest’s name is not the best way to kick off an interview, particularly if you want that person’s business.

It’s a quick, easy thing to do and can save some embarrassment.

For instance, if you’re interviewing a team member, you might ask more questions revolving around your organization. Interviewing a current customer, maybe you ask questions surrounding their tech stack and if there are any solutions they wish they had.

3. The Pre-Interview

The guest’s expertise should coincide with a targeted keyword from your topic list. Here’s what that might look like:

Kate created a list of potential episode topics focused on her organization’s ideal customer. The next guest booked for The Mindful Marketer is a freelance B2B writer. As we know, one of the search queries on Kate’s list is What’s the difference between SEO and content marketing?

This being the case, Kate asks the guest if they’d be comfortable talking about the particular topic. If not, then a different keyword can be picked from the list.

After you’ve done keyword research, booked the guest, and done your research on them, it’s time for the pre-interview.

The purpose of the pre-interview is to…

  • Build rapport with the guest
  • Define what the bulk of the interview is going to cover
  • Determine the talking points
  • Ask POV questions
  • Let the guest know what to expect on interview day

Check out Logan’s advice on point-of-view (POV) questions and how to leverage the answers within the actual interview:

logan-lyles-linkedin-post

Remember: The goal of your interview is to generate the most helpful content on the internet for your targeted audience.

The best way to achieve this is to help your guest fully articulate their POV. You can do this by guiding your guest to answering the What, Why, and How related to their unique POV. Here’s what that looks like:

WHAT: Identifying and defining the POV.
WHY: Uncovering the theory, reason, and rationale behind the POV.
HOW: This is what listeners really want. It’s the action, the strategy, and the potential pitfalls to avoid.

Prep the questions necessary for unearthing the What, Why, and especially the How immediately after the pre-interview.

Now that the pre-interview is done, it’s time to write the episode outline as to not forget about the points you want to cover.

4. Outlining for an Interview-Based Podcast Episode

When you build an outline for an interview-based episode, view yourself as a journalist. Set up your questions with the goal of mining the unique perspective your guest has on the topic (it’s there, I promise).

At least part of the unique point-of-view should be uncovered in the pre-interview. But there’s still a chance to fully unearth it in the interview if you ask the right questions.

The Introduction

There are two main things that should be covered in the introduction:

  1. Introducing your guest (duh).
  2. Introducing the main topic.

Podcast Guest Introduction

A lot of hosts allow the guest way too much time to talk about their background, career journey, achievements, etc. Some background information is necessary, but listeners are going to lose interest if it goes on for too long.

The ideal guest introduction in an interview-based episode is done by the host and shouldn’t last more than 30 seconds (that’s a long time in the podcast world).

Yes, the guest’s credibility is important. But it’s much less important than the meat of the episode. Allowing the introduction to go too long will have your listeners asking…

wheres-the-beef-lady

If sharing the full version of their professional background is a must for your guests, try doing it at the end of the interview. This might seem backward, but your audience is more likely to want to learn about the guest’s background after they’ve shared some value.

james-carbary-linkedin-post

Topic Introduction

In the pre-interview, you should’ve established the main points your and your guest are going to discuss. For the listener’s sake, mention those main points right away in the intro.

This way, someone can identify whether or not they want to hear about the topic or not. Simply doing the listener this courtesy is sometimes enough to keep them there, even if they don’t think the topic is necessarily interesting.

Plus, by introducing the main topics, it gets you and your guest into the right mindset and reminds you why you’re there.

The Transition

Moving from the introduction into the meat of the episode takes some finesse. You want it to sound natural, but depending on the guest, it can end up sounding choppy and forced.

You also don’t want to make it an extension of the person’s back story. Your audience is chomping at the bit to hear some actual insights or advice.

Here are some ideas to naturally transition from the introduction into the interview:

Try asking…

  • About the book they just wrote on the main topic.
  • How they generally define the main topic.
  • What’s special about the main topic.
  • About the current landscape of the main topic.
  • About their company’s approach to the main topic.
  • About the article/LinkedIn status they just wrote on the main topic.
  • About the press release their company wrote concerning the main topic.

These transitional questions help you guide the conversation into the meat of the episode without dragging out the guest’s introduction. Again, connect with your inner journalist because you’ll need to do a little research beforehand.

john-bonini-linkedin-post

Understanding the basics about your guest is critical for asking relevant questions and mining really valuable information. So, do your research. Any good journalist will tell you that.

The Interview

Interviewing someone can be anxiety-inducing, but this is actually the easiest part of the whole gig. You’re just having a conversation!

Keep Follow-Up Questions On-Hand

In your outline you should have all of the questions you and the guest discussed beforehand. Additionally, keep some relevant follow-up questions nearby. As you’re still honing your interviewing skills, it’s nice to have some back-up questions to help you out.

Like Logan mentioned in his LinkedIn post, there are some follow-up questions that work in almost any scenario:

  • What do you really mean by ______?
  • Why do you believe that?
  • Why do you think others disagree?
  • How could someone listening take action on this? What’s step #1?
  • How could someone following your advice potentially get it wrong?

Bulk of the Content

The majority of the interview should be your guest sharing and elaborating on their POV. You’re just there to keep the conversation on the tracks and dig deeper when necessary.

There are nine tips to we suggest to keep top-of-mind in order for a smooth interview:

  1. Don’t get caught up in the mechanics. Focus on what your guest is saying — not what you’re going to say next.
  2. Take short notes of things your guest says that you’d like to revisit. Let the guest finish their thought, then come back to the point you want to highlight.
  3. It’s okay to interrupt if your guest is rambling. It’s your job to act on account of your listeners.
  4. Your listeners don’t want to hear a sales pitch. Guide the guest towards industry trends, best practices, and so forth.
  5. It’s fine to respectfully disagree with your guest. It can make for a dynamic episode.
  6. Focus on actions. Many times, guests can get caught up in the theory of their processes.
  7. Don’t drag out stupid stuff. You don’t need to make further comments on the guest’s cat’s multi-colored whiskers.
  8. You represent the listener, so don’t try to sound smarter than everybody. If you don’t understand something the guest says, respond with: For anyone less familiar, what did you mean by _____?
  9. It’s completely normal to be nervous. As you get more episodes under your belt, interviewing will become more like second nature.

Concluding the Interview

For a natural interview wrap-up, include in your outline how you’re going to conclude it.

The conclusion should consist of…

  • A summary of the main points
  • Where listeners can contact the guest
  • A thank-you to the guest

If you feel like the episode isn’t going to be very actionable or valuable to people, ask one of these closing questions:

  • What’s the main takeaway you want to leave listeners with?
  • What’s a tangible next step that listeners can take back to their business?
  • Before we close out today’s episode, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Boom. 💥 Interview over.

Example of an Interview-Based Episode Outline

Now that we know all of the ins and outs of a successful interview, here’s an example of our knowledge applied:

B2B Growth, Ep. 3 Outline

Guest: James Carbary, CEO at Sweet Fish Media (full-service podcast production agency)

Main topic: How to use a podcast for your ABM campaign.

INTRO

Hello and welcome back to B2B Growth! I’m your host Emily Kingland, lead content writer at Sweet Fish Media. Today I’m joined by the CEO of Sweet Fish Media, James Carbary (car/berry).

Our topic today focuses on why you should use a podcast to supercharge your ABM campaign, as well as steps for launching a business podcast.

Before we jump in, a little bit about James. Like I said, he’s the CEO of Sweet Fish Media, a full-service podcast production agency that creates shows for B2B companies. James is also the author of Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect w/ Anyone You Want to Know. He hails from the Orlando area but leads an entirely remote team with members around the world.

Quick Tip: Have your guest review the information you’re using to introduce them so they can make any changes they deem necessary.

Thanks for joining us today, James!

TRANSITION

Why don’t you give us a quick run-down of what people can learn from your book, Content-Based Networking?

INTERVIEW

  • How do you define content-based networking?
  • Can you give me an example of content-based networking?
  • What does it look like to start a podcast to support your ABM campaign?
  • If I understand correctly, starting a podcast to support your ABM campaign is a type of content-based networking. Am I right in saying that?
  • Why hasn’t everyone started a podcast to meet anybody they want?
  • What results have you seen from starting a business podcast?
  • Can listeners expect the same kinds of results?
  • What’s the first step someone should take if they want to start a podcast for their ABM campaign? The second and third steps?
  • What are some pitfalls new podcasters should look out for?
  • If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice about business podcasting, what would it be?

CONCLUSION

In summary, listeners who want to launch a podcast to support their ABM campaign should…

  • Make a list of target accounts and ask them if they’d like to be on your show.
  • Use a pre-interview to build rapport with the ideal buyer and establish their unique POV.
  • Notify the guest when the episode goes live.
  • Use the main points from the interview to activate your relationship with the guest.
  • Keep track of the number of conversions your podcast drives.

That’s some solid advice, James! Anything else you’d like to add?

James, if listeners want to get in touch with you or find your book, what are the easiest ways?

Thanks again for being on the show! Again, that was James Carbary, CEO of Sweet Fish Media and podcasting genius.

Thanks for listening to B2B Growth. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Make sure to make quick notes on your outline during the interview. This will help you summarize the main points and get the most out of conversation.

Outlining for a Solo Podcast Episode

Creating an outline for a solo episode is less involved than that of an interview-based episode.

[LISTEN: Why the heck would you do a solo episode? This is why (& how).]

One of the biggest advantages of doing a solo episode is that it’s easier to narrow in on a targeted keyword. With an interview, you obviously can’t control what the guest says or doesn’t say. If you’re the only speaker, staying focused becomes much easier.

The Introduction

Introduce yourself and the topic like you would in any other episode. Let the listeners know what they can expect to learn.

Here, it helps to have your thoughts plotted out in a list. This makes it so a listener is more likely to retain the information. Sort of like a table of contents.

The Meat

A transition really isn’t needed here. Unless there’s a specific reason why you’re covering the topic, it’s good to just get into the meat of the episode.

wheres-the-beef-lady

In the main part of the episode, you want to share useful information that you can also give your unique POV on. Whatever keyword you choose to target, there’s probably — no, definitely — content already on it.

To make sure your episode stands out, offer your personal take on the topic. Also, distribute it in a helpful way (lists are good).

In the words of many smart people, strive to be different — not better.

The Conclusion

Tell ’em what you told ’em.

Summarize the main points. Offer any other resources where listeners can learn more about the topic. Tell them where to connect with you.

Easy peasy.

Example of a Solo Episode Outline

Your solo episode outline doesn’t have to be anywhere near perfect — you’re the only one looking at it. Just make sure it reminds you of all the points you want to hit on.

B2B Growth, Ep. 3 Outline (Solo)

Host: Emily Kingland

Topic: How to use a podcast for your ABM campaign

INTRO

Hello and welcome back to B2B Growth! I’m your host Emily Kingland, lead content writer at Sweet Fish Media. Today, I’m going to go over five steps for using a podcast to supercharge your ABM campaign.

Those steps include…

  1. Make a list of target accounts.
  2. Establish their unique POV.
  3. Notify the guest when the episode goes live.
  4. Activate your relationship with the guest.
  5. Measure the effectiveness of your podcast.

Let’s take a look at step #1.

MEAT 🍖

  1. Make a list of target accounts and ask them if they’d like to be on your show.
  2. Use a pre-interview to build rapport with the ideal buyer and establish their unique POV.
  3. Notify the guest when the episode goes live.
  4. Use the main points from the interview to activate your relationship with the guest.
  5. Keep track of the number of conversions your podcast drives.

Quick Tip: If you’re the expert on the topic, you shouldn’t have to write down everything you want to say. Riffing off bullet points sounds more authentic, anyways.

CONCLUSION

To support your ABM campaign with a podcast, follow the steps we just covered.

  1. Make a list of target accounts.
  2. Hold a pre-interview w/ POV questions.
  3. Reach out when the episode goes live.
  4. Use talking points to activate the ideal customer.
  5. Measure the effectiveness.

If you want to learn more about ABM, check out Sangram Vajre’s book, ABM is B2B on Amazon. Or, listen to episode 2 of B2B Growth.

To connect with me, find me on LinkedIn.

Thanks for listening to B2B Growth. Never miss an episode by subscribing to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Your Savory Takeaways

I know we talked a lot about beef and meat but I hope you also gathered some Grade-A tips on outlining a podcast episode. (Someone stop me. 🥩)

Let’s refresh for fun:

  • Do keyword research to discover topics your ideal customers care about.
  • Research your guest before you start asking dumb questions.
  • Schedule a pre-interview to uncover your guest’s unique POV.
  • Use your notes from the pre-interview to create a well-informed episode outline.

And don’t forget the steak sauce.

For more B2B podcasting insights, subscribe to B2B Growth on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.