Choosing the best podcast format

Which is the best podcast format?

Podcast Format Strategy Modern Media School

podcast format ideas...

Beginner podcasters have a number of important things to take into account when planning a new show and among the first things to consider is the best podcast format for your show.

There are many different podcast formats and their structure will help deliver the show’s content to your audience.

So, we thought it would be good to share a few common format types to consider before you get started podcasting.

choosing a format

While of course, the best podcast format may be the one that best suits you, what you choose may make or break your show.

We say this because the number of resources and effort which goes into producing a particular format can vary considerably.

The format you choose will result in different levels of workload associated with producing each episode.

Ultimately you have to consider the best way to deliver your content to your audience.

Here we will give an overview of each podcast format type and some possible pros and cons of choosing a particular one.

Let's look at possible podcast formats


A monologue is a solo podcast format where one individual shares dialogue on a particular topic. This format best suits someone who presents as an expert on a specific topic or in a particular niche. If you are trying to position yourself as an industry leader or influencer this format may be your best approach. Monologues set you up as an authority on the topic you are discussing. They also provide an opportunity to present your thoughts and ideas without dissent or discussion during the show. They usually require reasonably good or confident presentation skills as well as demonstrated knowledge or experience on the topic. They are quite easy to record, produce and upload. They work well for both evergreen and trending topics.


Monologue Solo Podcast Format Modern Media School
One on One Interview Podcast Format Modern Media School


Like monologues, interviews are among the easiest to produce. However, the more people you add, the more complex the process starts to become. With an interview two people interact in a question-and-answer back and forth format, with one person usually hosting and asking questions, while the other answers. An interview tends to be less conversational and more formal. That said it can still be conversational too. The goal is usually to share thoughts, insights and opinions related to a specific topic or niche. Your guest is usually well versed on the subject you are discussing. These are great formats if you want to create connections and network with others in a particular industry or niche.


Panel Discussion

Usually, three or more people discuss a topic or topics and take turns in providing experience or knowledge. It is often conversational. Guests may also appear on panels specific to the topic being discussed to help answer questions on the chosen topic. In a panel discussion it may have a lead moderator who helps guide the conversation and helps ensure equal air time to panelists thoughts and ideas.


Panel Discussion Podcast Format Modern Media School
Conversation Podcast Format Modern Media School

Co-hosted conversation

2 people discuss a topic or topics and take turns in providing experience, knowledge or opinion on it. It is often conversational. Guests may also appear occasionally to help answer questions on the chosen topic. These are often easy to structure and may include multiple items of discussion. They work well for discussing current events and trending topics. 


Narrative/Story Telling

This approach often occurs around sharing human experience where the topic is both narrated in parts, and may contain real world interactions or structured interactions to help deliver a smooth flowing piece of content. These require a good amount of planning and research. The presenter does not necessarily need to be an authority or expert, but rather someone who is a producer, looking to deliver either and education or entertaining experience for the listener (or both). Topics can be both fictional or non-fictional or even a combination of both in an effort to make the content highly relatable.


Narrative Storytelling Podcast Format Modern Media School
Call In Podcast Format Modern Media School

Call In Talk Show

This approach is where different guests are hosted by an interviewer on a specific topic. The participants are usually remote from each other. Challenges for this format are time zones and differing audio quality and equipment and limitations of software codecs and internet speeds. Software is evolving to allow more people to simply click a link to join the conversation in a drop-in / call-in format. This is great for discussing trending and current topics and even interacting with listeners. They may involve monologue or discussion first and then opening the guest spot up to listeners or pre-selected guests.



Drop In Social Audio

These podcasts are usually recorded on social applications on mobile devices. There are several drop-in social audio applications designed for voice conversations and recording of rooms. Often recorded live in front of a listening audience and recorded and re-purposed as podcasts. Monologues, interviews, panel discussion and Q and A forums are all possible using drop-in social audio apps.


Drop In Social Audio Podcast Format Modern Media School
Non-Fiction Documentary Podcast Format Modern Media School

Non-Fictional Documentary

It is usually heavily researched and provides the audience with facts and evidence to build out a story or narrative around a particular topic. True Crime and History type genres provide a good example of the types of story-telling podcasts most likely to adopt this style or format. Recordings of historical events may be included, but the presentation is mostly narrative storytelling but factual. In telling the story it may involve interviews with eyewitnesses or those directly associated with the topic. Some may be investigative in nature shedding new insights, light and perspectives on a topic.




This podcast format has people acting out specific roles similar to a play or television show. Often sound effects and well thought out characters tell the story and like a television or radio series the show progresses from week to week following the lives of the characters involved. Narration may sometimes be used to set the scene. This is usually a highly scripted format, involving multiple voice actors and a production team. A lot of work and co-ordination of voice actors, script writers and audio engineers and producer/directors may be needed.


Theatrical Podcast Format Microphone Modern Media School

other considerations

While these are the most common podcast formats, you could come up with your own or perhaps make a hybrid. What you choose as your format is up to you, however it is important to consider a few things before making a final decision. Time, resources, knowledge and planning will be required in all formats. But more importantly you need to consider your audience. What is the best way to deliver your content or topic ideas to those you would like to listen? Choose the most logical format.

Also Livestreaming and video recordings of podcasts are becoming increasingly popular. These approaches allow you to ‘water two plants with one hose’. We will discuss those in another article. But also consider whether a video approach, in combination with one of the podcast formats would be something to serve both you and your audience. Video recordings of interviews, panel discussions and co-hosted conversations also work well on video. The audio recorded with the video can then be repurposed to create an audio version of your podcast episode.

need help with spoken word audio?

Applaudible can help you or your marketing team plan, produce, edit and launch what I call “Auditorials” and “Corpcasts” as well as traditional Podcasts. Connect with us if you are serious about pursuing a spoken word marketing strategy to grow your brand and add value to customers, employees or industry. Our professional staff can help you map out episodes and help you set your podcast up for success. Email to request a free initial consultation.

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