Discuss: Why is it a hook?

Many podcasts, including my Movers Mindset episodes, open each episode with a short selection of the guest(s) speaking. Whatever you choose to call it, I’ve always (literally, every time,) heard this described as intending to “hook” the listener. I’ve always heard this described as a way to peak the listeners’ interest, as a way to get them to continue listening. But, why must it be a hook?

I’ve always thought: It should be the highlight. And that’s not the same as a hook.

If a listener only has 10 seconds, (give or take a bit,) what’s the best part of this episode that they should hear. That’s it. If I assume they’re not going to listen to my episode… but I have a chance to give them just the best part… what would that part be? Can I find a piece that is completely free-standing… a piece that is, in fact, not a hook… can I put that at the front?

What if the first 10 seconds is the most generous gift I can figure out how to give my listener.

Do your episodes have an opening “excerpt”?
What are you thinking about, when you go hunting for that excerpt?
Is “the best part” (as I’m describing above) actually the best hook possible?

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@craig

I’ve played with a cold opening a few times. I like your perspective to treat this as a highlight and not a hook.

You present a good challenge. I have been thinking of ways to pull episodes from the archive and share them again in new ways. You’ve started the wheels turning in my head. You’re good at that. Thanks!

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Thank you for the instigation @craig!

I record an Intro for each interview. I break my guest InnerViews into Part 1 & 2. The Intro to Part 2 will recap who the guest is, why I asked them on the show & a repeat of the question I asked them just before we ended Part 1.

Coming to you from Whidbey Island, Washington this is Stories From Women Who Walk. You’ll recognize yourself in these true-life stories from women who are walking their lives while their lives walk them and the lasting difference these journeys have made. I’m your host, Diane Wyzga.

Today my guest is [ ] and then I go on from there introducing the guest & why I asked them to come on the show. It sets the tone for the listener & reminds the guest that they are being showcased here.

For example:
Today my guest is Leanne Gordon, founder of the consulting practice Changing Futures and the author of the newly published book, Change Seekers - Making a Difference, and co-author of The Book of Java: Together We Write, who’s joining us from Perth, Australia. To her clients Leanne is a change facilitator and coach who guides individuals and teams in making successful change happen in their work and lives, through writing, speaking, coaching and workshops. To me Leanne is a thoughtful generous listener who intuitively gets to the heart of a problem and gently points you in the direction of a solution as if you discovered it yourself. But there’s even more to the story. I’ve invited Leanne to talk with us about the unexpected changes Life created for her as she changes futures for others, claiming her Page as a writer and author, challenging herself on a long distance trek, and walking her life with guidelines instead of rules. Welcome to the podcast, Leanne!

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Mine just jump in to the conversation. Before the interview, I ask them for something that they love right now, whether life-changing or trivial or anywhere in between. I introduce them and say they love ______ and ask them to tell us about it and we’re off and running.

That said, because my podcast has different threads, each published 1x/month, I do a monthly teaser and pull out a minute from each. When I’m doing that, I’m listening for a minute that stands on its own and is engaging by itself. It might not be the best minute from the episode, but it’s the best free-standing minute from the episode. Either poignant or funny since those are good bites.

Does that answer your question?

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I don’t do an excerpt, though at one point I thought I would do that. In my first interview/episode, the guest said something kind of cute and funny and just a bit enticing, so I used that as a soft intro, or whatever you might call it. I’ve stuck with that, and really like it. Works better at times than others, but that’s okay. I almost always do it, so no guest has ever been concerned about what I use there. Then my “Hello, I’m Anette…” intro that @Craig says ISN’T an intro, LOL, but I’m happy with it.

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Nice thread and thoughts here @craig, @Heat, @AnetteCarlisle, @diane, and @taniamarien. This has given me lots to think about.

Today, I was editing an episode. It is a serious one. At the end, we all started laughing. I decided to put that at the beginning - to try something new and to balance out the weight of the episode.

I usually try to use an enticing/heart of the matter quote at the beginning from the guest. I am always happy to “always be testing” as Seth said.

Thanks everyone!

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Interesting ideas and thoughts - I don’t actually like the “highlight” at the start of the episode when I listen to podcasts, and so I don’t do it.

What I like to do, is start my episode with an open loop, and so draw my listener in. Humans have evolved with story and narrative, it really is one of the major constructs that defines how we are different from other animal species. By opening a loop, we inevitably are giving our listeners the gift of a story, and it is human nature to want to close that loop.

An example of an open loop:

A man walked into a bar, and sitting in the corner was someone he never thought he’d see in thisplace…

so who is it? why are they there? why didn’t he think that someone would be here? is the someone a man, woman, child, alien…? which bar is it? you get my gist.

So the natural tendency of a human, is to keep listening until the loop is closed. Some people are so good (and clever) at this, that they can open multiple loops as they progress, then gradually close them. Sometimes in the same order that they were opened, but not always.

I wonder if that’s what some people call a ‘hook’, but for me, the connotations of that word don’t work. I refer to it as an ‘open loop’, or ‘starting a story that people want to find out how it ends’, or ‘drawing people into my story’.

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This is a topic that I have been thinking about recently. Glad to see it surface as it will likely lead me to do something different with the episode I am working on now.

My decision to act–for example, to take the time to change the intro (which is likely far too long)–hasn’t leapt to the top of my ToAccomplish list, so the standard narrative and underscore has remained in place. I actually like that part of my podcast, even if it is a bit longer than most intros, so it may stay “as is.”

What I could immediately change, though, is the way I open episodes after the consistent intro. I have, for far too long now, pulled multiple sound bites and used them after the intro, before the conversation begins (with me welcoming the guest). My thinking, two years ago, was that if I used three to six very short excerpts, one or more would really resonate with different listeners (for different reasons), and then they’d stick around to hear that partial anecdote or statement in full context.

I have recently been leaning toward pulling a single statement (or three at the most) for the published episode and use others for shorter “promo” posts (as I have just started gaining a bit of traction with that prong of podcast work).

As a listener, I enjoy the Jump Right In approach, and
the loop (so nicely described above) which establishes an inquisitive mindset, and
an episode- or guest-specific hook or set of hooks (establishing a feel for what the listener might be in for), and
a very standard intro–short or long–because of the familiarity, the audio branding, so to speak.
For me, then, it comes down to “there is no best answer” because podcasting is more art than science. The creator’s style and preferences and flavor should come through, in the intro and in other ways, and the range of ways that these components become tangible podcasts is why this medium has such appeal.

As always, reading the question, and mulling over the wisdom embedded in others’ responses is a great way to reflect and improve.

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so interesting. takes a lot of skill to do that, like how to tell a joke or write a joke…

makes so much sense

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