Humans love stories. We love anticipating what’ll happen next to our favorite characters. We love getting to live vicariously through their lives. To quote Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones: “there’s nothing more powerful than a good story.” Podcasts are no different. Every podcast tells a story–from sports, to religion, to finance, and everything in between. Sure, you could spend a lifetime honing your storytelling craft. But we wanted to drop a few podcast storytelling tips to get you started.
Know your audience
To truly tell a compelling story with your podcast, you need to have an empathic understanding of who your audience is, and why they’re tuning in to your show. More than that, if you can, try to get a feel for their daily trials and triumphs, their hopes and fears. There are plenty of tips and tools out there to help you create this persona of your podcast audience (Google is your friend).
We all learned it in grade school, but every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, you introduce the players, let us get to know their ordinary lives a bit, and lay the foundation for the middle. In the middle, you introduce the tension–the thing that makes you squirm, that flips the player’s lives on their heads. This is where the struggle and suffering comes in. Our hero defies all odds and takes us to & through the climax to the ending. There are several great books on the subject, such as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker. For podcasting, you can think of each episode of your show as a self contained story, or you could see each season as such. Both can be successful approaches to storytelling, it just depends on what your preferred format, subject matter, and approach are. Have a tech news podcast? Might want to primarily focus on episode-as-story because news moves fast, and tech news moves even faster. But even with that approach, there are certainly opportunities for longer timeframe story arcs.
Podcast storytelling example
Think about how you’d talk about Instagram’s transition from photo filter app, to a billion dollar unicorn where we all go for our favorite bite sized hits of current pop culture and micro influencers. How brands and influencers have, with varying degrees of success, become a core content pillar. How those same influencers are now abandoning the “Instagram Aesthetic.” If you have a tech news podcast, each of those points could’ve been an individual episode with a beginning, middle, and end. And they each tie in to a larger, longer story arc about the life of a startup in the tech industry.
Podcasting is a perfect storytelling medium
Our storytelling center of gravity is constantly shifting. From gathering around the campfire and sharing news and creating the social myths that hold groups together, to gathering around the radio or TV and doing the same. Podcasts carry that torch into the future. Now, instead of audience being limited by geography or big time broadcast capital needs, with minimal investment in podcast hosting and gear we can tell our story–share our unique perspectives–to the entire world. What are your favorite tips and tricks for creating a great story on your podcast? Sound of on social or in the comments.