I’ve always enjoyed reading, and now I get the pleasure of reading to my son, Jamie. It’s a staple part of the Anderson bedtime routine.
I admit that some of the stories aimed at a very young audience can hardly be described as ‘page-turners.' It’s fairly obvious what’s going to happen next, and character development and story arc are, at best, limited.
But they share one thing. They have a narrative flow. The story is logical and for kids books, mostly very linear in nature.
This is Chapter 2 of our Engaging Episodes series on creating hugely engaging podcast content. Read other chapters at the following links: Introduction | Chapter one | Chapter two | Chapter three | Chapter four | Chapter five | Chapter six
Why do Narrative Podcasts work so well?
Creating a podcast that has a well thought out narrative flow can make your podcast stand out from the crowd. And everyone benefits.
You are the Star and the Director of your own production. You know how the podcast is going to flow because you’ve planned it. You have an outline; you’ve written the script, and you know how the podcast ends.
It’s quite liberating to have that level of control.
Your Guest or Co-Host Benefits
Whether you’re interviewing a guest on your show or have a regular co-host, it’s a good idea to bring them into the story loop. It’s so much better having them briefed and aware of the of the flow of the show and their part in it.
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Your Listeners Benefits
An engaging podcast that has a proper storytelling flow to it will hold your listeners attention. They’re more likely to stick with it if to the end, because, like all great tales – they want to know how it ends. If you consistently deliver podcasts with a clear, simple narrative structure, you can be confident that people will stay hooked until the end, and rave about your show to everyone they meet!
The Story Arc
Your podcast might be completely ad-libbed, partially scripted or entirely scripted – but regardless of how you craft your podcast, having a story structure will help everyone.
Here’s one of the most basic storytelling structure and how it can be applied to your podcast.
Once Upon A Time – The Beginning
In any story, the opening has a critical part to play. Its job is to capture attention and lead you on to the body of the tale. In podcasting terms the opening is vital. Some podcast host opt for a more chatty opening, but the podcasts that capture my attention are those that introduce the topic of the episode up front.
Sell the benefits of your episode – what will the listener get out of it, what will they learn? If you’ve got a guest on your show – why should your audience be interested in them? What gives them credibility and more importantly what can they teach your audience?
A great approach is to put yourself in your listeners shoes and share how the content in this episode helped you. Share a short story that makes the opening real and relatable.
Step by Step – Navigating The Middle
The body of your episode is where you deliver on the promise you made during the opening of your show. Depending on the the length of your show, you might have 3-5 key waypoints to guide your listener through the story your podcasting is telling.
A key thing to remember is to keep the flow sequential in nature. In other words, don’t force your listener to rewind or remember. A simple step by step approach, one point leading onto the next might sound predictable, but it works. Takes the burden off your listener and allow them to effortlessly absorb the story your sharing.
The Circle of Life – The Powerful Ending
Don’t take the ending of your podcast for granted, and whatever you do – don’t let it fizzle out. A short recap of the points covered in the main body will help round of your podcast, but don’t overdo it. Keep it short and snappy.
The best way to complete the narrative is to find a way to refer back to your opening. So if you’ve shared a personal example at the start, find a way to reference at the very end of your podcast. Bookending your story works and it will mark you down as a skilled storyteller and podcaster.
Don’t have nightmares
Podcasts, much like the stories I tell Jamie at bedtime, are linear in nature. Don’t over-complicate the structure. Keep it simple and guide your reader through the story one step at a time. You can experiment with different story structures, but never lose sight of the fact that simple stories work so much better.