Storytelling is right on trend, following the success of Serial and the Startup Podcast. We know stories engage, but how do we create one? We’ve written on digital storytelling before, but now it’s time to talk through our storytelling techniques. In this episode I’m talking to Dan Feld of Prologue Profiles about just that – how to develop an engaging story in audio form. Dan specialises in drawing stories out in interview, and here offers up a guide to doing the same in your own context.

We’re going to take a close look at stories and storytelling. What makes a good story? How do we define effective storytelling? Are there frameworks and formulas that we can use to either tell a compelling and engaging story, or draw it out of our interviewees?

Dan’s Storytelling Structure

Dan explains the storytelling techniques he uses to paint a picture in the mind of the listener.

  • Context – What is interviewees story? Who are they, where are they, and what do they do?
  • Challenge – What obstacles and hurdles did they face before they got to where they are now. What could have prevented them from succeeding?
  • Action – What did they do to overcome those barriers? What actions did they take, and what changes did they make or encounter in their lives?
  • Epiphany – What were those great moments of clarity, inciting incidents, and breakthroughs that led to that person making a final push to where they are now?
  • Climax – How did things all come together? What was it like to experience that feeling of success? And what is it like to be where they are and do what they do now?

Dan also tells us about the power of audio as a storytelling medium. The power of podcasting itself allows the listener to visualise these stories in their heads, travelling with the interviewee through their journey. This is an incredibly intimate and impactful medium that we, as content creators, should take full advantage of.

Applying Storytelling to Solo Podcasts

So where do we go from here? These storytelling techniques work just as well in a monologue as they do if you create an interview show. If you create the latter, Dan advises us to “listen on behalf of your audience” and always look to fill in any gaps in the story. Make sure each step of the story is earned, and keep your listener rooting for the person as they talk them through it.

How to Develop Your own Storytelling Technique

As a takeaway, Dan wants us to define, understand, and absorb good content. That could be anything from books to TV shows, or even conversations. Talk to people you know, find out what they’re into, and why they like it. What are industry and thought leaders in your field talking about at the moment? And what is it about that content that is making it catch their attention?

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To hear more from Dan, check out his show, Prologue Profiles.

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