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Mix Up Your Story Types to Create Engaging Episodes | Storytelling for Podcasters #3

Guide

My Dad and Father-in-law are predictable animals. Every time we go out for a meal, we all know what they’ll have for dessert; Ice cream.

They are blind to everything else on the menu. But it doesn’t stop them looking.It’s a routine. A habit. But we all know what they’ll opt for.

It’s funny and will become an Anderson-Lyall family story that will be handed down to future generations. But I couldn’t do that. I like to mix things up. I’d get bored of just eating ice cream. So what’s this got to do with telling stories on your podcast? If you dish out the same stories, your audience will get bored.

How to mix it up

Boring your audience is the last thing you want. Keep them on their toes by serving up a mix of stories. There are two broad categories of stories I want to introduce first, before getting into specifics. Stories we have experienced and stories we’ve been told.

Stories we’ve experienced

These are the stories we’ve personally lived through. Some will be tales that happened to us, while others will be stories that we’ve witnessed first hand. In either case, we can tell the story directly. These stories have power. We can add in the detail that will bring the story to life. We’re also able to add more emotion because of the first-hand nature of the story.

Stories you’ve experienced that are directly related to the subject of your podcast give you a degree of authority and credibility. In my case, I could demonstrate my knowledge of storytelling by telling a powerful story. Or I could tell the story of how I created a particular story.

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But we also need to think about personal stories. So I could open my show by telling a story about my holiday with family. These real stories help you build a more personal rapport with your audience. You become a much more rounded character in your own stories when you share your world.

Stories we’ve Been Told

There’s a risk in only ever telling the stories we’ve experienced. It can feel like ‘it’s all about us’. Adding stories you’ve been told will help give you some much needed balance. In this sense you become a curator of stories. The world is your library. There are limitless stories that others tell on a daily basis.

Your job is to find the stories that will serve your audience. The stories might be classics that you’ve grown up with, or they might be new stories you’ve just stumbled across.

You know your audience, so you’ll have a feel for what stories will interest them. And, if you’re told these stories by your listeners, even better. Get them involved. Make them part of your show.

And remember, you don’t have to tell all the stories. Invite guests onto your show that you know have incredible tale to tell. Your job becomes that of story director. If you think there’s more to the story, then dig a bit deeper. Don’t miss an opportunity to make the most of the story.

Let’s get More Specific

There are a huge array of stories you can tell on your show. Here’s some I’d recommend you start with.

Stories of Success

Stories that share a success can inspire others. If your podcast promotes your business, you can tell the stories of how you have helped others. Or, you can demonstrate how you had success in trying a new approach to a problem that worked well for you. Better still, give your listeners the opportunity to share their stories of success.

Stories of Failure

Too many joyful stories of success can become a little bit predictable. Mix it up by showing your human side. What have you tried that failed? When were the results less than expected? Your listeners will learn just as much, possibly more, from your honest tale of imperfection. It keeps you humble and likeable.

Stories that Illustrate a Point

Difficult concepts can be hard to put across through audio. You don’t have the benefit of images to make your point for you. Find a storytelling way to make the concept more accessible. You’ll make it easy for your listener to grasp the most difficult of subject.

It’s not always easy, but I believe there’s always a way. It’s worth the effort.

Stories that Intrigue

And, of course, you can leave your audience hanging. You don’t have to tell all of the story in a single episode. You can create a level of suspense by breaking down a large story into several parts. The key is to leave your audience wanting more.

Build the interest and deliver the punchline in the next episode. Creating a sense of drama will help your show stand out.

Over to you

Here’s your challenge. Go and try it. Create a single story for your next show. Pick the most appropriate story type for you and spend the time to craft it.

On the next episode, we’ll cover the critical art of being a voracious story hunter. Until then - happy storytelling.

Written by:

Kevin Anderson

Kev Anderson is a freelance copywriter and owner of Square Tree Marketing. After a 20 year career in marketing, Kev decided that he wanted to make his living as a writer. Kev’s an avid podcast fan and his favourite podcast is The Self Publishing Podcast. (He’s listened to all 191 episodes!)

August 29th 2016

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