Listeners want entertainment. They are not entertained if a host does not know how to tell a story. Then, they might stop listening. A story could be interesting, entertaining, or funny. If a host is not telling the story right then, it would not appear to be. How someone says, something is as important as what is being said.
For this chapter, we will walk-through an example. Making improvements along the way.
Example: I had a great trip to the grocery store.
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What's wrong with the story?
It's the start of a story.
It provides no value to the listener: no lesson, not funny, not entertaining. Listeners need to get value out of an episode.
How To Make A Story Interesting:
Add details such as why the trip was great would make it more interesting. "I had a great trip to the grocery store because I found $20 on the ground on my way to the car." The detail gives more perspective to the story. Going to the grocery store is not interesting. The details let the listeners know why the particular trip is different.
Delivery is an essential factor in storytelling. Which is the way it is being said. If a host does not use the right emotion for the story, the listeners will not know how to react to the story. In the case of the example, a host should sound excited! Being monotone with the story will confuse a listener.
Every story should have a beginning, middle, and an end. "I went to the grocery store to buy ice cream and had the best time because I found $20 on my way to the car!"
The beginning of the story being, "I went to the grocery store to buy ice cream." The middle is "I had the best time." The end of the story is, "I found $20." If a listener hears all three parts of the story, they understand and are not confused by the story. Each piece of the story builds and connects with the other parts.
The story needs to be in that order, or listeners will get confused. "I found $20 buying ice cream at the grocery store and had the best time on the way to the car!" What made the grocery store trip the best time? No one knows. If a listener can't understand what a host is trying to say, they will stop listening.
How To Learn To Tell Stories
If a host wants to learn to tell great stories, a host needs to hear great stories. Comedians have always been great storytellers. If a comedian does not say a story right, then people will not laugh. Many comedians take everyday events and make them interesting.
Bill Burr has many great bits. One bit I enjoy is about Bill going to the gun store because he wants to buy one for protection. During the bit, Bill sounds animated, which gets the people listening in the mood to laugh. While telling the story, Bill exaggerates voices for the different people. Adding another funny element. He does an exaggerated southern accent for the gun store owner. As well as a voice for his wife. If Bill did this bit in a monotone manner, people would not enjoy it. The story would be difficult to understand. There would not be any memorable parts to it. Listeners would have trouble keeping track of the different people in the story.
He keeps repeating the word "spread" in an accent. In his interaction with the gun store owner, the owner used the word "spread." He goes on to explain the concept of "spread." "Spread" being how much the gun's shot spreads out. He explains "spread" by making up a story about 2 different guns. Giving listeners an image of how having each would play out when he needs a gun. The story would not be as funny if this story was "I went to the gun store. The guy had a Southern accent, and I did not end up buying a gun." The story needs details.
Bill's story flows. Each part of the story builds from the last one. He goes A to B to C without any problems. He starts with his opinion to discuss buying a gun. Each transition leads to more opinions. After the discussion with his wife, Bill transitions to the average person's perspective. He is making the story relatable to the audience. Ending the bit on the general perspective is relatable. Everyone knows someone with broad opinions on either side of the gun debate. The audience thinks of those people when hearing the bit. He is giving the audience a chance to relate to him and his bit.
Knowing how to transition from subject to subject improves a story. Bill transitions by using each interaction in the story. He uses the sequence of events to transition. Using his desire to get a gun to discuss the gun store interaction. He uses the fact that he did not buy a gun to discuss the interaction with his wife. The discussion with his wife leads to the topic of American's opinions of guns. The story would not be understandable if he starts with his wife and ends with the gun store interaction. An awkward transition can ruin a story. Leading people to turn off a podcast.
By watching Bill and other comedians, a host can pick up elements that they can use to improve a story. Improving storytelling skills will make more people interested in a host's podcast. The more people interested, the more they will share the podcast.
Why Focus On This?
An interesting podcast is a memorable podcast. When listeners' friends ask for podcast recommendations, the host's podcast will be top of mind. Leading to more listeners.
Applies To Other Areas In Life
Being a better storyteller can help a host in other areas of life. In a job interview, a host has to describe their previous job. Learning to describe better would increase the odds of getting the job.
Having a set structure makes creating the outline for the episodes easier. This increases the quality of writing. A host does not need to focus on how to format the writing only what to say. Which gives a host more time to write. Once the right format gets created, writing the episode will feel like creating a "fill in the blank" test.
Not Wasting Listeners Time Producing Bad Content
Time is the only thing that people can not get back. People chose to spend their time listening to a host's podcast. Do not waste their time by producing bad content.
Time To Develop Structure And Learn
Developing a structure and figuring out how to tell stories will take time. A host may go through several formats. Not every format of storytelling will work with a host's podcast. Some people like to go back and listen to old episodes. They want to hear the progress a podcast has made. They will enjoy hearing the different formats used.
People May Not Like It
When a host creates a new format or changes, their podcast people may not like it. Those people will keep listening or stop. Not much a host can do about it. Learning how to tell stories will lead to more listeners. Which is better for a podcast in the long run.
Storytelling and creating a structure does not come easy to some people. But learning increases the quality of a podcast and the enjoyment for the listener. Every host should want to enhance the listening experience for the listener.
This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. The book is available for purchase here.