There is a primary reason most people seek entertainment. They want to escape reality. Help your listener make their escape by making them forget they are listening to a recording.
People want to forget about their troubles of the day. To get away, they watch movies, go to concerts, watch television, listen to radio and spend time with your podcast. People get wrapped up in another time, place and story. This makes them forget about their reality, even if it is only for a short time.
Take them to another place with your podcast by using stories. Make your storytelling so strong that their imaginations put your listener in another time and place. That’s what great storytelling is all about. That’s what great relationships are all about. It is engagement.
So, how do you make them forget? How do you engage and entertain to the point where your listener is so engrossed with your content that they forget about everything else? What are the steps to create a great story?
Take a few tips from movies and television. Tell compelling stories just like the movies.
Here are the five things you need to remember in order to create great tales for your podcast.
1. Have great characters
Every story has great characters. You may love them. You may hate them. Either way, you remember them, because they stir emotions within you.
The characters are well-defined. You feel like you know them. During the story, you find yourself either rooting for them or against them.
Podcasts create these characters in various ways. It may be the host that is the character. The host may tell stories about others. The people defined in the e-mail questions answered during the show could be the characters of the stories. You could take phone calls or voicemail questions from people. Their voice alone helps define their character. Live guests with colorful backgrounds are also a source for great characters.
“Billie Jo, single mother of two who works as a waitress in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to make ends meet” is somebody you can begin to envision in your imagination. “She uses her kids to shoplift” completely changes your perception of her.
Great characters get your audience wrapped up in the story, so they forget they are listening to a recording.
2. Create some tension
All good stories have a plot. As we learned in composition class, great drama and tension create a solid plot. The protagonist must overcome the dilemma. Your listener begins to wonder what will happen next.
Podcasts that answer listener questions create some tension. The listener typically has a problem they need solved. This typically isn’t an Earth-shattering problem. However, it is a form of tension.
Great guests have usually overcome some obstacle to achieve their success. These obstacles create great tension in the story. Help your guests define that tension.
Tension in the story gets your audience wondering what will happen next. Once your listener gets focused on your story, they begin to forget about their reality. That’s what great stories are all about.
3. Use great details
Details make stories come to life. When you use vivid details, your listener can smell the air. They see the colors. They can hear the sounds. Your details put the listener in the moment.
You can tell a story in one of two ways.
The first way would have no details.
I stopped at a diner to grab some dinner.
That line does very little to stir the imagination and transport you to another time and place.
The second way incorporates vivid details.
Dinner would be the first meal I would have that day. I stepped into the roadside diner and shook off the snowy, December cold. The beat of the jukebox and bubbly chatter of the locals began to warm me even before I could take a seat at the barstooled counter to order my biscuits and gravy.
The detailed story begins to stir your imagination. You can feel the cold. You can hear the jukebox and crowd. You can almost smell the diner food. When those senses are activated, you begin to forget you’re listening to a recording.
4. Have a resolution
The resolution is the payoff to every great story. It is the climax to the movie plot. It is the “happily ever after.” The resolution puts the bow on the whole package.
Your resolution comes when you follow through with whatever you were hoping to make your audience feel. It could be the answer to the question. It could be the breakthrough success of your guest. You could wrap up the story with the punchline to the funny tale. Your resolution is where you solve the conflict and tension.
5. Me, not us
Talk to your audience one-on-one. Make your podcast personal by treating every listener as an individual. The more personal you get, the more engaged your listener will become.
Notice the tone of this writing. I’m talking directly to you. I’m helping you with your podcast. I’m not addressing “you guys.” I’m not talking to “all of you.” Sure, I’m writing for many. But when you read this, I’m writing for you and only you.
If I’m talking to you, you will in turn feel responsible to listen. If I’m talking to “all of you,” it becomes easier to assume somebody else will listen if you want to stay focused on something else. Engage by speaking one-on-one.
When you record your podcast, you need to create that wonderful theater of the mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading fiction or talking about gardening, put your audience in the moment. Transport them to another time and place.
Make your podcast entertaining by creating great stories using the five elements. Great stories have great characters. Engage your audience with some tension. Spark the imagination of your audience with vivid details. Wrap the story up with the resolution. Finally, speak to your listener with a one-on-one tone. Stories help your listener forget about their troubles of the day.
Try to incorporate stories in every podcast. Stories will help them escape reality. Make your listener forget they are listening to a recording.
Love your diner example, Erik. A super reminder about the power of vocabulary and imagery!
Thanks, Amber. Vivid details always make the story come to life.