Elements of Good Storytelling for Your PodcastFeb 06, 2022
Elements of Good Storytelling for Your Podcast
In today’s information inundated society, it is imperative for stories to be captivating, to hold an audience’s attention, to invoke emotion, and to be told both truthfully and powerfully. In this post, the Spark Media Team will help you decipher the elements of good storytelling. We will also provide practical questions that will aid you in articulating the details of each interesting interview, personal anecdote, or striking story that you, as the podcast host, may desire to tell. This post seeks to provide insight into all of our most frequently utilized techniques for storytelling. So, let’s jump right in!
Think about your favorite book for a moment. It can be a work of fiction, a true story, or any combination of the two. Chances are that whatever your favorite work of literature is, it is compelling. This book left you with a lasting impression. You remember it well. It is likely that you could retell it to a friend, reminisce over it with a family member, or perhaps quote portions of it to others who might be interested in the content or subject matter. Your favorite author likely has an uncanny ability to draw you into the story. Within the many pages of the book, the author taught you something, made you feel an intrinsic connection with the characters, or provided information to you in a fresh, new way. Good stories draw a listener in. Great stories keep that listener coming back to hear more.
Podcasting is an intimate medium of communication. As the host of a podcast, you have direct access to two valuable aspects of your listener that you should never take for granted: the listener’s time and the listener’s heart. Every one of us lead busy lives and have relationships, duties, and people that we prioritize. Time is precious. Therefore, we often spend it on the things that matter most. When your listeners choose to tune in to your podcast, they are choosing to spend time under your influence. They are choosing to be consumers of the content that the Lord has led you to produce. They are trusting their heart to you. Consider this a gift and steward it responsibility. Your words are powerful. Your stories can shape the trajectory of another’s faith, life, and legacy. God can (and often does) work through His people to bring about incredible change, strengthened faith, and collective worship. Stories bring God glory!
How do I tell a compelling story?
Many wonder how to tell an impactful story, how to accurately convey the meaning of their experiences to others, and how to articulate the good that God has done in and through their lives. Still, others are curious as to how to make the words flow, how to write cohesively, and how to speak in a concise manner that makes a lasting impression on those whom the Lord allows the opportunity to hear the message that they bring to the table. The answer to these questions may seem complex, but the first step to compelling storytelling is simple: pray, pray, and pray some more. To tell a compelling story, it only makes sense to rely upon the expert in the realm of storytelling, the creator of all things, the author of every story - the Lord Himself. Before creating, consult with the creator. Pray. Study scripture. Understand His Will and desires for your life. Walk according to the teachings of scripture. A compelling story is one that reflects the character of Christ.
Why is research important in storytelling?
After you have prayed over the topic of your story, the individuals involved in the story, and the details of the story, you will want to conduct research. Here’s why. An informed storyteller can do three things: ask amazing questions, articulate the details, and captivate the listener. These are necessities in storytelling. Let’s discuss each of these in greater detail.
Any podcast host, interviewer, or author knows that research is the key to familiarizing oneself with his or her subject. Being a knowledgeable interviewer is the key to an excellent interview. So, when you research, dig deep. Find out the information that you, yourself would desire to know if you were the listener. In preparing for your interview, consider these aspects of the story: the introduction to the guest, ,
The Introduction to the Guest (And, the 6 Types of Questions You Should Always Ask in an Interview)
The introduction to a story or podcast interview is the point in which your interviewee is introduced. When introducing a guest, you will want to draw your audience in, make personal connections between the experiences of your guests and those of your listeners, and be sure to highlight any relevant professional and personal experience that makes your guest the ideal candidate for speaking to the subject that you are addressing. Here are some questions to ask during the introduction.
Can you tell the listener a bit about your experiences?
Why are you passionate about this particular subject?
How do you utilize what you know to help others?
These questions would serve as an excellent starting point for an interview. After you have established the basics about your guest, such as who he or she is, what he or she does, and how he or she helps others, you can move on to follow-up questions. Some follow-up questions that you may consider asking are…
These questions help identify and define the people involved in the story. For a quick example, think back to one of the world’s most prominent children’s stories - The 3 Little Pigs. Because of the story’s widespread audience and vast reach, nearly anyone can identify the main characters and retell the elements of the story. If you have read this short story, you may remember that the three little pigs built three houses - the first pig made a straw house, the second made a stick house, and the third, a brick house. Then, the big bad wolf came and blew the first two houses down. The third house stayed steady and strong because of its solid foundation.
As communicators and creative storytellers, we need to have a solid foundation. It is absolutely necessary to describe to our audience or our listeners who it is that the story we are telling revolves around. When thinking about how to convey this information, be mindful of the aspects of a character description that you would be intrigued by, if you were at the receiving end of the message. Here are some ideas for questions that clearly relay who the important subject or subjects of a story are.
Who inspired you to _____?
Who taught you to ____?
Who most greatly influenced your decision to ___?
Who else was involved in this?
These questions can often be used by an interviewer to expand upon the information that was previously gleaned in the beginning segment of the interview. Here’s an example using the previously posed questions.
If, for example, you know that an interviewee’s mother inspired her to start homeschooling following her own homeschool experience, you can ask follow-up questions such as…
What is one specific thing that your mother did that spurred you on in the journey to homeschooling?
What do you remember the most from this season of your life?
What similarities can you recall between your homeschooling experience and that which your own children have or will have experienced?
The key when formulating this type of question is to get detailed. Think outside of the box. Ask questions that you have not otherwise heard the individual that you are speaking with answer previously. As the interviewer, think of yourself as the guide, the facilitator, and the detective.
The Guide - as an interviewer, it is your goal to bring your listener insight in a fresh way. You are guiding your listener, teaching your listener, and ultimately, helping him decide on a plausible path forward.
The Facilitator- As a facilitator, you are hosting candid conversations designed to inspire and encourage your listener. In asking your “what” questions, you are actually trying to answer questions or perceived questions that your listener has or will have in the future.
The Detective- Detectives look for clues. They decipher the main message. They desire to be clear, concise, and to the point while getting answers to those pressing questions. When asking “what” questions, remember to dig deep.
“When?” And “Where?”
Questions asking, “when?” Or “where”, are designed to paint a vivid picture of the setting for your listener. Setting often includes two major elements: time and place. When considering these, it is imperative that both aspects of the setting are thoroughly thought through and elaborated upon. For example, when an author or interviewer speaks of time, he or she is often speaking of literal time of day. But, he or she could also be speaking of the time of year or the season. If you can, try to get as many details as possible. This ultimately helps your listener to feel more connected to your story.
Here are some common examples.
When did this event occur?
When did you notice ___ happening?
Where did this happen?
Where were you when ___ happened?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask as an interviewer. Think about it this way: asking for the reasoning behind events or a sequence of events shows that you, as the interviewer, are inquisitive. This shows that you care to know even the most minute of details. You desire to step into the shoes of your guest. You want to see the story re-told as accurately and coherently as possible. So, you ask, “why?” This simple, yet profound question allows for your guest to expand upon his or her thoughts are possibly add details that were skimmed over or altogether missed in the beginning stages of the interview. It also allows for the expression of your guest’s opinions and unique personality and life experiences to color the interview, making for an even more beautiful picture in the end.
Asking powerful questions is the key to telling a fantastic story within an interview. The elements of storytelling are further illuminated when excellent questions are posed. At Spark Media, we encourage our podcasters to ask questions, dig deep for information and insight, and to make guests feel comfortable.
Thank you for joining us on the Spark Media blog today. For more Christian podcasting training, be sure to join us on the Spark Media mailing list.
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