We all have a story to tell; the challenge is how to tell it and reach an audience. In reality, we tell stories all of the time, every time we relay something that has happened to us or something that we have experienced, to another person. Many conversations are constructions of multiple stories that overlay and interact with each other. We tell stories to inspire, to inform or even to persuade. Stories are about developing a sense of connection with somebody else. We have been telling them since the early days of human history, evident through ancient drawings and markings in caves. But, what makes a good story, how do you identify what it is and how do you tell it?
The first thing is to identify your purpose and reason for being. Often, when it comes to business stories, this is where we will start. ‘Start with why’ as Simon Sinek encourages us to do in his best-selling book of the same name. What message are you trying to relay? What do you want to say to your audience? What do you want them to understand?
Then, you need to embed structure. All stories will have a beginning, a middle and an end.
In the beginning you need to set the scene and establish what you are going to say. Introduce who is involved (is this you for example?), where it is happening, what the situation looks like or feels, explain the challenge (or the purpose/reason for being), the solution and the ‘why’ (why should readers/listeners care?).
In the middle you want to elaborate on different elements and flesh out the detail. Introduce surprises, make us laugh, cry, or want to learn more, bring out emotion if you can. Your aim is to keep your audience engaged.
It is here that you offer your conclusion, your learning points or resolution. What do you want to your reader or listener to take away from the story?
This sense of structure is important as storytelling is largely about taking your audience on a journey. Other tools to use include making it personal – do you have any personal experience that your audience might resonate with and keep them gripped?
Use senses – a sense of feeling will further engage your reader or listener and also make the story more meaningful and resonant.
The most important thing is to build a connection with your audience. This starts with understanding them. Who are they? Where are they? What are they looking for? Why are they reaching out to you in the first place? Why might they want to listen to you? If you start with this element then you are more likely to be successful in connecting with your intended audience.
These tips will be relevant to all media forms, whether that’s spoken voice, a speech, a presentation, a written article or blog or indeed a podcast. The same rules apply. You are the best person to identify and tell your own story. Be confident in drawing it out and speaking it to the world.
Ben Eagle, Founder and Head of Podcasts, RuralPod Media.
It has become easier than ever to set up and run a podcast, with the hosting platforms improving their service all the time.
The ‘rural idyll’ conjures images of the good life, wide open space, clean air, abundant wildlife and a slower pace of life.