Telling Stories People Want To Hear: Takeaways from #PM18

  • August 7, 2018
  • Joey Held

Don’t you love when you can geek out over something? Maybe there’s an activity you enjoy doing that most people don’t understand or one you truly excel in. There’s a particular joy you feel, and your whole day improves when you get to take it on.

That’s how I feel about podcasts. Listening to them is lovely, of course, but I embrace the entire creative process, from idea inception and brand development to recording and post-production. Naturally, I was thrilled to attend this year’s Podcast Movement conference in Philadelphia, PA.

The podcasting world is continually growing and expanding, but it’s still in an exploratory phase. The first podcast didn’t hit the internet until 2003, which makes podcasts less than two decades old. While that unknown can be scary, it also means there’s a massive opportunity for podcasts to reach your key audience personas.

Whether your organization already has a podcast (or an entire podcast network) or you’re just testing the waters of putting one together, keep these takeaways in mind.

You Need to Be Flexible

You’ll want your overall message to be cohesive, but you have to be able to roll with the punches. Virtually everyone I talked with at Podcast Movement had a nightmare tale of losing a recording due to technology glitches or having to pivot when a guest canceled last second. But all of those people felt it ultimately boosted their show and brand.

Flexibility might come in the form of how you tell a story. Your show may have a more casual tone, but if you need to cover something serious, you’ll have to adjust how you tackle that story. Perhaps you have a guest or an interview that takes an unexpected turn. There’s no harm in straying from the episode’s script. In fact, you’ll likely discover new information that you wouldn’t have uncovered otherwise.

Or this flexibility could come in the form of trying something outside the box. Missy Sorg of Sorgatron Media offered some inexpensive–and often free–ways to market your brand. Have you ever done a Facebook Live for your podcast? Or created an event page for when your next episode is launching? Or joined social groups to stay updated on happenings within your industry and share your insights? There are so many ways we can offer our content to the world; it’s important not to get caught in a rut.

The Power of Finding Your Voice

When I was a kid, I would mute sporting events and pretend I was the announcer. I’d do my best impressions of Marv Albert – “from downtown, YES!” – or Harry Caray – “holy cow!” – and pretend I was sitting up in the broadcast booth. It was a blast, but I was merely trying to copy someone else. I hadn’t yet found my own voice.

Podcast Movement keynote speaker Pat Flynn started his speech by reading an excerpt from the children’s book Llama, Llama, Red Pajama. He had lullaby music playing in the background, and it was, quite frankly, lulling everyone to sleep. But Pat knew this – he was setting us up for a grand reveal:

That’s a clip of Ludacris rapping the very same book Pat was reading. This version is much more animated and enjoyable because it’s in Ludacris’s style. His words have emphasis, he overenunciates his rhymes, and he tosses in his unique embellishments. He’s learned his special recipe for successful storytelling.

Finding your voice isn’t something you’ll do overnight. It takes time. Pat played a clip of the very first podcast he ever released, which came out a decade ago. He sounded timid and even commented on that podcast that he wasn’t sure what he’d talk about. Contrast that with today – he’s now among the most engaging and energetic speakers around.

Having a tone and style that’s uniquely you is critical for any communication. Whether it’s podcasting, writing, design, photography, or marketing, you want people to be able to identify with your message. That starts by being able to identify with you; the best way to do that is with a voice that stands out.

Figure Out What Only You Can Do

Tom Webster of Edison Research implored the Podcast Movement audience to treat their podcasts like a show. “Two Cubs fans talking about baseball isn’t a show,” he said. “That’s an idea. There’s a difference – the show drives everything.”

An excellent way to help structure the show is to remember the phrase, “only we.” For instance: “only we can provide this service or insight.” When you’re able to answer what only you’re able to do, your business will thrive.

NPR CEO Jarl Mohn later took the Podcast Movement stage to share the importance of serving your audience. At its heart, that’s why we’re creating content – for someone to consume it.

“We do what we do through the lens of serving our audience,” Mohn said. “Make it a great story, no matter how long it ends up being.”

Mohn doubled down on Flynn’s earlier message of finding your voice. If you’re a creator, only you can deliver your message in a particular way. The “only we” mindset is the perfect way to embrace storytelling, whether it’s via podcasting, writing, or developing an overall strategy for your business.

We’re always honing that individual message here at INK, and you can find some of the results on The Good Stuff & The Noise podcast. Tune in for additional insights and takeaways from some of the smartest minds in our industry, and learn how you can rise above all the outside noise to truly provide the good stuff for your customers.