Tell Better Stories? Really? But Carey – I publish a business oriented show. What’s that got to do with me?


All of us tell stories, all day long. Just listen to the conversations going on around you during the course of any normal day. As human beings we LOVE stories. It’s why the movie industry and the publishing industry and the television industries are even in existence.Those are STORY industries.On this episode I want to open the door to an idea – one you likely haven’t thought of before.

YOUR podcast can be and should be full of stories too

But most of us don’t think of ourselves as storytellers. But we are. We are podcast storytellers.For this episode I decided to chat with a friend of mine, Jonathan Messinger – a podcaster and storyteller for kids. His podcast, “The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian” is a great example of what can be done to leverage storytelling to its fullest… and not just for kids. Stick around and hear how integrating more story into your podcast could make a huge difference.  

  • [1:26] Who is Jonathan and why did he start a kid’s storytelling podcast?
  • [4:90] Making his storytelling fit the podcasting format
  • [9:16] How music plays into the impact of a fiction podcast
  • [12:02] The original idea of Jonathan’s story idea and how it has morphed
  • [14:01] Jonathan’s son, Griffin serves as his content editor and kid’s voice for the show
  • [17:42] A taste of “The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian” (clip from the show)
  • [20:44] What goes into the production of a mult-sound clip like you just heard
  • [26:30] Podcast storytelling: What Jonathan has learned about the power of stories
  • [33:48] How Jonathan drives audience participation and WHY he does
  • [38:48] Sound effects and music: engagement tips to make your show more impacting
  • [40:45] Jonathan’s tips for getting better audience feedback and interaction
  • [44:05] Jonathan’s role as part of GenZ media

Other Goodies Mentioned On This Episode

BOOK: Out On A Wire:

BOOK: Around The World In 80 Days:

Sound Toys plugin: Little Alter Boy: – How To Podcast Step By Step (the course)

BOOK SERIES: Septimus Heap:

BOOK: Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus:

Google Forms:

Google Voice:

The Retirement Answer Man:


GenZ Media and GenZKids:  

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel:

6 Questions:  

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Every podcast episode is telling a story, even yours

The human brain thinks in terms of stories.

We love the suspense, the building of drama and tension, the life and death stakes, and the resolution when the bad guy/gal gets what’s coming to them. But stories fill our lives in simpler, more common ways than just that.Listen to the people at the office, or the health club, or the grocery store. Everyone is telling their version of something that happened to them that day, or the previous week, or at some point in the past. Stories are everywhere.

I bet – I BET you tell stories on your podcast already

\But you just don’t think about it that way – and because you haven’t, you’re not making the most of them.But if you did, what might happen? How might it IMPROVE your show?I think it would make your show more appealing to your listeners and more “sticky” too – so you keep the listeners you have and retain the new ones who give your show a try.Because humans love stories. Remember?

DO THIS NOW: Stop to think about the next topic you plan to address on your podcast.

Can you remember the time when that topic came into focus for you?
  • What was going on in your life then?
  • What contributed to it being front and center?
  • Were there any situations where you experienced failure or difficulty as you learned it?
  • Was there any part of the process (or what you were going through at the time that made it ESPECIALLY difficult or intense?
Answer those questions and you have something – the makings of a GREAT story.I bet if you work at it a bit, you’ll be able to discover ways that every topic you cover can become a story. And you are the one to tell it.That’s because YOU lived it. And when you tell the story, your listeners will relate with it. They will get caught up in it (like you did). They will enjoy your podcast more because you’re doing podcast storytelling.This episode is a conversation between two storytellers – me (who hasn’t really thought of myself that way – at least not in terms of how I produce this podcast) and Jonathan Messinger (who is a great storyteller. He does it weekly for kids through his podcast).We’re going to dig into
  1. why stories are important
  2. how they engage the imagination and make learning more effective
  3. how Jonathan includes his son (and his audience) in crafting his stories
  4. how you can use stories to engage your audience in whole new ways
  5. creative engagement strategies that get your listeners talking to you
Don’t miss it…

Podcast storytelling will magnify the impact of your show

I want you to take a few minutes to do a little exercise with me. Consider this an illustration of the power of podcast storytelling.Ready? (They’re going to get harder as they go)

DO THIS NOW: Briefly finish the storyline for each of the following tales…

  • A young man lives on a desert planet, longing to travel beyond the confines of his dusty existence. One day his Uncle – who is is guardian – purchases two droids from local scrap dealers…
  • In a land of rolling green hills and bountiful annual harvests lives a small, unassuming creature, quite content to curl up with his books and pipe by the fireplace. He’s not at all interested in a life of adventure. One day a very tall, mysterious wizard arrives at his door announcing that a band of dwarves has been invited to dinner…
  • A young man awakens to find himself in a lonely room, the sound of waves and seagulls call to him from outside. The stabbing pains in his back remind him of something he can’t quite recall. A man stands over him, his heavy French accent inquiring, “Who are you? What is your name?” The young man opens his mouth but cannot remember what he should say…
How did you do? Did you recognize the stories of Luke Skywalker, Bilbo Baggins, and Jason Bourne?If not, it’s likely my inability to write such a short summary effectively.But if you did, I want you to notice one thing:

What happened the moment your mind grasped the story that was being described?

Your mind started RECOUNTING the story, didn’t it? In vivid detail.THAT is the power of stories. They lodge things in our minds in a powerful way.What would happen if YOUR audience remembered YOUR episodes with the same clarity and detail that you just remembered those three tales?Now I’ve got you thinking, haven’t I?

The things you’re trying to communicate on YOUR podcast are important.

  • To you
  • To your listeners
  • To others who are interested in the topics you cover (call these your “pre-listeners”)
You’ve got a responsibility to communicate those things as powerfully as you can.Stories can do that better than anything else.If you’ll take the time to listen to this podcast conversation, you’ll hear a lot of tips from a guy who tells stories to the demographic that LOVES stories the most – kids.And you’ll get to hear how he makes sure his stories are engaging. It requires a little boy, the lego test, and a humble attitude.Meet my guest, Jonathan Messinger.

To use stories effectively in your podcast, imagine you’re reading to a group of kids

One of the points Jonathan made in this conversation was that when he first started recording his podcast, “The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian, he felt like he was kind of flat. His voice didn’t seem very expressive. It was even a little stilted.Later on, when he was reading a bedtime story to his own kids, his STYLE was totally different.
  • He was animated.
  • Using character voices.
  • Working to get his kids engaged with the story.
Why the difference? Because when he was recording his podcast episode, he was sitting behind a microphone with no kids in sight.But with the kids there, in the room, eyes wide with eager wonder, he was able to put some life into his reading.So he began to engage his imagination.When he recorded his podcast, Jonathan tried to picture kids sitting in front of him.He tried to see their wide eyes, their eager faces, that the story was landing on them with power and vividness – and his storytelling changed.

DO THIS NOW: Get YOUR imagination going

Who are YOU talking to with your podcast episodes? Who is your IDEAL listener?Do you even know? If you do, imagine them sitting in a room listening to your presentation (in a magical world where you NEVER get nervous when speaking in public, of course). 🙂See them nodding. See them paying attention. See them writing notes furiously.You’ll find yourself speaking with more energy, as if you really want to help those people.If you don’t know who your ideal listener is… take some time to figure it out.
  • Are they male or female?
  • Why are they interested in your topics?
  • What do they need to understand that they don’t?
  • Why is it important that they learn what you have to share?
  • What benefit will they receive from applying the information you provide?
When you can answer those questions clearly – you’ll know the WHY behind what you’re producing episode to episode – and your podcast storytelling has a chance of landing in the right place (the hearts and minds of your listeners).

One last thing on this topic…

Don’t be afraid of expressing a little enthusiasm. Don’t be shy about expressing who you really are. That’s the person your listeners subscribed to hear.You’ll find the benefits are powerful.

Audience engagement ideas that work for kids could work for adults

One of the coolest things about what Jonathan does with his kids podcast is that he asks the kids to be a part of the show.He does it in a handful of ways – but they are very effective.
  • He’s got an ongoing schtick about his robot eating artwork – so he asks his listeners to create artwork for the robot to eat (he’s not just asking them to do something, he’s gamifying the request).
  • His son (the content editor of his show) asks kids to send in their own sounds – that Jonathan then tweaks with some handy-dandy software and includes in his episodes.
  • He asks kids to submit their own plot ideas – and they do.
And think this through… kids the age of Jonathan’s audience don’t typically have their own means of sending those things to him. They have to enlist an adult’s help.THAT means they are VERY motivated to participate.Why? Because they are being invited INTO the podcast production. They are being INCLUDED.

DO THIS NOW: Think through the thing(s) you want to ask your audience to do.

  • Rating and review? (boring, and perhaps not even helpful)
  • Subscribe to your email list? (what’s in it for THEM?)
  • Submit questions for you to answer? (Maybe they will, but most won’t)
  • Sign up to be part of your Facebook community? (Why SHOULD they?)
Are you starting to get the point?Most of what we adults ask our listeners to do are not laced with enough FUN or BENEFIT. They don’t make our listeners feel a PART of what we’re doing.How can you change that?Nobody said this kind of stuff would be easy. Please, don’t shirk away from the hard work required to really THINK about your audience and how your “ask” can benefit them the most.

One of the suggestions Jonathan had for doing that was communicated in these words…

“Meet your audience on their level and in ways they are comfortable with.”IN OTHER WORDS: Don’t expect…
  • Everyone will be comfortable sending you a voicemail to include on your show
  • All your listeners will email you when you ask
  • The Facebook community you create for them will be irresistible to everyone
But DO know that each of those will be appealing to SOME of your listeners.It’s hard to keep track of hundreds of “asks” you’re making of your audience. So find two or three that you like and (most importantly) your audience seems to like – and STICK WITH THOSE.OK – enough talking ABOUT this episode. Just listen to it. You’ll get lots of great ideas from what Jonathan had to share.

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