Ever had someone say to you, “You’re telling stories?” That phrase brings back some good memories of my grandmother. She was my everything up until her passing in 1999 but Gram knew when little Jason wasn’t being honest. She’d say, “Jas, you’re telling stories!”
Fast Forward to this week’s Bailey’s Big Blog…Thank God I grew up telling stories because that is the best communication on any platform.
Now, maybe the stories I was telling as a kid that Gram called me out on weren’t necessarily the same as what I’ve done over the past 3 decades of my career but they’re not far off. The “stories” I was telling as a kid to hide the truth actually made me a better storyteller as I got older. Not to say you had to be a big fat liar as a kid in order to tell a good story as an adult but I gotta be honest with you…it doesn’t hurt.
What makes a good story? Most “experts” will say that you simply need 3 elements. 1) Character 2) Setting and 3) Plot. Damn! That’s all we need to tell a good story? In my humble opinion I’m going to say you need a little more than that. Not to say you don’t need those things but you have to have PASSION that’s RELATABLE and the story needs to EVOKE EMOTION.
Let’s start with PASSION. If you’re not passionate about what you’re telling your audience then why should they even listen? Believing what you’re saying falls under this umbrella. Let’s take one of the greatest story books of all time…The Bible. Now, don’t get offended that I called it a story book but if you don’t know that by now something is wrong with you. It’s not a how to book but it is a how to book through stories. See, I brought it back around for you. You read these amazing stories and in these stories there are valuable lessons whether you believe or not. The stories are being told with PASSION.
Over the years I’ve been asked to do certain content on the radio either because a client wants it done or the program director thinks it’s “good for the audience.” A lot of times I would try to figure another way then what was being pitched because I wasn’t passionate about the original idea. That’s not because I’m difficult to work with. It’s because it’s very difficult to execute content that you’re aren’t passionate about. I can’t passionately pitch a diet pill if I don’t need to lose weight. Get it?
I think some of the greatest content a broadcaster can have is a story about their family or relationship. Some formats frown upon this. Why? Well, because in 2022 some think it’s not cool or not believable that someone between the ages of 25-54 either have or had a family or relationship. (eyeroll) Family chatter and relationship talk are relatable and most likely you’re passionate about the story you’re telling. That’s why Top 40 radio morning shows do so well. That’s really ALL they talk about. Guess what? That shit works! And if you’re passionate about that story you’re telling then most likely it’s RELATABLE. Which brings me to my second story ingredient.
Is your story RELATABLE? Don’t get it twisted with what relatable means. Relatable is simply being able to relate to something else. That covers a broad spectrum of possible stories to tell. A current news story can be relatable to someone. Will it have passion? Probably not, but yeah sure, relatable. But when you tell that story about how your wife wants you to get rid of all of your old girlfriend pictures because you just moved in together….Oh boy! That’s not only relatable but I can hear the passion through the speakers.
That’s one of the things that makes a great storyteller. The listener is engaged because you’re telling a story that’s true and relatable but man, you are so passionate about it. That’s the connection you make with your audience when you open up like this. Some might say you’re just talking about yourself and you should shut that narcissistic mouth up. That my friend is called “noise.” You just phase that shit out. I promise that if you’re telling a story with these 2 ingredients then you’ll win the masses. Now, let’s add the cherry on top.
Lastly, EVOKE EMOTION. If you’ve listened to me for a period of time on the radio or the podcast then you know I teach this like it’s law. You cannot be a great storyteller without evoking emotion. Period. The end of story.
What does that mean? You want to tell a story to the audience that makes at least one person feel something deep in their bones. This covers crying, anger, happiness, sadness, horniness, etc. If you can create that relationship with your audience you my friend are golden.
Political talk does this everyday and is really good at it. You might not like what they’re saying but that’s the point. At least for one half of the audience.
“I can’t believe ALL liberals don’t shampoo their hair!” If you lean to the left and shampoo regularly then you have a big problem with this because the broadcaster doesn’t realize that not ALL liberals do that. That stuff is done on purpose. I promise. I’ve made a good living off of “generalizing.” Not the political stuff but the “ALL” people do this or that stuff. It evokes a certain emotion. Normally, you’ll get “angry.” But, that’s an emotion which will create a response and now you’re engaged and BAM there you go.
Let me give you an example of a story that has all 3 ingredients and doesn’t make you angry. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell in front of a crowd because of the interaction you have afterwards. It goes something like this…
Have you noticed that when you get older you find yourself hoarding things? It’s actually kind of scary. My first experience with this was at a young age when I’d go to lunch with my grandmother. Now, my grandmother could do no wrong in my eyes. She taught me many lessons knowingly and unknowingly. Like in this case, unknowingly teaching me to not steal things just to have for a rainy day. Yeah, my grandmother was a thief. Not jewelry, money or cars but something that is I guess very much sought after after the age of 80. That item would be…Saltine crackers. Every single restaurant we’d go to Gram would take as many as she could and put them into her purse. As I kid for some reason I heard “pac-e-book” every time she said “pocket book.” And that damn thing was like a clown car. She had some much shit in there. Those crackers, napkins, address books, keys, credit cards, this giant cardboard bowl of makeup thing that had mushrooms all over it and let’s not forget the 40 pound golden scissors she used to cut her whiskers all in her purse and most of it stolen. Even Rambo didn’t need all this shit to survive in the jungle when being chased by the cops. And because of this I like to keep it light and only steal Saltine crackers on the anniversary of her birthday.
Now, that’s the short version but I’m pretty sure you could tell how PASSIONATE I was about that story. Either you have someone like this in your family or you know someone that does this which would make it RELATABLE. And EVOKING EMOTION on this one is simply “ahhhh how cute and that’s funny because my grandmother did that too.”
Look, I’m not saying that my 2 cents is going to buy you a mansion. I’m just a guy that loves to tell stories for a living and has been pretty successful doing it. So, if you’re looking for a little extra boost to your storytelling whether on a podcast, on the radio or just at the dinner table then give it a shot and let me know if it helps.
Remember, stories were the first social media. Stories are the current social media. In fact, social media has an option called stories. Keep storytelling and next time someone says, “You’re telling stories.” You respond with, “Yes, I am.”