With over 100 million podcast listeners tuning in each month, streaming digital audio files acts as yet another new way to access information. There isn’t a topic left untouched or a genre ignored in the world of podcasts. Fiction, news, interviews, and narrative dramas are just a few of the types of podcasts available. Modern storytelling is ever-evolving, and podcasts are quietly taking over the scene.

Why Storytelling Matters

The goal of any podcast is to build trust and loyalty with listeners. Storytelling is an excellent avenue to make that happen. Sure, you can share numbers, data, and other information; but when it’s said out loud and told in a classic story fashion, listeners connect and (hopefully) relate. Without effective storytelling, the information won’t come to life.

Narrative Techniques

Using narrative techniques in a podcast pulls the audience in. Rather than listening to an interview where one person asks a question and the other answers, the interview becomes a story, which is engaging for everyone involved. The order of a narrative technique would look like this:

  1. An introduction to set the atmosphere and tone of the story. The introduction must grab the listener’s attention and make them want to stay.
  2. Slowly, information is revealed to keep the listener hanging on to build the story.

As the storytelling goes on, suspense or momentum builds and the listener feels emotions. The emotions and build-up vary depending on the story. It may be a sweet and simple story that makes a listener chuckle and smile. Or it could be a more intense, dramatic story full of fear, sadness, and empathy.

Modern storytelling is nothing new except for the 'modern' process. Storytelling has existed since the beginning of time, as have narrative techniques. However, the way we share them is revolutionized through podcasts.

Audience Engagement

As a podcaster, you get one shot at audience engagement, and it’s found in the hook. As mentioned, part of the narrative technique is grabbing the listener’s attention. Once you do that, you’ve got them hooked. As the story begins, there are three areas to perfect: language, characters, and pacing.


Language is everything. It makes storytelling podcast possible — and understandable and inviting language is essential. What makes podcasts stand out is that they employ people to listen and illustrate a story without people actually needing to see the story. It’s almost like a step back in time to radio broadcast storytelling.


Remember, the audience can only see what you draw for them in their minds with the words you choose. You must choose your words wisely to describe each character. This includes the way they look but it also includes their background and personality details. Never use the same voice for each character.

If you want the audience to love a character, then help them. Likewise, if you want them to hate the character, keep that in mind as the descriptions and characters build.

Sound Design and Immersive Experiences

Sound design is essential for a podcaster to stand out from the others in modern storytelling. There are two choices when telling a story via podcast: Simply read the story or read the story with sound effects that go along with it. Here is what sound design can do for a podcast:

  1. Better engage the audience.
  2. Set the scene by transporting the audience to another place and time.
  3. Add life to the characters.
  4. Create emotions such as fear, tension, romance, and love.
  5. Creates a clear scene change.
  6. Lets the audience know that a change is coming or that a character has just appeared.

This immersive experience takes the story to a new level for the listener and the storyteller. The plot, atmosphere, and connection with the characters build with every detail.

Journalism and Podcast Storytelling

Storytelling isn’t always fictional. The combination of storytelling and podcasting is also changing the face of journalism. Today, a journalist can share stories from the comfort of their home. A journalist can use the medium of podcasts to add music in the background as they share information. They can change their tone and engage listeners by creating emotion as they report their stories. Let’s look at two critical journalism and podcast storytelling factors: having no time constraints and constant access.

One of the most significant benefits of podcast journalism and modern storytelling is having no time constraints. Without a producer telling them they have five minutes to get their point across — typical for a daily news broadcast — journalists can now speak to their audience through a podcast of as many minutes as they need.

Another benefit is that listeners have constant access to the story. If they missed the podcast when it first streamed, they can listen in the evening after work. Listeners can also enjoy the information over and over if they choose to replay it multiple times. And they can share their stories with whoever they want. Gone are the days of waiting to be discovered as a journalist. With narrative podcasts, journalists can put themselves out there and be heard.

How to Get Started in Podcast Modern Storytelling

If you are interested in podcast storytelling, you don’t need much to start. Here’s a list of basic equipment:

  1. Microphone and stand
  2. Computer
  3. Headphones
  4. Audio Interface
  5. Pop filter
  6. Editing Software

These are just the basics, but they work quite well and are enough to jumpstart any podcast. You can add more elaborate equipment as time passes.

Preparing the creative side of your storytelling podcast is almost more important than the equipment. The following are some questions to ask yourself as you decide what kind of storytelling podcast you will have:

  1. What’s your story? Will you share your personal experiences? A fictional story that goes on for weeks? Or maybe you’d like to interview interesting people and share their stories in a storytelling format?
  2. What makes your format unique? Will it stand out from other podcasts?
  3. How many episodes will you share? Do you need to prepare for several episodes? Will they be a continuation of the same story or a new one each time
  4. Will you be the only voice, or will there be others?
  5. What is the format? Documentary, fiction, report, or non-fiction?
  6. Will it be narration only? Will you sometimes share a live or recorded interview?

These may seem like a lot of questions, but once they are answered you are well on your way to a storytelling podcast. When your vision is clear, it’s time to plan your strategy.

Planning the Pilot Episode

A pilot episode is the best way to test out your storytelling format. Decide what you want the pilot to be, and then start making it happen.

Writing the Script

Scripts vary depending on what type of podcast you're making. An interview-based story is vastly different from a murder mystery audio story. Here are some things to consider as you develop your first podcast script:

  1. The characters or people involved.
  2. The atmosphere if necessary.
  3. Events to take place.
  4. Order of events and moments of suspense or climax.
  5. Special sounds or other elements needed.

Record Your Podcast

The final step is recording. Make sure you record at a time of day when you are alert and comfortable. Set up in a quiet area and use your headphones to block out everything else. After recording, use the editing software to improve the podcast.

Although storytelling isn’t new, modern storytelling through podcasts is. To engage the audience, the narrator must include the following:

  1. Narrative techniques to create a hook and the release of information slowly and at the right time.
  2. Audience engagement through character building and descriptive vivid language.
  3. Immersive experiences with the help of sound design.

There is no limit to podcasts; no one can ignore what it has done for modern storytelling.

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