Using Theater of the Mind to Create Powerful Podcast Engagement – Episode 131
CREATE THEATER OF THE MIND
The use of active language will stir the imagination of your listener and help you connect to your audience. Put the listener in the moment. Make the listener see the action you are describing.
“I’m walking in the bustling restaurant and shaking off the cold without even watching where I’m walking.” That is active language. In your mind, you can see me walking in.
Sure, your restaurant may be different from my restaurant. That difference is what makes theater of the mind great. You see it the way you think it fits best for you. Your scene doesn’t need to match my scene in order for the story to make sense. It is your theater.
Active language connects each listener to the story in his or her own way. It will create strong audience engagement. Active language during storytelling is a powerful tool you can use while you’re building your podcast.
Create a great podcast brand. Create theater of the mind. Here is the way to create amazing images in the theater of the mind of your listener.
MAKE THEM FORGET
There is a primary reason most people seek entertainment. They want to escape reality. Help your listener make their escape by making them forget they are listening to a recording.
People want to forget about their troubles of the day. To get away, they watch movies, go to concerts, watch television, listen to radio and spend time with your podcast. People get wrapped up in another time, place and story. This makes them forget about their reality, even if it is only for a short time.
Take them to another place with your podcast by using stories. Make your storytelling so strong that their imaginations put your listener in another time and place. That’s what great storytelling is all about. That’s what great relationships are all about. It is engagement.
So, how do you make them forget? How do you engage and entertain to the point where your listener is so engrossed with your content that they forget about everything else? What are the steps to create a great story?
Take a few tips from movies and television. Tell compelling stories just like the movies.
Here are the five things you need to remember in order create great tales for your podcast.
HAVE GREAT CHARACTERS
Every story has great characters. You may love them. You may hate them. Either way, you remember them, because they stir emotions within you.
The characters are well-defined. You feel like you know them. During the story, you find yourself either rooting for them or against them.
Podcasts create these characters in various ways. It may be the host that is the character. The host may tell stories about others. The people defined in the e-mail questions answered during the show could be the characters of the stories. You could take phone calls or voicemail questions from people. Their voice alone helps define their character. Live guests with colorful backgrounds are also a source for great characters.
“Billie Jo, single mother of two who works as a waitress in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to make ends meet” is somebody you can begin to envision in your imagination. “She uses her kids to shoplift” completely changes your perception of her.
Great characters get your audience wrapped up in the story, so they forget they are listening to a recording.
CREATE SOME TENSION
All good stories have a plot. As we learned in composition class, great drama and tension create a solid plot. The protagonist must overcome the dilemma. Your listener begins to wonder what will happen next.
Podcasts that answer listener questions create some tension. The listener typically has a problem they need solved. This typically isn’t an Earth-shattering problem. However, it is a form of tension.
Great guests have usually overcome some obstacle to achieve their success. These obstacles create great tension in the story. Help your guests define that tension.
Tension in the story gets your audience wondering what will happen next. Once your listener gets focused on your story, they begin to forget about their reality. That’s what great stories are all about.
UNIQUE, VIVID, MENTAL IMAGES
When someone tells a story, on the radio or in a podcast, it is theater of the mind. When you hear the old time radio show describe the dim light on in the servant’s quarters, the scenery is playing out in your mind in a unique way unlike the way anyone else could envision it. No other person is imagining the clothing of the characters the exact same way you are imagining them. That mental theater is unique to you. You are listening and imagining by yourself.
Podcasts make the one-on-one approach even more important. Podcasts are often enjoyed through headphones. Your audience is truly listening by themselves. The headphones block out all other sounds and distractions. You have multiple “one person” audiences at the same time. Yet, it is still one person.
Connect with your “one person” audience by creating a great theater. The theater will be different for each listener, because they are using their individual imagination. Create a movie and put the listener in it. Make the story an individual experience for the listener. Engage the listener with vivid details and a fantastic storyline. Make them forget they are listening to a podcast. Create great theater of the mind. Create unique, vivid, mental images.
USE GREAT DETAILS
Details make stories come to life. When you use vivid details, your listener can smell the air. They see the colors. They can hear the sounds. Your details put the listener in the moment.
You can tell a story in one of two ways.
The first way would have no details.
I stopped at a diner to grab some dinner.
That line does very little to stir the imagination and transport you to another time and place.
The second way incorporates vivid details.
Dinner would be the first meal I would have that day. I stepped into the roadside diner and shook off the snowy, December cold. The beat of the jukebox and bubbly chatter of the locals began to warm me even before I could take a seat on a barstool at the counter to order my biscuits and gravy.
The detailed story begins to stir your imagination. You can feel the cold. You can hear the jukebox and crowd. You can almost smell the diner food. When those senses are activated, you begin to forget you’re listening to a recording.
HAVE A RESOLUTION
The resolution is the payoff to every great story. It is the climax to the movie plot. It is the “happily ever after”. The resolution puts the bow on the whole package.
Your resolution comes when you follow through with whatever you were hoping to make your audience feel. It could be the answer to the question. It could be the breakthrough success of your guest. You could wrap up the story with the punchline to the funny tale. Your resolution is where you solve the conflict and tension.
ME, NOT US
Talk to your audience one-on-one. Make your podcast personal by treating every listener as an individual. The more personal you get, the more engaged your listener will become.
Notice the tone of this writing. I’m talking directly to you. I’m helping you with your podcast. I’m not addressing “you guys”. I’m not talking to “all of you”. Sure, I’m writing for many. But when you read this, I’m writing for you and only you.
If I’m talking to you, you will in turn feel responsible to listen. If I’m talking to “all of you”, it becomes easier to assume somebody else will listen if you want to stay focused on something else. Engage by speaking one-on-one.
When you record your podcast, you need to create that wonderful theater of the mind. It doesn’t matter if you’re reading fiction or talking about gardening, put your audience in the moment. Transport them to another time and place.
Make your podcast entertaining by creating great stories using the five elements. Great stories have great characters. Engage your audience with some tension. Spark the imagination of your audience with vivid details. Wrap the story up with the resolution. Finally, speak to your listener with a one-on-one tone. Stories help your listener forget about their troubles of the day.
Try to incorporate stories in every podcast. Stories will help them escape reality. Make your listener forget they are listening to a recording.
Next week, we will cover how to get listeners to return to your show week after week.
You can find my podcast and other tools to help you create great content at www.PodcastTalentCoach.com.
Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.