Learn 6 more easy tricks to keep your listeners’ attention.
Did you read part one of this episode? OK, pop quiz…which technique did I just use in this opening? A question, right! (Well, that was easy.) In the last episode, I talked about 4 techniques for capturing your audience’s attention and interest. For bonus points, can you name the three other strategies?
(Answers: Setting, Onomatopoeia, Generalization)
By using one of those strategies, you build excitement in the beginning of your story. You should have your audience thinking ”I wonder what’s next?” That’s why you also need to develop the middle of your story so that it is engaging and interesting too.
Like the beginning, the middle requires certain strategies to keep the audience actively engaged. Here are my 6 easy tips:
Tip #1 – Use Step-by-Step Action
The middle of the story is where the action takes place. In the middle, the step-by-step actions of characters move the story forward. Typically, engaging middles include significant difficulties or discoveries and a wide range of emotions.
For example, which is better? “I wrote my podcast this morning” or “At 6:15 am, I opened my eyes and thought, ‘I feel good, maybe I can get an episode done before the kids leave!’”
In this quick (albeit somewhat boring) example, 6:15 am is the opening setting which then progresses into several actions. By framing the action in the form of steps—this happened, then this happened-- it makes this boring story inherently more interesting.
Tip #2 - Use Characters
Typically, the middle of a story introduces the main characters. Sometimes, they are introduced through inner dialogue (like in my quick example), and sometimes, we learn about a character by their observations of others, or via another character’s observation of them. Frequently, especially in small moment stories, a name or physical appearance is shared, and sometimes a character introduction is so strong, it can double as the opening attention getter.
For example, here’s the first line of the classic novel, Lord Jim:
“He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull."