In listening to Ira Glass and Had Abumrad explain audio storytelling, I was struck by how different their perspectives are. I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising. Every expert has a different opinion on their subject (if they didn’t the world would be a much less interesting place).
Glass emphasizes that whether a story is engaging or not depends on certain elements of the story – whether it is a proper anecdote, whether it raises questions (that are presumably answered by the end), and whether it includes a moment of reflection. He refers to these as the “building blocks” of stories. Abumrad, on the other hand, talks about the power of the human voice. Our voices, and our storytelling allow listeners to create pictures of what we are describing, making audio storytelling a participatory experience in which the listener co-authors (as Abumrad phrased it “co-imagin[es]”, a word I would love to incorporate into my daily vocabulary) their own version of the story.
Both explicitly state or imply that an interesting story told in an uninteresting way will fail to engage the listener. Glass goes into more practical details on how to find stories told well and what do to when they aren’t (“kill it”, I believe, is his exact phrase). But the message is clear. Learning to tell a good story takes practice, and if you fail to engage and connect with your audience, your story will lose its impact.