Transparent, vulnerable, and real conversations are the lightning in a bottle of a good podcast. Stories that are generously shared with the emotion, and passion surrounding topics that are important, complex, and contain nuggets of truth is one of the goals. But the best, most impactful episodes are the ones that leave you feeling something, and move you.
Power of Three
Have you ever noticed in life, and in process how things seem to come in threes? Think about it. The rule of three is everywhere.
We have three acts as the dominant structure to screenwriting. The “comic triple” for surprise punchlines.
Three clusters of time (past, present, and future).
There are three little pigs, three Musketeers, three wise men, and the three Stooges.
How about “blood, sweat, and tears,” or “mind, body, spirit,’ and of course “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.”
Simply put, it all boils down to how our brains work and process information. Humans are absolutely brilliant at becoming comfortable with patterns that we find quickly.Three just happens to be the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern.
Triads seem to be everywhere and podcasting conversations are no different. Being mindful of an important trio can help us create better, and more memorable content for our listeners.
In any art form the subject is key. In podcasting thinking about the key elements of each episode and crafting questions to tease out the stories that need to be told are key to creating an engaging conversation. Starting with questions like “why is this important” and breaking the main subject into subtopics again of no more than three can provide an excellent outline to be used to craft the conversation around. With the outline in hand now pause and think about your audience. Think about the moment your audience is finished investing 30 -50 minutes listening. What do you want them to feel?
Once you’ve landed on your subject, you need a guest who can speak with authority and empathy about the subject. The web is your friend in this regard. As we all broadcast our work online through blogs, articles, posts etc. Finding and connecting with people to tell the story is easier than ever. It’s amazing how generous people are when it comes to responding to invitations to explore options to work together. Real people want to connect, and to tell their story. Meeting, and connecting and creating a safe, familiar environment for those conversations to take place is key to the best outcomes.
Your Job Is Not to Judge, Your Job Is to Be Curious
There is no method to dealing with anyone. If you want to be authentic with someone you have to be curious and less judgmental, even if it is someone you disagree with, even if they’ve done things that you feel are wrong in history. The only way to capture the person, and their story is to allow vulnerability in yourself, which means letting your guard down. It is through a process of genuine curiosity and asking the right questions and then being an active listener that their truth can be told. In the process everyone learns something. This is where the magic happens.
Brainstorming and meet and greet sessions prior to pressing record are also helpful in building rapport so that your conversation flows with confidence and ease. What you’re aiming for is that easy going conversation of 2 friends sitting on the tailgate of a truck catching up.
The audience is always at the forefront of what you do. They are, after all, why you do it and who you do it for. It’s been said that you can’t please everyone, all the time. So knowing your niche and speaking to them is important. Author Donald Miller had an interesting post on Instagram, where he spoke about Alfred Adler, renowned philosopher and psychiatrist, who stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. Dr. Adler said the fuel of mankind is to connect. He also taught that out of every ten people you meet one will like you, seven will see you as insignificant, and two of them will not like you. This can be very freeing to the creative trying to find and build their tribe. His message… Focus on the one. Connect with the one that likes what you’re producing. Speak to them. They are your tribe and although we all love to see our numbers of likes, subscriptions, followers etc go up. Engagement and connection are the most rewarding and enduring.
One additional word of advice. It’s easy as a creative to get locked into the technical aspects of creating or to have a bias about your work. This is why it’s helpful to have a small tribe of listeners (close friends) you can trust to provide honest feedback on your work. Sharing pre-released material and then acting on the feedback is a great way to refine your craft and make sure you’re speaking to your tribe.
One last thing
In a podcast interview on the Rich Roll Show, Sparked Autor Jonathan Fields coined the phrase “maximum sustainable generosity”. He explained it like this. “As I think about things that drive me, things that are important to me and that I’m working on, I approach them in a generous way, so that I provide value in every interaction.” Being generous as we look for the opportunities is key. The friend that needs a hand, or even just to hear a familiar voice. The customer who needs someone to listen and understand. The Google review you give to help grow their business. The book tip or peice of marketing advice you give to help them with their brand. The article you write or webinar you do to share your hard earned knowledge. The mentorship and encouragement you provide to a colleague. He added the word sustainable to this mantra because he found that he has to place boundaries around this in order to recharge, and to also make sure he’s still winning in the exchange. Too much of anything will result in burn out or can lead you away from your intent. Approaching your interactions with your subjects, guests and audiences with Maximum Sustainable Generosity can be a game changer on our journey to go make a ruckus.