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Research Guides@Tufts

MyTERN Podcast Project

Short storytelling examples

Before starting on writing your own story, it can be helpful to listen to examples to break down how their stories are functioning.

3 minute story - Listening example 1: These Memories Shaped His Journey Into Hospice Work by Paul Boos and Hajime Issan Koyama

5 minute story - Listening example 2: Start listening at 5 minutes. Finding where you fit, Storycorps.  Content warning: mention of suicide.  

Consider the following questions:

  • What descriptive elements where in the story? Did the storyteller describe the space? The weather? Did they describe how they felt
    at a particular moment?

  • What moments in the story might have been hard for the storyteller to share? What was the level of detail they chose to share?

  • What are similarities between the two stories?

  • What are some differences?

Storytelling guide

It can be helpful to organize your story into a beginning, middle and end.  The following suggestions are adapted from the SAMHSA Storytelling guide as well as the How to tell a good story article from NPR

In general consider:

  • Why are you telling this story?
  • What essential message do you want to communicate?

In each section of your story consider:

  • What is the key emotion in this part of your story?
  • List the events that happened in your story.  Who or what does the audience need to know and understand about your story in the beginning?
  • Describe the location, the smell, what you saw, what you heard.  What did you feel?  Why did you feel that way?


  • Get your audience's attention and motivate them to listen
  • Offer some background information about your topic
  • Set the tone for the story


  • Organize your main points (usually 2-5 for a story that is less than 5 minutes long)
  • Make sure your main points support the purpose of your story
  • Include supporting details


  • What/who has changed and how
  • Use a strong closing statement to indicate your story is over



Once you've worked your story through this guide, pause to reflect on the details you just wrote down.  How does your body feel when reading this?  Are there parts of this story you can omit/include to help you feel more comfortable sharing?  Do you need to adjust your story or topic to better highlight the theme or help make you feel more comfortable sharing?  The NPR article offers that, "...if it's tough to find an ending to a story, it may mean that you're still living it. You might need to "press pause" and return to the story when you've had more time to process."

Finding your voice

You may find that as record your podcast it isn't enough to simply read your script; you likely will need to perform it.  The energy in your voice, or lack of energy, will be heard by your audience.  To help with this process try some of the following:

  • Invite a friend or group member to be present in the space while you read.  Reading to someone will radically alter your delivery.  You can also imagine performing to different types of people.  You may find that when you say your script to a loved one versus a professor your tone and phrasing are different.  Which feels best for your project?
  • Alter your script to make it easier to say.  If you are finding certain words or phrases awkward to say, change them.  They will also likely be awkward to hear.
  • Record your voice and then playback with your eyes closed.  Sometimes closing your eyes can help you hear differently.
  • Play with different types of voices.  Try exaggerating your voice.  You may find that overemphasizing your emotions translates better through the microphone.  

Finding your voice for a podcast can come naturally for some and be a complex, difficult process for others.  Below are a few posts about folks who struggled to find their voice, how they did it and what it meant for them.  

In Action: Shaping a story

Goal: The goal of this exercise to help you more concretely understand how to shape an engaging story.

Materials: Storytelling guide, pencil and paper or word processing application, e.g. Microsoft Word.

Instruction: Take 5 minutes to brainstorm a story to share connected to your groups theme.  The story you select doesn't have to be the story you end up using in the podcast.  Take 10 minutes to use the Storytelling guide on this page to work through your story.  Next, practice reading your story out loud to your group.  Have someone in your group use a stop watch and announce when you've reached 6 minutes.

Debrief: Discuss with your group where you might improve your story.  Where did you include distracting details?  What part of the story kept them engaged?  Does this story feel like a good fit for the theme?  Why or why not?