Personalities often look for a magic bullet in show prep. Sorry, there are no shortcuts to putting in the work. But there are topic categories that are never off the mark as long as they are curated into ideas, stories, and entertainment!
Use these sure-fire topic categories as a relevance funnel.
- Start with the topic.
- Then look for an angle that fits into one or more of these 5 topic categories.
- Finally, turn it into a story that connects with listeners.
Examples of how to brainstorm stories are included below.
How To Use The Topic Categories
These topic categories work for just about all shows, from Conservative Talk to Hard Rock, and Christian to Hip Hop.
Each show should curate the topics to fit the audience and character of the show, but the core appeal is universal.
For this exercise, we’ll use a generic list of Do’s and Don’ts When Planning a Wedding. Here are four items on the list:
Never schedule the wedding on a weekday, holiday, or Sunday night.
Always pay for an open bar…or at least champagne, beer and wine.
Ask people to make a toast…but don’t pressure them.
Don’t allow a “Speak now or forever hold your piece” moment.
Now, search for stories in the topics that fit each category. Each of the following revolves around an item in the list. Notice how some of the storylines apply to multiple categories!
Relationships make up the bulk of conversations with friends. This is, by far, the #1 category. But relationships are broader than issues between partners.
Topics can be about interacting with family, coworkers, bosses, friends, spouses, in-laws, teachers, partners, and anyone else we come in contact with.
Here are some story ideas for relationships:
- My best friend is furious because I turned down his invitation to be best man. The problem is the date of his wedding. I want to go to a concert I’ve been looking forward to for months. How much should you sacrifice personal preferences for friends?
- I’m proud to be part of the wedding party, but the bride asked me to lose 15 pounds so I’d look better in the pictures when I make a toast.
- My future in-laws are ultra-religious and don’t approve of drinking at all, but my parents are paying for the wedding and insisting on an open bar.
The most powerful emotion to target is fear. Television news capitalizes on this. The opposite is safety and comfort, which is also powerful.
Here are some brainstormed stories from the same list:
- My husband is refusing to give a speech at our daughter’s wedding because of his fear of public speaking. It’s causing a problem in the family (relationships). What fears prevent you from doing something special?
- My fiance has no idea that I hooked up with her maid of honor when we were in college. I’m trying to schedule the wedding on a day I know she can’t be there to ensure she doesn’t find out because I’m afraid of what might happen when they’re together.
- He thinks I’m a virgin and have saved myself for him. He’s in for a big surprise on our wedding night. And I’m petrified at how he will respond. Is it better for couples to talk about it or “don’t ask, don’t tell”?
This has nothing to do with having or getting money, but about how people interact with money.
Here are some ideas:
- My tightwad fiance is insisting we get married over Thanksgiving weekend because fewer people can attend and it will be cheaper. But they will still send a gift.
- I need to save money on the reception and want an open bar so it’s a great party. I can do it if we have the wedding on Wednesday instead of Saturday. Good idea or bad idea?
- I don’t want my daughter marrying her fiance and am thinking of offering $50,000 to call it off and dump this loser.
Things that happen in real life are strong connection points. Home topics are broad and include how people deal with chores, responsibilities, food (and cooking), pets, running errands, and other everyday events.
Here are topics:
- I think we’re going to be really happy in our life together, but I’m allergic to cats. And it turns out that she is more committed to her three long-haired Persians than I thought. I’m afraid of having the conversation because if it’s me or the cats, she may choose the cats.
- We’re renting a house from my parents to save money after the wedding. And I just got a list of rules they expect us to live by. I can live with some of them, but restricting us to “our section of the house” after 9 pm is just too much.
- She just found out he wants six kids and wants to start immediately after marriage. She wants to wait at least 5 years, and two kids are enough. He just wants a quiet, peaceful life in a cottage filled with children. She wants to live large.
Most people spend more time at work or school than in any other situation. This makes it very relatable.
- My husband has a big presentation on Monday morning and he’s refusing to go to his cousin’s wedding on Saturday so he can prepare. What comes first: work or a family member’s wedding?
- They’re having a destination wedding with a few close friends and we all have to pay our own way. But I’ve already planned and paid for a luxury vacation at an all-inclusive resort. I can’t afford both. Are destination weddings unfair to guests?
- I’m ready to be married now, but my boyfriend is insisting I graduate from college first. I’m 27, working on my doctorate, and it’s going to be at least two more years. I think he’s just using it as an excuse.
Crafting a segment from these topic categories isn’t difficult, but does take time. Use the 5 topic categories as a guide to point you in the right direction. You should be able to make it work with nearly any piece of original content.