Have you heard the old saying, “Don’t let facts get in the way of a good story”? Telling stories requires showmanship and creative liberties. But it’s hard for personalities to learn to exaggerate on the air without feeling inauthentic.
The funny thing is most of us already do this on a regular basis. It happens when you share a story with friends over coffee or a drink. You probably do it when telling someone about a meeting you had that day. And everyone does it on social media!
It’s not lying. It’s simply turning up the volume on the facts to be more entertaining.
3 Ways To Exaggerate
So why is it so hard to turn up the volume on the air when it comes naturally in real life? Many personalities seem to become “reporters” when turning on a microphone.
But you’re not a reporter. You’re a storyteller! So let’s learn to exaggerate.
Focus on Details: Try to avoid exaggerating facts. This often results in a story that’s hard to believe or doesn’t seem feasible. Instead, exaggerate the right details to paint a more vivid picture.
For example, if telling a story about something that happened at your high school dance, build the moment:
The dance was over in 10 minutes. The band was playing Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love To You. Perfect. There’ll be at least one more slow song. It’s the perfect time to ask Tiffany to dance. I wrapped my arms around her, careful not to put my sweaty palms on that low-cut sweater that showed just enough cleavage to drive me crazy. And at that very moment…as I’m expecting them to play “Everything I Do, I Do It For You”, the lead singer with the Bon Jovi haircut shouts, “Okay. Let’s rock this joint one more time with some QUIEETTT RIOTTT”.
Exaggerating the scene with details (the songs, the clothes, the haircut, etc.) makes the story come alive. Those details may not be true, but they help build anticipation for the outcome.
Biggest/Best/Most: Always move toward the extremes. The most of this, the most of that, the prettiest girl, the richest man.
You’re not “feeling like a bad mom”. Instead:
My four-year-old daughter looked at me with a pained look of disappointment and I realized right then that “I’m the worst mother on the planet.“
Exaggerating the situation creates more suspense. You
Ask What Else? In show prep and brainstorming, challenge your team to dig deeper. Ask:
- What else could happen?
- What else should happen?
- It would be cool if _______ happened.
Imagine telling a story about being low on money and having to take a bus to get home instead of calling Uber. Wouldn’t this be more interesting?
I was down to my last $2 and lucky to get the last seat on the last bus crowded with insane and drunk football fans.
Here’s a fun exercise: Challenge each member of the show to apply these tips to the most ordinary, mundane story you can find. Then, in a show prep meeting, share the results. It’s amazing how an ordinary or even boring story can turn into entertainment.
Exaggeration is one of the three E’s of storytelling that turns up the volume. The others are to enhance and embellish. Learn to apply each at the right time and your stories will become more alive and memorable.