The Art Of Performance: Ranting Is Not Storytelling

The Art Of Performance: Ranting Is Not Storytelling

by Tracy Johnson

Ranting has taken over social media. Isn’t it amazing that so many people think their Facebook or Twitter feed is a bully pulpit to try and change your opinion. But it doesn’t work, does it? It’s a quick way to be ignored, unfriended, and unfollowed.

Ranting is dangerous. Especially in broadcast media. Turn on cable news and it won’t be long before a talking head begins a rant. It’s the same with sports talk shows. And increasingly, it happens with well-meaning radio personalities on mainstream stations try to stand out.

Having a strong point of view is a good thing, but slip across the line into ranting and raving is a fast way to lose listeners.

Great radio shows are built on storytelling, and ranting is not storytelling.

Why Ranting Doesn’t Work

It’s somewhat easy to whip listeners into a frenzy with emotional outbursts that try to force a point of view. The problem is that it is rarely entertaining and only works on those who already agree that opinion.

Ranting about how life sucks, or a team, opponent or another person sucks, is fatiguing. It may work for a speech, a political rally, or high school pep rally.

But nobody wants to be told they must subscribe to an extreme point of view. Have you ever seen political propaganda or posts on Facebook actually change someone’s mind? The only accomplishment is starting a fight.


Storytelling is different.

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Stories with a bold perspective that demonstrates character traits is compelling, even if audience disagrees with the underlying opinion.

Great storytellers are able to engage, captivate and lure listeners into a story. Their point is revealed in performance, but isn’t shouted or crammed down anyone’s throat. The audience discovers it.

Maybe there is a moral you are dying to communicate. Or a point that everyone should agree with. It’s tempting to pontificate. But keep the point to yourself. Listeners don’t have to get your point, as long as they get a point.

That’s the beauty of effective storytelling. It leaves the audience feeling an emotion.

Same Story, Different Response

Think of a favorite story. What makes it stand out? What is the takeaway? How did it stoke emotional responses?

Now think about the same story from another perspective. For example, someone not at all like you. What would they take from the story?

Chances are, the story was created with a point of view. Yet it was told so each individual had a different takeaway. That’s a great story.

That’s what made Jesus one of the greatest storytellers in history. His parables never told the audience what to believe. He led them to discover the point in a powerful, personal way.


Some personalities think they’re telling stories y being loud and opinionated. But heavy-handed storytelling is just ranting. It usually comes from lack of confidence or poor preparation.

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This is not to suggest personalities should avoid opinions. Just don’t try to control the feelings of others. Focus on creating content that provokes a feeling, rather than telling listeners what they should feel.

Craft the story to make a clear point, but be creative and clever. That’s the art of telling a story.


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