Cutting through the competitive clutter is one of the most difficult things radio shows face. It’s a noisy world. To be heard, you must turn up the volume. In storytelling, that has as much to do with how you say things as what you say.

This is often the difference between a great segment and an ordinary one. The topics are fine and the ideas are solid. The execution is good. The highest volume wins.

I’m not talking about being loud or shouting. It’s not about being the most outrageous or shocking. Every personality can learn to turn up the volume on character traits through storytelling.

Start With The Right Story

As with most things, it starts with show prep. Find a story inside the topic by digging deeper into the emotions hidden beneath the surface.

For example, if the topic is a high-profile celebrity breakup, don’t settle for low-hanging fruit (What do you think about it? Who’s right/wrong?). Find an emotionally charged angle that resonates, such as:

  • What is the worst possible way to break up with someone?
  • Who broke up because of violated principles and knew immediately it was a mistake?
  • Tell a story about the time you should have broken up but didn’t.

Then, when a personal story has been identified, turn up the volume and tell it with excitement. Here’s how:

Turn up The Volume

Here’s how to make the story more exciting in performance:

Use Specific, Colorful Language: General language is common and is usually ignored. Use descriptive details that cause the listener to see themselves in the story.

The best details move the story forward, create a bond between the audience and storyteller, or set a scene. There’s a great example here.

Show. Don’t Tell: Use words that add movement. Here’s one way of saying it:

I was getting on the highway, and a policeman pulled me over for driving without my lights on.

Here’s how to take the listener with you:

It’s dusk…not quite night, but the sun had gone down, and I’m merging onto Highway 492 at Elm Street. On one side is a little old lady in a Corolla weaving between lanes. She had no idea anyone else was on the road. And on the other side is a stream of traffic flying by at about 80 miles an hour. In my rear-view mirror…flashing lights. Who does the cop pull over? Me. Because my car’s lights hadn’t turned on yet.

Be Efficient: This does not mean to shorten the story. Rather, it’s not wasting time. Colorful language takes longer than simple facts. But communication is weakened with long, run-on sentences that don’t move the story forward.

Learn to stay focused and avoid story killers like detours and dead ends.

Cut Back On Adjectives & Adverbs: Amateur storytellers assume they can simply exaggerate a story with adjectives like “biggest, best, and fastest”. But this actually reduces connection. Describe with action, but avoid adjectives and adverbs.

It’s much more interesting to paint a word picture that leads the listener to conclude that the party was over-the-top than just saying it was over-the-top.


Stories are a journey, not just the transfer of information. Many personalities sound more like a journalist reporting on a story than an entertainer sharing an experience.

Engage the audience with creative language that comes alive. Turn up the volume on the way you speak, and the audience will hear your story.

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