S14E2: The Power of Storytelling: Captivating Your Audience with Impactful Narratives

Building your brand as a disability service requires more than just Facebook/Insta posts. Those things have a very short half life. Don’t even think in terms of hours for tweets on X! A long term, almost permanent marketing tool is, of course, a podcast. But not just a podcast, a well crafted podcast will have your service, your brand, in the forefront of the people most likely to need your services. A quick sidebar. A brand is simply a thing, organisation or even idea with an attached emotion. The process of branding, then, is to attach a positive emotion in the minds of your listeners to your service. End sidebar.

So whilst facts and figures can be descriptive and they can paint a picture of what your service does, the human mind is better suited to understanding stories than statistical regressions. (Apologies to the econometricians out there.) Data alone can often feel cold and distant. It often struggles to connect with audiences on a deeper level and inspire them to truly care. This is where the magic of storytelling comes in.

Why Stories Matter

Stories speak to the more ancestral parts of our humanity. The wandering storytellers of almost every culture carried the knowledge and wisdom of their collective pasts. Think of the Iliad and the Odyssey being recited around fires at night. The stories of Camelot, Robin Hood, The Epic of Gilgamesh and I could go on all fit within this framework. The point is, as a species we thrive on stories. They connect us emotionally to ideas. The difference nowadays is this: the storyteller does not need to wander the countryside plying their trade. They sit in front of a microphone and let the stories wander across the copper wires and optical fibres of the world to people’s ears. We connect and hold the attention of listeners almost anywhere if we structure our stories well. This in turn connects the emotional impact of those stories to your service, thereby creating and reinforcing a brand.

Stories transport us. We step into the shoes of others, experience, on an empathetic level, their struggles and triumphs firsthand-ish and connect with them on an emotional level. This emotional connection is what separates a compelling narrative from a dry recitation of statistics.

For disability services, storytelling serves as a powerful tool for building empathy. Facts tell us what’s happening but stories show us. By featuring narratives from service users, parents and guardians and your own staff on the ground, you allow listeners to connect with the human impact of your work, fostering empathy and understanding, motivating listeners to become invested in your people and service. This will draw the right sort of employees to your service. They’ve already connected with you.

Types of Stories to Feature in Your Disability Service Podcast

There are many compelling stories waiting to be told from within your service. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Client Journeys: These are the obvious starting points for your show. People speaking in their own voices, telling their own stories are the most powerful form of connection. Connection, over time, leads to trust. The key being “over time”.
  • Staff on the Ground: Feature interviews with staff members working directly with clients. Let them share their experiences, the challenges they tackle and the successes they celebrate on a daily basis.
  • Impact Stories: Highlight specific success stories demonstrating the tangible results of your disability service’s work. This could involve showcasing a life transformed through educational initiatives or someone who has accumulated a life lived with passion through a series of small victories.

I’ll just jump in here, if you’re interested in starting or even re-starting a show that’s podfaded, head over to jmps.au and watch the video “Dreamer to Podcaster” on the home page. This explains the two big myths holding most people back from podcasting and gives you an outline of the JMPS system as delivered through our group coaching program. If this is something you might be interested in, click the link in the show notes. You’ll find it interesting, I think. The first five people to sign up for the JMPS Group Coaching Program will receive a $300 a month discount, so jump in and join the fun.

Back to the episode:

Tips for Crafting Compelling Stories in Your Podcast

Here are some practical tips to transform raw stories into captivating podcast narratives:

  • Focus on the Human Element: Let the personal stories resonate. Draw out the emotions, challenges and triumphs of your interviewees. Their stories are their lives so they may not see the power behind them. See the Podcast: Disability Sunflower Stories on Spotify for examples of this. This is a JMPS production for full disclosure. Link in the show notes.
  • Use Vivid Descriptions: Paint a picture with your words. Use evocative language to help listeners visualise the scenes, situations and emotions within the story. Do not overplay your hand. Less is generally more but there must be something. Let your listeners’ imagination fill in the blanks.
  • Start with a Strong Hook: Grab your audience’s attention in the first few minutes. Introduce a compelling question, a dramatic scene or a captivating statistic to pique their interest. Sometimes a quote from later in the show is the perfect hook. Taken out of context it can pique interest in what’s coming. An old technique because it works.
  • Structure the Narrative: Stories don’t have to be linear but they do need a clear structure. Introduce a protagonist, a challenge or conflict and a resolution to create a cohesive narrative arc. Allowing your client/service user to be the protagonist in a “Hero’s Journey” style of episode is a good place to start.
  • Embrace Authentic Voices: Let your interviewees speak for themselves. Avoid scripting their responses or overwhelming them with edits. Again the less is more mantra resonates. Your task is to capture the essence of your guest in a way that shows them in their best possible light. Remove “Umms” and “Ahhs” in a sympathetic manner without damaging the rhythm of speech. I had a chance to test this on two episodes of the Disability Sunflower Stories show when I was asked to edit and produce one episode in Swahili and one in Burmese. I do not speak these languages but the patterns and flows of the voices, once I’d identified them, made the job enjoyable. I had them checked by native speakers to make sure I hadn’t changed any meanings with the edits and I had not. We never know what we can do until we have to, I guess.
  • Include Music and Sound Effects: Strategic use of sound can enhance the emotional impact of your story. Consider using music and sound effects to create atmosphere and punctuate key moments within the narrative. Remember to only use Podsafe sounds. That’s sounds without rights attached. You do not have the legal right to lift “samples” from downloads, CDs, vinyl or even wax cylinders without written permission. When you purchase any of these formats you are purchasing the right to listen to them in a non-commercial setting, not the right to reproduce them for transmission in any format at all. Music industry lawyers are crawling the podcast world for unlicensed audio and they will sue.


It’s the power of storytelling that truly connects with audiences on a visceral level and inspires them to take action. By incorporating compelling narratives into your disability service’s podcast, you can transform your message from informative to impactful. You will build a brand (A thing with an emotion attached), authority and trust, over time. This will draw new service users and staff to your service in the same way honey attracts bees. 

In Show Links: Podcast: Disability Sunflower Stories