Whether an open mic night, a live podcast, or a literary reading, storytelling events are all about engaging your audience with a narrative. But it’s not just the stories that happen on stage that matter — it’s how every part of your event works together to create a full experience for your attendees.
Like any live event, you want to make sure that the energy stays high from your first performer to your last. While traditional lineups and readings still have their place, the most successful storytelling events have gone beyond these old-school formats.
Get inspired by these strategies used by three now-legendary storytelling series to make their events stand out.
1. Diversify your act structure for a new perspective
No attendee wants to sit through live reading after live reading, no matter how great the stories are. Best case scenario, your attendees take a break with a trip to the bar. Worst case scenario, they find themselves nodding off.
Storytelling event Mortified fully leans into their on-stage setting to combat potential attendee boredom. Mortified has become notorious over the years for their painful – and painfully funny – live shows where participants read excerpts from their old diaries, letters, and creative works.
To keep the energy going all evening, Mortified breaks up the reading with other types of live performance. For example, they partnered with an improv troupe to perform sketches inspired by each reading. This offered attendees a new perspective on the embarrassing revelations and broke up the stories with something unexpected.
How to take action: Consider integrating other types of performances into your storytelling event. A live band who riffs off the readings or performs a “soundtrack” as people speak is one option. Beyond adding value and breaking up the roster, working with performers outside your storytellers helps you build relationships with other local creatives.
2. Take something with a history and put a new twist on it
With so many storytelling events popping up, your audience likely has high expectations — and it’s up to you to subvert them.
Take advantage of their expectations to fuel your comedy or content. For example, Speechless takes the old-reliable PowerPoint presentation and flips it on its head: Presenters don’t know what is on their slides until they’re on stage. Speechless also runs public speaking workshops and improv comedy shows, doubling their value and offering a unique twist on storytelling and improv.
How to take action: Take something mired in expectation — a fashion show, a poetry slam, a classic game — and find a way to update it for your storytelling event. With something familiar on the program, attendees will flock to your event then be delighted when they see how your team has made it new and special.
3. Archive the stories shared for promotional content
To grow the audience at your storytelling event, look to the content you already have. Snagging new attendees is always difficult, but getting content that gives them a taste of your event is half the battle. And you have plenty!
Take inspiration from The Moth, a long-running storytelling event with an impressive archive of live recordings. They also have multiple ways to listen: the Story Library, The Moth Radio Hour, and The Moth Podcast. By giving their stories a shelf-life beyond the event itself, you make it easy for your attendees to share it on social media. Listeners hooked by a forwarded link or a perusal through your website may well become attendees in the future.
How to take action: Your video strategy isn’t separate from the marketing work you already do every day. Find out what the video experts at Animoto, an online video maker millions of businesses use to create their own compelling videos, say your strategy needs in The 2019 Guide to Video Marketing for Events.
Find your niche — and watch your storytelling event grow
Looking for more tips on how to get your storytelling event out to the right audience? Check out this guide to marketing niche events and watch your seats fill.