Teaching Through Stories

By: Erica Parker

Storytelling is a great way to engage an audience, teach a lesson and give people new ideas to consider.  While writing is a great medium to tell stories, it can’t always provide the same impact as stories told by mouth. As future RDs, we can use stories to engage our patients and clients when we give dietary advice. At the end of the day, if your audience isn’t engaged in what you’re saying, they are unlikely to implement or even remember any of the advice you have given them. Storytelling can also be used to help market ideas and yourself!  A popular way to tell stories orally is through podcasts. Luckily, the UMD dietetic  interns get some training and experience creating podcasts, which you can listen to on Soundcloud.  

The podcast assignment requires interns to create two podcasts during the internship, which can be about an internship experience, the intern, nutrition, or an interview with a preceptor or expert. The goal is to create a podcast script that can be read in 2-3 minutes and then record a basic podcast without music, using Audacity or another audio tool that supports mp3 files. The internship’s tech team provides interns with links to many nutrition or dietetics podcasts to help give them an idea of how a podcast works. Interns also get helpful resources that break down the process of creating a podcast and go into great detail on how to tell a story. One of these resources was the “The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling” on the HubSpot blog, which explained what traits make a good story. A good story isn’t just entertaining and possibly educational, it’s organized, has a relatable character, a problem and a solution. The article also explained how to reach specific goals with your story, such as getting people to act, fostering community and educating people.

For my first podcast, I decided to write about personal food budgeting, since it was something my husband and I had been working on for several months. When writing the podcast script, I found the HubSpot blog post very useful because it helped me to write an organized podcast script with a beginning, middle and end. I started the script with how much our monthly food expenses were prior to the budget. I then discussed the method we used to reduce our food expenses by creating a cash envelope budget for the month. Finally, I ended with how the budget method had been working for us so far and provided encouragement to listeners to try the method if they thought it could work for them too. The goal of my podcast story was to educate people and encourage them to try something that worked for me.

Once my script was complete, I practiced reading it to see if it was within the time limits and recorded the podcast using Audacity.  It was easy to do and I was able to edit the recorded version to sound clear and take out any awkward pauses I made while reading it live.  This assignment allowed me to gain a new skill in recording and editing a podcast episode. It also improved the focus of my writing.  I’m glad I got the chance to record a podcast during this internship and I look forward to recording another one in May!

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