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Why conflict is important to the structure of your podcast episodes with Tristan Pelligrino

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Episode Summary

Telling a story – that’s all you need to know about podcasting. Sounds simple, but is it? In the latest special episode of Recorded Content, the co-founders of Motion and hosts of Recorded Content explain how important it is to create a solid structure around the main topic in every podcast episode. During the episode, Tristan and Justin walk through their slightly different podcasting approaches. But despite the nuanced approaches, Justin and Tristan agree that B2B podcasts usually aren’t interesting because of a lack of conflict. Tristan introduces the ABT framework, a handy tool every aspiring podcaster can utilize to create a solid structure around a core conflict. And on the flip side, Justin talks through his approach to introducing conflict during the very early stages of an episode.

Guest Profile

Name: Tristan Pelligrino

What he does: Tristan is the Co-Founder of Motion and leads the creative execution for all of the shows produced by the company.

Company: Motion

Key Insights

  • Plan your podcast episode around a conflict: Tristan talks about the necessity of working through a conflict or a challenge in order to create an interesting podcast. People can easily lose their focus and that’s why every episode needs to be dedicated to resolving a certain conflict. Most technology exists because it’s trying to help its customers overcome an obstacle that they have with their business or their team. Those are elements of tension. That’s really where your conflict stems from. If you build a podcast episode around a conflict, a core conflict that allows you to get some context around that conflict, some background information, and it also allows you to have that natural story arc which is really overcoming that obstacle or getting through that element of tension to where you’re at a better state at the end.
  • Utilize the ABT framework: Tristan introduces an interesting framework that can help aspiring podcasters. Every engaging story has its main character who has its character arc. The same goes for podcasts. You need to have a plan and stick to it. The ABT structure is an acronym and it stands for “and, but, therefore.” So “and” is the first part. That’s the setup of your story. That’s where you get the background information that’s relevant to your audience. The “but” is the problem. That’s where you get to the heart of the conflict and “therefore” is the resolution. That’s really where you’re looking to solve that problem for your audience and that is the third part of the story.
  • Having a plan is great but remain flexible: Tristan revisits his idea about the ABT framework and points out that sticking to it blindly isn’t that good either. He recommends having the plan in mind but also listening to your gut and having fun while recording. “I think that’s important for people to understand. Just because you have a narrative framework like the ABT, it doesn’t mean that it has to be so linear every time. It doesn’t have to be that predictable. You can have a lot more context upfront. You can get a little bit more background information if that is important to understanding the problem. That’s an option or as you do quite often you can almost skip that context right away. Go to the problem and then revisit some of that background information as you move forward. I think that the most important thing for people to understand is that no matter how you arrange it those three elements are important for the listener.”

Episode Highlights

The podcast is about telling a story

“The biggest thing that I think is missing from podcast episodes that are related to B2B podcast is really just this sense of story. Typically you’ll hear a host and a guest jump on a recording session and they’ll record for let’s say 20 to 30 minutes about a topic or a big question that might be out there within the industry. You might get some interesting soundbites out of it. Along the way during the conversation some interesting things will come to the surface but as a whole there really isn’t this overarching story that’s a part of that particular episode. As a listener the impact that has on you is that you don’t necessarily know where the conversation is going. You’re literally a fly on the wall here. As a listener if you don’t know where the conversation is going you don’t know what to expect you don’t know what you’re going to get from that particular episode and that’s why it doesn’t appear interesting to you. That said it’s really easy to just say ‘Tell more stories’ you know. You see that in pretty much any kind of social media platform that you’re on now. The way to break through is to tell an interesting story and a lot of people will advise you as a podcast host to just get your guests to tell stories. If we ask ourselves if you peel back the curtain on that, what makes a good story? Well the answer is all about conflict and there needs to be tension at the heart of your story at the heart of your podcast episode and that’s the fundamental part of a great story,” says Tristan.

If you start narrow you’re setting yourself up for a lot of success

“When it comes to starting a story with conflict I start my episodes the way I started this episode today. I asked Tristan ‘Why do you think podcasts produced by B2B companies aren’t interesting?’ – full stop there. I started this episode with conflict and what you’ll find is if you start very narrow and you start with a conflict you’re setting yourself up for a lot of success not only from a story standpoint and getting the story but also soundbites. You want to draw people in with stories with things in conflicts that they’re seeing, feeling, experiencing in their day-to-day uh and draw them in with these issues and tell stories through those issues. And so what I do is I start my conversations typically with ‘There’s a problem with X. What do you think of that problem?’ states Justin.

Where to look for tension

“A key thing to remember or to even understand is if you’re looking for tension a lot of it can just be very simple. What are some of the big questions that your customers have? If you want to source tension or conflict in your episodes look at customer support tickets or look at the FAQs that are coming from your sales team. These things are all good sources of inspiration for challenges that your customers are having. So if we think about a B2B podcast in the stories that we want to tell it’s how people have overcome certain obstacles that are highly relevant to your audience. These things can be observations that you have that can be the old way versus the new way of doing something. These are all great representations of conflict that you can integrate within your podcast episode,” says Tristan.

The importance of creating a structure for a podcast

“Companies understand their podcasts must help their audience and connect with their listeners but most podcasts don’t have any tension and fail to tell an effective story. So that’s the problem that we’re exploring. We’re exploring the fact that a lot of podcasts out there are just 20 to 30 minutes of a chat versus exploring this story structure that we’re trying to integrate here. You need to integrate more conflict in your podcast episodes to make them more interesting for your listeners and ultimately help them. So that’s the resolution that we’re trying to arrive at with this podcast episode. So what we’re trying to do is solve a problem where your podcast episodes aren’t exploring any challenges or any conflict. What we’re doing is providing that solution which is one of the frameworks that I use quite often. It’s the ABT framework. That’s how you can build a podcast episode around one core conflict but you have a couple of parts to it. You have to set up the context for the audience, understand what the problem looks like and then move towards a resolution so that your listener goes along this journey with you. It feels more like a story thus it creates more of an interesting perspective for your audience,” says Tristan.

Choosing solutions over context is the way to go

“One thing I want people to stay away from which is starting your episodes with a ‘Tell your audience a little bit about your background.’ That question and you hear it so much in B2B podcasts. I feel that people want to start broad to give lots of context but your audience very likely didn’t show up to get context they showed up for solutions. And if you start your episode with ‘Alright let’s start very broad. Tell me about your background.’ People don’t know they’re here to answer your questions and if you ask them about their background they may go for 5 to 10 minutes and your audience may tune out within those 5 to 10 minutes,” says Justin.

The Star-Wars approach

“In Star Wars they have all the texts upfront basically setting the stage and then they jump right into an action scene. I take that same approach which is I jump in with this conflict have the entire episode play out then once the episode’s finished I record my intro and set the stage for the audience. Something I try to stay away from like I mentioned with the ‘Tell the audience about your background’ is I do that for the guest. So I go in my intro and say ‘Hey you’re listening to another episode of Recorded Content. Today I have on Tristan Pelligrino. Tristan and I are going to talk about this conflict. Here’s a little bit of Tristan’s background, here’s what he’s been up to. All right. Let’s jump in. Cut scene. Now you had your playing of the background that Star Wars does and boom we’re going to jump right into the action so that I don’t waste any of your time,’ states Justin.

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