5 lessons in storytelling from Serial

The podcast focuses on a step-by-step look back at a 1999 murder case. Executive producer Julie Snyder and host Sarah Koenig offered their insights into its phenomenal success.

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Serial host Sarah Koenig and executive producer Julie Snyder recently spoke at The Connecticut Forum, which hosts unscripted panel discussions featuring subject experts and celebrities.

Serial is a podcast spin-off of “This American Life” and is the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads in iTunes history. It covers the 1999 murder case of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee, focusing on the conviction of her 17-year-old boyfriend, Adnan Syed.

Here are outstanding quotable lessons from a night filled with storytelling inspiration:

The most grueling edits tend to be on the stories that are the most mediocre. The most work goes into saving a weak idea. —Julie Snyder

Snyder and Koenig talked at length about a question they’re often asked about the podcast: Why did it take off the way it did? Their answer was that when a good idea is really good, it tends to be easy, because it can speak for itself.

Snyder’s quote above should remind marketers and creative professionals that perhaps if an idea isn’t working, there’s a reason. The best ideas are both simple and meaningful.

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