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The Power of Storytelling with Ari Shapiro

What goes into creating an unforgettable story? How can you learn to tell such stories yourself? Get all the answers from an award-winning host of NPR’s All Things Considered.
The Power of Storytelling with Ari Shapiro is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 13.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disappointed? Not at all! Mr. Shapiro is the consummate storyteller. I was hesitant to listen to this course with all the negative press surrounding NPR lately and my conservative East Texas perspective in play. My hesitancy disappeared fifteen minutes into the first lesson, and I cleared my schedule and spent the remainder of my day engrossed in each lesson. It wasn't until Mr. Shapiro was wrapping up the final minutes of his last lesson that I suddenly realized that each lesson was just a small part of his overall story and that there were many different stories at play within his course. My recommendation to anyone considering this course is not to delay any further. I would also recommend listening to the course from beginning to end. Then listen again, but take notes the second time through. The time you spend doing so is well worth your investment. How Mr. Shapiro astutely weaves an example of his lessons into the coursework is masterfully done. If and when Mr. Shapiro retires from NPR, he will leave a void that won't be filled anytime soon. Master storytellers are difficult to find.
Date published: 2024-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nice Insights into Storytelling Ari is a master storyteller. He has an engaging voice and manner, so he undoubtedly attracts a loyal following for those who share his mindset. He provided many good examples of his storytelling keys from his own career in broadcasting, most of which involve making what I would call a traditional (as opposed to centrist or leftist) take on issues. As with all journalists, he produces his version of reality to suit the tastes of his audience. He seems to be a master at combining segments of interviews, sounds and editorial content to make radio stories. I'm sure he convinces many that he does so without bias as a result of intentionally constructing the story to follow an arch type of his choosing to convey the emotions he wants his audience to feel. In short, good storytelling.
Date published: 2024-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable Course! Ari Shapiro--who's he? I looked at his photo. A nice Jewish boy, perhaps but who's he? I had no idea. "All Things Considered," yes, I'd heard of that program but that's it. So yes, Gentle Reader, I confess, I don't listen to or watch the news. A quick peek at the NYT's morning email is all I need or want. But I digress . . .. Storytelling, on the other hand is something I've been involved in all my life through musical theatre and the written word. And I'm always learning. Knowing that Mr. Shapiro was a newscaster did give me pause and I turned away from this course three times. But finally, I gave in and am I ever glad I did! The amount of information packed into twelve lessons is amazing. It's one of those courses that you can listen to/watch multiple times--and you should, at least twice--and glean different information every time. And no matter what genre your storytelling takes, there's something here for you. I was very happy to see a lesson entitled "Live Storytelling (with or without Music)." It saddened me, though, when one reviewer called it a "throwaway," but perhaps he has no experience in the genre. My younger years were spent on stage and when Mr. Shapiro recalled the experience of the love an audience showed through their applause for his performance washing over him like a wave, memories came flooding back. His storytelling was affecting me there and then. Negatives? Yes, but not to do with Mr. Shapiro. Rather, with TGC/Wondrium. Again, the "talking head" format is used--guess we're stuck with it--but there was at least a tad bit more variation. There were four different camera angles but one was an extreme close-up. Really, guys--I'm not interested in counting his pores or facial hairs! The other was even more distracting--the "music." Rhythm- rather than melody-based--just plain annoying. The type of "music" that make you tense up rather than lets you relax and listen. To add insult to injury, at times there was indistinct chattering overlaid on the "music." Noise that distracts has no business in an education program. It was a disservice to Mr. Shapiro. But my kvetching aside, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Power of Storytelling." Mr. Shapiro was an engaging lecturer and although, by his own admission, he was reading from a teleprompter, at no time did he seem to be doing so. Slight movements of his eyes and head broke up the monotony that TGC/Wondrium has decided to inflict on their lecturers and audience. If you're looking for a new tool in your storytelling toolkit, you couldn't do better than this course.
Date published: 2024-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Certainly Worth Your Time and Attention Air Shapiro is a consummate master of his craft. He weaves his own personal journalistic endeavors with larger world issues and illustrates how an interviewer or storyteller can influence his audience. Ari is brilliant, articulate, and engaging. I was hoping to glean more principles for telling written stories as a retired college English professor and fiction writer but was disappointed that there was only one lesson on that topic, albeit an excellent one. That being said, my only criticism had to do with quite a few references to his queer lifestyle. Except for where he interviewed a gay man, which was appropriate. Having taught transgender, bisexual, and gay and lesbian students, I made an effort in the classroom to not flaunt my heterosexuality.
Date published: 2024-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Teaching Storytelling by Telling Stories I've enjoyed Ari's reporting for years and was wondering if I'd be disappointed to hear from the person behind the persona. Rather, this course helped me better understand the reporter I enjoy listening to. And, because I'm in a profession highly reliant on storytelling, I also benefitted from his presentation of how he does what he does. I particularly appreciate that he presents almost entirely by telling stories. In other words, if you're looking for a "how to" lecture, this isn't what you'll want. Rather, Ari's approach is to tell us how he's come to storytelling, how he prefers to do it, and the principles that guide him. Now, please note that I gave the presentation 5 stars, and recommend it to all. That said, two criticisms. First, lecture 10 is a throwaway. While trying to justify that he's explaining how music is a form of storytelling, what he's really doing is offering a memoir of his lifestyle. It's helpful to know about how being gay has influenced his storytelling skills, but I really was bored to be told about how a cabaret is different from a review, and how many famous LGBTQ personalities he knows. That said, I just heard him out in the lecture, and was treated to the next lecture which was incredible - the power of fiction. The other criticism was the production. They put him in what looks like a dungeon with a solitary (and annoying) lamp gleaming off his left shoulder. I finally switched off video so that I could concentrate on his wonderful narrative. I know it's petty, but I was surprised that this incredible lecture series was delivered like he was in dark room with one light. Don't let that take away from watching this series. This is an incredible individual, providing useful information. And, I hope, just the beginning of what this young man will be providing to society in the future.
Date published: 2024-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than expected I have a passing interest in storytelling and journalism, and I was familiar with Shaprio's work, but I didn't expect to find this course so interesting on so many different levels. I ended up going into the NPR archives to hunt down some of the examples Shaprio uses to illustrate points. The course is well-paced, and Shaprio is very comfortable with this format. I like how he showed the "why" of structuring various news stories and how editorial choices are made.
Date published: 2023-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is someone I'd love to have dinner with! Ari Shapiro draws on his wealth of life experience as well as professional experience to present an informative and engaging look at the art of radio journalism. He discusses such topics as how to find a story to tell, how to develop a rapport with your interviewee, how to vary the pacing and perspective of the story, the effective use of pauses and lots more. He talks about the importance being prepared for an interview, including background research and going into the interview with prepared questions, but he stresses the need to listen carefully to responses, read body language, and go off script if indicated. I especially appreciated his emphasis on "doing no harm" when doing a story on a traumatic event. His approach is not to get the story at all costs, but to respect the fragility and vulnerability of those involved in the situation, with the ultimate goal of helping the listener better understand and empathize with them. He also includes some practical rules of thumb, like never ending a story with "only time will tell". Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed this course and highly recommend it. Will others get as much out of it as I did? Only time will tell........
Date published: 2023-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Course in So Many Way Ari Shapiro illustrated the power of story telling from many angles. He's a talented presenter on the radio and I learned other ways of effective storytelling from him. Using music as storytelling was very enlightening for me and seeing how talented Ari Shapiro is had me in awe. This is an excellent course given by a gifted practitioner.
Date published: 2023-11-27
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In The Power of Storytelling with Ari Shapiro, the award-winning host of NPR’s All Things Considered reveals the storytelling secrets he’s learned during his career, from finding a good story and choosing the right characters to conducting interviews and even delivering a story effectively out loud. These 12 lessons are a toolkit for storytellers at all levels of experience.


Ari Shapiro

The best stories have the same qualities, whether they’re fiction or nonfiction: They seize our interest and take us somewhere, introduce us to people we’ll never forget, and leave us seeing the world a bit differently than when we began.

Ari Shapiro is an award-winning host of NPR’s All Things Considered and of NPR’s daily afternoon news podcast Consider This. His debut memoir, The Best Strangers in the World: Stories from a Life Spent Listening, was an instant New York Times bestseller. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University. His reporting experience includes covering wars in Iraq, Ukraine, and Israel as well as reporting from above the Arctic Circle and aboard Air Force One. As a live performer, he often sings with the band Pink Martini. He has also created two original solo shows and cocreated the stage show Och and Oy! A Considered Cabaret with Broadway star Alan Cumming.

By This Expert

The Power of Storytelling with Ari Shapiro
The Power of Storytelling with Ari Shapiro


Why Storytelling Matters

01: Why Storytelling Matters

Start thinking about the importance of great storytelling with Ari’s walk-through of his audio documentary on Venezuelan migrants for NPR—a story that demanded just about every single one of his storytelling skills, including engaging the listeners’ senses and varying the narrative’s pacing.

32 min
What Makes a Story Work?

02: What Makes a Story Work?

In storytelling, the distinction between success and failure is blurry. Still, how does one try to succeed at telling a powerful story? Here, Ari breaks down three of his prize-winning stories to reveal, in general terms, the qualities of a story that resonate with everyday audiences and prestigious organizations alike.

31 min
Finding the Story

03: Finding the Story

Before you decide how you’re going to tell a story, you need a story to tell. The good news? You can literally start anywhere. The bad news? You can literally start anywhere. Ari teaches you time-tested skills on how to find a good story, including talking to strangers and thinking about your audience.

32 min
On Interviews, Conversation, and Silence

04: On Interviews, Conversation, and Silence

Whatever kind of storytelling you’re interested in, an ability to talk with people is key. What are some of the common mistakes Ari sees young interviewers making? How can you best put your conversation partner at ease? Why are nonverbal cues people give you as important as the words they say?

29 min
Choosing Your Characters

05: Choosing Your Characters

It doesn’t matter how familiar a story might be. If you have the right characters, people will be so riveted they can’t turn away. Here, Ari discusses how effective storytellers find and choose compelling protagonists for their stories—a challenging task when faced with a crowd of potential characters.

32 min
Building Your Story

06: Building Your Story

You’ve done your research, conducted your interviews, and listed out your scenes and characters. Now, it’s time to start building your story. Describing your story to a friend, starting from your best quote, and creating a simple outline are just three of the techniques Ari illustrates.

32 min
Telling a Big Story by Telling a Small One

07: Telling a Big Story by Telling a Small One

Wars, pandemics, economic slowdowns—How does a good storyteller even begin to address some of the biggest stories out there? Find out with this closer look at the most effective strategies for uncovering the small, relevant, and resonant stories hidden inside overwhelmingly large ones.

29 min
Storytelling and Trauma

08: Storytelling and Trauma

Sometimes, a powerful story requires people—including storytellers themselves—to revisit traumatic experiences. Here, Ari walks you through some specific steps he relies on to elicit stories in ways that are safe, ethical, and that avoid the danger of exacerbating the effects of trauma.

31 min
Telling Stories That Unfold over Time

09: Telling Stories That Unfold over Time

If you tell a story without giving thought to the past or to the context of events, then you’re missing the bigger picture and failing to connect the dots. Dive into the techniques of long-term storytelling that offer broader perspectives and deeper levels of understanding.

31 min
Live Storytelling (with or without Music)

10: Live Storytelling (with or without Music)

Using his experiences singing with the band Pink Martini, Ari explains the opportunities, challenges, and power of storytelling through live performance. You’ll learn new ways to connect with your audience, and how to amplify the undeniable power that comes from a collective experience.

33 min
The Power of Fiction

11: The Power of Fiction

Here, Ari reveals the importance of fiction on storytelling, and how it can help storytellers of all stripes understand the world in a way nonfiction can’t. Ari’s interviews with notable authors, including Amitav Gosh and Nathan Englander, help illustrate the subtle, universal power of fiction.

31 min
Breaking Storytelling’s Rules

12: Breaking Storytelling’s Rules

In Ari’s final lesson on storytelling, consider occasions when it’s necessary to toss out your writing rulebooks and discover fresh ways to approach and tell a good story. While Ari can’t tell you how to break the rules (that would just be another rule), he shares how rule breaking has shaped his own storytelling, at times.

36 min

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