Conflict and drama can improve your show.

No, I’m not talking about pissing people off.

Photo by Kate Oseen on Unsplash

Let me begin by saying this is NOT about political or opinion shows. Yes, conflict is the bread and butter of that type of content, but it’s done to provoke you on purpose, to make you angry. These folks have no problem faking an opinion if it gets them an audience. They already have this stuff nailed. So while that material technically fits what this article is about, my point here is to help the rest of us, and to help you see how a little bit of drama is also necessary for more benign and fun topics.

Let’s get started.

You shouldn’t always agree.

Yes, everyone on the show can share a common interest, let’s say action movies. But a problem with using like-minded friends is that all of you may share the same opinion, and this will lead to your audience tuning out. If a listener feels differently about a topic, they may tune out because their viewpoint is not represented.

People are the most interested if there is some sort of conflict. I’m not saying it should be a loud argument, there’s no need for anger on your show if you don’t want it. But there should be a difference in how everyone feels about things.

I’ll give you an example.

My wife and I enjoy the James Bond movies. We went to see the latest one, No Time To Die. We both loved the film, except for one thing: the ending. I’m not going to spoil it for you except to say my wife loved the ending, while I hated it. If we were doing a podcast on action movies, there is our point of conflict. Covering different things we loved and hated about the film hopefully gives listeners a viewpoint they can relate to, and we never lose sight of the fact we love action movies. People often

If your show or podcast has too much “Oh, I loved that part,” and “Oh, I loved that part, too,” you’re going to lose people.

But what if you can’t find a point of conflict, yet you still want to talk about the Bond film? One option is to choose one of your team to take the other side, even if it’s not their real opinion.

Is this cheating? Dishonest?

I have a whole other article coming soon about faking sincerity, but to summarize, someone needs to find another viewpoint to make your show worth spending an hour on. Radio and TV shows, as well as podcasts, do this all the time. Does the show you listen to have a character that has the craziest ideas, with wild opinions no reasonable person would have? Is there someone on the show that makes you scream “What is wrong with that dude?!” That person is there to create the conflict, to add drama, sometimes for comedic purposes. That person will usually take a strange, funny, or unpopular opinion to give the other hosts something to talk about.

Producers of reality shows do this (though I hate to call them reality because there’s nothing real about them). Sometimes producers will edit things to add conflict that may not be there. How many times have you heard someone complain that they were not being presented on camera the way they truly are?

But if you hate the idea of being “fake,” then maybe you just need to rethink your show’s content.

Try to deliberately pick topics that your team has different opinions about. People who love Star Wars movies and shows argue online all the time. Or maybe ask what’s the best camera? The best sneakers? And no one can agree what the best TV show of all time is. Pick topics in your niche where it’s almost impossible for everyone to feel the same .

Shows that don’t do this don’t last long. Even the hosts become bored, because they will find if they agree too much, there isn’t enough material to carry a topic very far. After 15 minutes you’re staring at each other, not knowing what to say next. Instead, you want something you can debate for hours. You can usually tell which shows don’t have enough material to talk about because they often add gimmick questions or features to fill out their show.

Even shows you wouldn’t expect to have conflict may have a little. Informational shows, for example. Listen for the parts where others think the inventor is crazy, or there’s a difference of opinion on whether the project will even work.

I have no idea why, but you and I seemed to be designed to enjoy discussing and debating with our tribe. You can use this to make your show more meaningful and enjoyable for your listeners or viewers.

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I am a 30-year veteran of radio, with over a dozen years doing morning shows. I’ve worked all across the country, including in Los Angeles and San Francisco. My goal is to share the soft skills needed to be successful in podcasting or broadcasting, since the techniques seem to be interchangeable. If you want to be notified when I post, click here.

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George “Ace” Acevedo

Writer. Voice actor. Noisemaker. Visual Artist. Cleaner of litter boxes.