PhD Podcast Learning Module 3: Storytelling and Talking About Academic Research


To understand different forms of story telling and communicating academic work.

Individual Activities:


  1. A podcast should be structured to communicate information clearly but also to present an engaging narrative or experience for the listener. Read through this NPR guide which poses the question “What should you ask before starting a story?”. 
  2. As in an academic setting, the introduction is the key to capturing your audience’s attention. Read more about how to craft a strong introduction here. 
  3. After the introduction, the next step involves understanding story telling structures, and using them to make your podcast compelling to the audience. Read about story telling in three acts here. 

Talking About Academic Research:

  1. Understanding your audience: It is important to understand who your audience is going to be and how to effectively communicate academic ideas to the intended crowd. Read more about what researchers at the London School of Economics have to say here. 
  2. Podcasting can help academics to better understand their own research by communicating their ideas to people who are unfamiliar with the language commonly used in a research setting. Read about how to avoid using jargon and technical terms here. 
  3. Take advantage of the workshops and resources at the Graduate Writing Lab on oral communications and Presenting Engagingly.
  4. Identify strong examples of other podcasts where complex research was presented in accessible and engaging ways.

Team Activities:

  1. Start to brainstorm possible podcast topics. What storytelling forms are good fits for these topics?
  2. Discuss strategies on how to make these topics more interesting and relevant to general audience. For example, if it is about academic research, how might you describe:
    1. Its potential impact to humanity
    2. Unique challenges posed by the research process
    3. The innovation that the research is contributing to the field