A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

August 7, 2019

“Conversational Storytelling”: What Does That Mean?

Loved this interview by Bret Kinsella of “voicebot.ai” with Tellables’ Amy Stapleton. Amy is one of the first people to use voice assistants to tell stories, as she uses her company, Tellables, as a publishing platform for conversational stories. Here’s some of the cool things that I learned during the podcast:

1. Amy distinguishes how her “conversational storytelling” platform differs from “games” even though someone using it gets rewarded in some ways. Her platform offers storytelling content with an interactive component. But what Tellables does isn’t quite gaming even though some “choose your own adventure” games have some storytelling in them.

2. Amy’s “Tricky Genie” was one of the first stories available on Alexa, enabling her to gain significant rewards through Amazon’s reward program (being a first-mover was important; Amy believes it’s important to build an audience first before trying monetization). “Tricky Genie” is a one-on-one experience with over 100 scenarios available.

3. Amy’s latest offering – “My Box of Chocolates” – uses a “Polly voice” to tell a short story. The Polly voice selected for a particular story has a personality that fits that particular story. The stories – typically 200 words or less – can be heard by yourself or in a group. Her goal is to offer stories that make you think. The interactive components at the end of the stories help to get you thinking. The interaction hook is an important way to make the voice experience special. After enabling the skill, “Alexa, open my box of chocolates”

4. At the end of the short story, a “party question” is provided. If you’re convened as a group, the party question is a great way to provoke a conversation. So you could hold a book club meeting and listen to “My Box of Chocolates” as a way to mix things up for a change. And saves folks the embarrassment of saying they haven’t read the book!

5. So in a sense, this type of platform is the flip-side of the danger of screens taking us further & further out of our communities – with voice, there is an opportunity to bring people back as a community.

6. For “My Box of Chocolates,” Amy reaches out to authors to submit short stories. Since stories being told by a Polly voice on a device is different than reading short stories, there is a bit of an art to creating content that works on this platform. So Amy winds up doing a little bit of training for authors that are new to this.

7. When you build a skill, Amy recommends that you build it so that you can continuously add new content. Keep people coming back from more.