Transforming lives of people — one Josh story at a time.

Contributors: Eshika Gupta and Swetha Ravi

Nithin Chacko Mathew
Josh Talks Blog

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From the sheer idea of sharing inspiring stories, Josh Talks has evolved into one of India’s largest regional content and upskilling platforms. In this blog post, I will share how our Talks team of 60+ people searches, documents and showcases stories that are viewed more than 2 million times on a daily basis.

The power of stories

In December 2019, I got a call from Ilavarassy Jayakanth, one of our speakers on Josh Talks Malayalam. She said —

‘Nithin, after my Talk got released, I received 43 missed calls from someone. When I called back, the individual told me he was going through an intense situation and would end his life. The day he decided to take his life, he coincidentally watched my Talk and that video gave him the hope to carry on. So, thank you!’

Speakers like Ilavarassy make me feel as if I am part of something more powerful, a divine intervention of sorts, truly making a difference in my role as the Head of South Indian and Bangla content.

Message received by Swetha Ravi (Head of Tamil Content) from one of our speakers

Consistently bringing in such stories from 9 different languages takes a lot of effort but at Josh Talks, we are driven by one goal (that also happens to be our mission) — unlocking human potential.

Identifying story themes

With our target audience living in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India, we make sure that the stories that we showcase are relevant and are of individuals who can act as relatable role models to them.

We begin identifying story themes by understanding the problems our audiences face — the bigger the problem, the more relevant the theme. We do this in the following ways:

  • Classifying the audience into smaller groups based on different attributes such as gender, age group, geographic location etc.
  • Conducting small meetups with focused groups to understand their problems and aspirations
  • Engaging with them through comments, polls, YouTube community posts and social media handles to understand the topics and stories of their interest
We engage with our audience through posts on Community Tabs to understand their preferences

During this phase, the people in the content team act as visionaries solving real problems of India. This step enables them to understand the audience and their pain points, helping them address it on every talk that they work on.

Searching relatable role models

Once we have identified themes for each month, we look for speakers who can share their stories and address those themes. We conduct extensive online and offline research to discover relatable stories from the grassroots of India and to do this, we use our 4R framework

  • Readiness: Willingness of the speaker to share their story and inspire our audience to take action.
  • Relevance: Is the speaker suitable to talk about this theme? If yes, then their story has great value and is relevant for our audience.
  • Relatability: If our audience can connect with the speaker and picture themselves in the speaker’s shoes then the speaker is relatable.
  • Retention: How well can the speaker retain our audience’s attention from the first minute till the end of the video?

If the speaker meets at least three of the 4Rs, we move to the next step.

Framing the story

Once the speaker displays their willingness, we schedule a call to get to know them better. This is when we start curating their stories.

Curation is the most interesting part of delivering a finished Talk — it allows us to see through our speakers, have a firsthand experience of the talk and interact with them. We try to keep the conversation casual in order to explore each and every aspect of their life. These calls may last between 40 minutes and 2 hours. After the initial call, a team of content curators and YouTube managers work together to finalise the angle and context of the speaker’s story and then a final curation call is conducted with the speaker to get more insights.

Finally, we get down to writing the script, keeping inline with the rules of storytelling, types of content, and audience viewing patterns. Our goal at this point is to make sure that the speaker’s entire life story is conveyed powerfully within 15–16 minutes.

The script is then shared with the speaker, giving them enough room to add suggestions as in the end, it is their life’s story. Once the script is finalised, the speakers are trained to deliver the talk in the best way possible.

Ready, set, action!

The speakers are called either to the Josh Talks HQ in Gurugram or in case of regional languages, to the respective shoot venues where the talks are shot in a private setting. As majority of our speakers come from the grassroots of India and may not be professional orators, this private shoot setup helps them to be more comfortable and confident, leaving room for improvisations with the help of the curator, who also acts as the director.

Photo from one of our private shoot setups in Chennai

Once the Talk has been recorded, the videos are edited by our video editors and finally packaged to optimise for performance on YouTube. We package the videos by adding thumbnails, titles, and hashtags to the descriptions. The words and slangs that we use help the YouTube algorithm track the metadata, optimising its performance and driving external traffic to the video.

Delivering nothing but the best

The idea of reaching our true potential is deeply embedded in all of us. The stories that we tell ourselves serve as the biggest motivation to keep going. These stories may be drawn from our own experiences or from reading, listening or watching stories of relatable role models. Either way, stories serve as a powerful medium for the growth of an individual and the society, as a whole.

Rather than laying emphasis on the success of an individual, we break down the struggles of successful people because we want our audience — the people who are dreaming to become IAS officers, entrepreneurs or trying to break out of an abusive marriage to start believing [after watching the Talk] that ‘If they can, then so can I!’

At Josh Talks, we’re extremely bullish on the impact that real, positive stories can have in transforming the lives of people. Our team works round the clock to deliver the right mix of all ingredients (from content, duration to context) and nothing but the best for our audience. And this time, ‘best’ comes in the form of JOSH MARATHON, our newly launched IP. It’s taken our blood and sweat and we’re so excited to be launching it!

Josh Marathon is India’s largest multilingual storytelling event to showcase 75 most inspiring stories in 9 regional languages, celebrating India’s 75th independence day. The marathon began on 1st August and will last until the 15th August. If you haven’t already, then go watch some of our already released stories here.

Also, a big thank you to Eshika and Swetha for contributing to this blog post! :))

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