Why You Need to Tell Us Stories, Not Dump Information on Us

Everyone seems to get these days that storytelling is important, because we’re awash in data and information and can’t remember it all.  But we do remember stories.

They’re even more important than that.  They are how our brains work.  For example, they are why we all feel that it’s safer to drive than fly, even though the statistics prove the opposite.  We remember the horrifying stories of plane crashes, and forget the stats.  That’s because we attach emotions to events to create stories – and memories.  Our brains are constructed that way.  So storytelling is essential if you want to use the brain the way it’s meant to be used.  We remember the emotional, the particular, and the violent especially.  We forget the boring, the general, and the anodyne.

Connecting with another human being is one of the highest forms of social being for us humans.  At the heart of it is good storytelling.  When I’m telling you a story, and you’re engaged in it, you match your brain waves to mine.  And in fact, if I’m telling you a story with a familiar structure, your brain actually anticipates what I’m going to say next.  The point is that that’s good for both parties.  We want to be in sync with other people.  It’s how we communicate well with others and it’s why good storytelling is so powerful.  That feeling of synchronization is a profoundly satisfying one.  We want to hear stories, especially ones where we can guess what’s going to happen next, a split second before we’re told.

Thus, when communications works, we are literally aligned with one another, down to our very brain patterns.  That’s both inspiring and reassuring to know – when we communicate successfully, we are actually experiencing the same thing.  We are not alone.

I’ll be taking July 4th off for the American holiday – but I’ll be back blogging next week as per usual.  Have a great holiday if you’re off too!

 

Comments

  1. says

    Storytelling is so important in so many fields because it causes a connection between you and your client. It makes the relationship personal. In many ways your blog post reminds me of the technique many preachers use. They tend to start each sermon with a story. The better the story and how it relates to the sermon topic, the better the connection with the congregation. It makes sense to me.

    • Nick MorganNick Morgan says

      Thanks, Andrew, for the good comment. You’re right about preachers; they know the importance of storytelling — they can see it in the response of their congregations every Sunday.

  2. says

    Thanks for this Nick. Storytelling is, indeed, very in fashion these days. But for good reason, because it’s something that we are all, as social and interconnected human beings, already so familiar with. Storytelling is in our nature.

    In addition to establishing a great rapport with your audience, storytelling has a way of disarming your audience and lowering their defenses, breaking down hard barriers of skepticism or cynicism to connect with them on a deeper, personal level. When that connection is made, from one human being to another, your audience will be much more likely to trust you and, therefore listen to what you have to tell them.

    I wrote a blog post on this several months ago, taking some lessons from Abraham Lincoln. Enjoy.

    http://billbakerandco.com/blog/2013/02/01/lessons-from-lincoln-on-how-to-persuade-with-storytelling/

    • Nick MorganNick Morgan says

      Thanks, Bill, for the great comment and everyone — check out Bill’s blog. It’s a nice piece on storytelling, the movie “Lincoln,” and the lessons from the great President.

  3. says

    Rapport is magical and greatly beneficial (not to say indispensalbe) for relationships. Good storytelling is a fantastic tool to achieve this rapport with others…

    Great insights!

    • Nick MorganNick Morgan says

      Hi, Sebastian — thanks for the insight about rapport — it’s a good way to put our need for communion….

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