Everyone loves a great story. For generations, people have passed down stories to sharing history, provide entertainment to others, or give a bit of advice. It believed that by spreading information through storytelling, we are enriching our lives. Storytelling can also be a powerful tool for businesses and entrepreneurs. The most meaningful stories are shared over and over again, spreading through generations and groups of people like wildfire. So what make a story so memorable and worthy of being shared and retold?
According to an article written on LifeHacker, our brains interpret information much more actively and effectively if it is presented in a story, rather than bulleted points of information. When presented with any piece of information, the language processing parts in our brains are activated. When listening to a story, our brains also activate areas that we would use when experiencing the events of the story. For example, if someone shared a detailed and captivating story of their restaurant experience and the taste of the food, our sensory cortex would light up. This creates a more memorable experience for the listener rather than plain, boring facts. The words of the story are interconnected and create more meaningful memories.
So now that we know that our brains are wired best for story listening, what can you do to improve your storytelling and create a more powerful experience for the audience?
- Break the message down into a simpler form: Cause and Effect. Our brain is wired to understand and be compelled by the simplest form of storytelling. Therefore, if you want to make a lasting impact, your story must be easy to comprehend in order to be remembered. Build up the suspense and add dramatic pieces as needed to make it more entertaining, but be sure that the cause and effect message is clear.
- Know your audience. In order to have a meaningful impact on your audience, large or small, knowing their common experiences are a must. By using metaphors that relate to the specific audience you’re addressing, more members will be able to relate to a prior experience or emotion they have felt. In the end, they will be able to make a connection, making the message more meaningful to them.
- Increase credibility through personal and expert elements. Incorporating personal elements such as quotes to your story can effectively add credibility to your message and engage an audience. But what if you don’t have personal experience with a topic that you wish to discuss with an audience? The last thing you want to do is fabricate experiences when trying to motivate people. Rather, call upon experts in the field and retell one of their stories or use quotes to back up certain claims. By using research and tying in experts to a story, it adds credibility and builds report with your audience to maintain a memorable experience.
- Keep it simple. Not only do you want to keep the message of the story simple, you want to limit the use of unnecessary language. Our brains are not made to multi-task and if they are too busy decoding the language, they are unable to make a connection with the meaning of the story. Using simple language is the best way to convey the story and make a lasting impression.
- Lastly, stay tuned in. Don’t get too wrapped up in the storytelling that you lose your track of your listeners. Whether in front of a large crowd, or a small intimate setting, your message will resonate better if you keep your audience’s interest. Your audience should be fully engaged in some way from beginning to end. If you start to lose the momentum, figure out a way to re-engage. Remember, you are telling a free-form story, not reciting a speech. Active listeners are important to the retention and memorability of your message, but you as the story teller are the most important listener of all.