A good story can make or break a presentation, article, or conversation. But why is that? When marketers started to market products through stories instead of benefits and bullet points, sales can go through the roof. Learn the science of why storytelling is so uniquely powerful.
Would you like a quick example?
In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, spent a lot of his free time playing cards. He greatly enjoyed eating a snack while still keeping one hand free for the cards. So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented "sandwich," the name for two slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.
What's interesting about this is that you are very likely to never forget the story of who invented the sandwich ever again. Or at least, much less likely to do so, if it would have been presented to us in bullet points or other purely information-based form.
We all enjoy a good story, whether it's a novel, a movie, or simply something one of our friends is explaining to us. But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events?
It's in fact quite simple. If we listen to a Power-point presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca's area and Wernicke's area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that's it, nothing else happens.
On the other hand if you craft a story with lasting images the listener remembers the whole of the message.
The simple answer is this: We are wired that way. A story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect. And that is exactly how we think. We think in narratives all day long, no matter if it is about buying groceries, whether we think about work or our spouse at home. We make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. In fact, Jeremy Hsu found [that] "personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations."
The next time you struggle with getting people to make a purchase or choice within your business or project, simply tell them a story, where the outcome is that doing what you had in mind is the best thing to do.
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