Why Use Storytelling For Your Business?

Using narrative, anecdotes and stories as a way to tell people about your organization, your mission and purpose, and the value of your products and services is not new. But, it has grown more important due to the increased noise level and re-introduction of the human voice to corporate messaging. But, why is this? Why does storytelling work so well?

1. Stories attract attention. They tap into a universal, primal need to be interested. People don’t necessarily need to be entertained all the time, but they do need to be hooked. After all, we want to be connected to something that matters. Stories promise something larger than a straight corporate message.

2. Stories are remembered. Brain science tells us that information, when delivered via story, is moved from short-term memory to long-term memory. For instance, do you remember the Keep America Beautiful campaign? The American Indian’s tear rolling down his cheek in response to someone littering out the car window spoke volumes. Instead of just saying “don’t litter,” this campaign showed a person – who we already connected with the natural world – being affected by another’s action. Ask anyone who was over 10 years old in 1970 and they can recall seeing this PSA on television.

3. Stories shape beliefs and change mindsRobert McKee, a world-famous story and writing coach, says that for a story to have any meaning something needs to happen. He means someone needs to have experienced a change. And, when people hear or see this change, they can’t help but be affected. Great stories give people a new perspective, a new understanding or even incite a different action. Regardless of the effect, great stories move people.

  • Bill Baker (Twitter: StorytellerBill) May 17, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Hi Suzanne. Regarding point #2 above, you should check out Dr. Howard Gardner from the Harvard School of education (http://howardgardner.com/). He’s done a lot of research specifically on the point you make around the brain science of storytelling and says that the “single most effective tool a leader has to persuade people is story.” Great post.

    • Suzanne Henry May 17, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Bill. I will check out Dr. Gardner’s research. Thanks for forwarding.

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