Storytelling in the connected age
Professional communicators usually understand the power of storytelling, instinctively, innately, without ever calling it out. We know if we wrap our key messages in a story, we’re more likely to achieve or exceed our goals. We’ve known this for a long time. But with recent advances in neuroscience, we now have hardcore clinical evidence for keeping storytelling at the very centre of the communicator’s universe. Our intuition and experience is now backed by science.
Here’s what the neuroscientists have recently discovered. It seems that when we humans index information in our brains, it is more easily retained and retrieved when catalogued in the form of stories. In other words, we hold onto information longer and have easier access to it, when it’s stored in the form of a story rather than just a factoid or data point. This certainly makes sense to the storyteller in me. Novelists have relied on this principle for centuries. It’s time professional communicators embraced it even more, and reaped the benefits.
So when you’re assembling key messages for your next campaign, don’t just list the stats and facts, tell a story to make them real. Breathe life into the numbers to make them more compelling and memorable. It’s out with the old (“The 2014 Ford Fusion is rated at 25 miles per gallon.”) and in with the new (“We piled the family into the 2014 Ford Fusion and drove from Montreal to Toronto, and we still had gas in the tank when we arrived.”) Lean on the same storytelling techniques that have guided and entertained the human species since the days before language, when telling stories through cave paintings was the only option. Today, we have so many more tools at our disposal. The digital age makes storytelling so much easier. And when the story is crafted, we now have countless ways to convey it to our audiences.
In fact, I’d argue that we’re living in a golden age of storytelling. Let’s not leave it to the novelists, and filmmakers, and playwrights. Professional communicators, on behalf of our clients, should take a page from the writer’s notebook, and tell compelling stories to entrench our clients’ key messages. Our audiences will retain them longer and recall them more easily, all through the ancient art of storytelling.