Storytelling – It’s All in Your Brain
One of the oldest methods of communication is through storytelling. In our age of technology it’s still the best way to convey information. Why? Because when we share stories it actually alters how the brain processes information.
Our brain is hardwired for stories.
When we hear an impactful story, it changes the chemistry in our brain and allows us to be more connected to the information we are hearing. Our brain releases cortisol which helps you pay attention and retain information. It also release oxytocin (love hormone), triggering trust, empathy and generosity.
It goes beyond just hearing what is being said to feeling and processing when is big said. A subtle but big difference.
So what do I mean by an impactful story? This is a story that transports the listener to another person’s world. It goes beyond a listing of facts and information. An impactful story includes emotions, problems, solutions and details that bring the listener into the story versus being on the outside.
Power of storytelling
When we spew off a bunch of information, our brain picks and choses what it remembers. But when we weave that same information into a story, we are able to retain 2-10x more facts, thanks to the chemicals released by our brain.
This is why storytelling has been used throughout history to teach people as well as pass on important information.
Many cultures have had their history passed down through storytelling. It’s much more memorable than getting people to memorize a bunch of facts to pass on to the next generation.
Think about when you get together with family and friends. How many stories are shared over dinner or a drinks? Now what stories do you remember? The ones that made you laugh, cry, get angry? Or the ones that were a listing of facts and information? I’m guessing the stories that triggered an emotional response.
Storytelling at work
Knowing that our brains are hardwired to retain information and tune in when listening to stories, why aren’t we including stories in our everyday work?
When you’re talking with a coworker about a problem, instead of listing your frustrations, why not weave it into a story (what the problem is, how it makes you feel, what the solution would solve)? Through the storytelling, your coworker is better able to see the problem from your perspective and work with you to come up with a solution.
Storytelling is also the best way to teach people a new technique, program or way of operating. Think back to your school days. How did you learn best? Through a listing of steps or never-ending PowerPoint presentation? Or through a story? I’m guessing you remember the stories.
Stories don’t need to be long to be impactful. They just need to have elements that engage (check out 5 Tips for Impactful Storytelling).
Share your stories
If you’re nervous about storytelling, start small. Look for ways to share stories in your personal life with friends and family. Pay attention to what elements of a story makes people tune in to what you’re saying. Be aware of your storytelling voice – are you dramatic, serious, funny or emotional? Now how would this fit into your professional life?
I encourage you to look for ways to go beyond sharing information and using stories as a way to teach, educate and transform those around you.
If you like what you’ve read, sign up to receive more insights from me.