SD #26: Why Stories Stick and Lists Don'tJan 10, 2023
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Read Time: 6.0 minutes
The discoveries about the way story works as an organizing principle in the human brain tell me that we find meaning in the cause-and-effect flow of narrative.
— Jack Hart, Storycraft
We hope the new year is off to a rewarding and healthy start!
We began 2023 with a blogpost about a groundbreaking 2022 study by Grammarly and The Harris Poll that—for the first-time ever—quantified the costs of ineffective communication in the workplace. You can read the blogpost here. One big takeaway is this: the total cost of ineffective communication to U.S. businesses equals a whopping $1.2 trillion.
At the conclusion of the post, we asked the following question: ineffective communication is a big problem with a big price tag attached to it, so, what can be done about it?
We promised to answer that question this week. Not surprisingly, our answer is... storytelling.
In today's post, we'll talk about why that's the case and how storytelling can help create effective communication in your business.
We'll focus on the causes and effects of storytelling which are key to making your messages easier to retain, recall, and repeat.
What’s the Tip?
For your communication to be effective, people need to remember what you've said to them. And simply listing things out won't likely do the trick. You'll increase your chances for success by telling them a story with causes and effects.
Stories stick because they help us understand and retain information. When we hear a story, we're more likely to remember the details and recall them later. Why? Because our brains are wired to pay closer attention to information that's presented in a narrative form, where you've got someone (or something) worth rooting for, a goal or desire that's being pursued, a problem or villain that gets in the way, a mentor or advisor who helps the hero overcome the problem, and finally, a resolution where the hero gets what he or she has been pursuing.
Why stories stick:
- Research has shown that people are 22 times more likely to remember a story than they are to remember a list of facts.
- And there's a reason for that. A story must have some kind of emotional charge that activates our brains and causes us to pay attention. But what provides that charge is storytelling structure based on causes and effects that are easy to follow and easy to engage with emotionally.
How Do You Use It?
So, how can you leverage the power of storytelling to create effective communication in the workplace?
Here are a few tips:
Structure your story with a proven framework: There are a number of story frameworks out there. The key is for the framework to be simple, actionable, and replicable with causes and effects running throughout.
Make your story relatable. The more your audience can relate to the story, the more impact it will have. This means using examples that are relevant to your audience and highlighting common experiences or challenges that they may face.
Use storytelling to illustrate your points. Instead of simply listing off data and statistics, use stories to bring those points to life, give them context and make them more memorable.
Use storytelling to build trust and credibility. When you share a story about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it, you demonstrate your expertise and build trust with your audience.
Use storytelling to inspire and motivate. A well-told story can inspire and motivate your audience to take action. Use stories to paint a vision of what could be and show your audience how they can play a role in making it a reality.
Practice your storytelling skills. Like any skill, storytelling takes practice. The more you tell stories, the better you will become at it. Consider joining a storytelling group or taking a workshop to hone your skills.
What's an Example?
Instead of showing you an example this week, we're going to have you do something experiential. Click on the video at the top of your screen entitled, "5-Minute Exercise." Experience for yourself, firsthand, how a story works vs a list.
What Are the Benefits to You?
- The primary benefit of using storytelling for effective communication is your messages are more likely to be understood, retained, recalled, and repeated.
- With those outcomes, you're less likely to have misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or mishaps that cost time and money.
- The total cost of ineffective communication to U.S. businesses equals a whopping $1.2 trillion annually.
- Storytelling can help create effective communication in your business.
- Structure your story with a proven framework that is simple, actionable, and replicable with causes and effects running throughout.
- The primary benefit of using storytelling is your messages are more likely to be understood, retained, recalled, and repeated.
- With storytelling, you're less likely to have misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or mishaps that cost time and money.