The Importance of Storytelling

Have you ever been ‘lost’ in an infographic? Probably not – but how about a story?

Once upon a time…
Researchers in Europe way back in the Noughties discovered that the brain understands and retains information much more effectively when it is presented as a story rather than a list of facts.

Chapter Two.
Obviously, our ancestors knew all about this – stories and songs shared from generation to generation are how we know our history – but not which parts of the brain were involved. We do now, thanks to those ingenious Spaniards.*

Our brains can do what they’re told…
It turns out that when we’re presented with a list of facts, we use two parts of the brain – called Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. What they do is decode the meaning of the words. And then pretty much go back to sleep.

Illustration of brain processing information.

… or whatever they like.
When presented with a narrative, loads of other areas of the brain start zinging messages to each other, adding personal memories and associations to the information being absorbed, creating a visceral connection to the story – and thus making it much more memorable.

Brain processing stories.

Being too clever isn’t too clever.
Using simple, engaging, descriptive language draws the reader or listener in, firing up the amazing muscle in their skull to react to – and store – the facts we want them to remember. Trying to blind them with science just, well, blinds them with science.

Words can paint a thousand pictures.
Well placed words can transform the whole experience. Adjectives like “the delicious, rich aroma of the coffee” trigger our sensory cortex, making us almost smell it** describing a familiar action – “Joanne dived into the cool, refreshing ocean” – gets our motor cortex motoring. And so on.***

We’ve always told stories.
From the early days of cavepeople working out how rubbing sticks together made that flashing burny stuff, our brains are wired to understand cause and effect – and remember it. Stories are basically a series of causes and effects. We also love a good metaphor – because they make us think laterally.

We love to make everything about us.
We can’t help but try to put our own spin on the story we are being told, and this activates the insula, where experiences and our reactions to them are stored. Connections made here personalise the narrative, and create ownership.

A few facts never hurt anyone.
To make your communications more persuasive, it’s a good idea to have the facts and figures to hand – but rather that list them, explain how they came about, or how they influenced your decision-making. And having an expert to back up your statements can come in very handy.

We have a short attention sp…
We could go on about this for ages, but we know you’re busy. So, in conclusion, storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to get your message across to your customers.

Go and tell your story.
Whether in written form, or the increasingly popular video format, a simple, relatable narrative that draws customers in and ignites their imagination will always beat a PowerPoint presentation. Imagine how much more your customers will get out of their experience of your brand if you add a little storytelling charm to your comms.

Well, that’s where CrowdCo’s experience and expertise can help you.

Ready to start the next chapter? Talk to us today.

* 2006 study by researchers in Spain, published in the journal NeuroImage.

** Emory University, 2012.

*** Study led by the cognitive scientist Véronique Boulenger, of the Laboratory of Language Dynamics in France.

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