Given that human beings have been relying on storytelling for over 100,000 years to learn and archive it is no surprise that the human mind is predisposed to think in story terms to understand, make sense and remember. Story is in our DNA.
According to Kendall, there is now scientific research that clearly shows that a good story:
Why does story work?
Kendall claims that whether you want to do it or not our brains are wired to make sense automatically and understand through stories. We simply don’t have a choice. So as a storyteller your job is to present information you want to convey in a way that lands in the conscious mind and memory of your listener.
Kendall refers to a part of our brains called the ‘neural story net’. It’s like a processor that lies between the external world and internal mind that makes sense of incoming information. It responds most effectively to information presented as stories. If the information presented is incomplete or parts of the story don’t make sense, the neural story net either disengages – it just ignores the information, or fills in its own gaps so that the story makes sense. This can lead to making assumptions, distortion of the information, miscommunication and misunderstandings.
So Kendall shows us that as a storyteller, if you can make the information you are providing fulfil the needs of the neural story net then your story will be understood, relevant, emotional and memorable to the listener.
Below are the elements that the neural story net requires to make sense of the information it is receiving and make your story stick;
In summary; Interesting characters have a goal that is important to them and relevant to you (the listener) blocked by some combination of problems and conflicts that the character has to struggle around or past or through facing risk and danger to achieve their goal.
Below is a quick checklist of the elements to include in your next story to ensure your message sticks.
If you don’t include the 8 points above then your listener does one of two things.
We are hardwired to think and learn from storytelling. And with 100,000s of years of practice we are already masters at telling stories.
And in a massively competitive environment, where we are constantly bombarded with advertising messages, the better our storytelling skills are – the more chance we have of making our important message stick. Storytelling is a skill worth practicing.
I’ve learnt a lot this year. Below is my list in no particular order.
If you are not learning – then what’s the point? What have you learnt this year that you would like to share?
See you in 2014.
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