That's what I teach my clients--transformational speakers, entrepreneurs, corporate and organizational leaders. But when I speak to groups about Story Power, I often do the opposite, opening instead with the usual laundry list of credentials--my title, my university degrees, my years of experience, my writing credits.
Then I ask them to jot down the answers to three questions: On a scale of 1-10, how well do you feel you know me? How much do you like me? How much do you trust me? Finally, I ask them to take their pulse.
Only then do I tell my signature story, repeat my experiment, and invite them to compare their numbers, which invariably shoot up. Suddenly, just because I've told them my story, a group of people I've never met feel that they know, like and trust me. What's more, their elevated pulse rates tell me I've connected with them on an emotional level. That's Story Power, I tell them. It's immediate; it's measurable; and it's lasting.
Your Brain on Stories
We really shouldn't be surprised that stories wield so much influence in our hearts and minds. The latest brain science confirms what we've suspected all along--we humans are hard-wired to tell, respond to and remember stories.
From cave paintings to Facebook posts, we've always depended on narratives to communicate and connect with one another, to share our knowledge, advance our points of view, and pass our collective wisdom from one generation to the next. Simply put, stories serve as our cultural currency.
Now we know why. Using advanced brain imaging, researchers have found that a well-told story actually changes our brain chemistry, causing emotional and physical responses. We feel fear, anger, empathy or whatever else we'd feel if we experienced the story in real life!
Emotion Governs Our Decisions
This of course explains why we tend to squirm in our seats while watching a thriller or horror movie, and why we wipe our eyes during the "good parts" of a sweet romance or epic tragedy. A good story takes us into the action with the characters. We empathize with them; we feel whatever they feel.
In contrast to this whole-brain response to stories, only the brain's center of logic lights up in reaction to facts and figures, charts and graphs. Which isn't enough to carry a persuasive argument. Again thanks to recent brain studies, we now know that we all base our decisions primarily on emotion and then back them up with logic--not the other way around!
No wonder so many business leaders are re-discovering the persuasive power of storytelling! If you're ready to join them, I'm here to help!