Business stories are an effective way to share important information and values between people or communities
Our brains love personal and emotionally compelling business stories; they engage more of our brains and therefore are easier to remember than a set of facts. Effective stories capture attention by stimulating our imaginations, an essential skill in a world full of noise and information overload. Research on the brain has shown there are two key aspects to effective business stories:
- It must capture and hold our attention.
- It must transport us into the characters’ world.
Stories help connect our brains
Our brains love stories because they provide emotional simulation which helps us build empathy. Stories are particularly powerful to build social connections between people. We use them to forecast when those around us are angry or friendly, dangerous or peaceful, friend or foe.
This neural mechanism helps keep us safe and helps us to form connections quickly with strangers. This connection can lead to the type of large-scale cooperation that enables us to build massive buildings and travel into space. When we know another’s story, where they came from, what they do, what we have in common relationships are more easily formed. Oxytocin is the neurochemical responsible for empathy and helps transport us into a story. Oxytocin makes us more sensitive to the social cues around us. Social cues motivate us to engage to help others, particularly if the other person seems to need our help.
Structure of stories
Not all business stories keep our attention, and not all stories transport us into the characters’ worlds. Our energy hungry attention spotlight can only illuminate one narrow area at a time. If that area of attention doesn’t capture our attention, our attention wanders. Using our attentional spotlight is energetically costly so we need to use it sparingly. Effective and engaging stories use a universal story structure which captures our attention band keeps it. The brain science supports the use of the dramatic arc structure in storytelling. The story starts with something new and surprising, it increases tension with difficulties that the characters must overcome (often due to some crisis), and then leads to a climax where the characters need to look deep inside themselves to overcome the looming crisis. Once the transformation occurs, the story resolves itself.
Use business stories to engage and make your point memorable.
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