Since humanity created language, it has moulded a powerful tool building harmony with its primitive communiqué tools – silence, sign language, pictures, and symbols. In particular, stories have long fascinated humankind across time and generations, imprinting wisdom in our minds.
To create a contextual understanding, I would like you to absorb quotes from great thinkers offering invaluable wisdom and insight on storytelling:
- The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come. – Steve Jobs.
- We are, as a species, addicted to stories. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories:- Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal.
- If history was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. – Rudyard Kipling.
- That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instil hope again and again and again – Walt Disney.
The most profound storyteller is also the most silent listener. The stillness in their soul absorbs emotions, peeling off layers of relationships allowing them to create characters that embody an impactful narration of their vision.
The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.Steve Jobs
Around the globe, storytelling is a powerful culturally-rooted phenomenon, forming our earliest values, beliefs, and worldview through convincing religious stories, folklore, and fairy tales. Audiences’ familiarity with storytelling builds an instant emotional connection, inspiring ways to apply storytelling to newer work domains. For instance, the employment of ‘user stories’ for product development in information technology, NGOs, and brands for impact stories has a proven and demonstrable influence on reach and engagement.
Stories stay with you.
Human evolution has wired our brain’s natural response to stories. Stories stay and stick with your soul as they:
- reveal helplessness
- humanize the struggles giving a face to an issue
- connect you to deeper level issues
- generate an emotional response inspiring an action, therefore, driving an impact.
- aid better understanding of ideas, concepts resulting in higher recall and retention of information
Stories inspire people facing similar problems, compelling them to be emotionally invested in the subject matter and allowing them to gain valuable insights into better resolutions. They stimulate our senses and involve us emotionally and intellectually.
Stories at work
Predominantly used in creative spheres, The Art Of Storytelling has now entered a broader domain of applications in product development using ‘user stories’ for software development projects, creating compelling corporate legacy stories, brand storytelling, and team building. It is thus driving the change in advertising and branding approaches.
Organizations have discovered the bond stories create with their intended audiences, enhancing their brand engagement and leading to higher brand interactions, gaining their audiences’ heart-share.
True stories help amplify the world’s most pressing issues generating collective empathy and actionable support for a cause. Non-profit organizations apply storytelling to expand the reach of their social change causes. Their stories instil hope creating compelling images of the future in people’s minds.
You may glance through these platforms to witness how powerfully organizations in the non-profit sector deploy the power of storytelling to create an actionable social change:
- Tata Trusts publish its impact stories of social change through its quarterly magazine, leveraging the power of storytelling.
- The funding platforms like SeedInvest (startup funding), Gofundme, and International Medical Relief are some platforms that leverage the power of storytelling for medical fundraising. Successful funding stories are shared with people to instil trust to create a ripple effect of emotions within the supporter bases.
- Corporate Legacy through storytelling – Businesses who have survived the test of time across centuries are choosing the path of storytelling to connect with people, humanize their brand, and narrate the impact of their vision in a compelling way. You may visit these links to gain insights into legacy narration through storytelling.
- 75 glorious years of Grasim
- Heritage stories of Tata employees participating in the Olympics
Many researchers of eminent psychologists such as Peg Neuhauser have found that learning derived from a well-told story helps retain information longer with higher accuracy than learning through conventional methods – e.g., PowerPoint presentations, lectures, etc. Hence, Organizations in the education/Ed-tech space should deploy storytelling as a technique to deliver educational content that appeals to all major types of learners – kinesthetic, auditory, and visuals learners. Even the scientific and mathematical concepts are taught in storytelling format for higher retention and a fun learning approach
- kinesthetic learners – able to recall the emotions evoked from the story
- visual learners – benefit from mental pictures created through storytelling
- auditory learners – gain from the storytellers’ voice, intonations, and usage of words
Leaders, managers, and teachers may consider using stories as a powerful tool while making a presentation pitch for your contract manufacturing deal, venture capitalist/bankers for funding, or teachers explaining a difficult concept. Use stories if you want your audience to remember your content a few months down the line.
Don’t underestimate the power of words!
A good storyteller is a wealthy treasure holder of words, a magician evoking a symphony of emotions in his audiences, generating empathy for a cause or character, creating an emotionally invested follower base that acts in support of the cause.
The effective use of words in a story can inspire an audience by honestly revealing the characters’ helplessness. Authentic well-told stories move people emotionally to create genuine emotional investment.
The highest form of result for a compelling story is measured by the action taken by the person influenced, not just his emotional investment.
The video below best illustrates powerful words, elegantly highlighting the contrast in the situation – how you can see and how the blind man can’t. Furthermore, people are shown to operate from a base of empathy, enabling them to see things in a new light, thereby changing their behaviour.
Storytelling is a powerful branding tool that can compellingly fuse music, technology-based visual effects, performances, and emotions around a story, enabling more people to be emotionally invested in the project/brand. Further, it allows organizations to convey emotions behind their vision, legacy, and actions, drawing a follower base that resonates with their cause, values, mission, and solutions offered through the project.
Once you get attuned to infusing storytelling with your work/life areas, you will start experiencing its powerful effects to influence your bosses over an idea, affect a positive change with colleagues over differing perspectives, inspire a child who has lost in a competition, to invoke hope amongst a losing team or disheartened soul.
Stories of failure should be the most admired ones – for the wisdom they hold, the future mistakes they avoid, and the losses they halt. The marines selected in the US Navy are those who shave stories to tell about their heart-breaking failures and to bounce back from them. It reveals – what his character is made of.
Storytelling is essentially an art and hence, the variety in narration styles. It is no coincidence that the usual structure followed for stories has three parts at its basic level – a beginning, middle, and end. The business insider article explores the style of Steve Jobs, which incidentally also has three parts – Setup, confrontation, and resolution. We are suggesting a pattern here, not a definitive way of storytelling.
Every individual has a story to tell, drawn from experiences. A shared experience is valuable – for organizations, teams, and individuals. It allows to create an understanding of an issue, the struggle to find the solution, and in the end, the impact it makes on peoples’ lives. What’s your Story?
To know more about storytelling and other skills that organizations need to boost the emotional connection for their brands, visit our services page.