Do you want to change the world? If so, do it with stories from the real word. More research shows why this approach is so effective in your ...

The power of real stories

Do you want to change the world? If so, do it with stories from the real world. More studies show why this approach is so effective in your communication.     

Actually, we’ve always felt it. Revolutions rarely start with a strong PowerPoint presentation. Yet many companies invest a lot of time in mapping values and making beautiful diagrams when they want to get their coworkers onboard. It’s a bit strange, considering that successful companies almost always have engaged coworkers.

Research has been able to prove that storytelling is unbeatable when it comes to creating engagement – this is something many of us already knew instinctively.

Stories activate the whole brain

More studies show how reality-based stories activate the brain in an entirely different way than other forms of communication. Experiments conducted at Princeton university by Uri Hasson and his team found that different people’s brains react very similarly to stories, which activate the whole brain.

Stories foster empathy and understanding

A number of other studies show how stories not only activate the parts of the brain related to language, as when we’re looking at a PowerPoint presentation. Instead the brain experiences the events of a story in the same way as real experiences.

When the story’s protagonist smells a rose, the parts of the brain related to smell are activated, and if she strokes the hand over a soft piece of fabric, the sense of touch will respond. Hence it’s not that strange there also seems to be a connection between empathy and reading literature or watching a movie.

Stories trigger an emotional response

The neuroeconomist Paul J Zak at Harvard has studied stories with the help of blood samples from human test subjects who have seen a movie. People who identify with the main character in a story release larger amounts of oxytocin, a hormone which is connected to the feeling of safety and a willingness to help others. In Zak’s experiment, the participants became more willing to for example donate money after having seen an engaging film.

In short, stories from the real world have power. There are a number of tools for those who want to create engagement and make a difference. Now, it’s a matter of using them, too.

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