3 fundamental elements of superb storytelling

Statistics are all well and good, but a compelling narrative stays with an audience far longer. Here are a few ways you can get your audience on board for your journey.

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The human mind is structured to remember stories, not facts, or things, or lists, or even ideas.

Here’s proof. We are much safer today, in 2016, from crime in general and terrorism in particular, than we were in the 1970s. The crime rate was much higher then, and the number of terrorist incidents was much higher then, too.

Yet you don’t believe that. Why not?

Because your brain remembers the recent, horrible stories of attacks in San Bernardino or Paris or Brussels or somewhere else. You don’t remember stats, unless you’re a math nerd, and those numbers geeks are few and far between.

In any case, statistics can’t compete with facts because your brain is wired to take incidents—especially recent, horrible ones—and create stories, attaching emotion to them.

Stories are more memorable than facts, because stories align with the way our brains are wired.

Yet you don’t tell great stories when you give presentations. Why not? Maybe it’s because good storytelling is hard. It requires discipline and distance to know how much detail to include. Also, the temptation is to go for shock value (“And then the building blew up!”) because that seems like effective storytelling—even though it isn’t.

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