When it comes to communicating with your audience, there is nothing more important than story.
Story is what we want, what we need. Story is how our brains process, record, and retrieve information. Data encoded in a story is much easier to understand and recall than a random stream of facts. We lean in to a story. When a story is on, we block out everything else. Story is the trojan horse inside which your message rolls safely and effortlessly toward the audience.
This happened. And then this happened. And then THIS happened. And this is WHY it happened.
Notice the effect when you say to a 6 year old child, “I have a story to tell you.” Games stop, toys drop to the floor. And she walks toward you zombie like. That’s the tractor beam power of narrative. Because she must know. We all must know. While kids may be more likely to actually say “Tell us a story” out loud, subconsciously it’s what all of us are thinking.
At last week’s O’Reilly Design Conference in San Francisco, Christian Roman from Pixar gave a memorable and (of course) story-filled presentation on how story works. The interesting thing is, none of this is rocket science. In fact, most stories operate according to rules as eternal and unchanging as the law of gravity. Good stories do the same thing over and over. Same as it ever was.
Story is like a high speed network already built in to people’s brains. You can use it, or you can take the slow road.
The next time you are in the midst of an engaging customer experience, look for the story.
And if you have something to transmit, send it by story.