When you do a pitch, tell a story.

When you have a meeting, share a story.

When you do a presentation, present with a story.

When you face the facts, face them with a story.

When give a sermon, give it with a story.

When you do a toast, celebrate with a short story.

When you give a vote of thanks, thank with a short story.

When you persuade, do it with a story.

When you advertise, narrate a story.

There is no question that stories are the best way to engage and persuade people.

We have good scientific evidence to prove it. According to neuroeconomist, Professor Paul Zak:

‘Narratives that cause us to pay attention and also involve us emotionally are the stories that move us to action.’

It is our very makeup, our physiology, that enables us to empathise and to be persuaded by stories. This physiological connection between head and heart is the reason stories work.

Zak goes on to say:

‘Stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain, and thus are better remembered than simply stating a set of facts.’ 

All compelling stories follow a simple three-act structure, with a beginning, where the scene is set. A middle where something happens. And an ending where we find out what happens as a result of what happened.

The sequence of events, what we reveal to the audience, when, is what makes stories work.

The goal is to keep the audience wondering what is going to happen next all the way to the end.

When you can’t put a book down, it is because the author nailed the story structure.

The author’s goal is to keep you turning the pages.

Philosophers and scholars like Aristotle, Freytag and Campbell, analysed dramatic structure and gave us story formulas like the hero’s journey to help us become better storytellers.

Every successful movie follows these formulas. Your stories don’t have to be as dramatic as the movies but they have to be compelling. They have to keep us hooked.

What short story are you going to tell today?

Tell a story. We love stories, we remember stories.

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