The Psychology of Storytelling
Stories are a very vital piece of being convincing.
You’d feel that, as a guy who cares for inquiries and data, I’d be indisposed to storytelling in one piece.
As a vendor though, I can’t be: those in sales and marketing have recognized for a long time that stories win against data when it comes to influencing for the reason that stories are easier to appreciate and tie in to.
Are you slotting in stories into your copy? Are you using them on your blog?
If you’re fretful to appreciate and tap into the influence of storytelling, get prepared to jot down some notes!
Why You Need to add in Storytelling
But why should you have to add in this flowery technique into your writing?
A bunch of folks are reluctant to telling stories because they think that “the specifics” are the most influential pieces of substance they can bring.
It’s not, and here’s a revelation that assists to clarify why:
Am I telling you that it’s better to say nothing in a brilliant style?
No, of course not In its place, the point that I’d pretty make is that how you say something is just as essential as what you are saying.
If you reject to recognize this, you menace having your excellent information become lost in an ocean of less precious substance.
Here’s the thing,: While we are all frequently opposed to the idea of being told what to do, we are very vulnerable to approving with the “moral of the story” due to how it is accessed to us.
How Stories have an effect on the Mind
It would be polite to be able to justly sway people into fitting more flattering about your contribution, right?
The question then is this…
Do stories really hold that much sway?
According to research by psychologists Green & Brock, they do.
In fact, it’s probable that you greatly underrate how much stories influence you!
The cause that stories click so well on us is that we are vulnerable to getting “swept up” in both their significance and in the way of their telling.
Quite literally, stories are able to transport our mind to another place, and in this place we may hug things we’d likely ridicule at in the “cruel, genuine world”.
Think about this example: You’ll often see politicians create a “story” for their campaign, and focus much of their efforts speaking with the public in crafting and footing by these stories.
Creating the story of “tough guy who is cruel on crime and supports states rights” is easier to appreciate than discussing the intricacy of how the administration plans to actually tackle the crime rate.
You see this being utilized every day on platforms as big as TED talks to speeches by world leaders.
Instead of only discussing the “information”, they begin talks with phrases like, “Imagine if you will…”, and as we’ve seen, it’s with very good reason: stories help sell arguments of all types, from, “I believe that these liberal/conservative points of view are correct,” to, “I believe this product is suited for my goals.”
This information is useless, however, unless we address how to write better stories.
How to Create Better Stories
The #1 trait of a persuasive story is how “engaging” the story is.
There are a million writing blogs that will go on and on about how to craft amazing stories, but is any of that (potentially good) advice backed up by research?
In fact, there is an additional study conducted by Green & Brock that addresses just what makes a story engaging.
Here’s what they found:
1.) Suspense works just as well as you’d expect
The “cliffhanger” just may be the oldest trick in the writing book, especially writing for television, but there is a reason why it’s used so often…
Despite our numerous exposure to this method, our brain just can’t “get over” suspenseful moments: it’s a relationship that just won’t die, we will always want to know what happens next!
In fact, suspense works so well that the hotly debated Zeigarnik Effect would have you believe that it’s the best way to kill procrastination.
Research in that area seems to point to humans being much more inclined to finish something that has already been started (researchers interrupted people doing “brain buster” tasks before they could complete them… nearly 90% of people went on to finish the task anyway, despite being told they could stop).
Suspense in stories really allows you to create addictive content, as long as the suspense appears early enough in the post to activate the Zeigarnik Effect.
2) Creating detailed imagery helps craft the setting YOU want.
Want to get people swept up in your stories?
Tell them what they are receiving swept up in to, and they will respond.
Could any of us relate to the heroic deeds in tales like those of the Lord of the Rings without Tolkien’s elegantly comprehensive imagery of the dangers of Mordor or the perils faced by Frodo and Sam?
The imagery paints the picture of any good story, we could say that [Spoilers if you haven't read/seen Lord of the Rings] “Frodo and Sam fight a massive spider,” but Tolkien spends an entire chapter on the ordeal, taking the time to help the reader picture, the fierce character of the enemy and the bravery of our heroes who persevere despite their many weaknesses (doubt, fear, dismay, etc.)
Implementing the “real” into a fantastic setting often helps create a better connection with the reader.
I don’t know the feeling of encounter a spider the size of a house, but I do know what terror feels like, and I also know how hard it can be to persevere in the face of immense doubt of your abilities.
These “all-too-real” elements of a fantastical story make it easier to relate to.
3.) Literary techniques (like metaphors or irony) are essential pieces of memorable stories
As with most high school kids in the United States, I was required to read a lot of the “staples” of high ch1ld literature.
By far my favorite work was Animal Farm, a story that serves as a great example of the power of the many literary techniques at your disposal.
In the beginning, the story in Animal Farm seems quirky at best: When the de-facto leader of the animals, Old Major, dies, two pigs called Snowball and Napoleon take over and see out his “vision”, which they interpret to be the driving out of Mr. Jones, the farm owner.
Snowball is eventually chased away by Napoleon, and Napoleon begins to enact new rules for the Animal Farm, which begin to become warped as Napoleon and the pigs become more like their previous masters, culminating with the memorable phrase revealing what the rules have truly become:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Needless to say, there is a lot at work under the surface of this story, as it is a metaphorical tale that relates the events of the rise of Stalin and the Soviet Union before the second World War II.
Suddenly, a book about pigs taking over a farm begins to serve as a cautionary tale on how political dogma can be turned into malleable propaganda.
There are many literary techniques and a countless amount of examples, I’m simply serving up this particular one to show you a singular instance of a writer using them to turn a seemingly simplistic story into a extraordinarily memorable and highly controversial work of art.
4.) Modeling works because change is easier with an example
If you want someone to change a conduct (or become more inclined to taking a desired action), then you can “model” it with a story.
The character in said story should go through the transformation that you would like the reader to go through.
The transportation effect is really evident here: people place themselves in the situation being told, reimagining themselves as the main character.
Oftentimes, they are made to see why the choices made were the right choices.
Strangely enough (or maybe it’s not so strange…), I often see web hosting providers showcase stories of customers past “cheap web-hosting nightmares” in which the customer describes a situation where they were freaking out from their site being down after receiving massive exposure, eventually “learning their lesson” and vowing to never again use anything but ______ [insert whoever is selling.
Positive stories are also used quite often, stories where individuals solve a huge menace in their life or get to where most people would like to be serve as transportation vehicles to recruiting new people to the cause.
If you run a fitness based business (as an example), highlighting a tale of triumph over the generalized disadvantages of being out-of-shape to accomplish what previously seemed like “impossible” fitness results is a great way to get people fired up up to become more interested in fitness.
6 ) Characteristics of Highly Influential Stories
Now, a post on Sparring Mind wouldn’t be complete without an additional study to compare things to (reliable information is the result of approving research).
I really enjoyed a recent investigation (and the actual research) discussed in a piece by Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence (great book, that’s my aff link).
Dooley discusses what a difficult time lawyers have in influenced the jury during a tough case and the comparison he makes to your typical “car salesman” is spot on:
One of the difficulties of persuasion tasks is convincing a jury in a courtroom.
Car salespeople have it easy by comparison – they control the environment and have the complete concentration of the customer.
Envisage, if you were in a Lexus showroom listening to why you should buy one of their vehicles, and at your elbow was a BMW salesperson, once in a while objecting to the Lexus pitch and then delivering her own.
That’s the condition of affairs in a courtroom–arguments presented by one side will be directly (and mercilessly) attacked by the other side.
- Story Telling (lisagobrien.com)
- Become a Storyteller: Be a Better Leader (800ceoread.com)
- Improving Your Storytelling Beyond the Basics for All Who Tell Stories in Work and Play (gracewolbrink.wordpress.com)
- The Storytelling Animal (mythginger.com)
- The Power Of Business Storytelling – Firing up the Imagination (billives.typepad.com)
- The World’s Foremost Authorities On Marketing: How to Use Storytelling Techniques to Advance a Marketing Campaign (johnheenan.typepad.com)
- Storytelling Cheat Sheet (erronis.nl)
- Storytelling – Part I (elakkiya.com)
- The Persuasive Power of Story (catherinekaputa.typepad.com)
- Guest Post: Writing vs. Storytelling – What’s the Difference? (addictivestory.wordpress.com)
- Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad (c4ss.org)
- Using Your Storytelling Powers for Good Session at EVO (mombloggersforsocialgood.com)
- Words Can Shred: One Storyteller To Another (ishmaelscorner.com)