Three Ways You Were Born to Tell Great Stories

Stories play a central role in how we make sense of our world.

You’ve been tasked with content creation for your organization, but have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, you’re excited to exercise your creativity. But on the other hand, you’re afraid that your creativity won’t be enough to satisfy your boss and your supporters.

Fortunately, you have the power of storytelling on your side, which has remained a constant in our ever-changing world of social media and big data. No matter how information is presented to us–now and into the future–our brain will continue to glue it all together with storytelling. In fact, YOU (like all humans) are hardwired for storytelling.

Cave Paintings

In Werner Herzog’s documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” viewers get exclusive access to the recently discovered Chauvet caves in the South of France. He shows you cave paintings of cave bears, rhinos, wolves, and other animals… painted over 32,000 years ago!

Stories Into Hearts and Minds

Today stories continue to play a central role in how we make sense of our world, and how we make decisions.

  • Stories Are More Compelling Than Facts. A fundraising study by Wharton School of Business found that people are more likely to concentrate donations on a single individual, even though more people would be helped if donations were dispersed to help future victims.
  • Stories Change Minds. Storytelling helps change hearts and minds around your cause. The Diary of Anne Frank did more to educate people about Auschwitz than any research on the topic. Melanie Green and Tim Brock of the UNC found that storytelling changes how we process information, and that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more the story changes you!
  • Stories Invite Participation. When you tell a story, you are essentially creating a framework for the listener or reader to insert their own details, playing an active role in the story itself.
  • For example, if I tell you about the day I finally passed my driving test at age 16, even after running a red light while the DMV agent cursed, you automatically create a picture in your mind. Without telling you any details, in your mind you’ve created the make and model of the car, the specific roads we drove on, and even the exact face of the DMV agent (which is most likely male in your version). Your supporters also insert their own details in your nonprofit stories.

How to Get Started With Effective Storytelling

Here are a few good places to start your journey to becoming a better storyteller:

Remember that in one way, storytelling is a process of turning the facts and figures into content that speaks emotionally. But in another way, good storytelling starts with your feelings.