Stories have been entertaining, informing, educating and inspiring us for generations. And a good story, well told, can be the most powerful tool you have in business.
Stories form the fabric of our lives. We’ve been sharing stories with each other since before we had written language, and today, they make up 65% of our conversations. We connect with each other through the power of story. Great stories, well told, have helped millions of children learn. They’ve sparked massive cultural revolutions. They’ve driven millions of people to spend entire weekends in front of the television.
Today, a great story is more powerful than ever, because great stories have the power to hit us in the emotional part of our brain and stop us in our tracks. We may be overwhelmed, overstimulated, device-addicted and unfocused, but we still crave emotional connection. Our research finds that 90% of Americans believe we need to spend less time on our phones and more time interacting with the people around us.
Great stories shape company culture. They make people feel emotionally connected to brands. They drive purchase decisions, large and small, in the consumer world and in business. And they stick. Research shows that we remember information when it is presented in a narrative up to 22 times more than facts alone.
But what place does storytelling have in business? Simply put, it’s critical. Researchers have found that emotions drive all kinds of decisions, even those previously considered rational, like business decisions. And the best way to short-circuit emotion? Tell a story that connects.
With all the focus on data science and analytics, it can be easy to forget that while data supports decisions, stories mobilize people. It’s possible to make more decisions and create more value with data, but truly motivating people to act – inside and outside your business – requires that you frame the data within a meaningful narrative.
How to win in this new world:
- Understand the emotions that underlie behavior. If you want to create experiences that connect with consumers and employees, analyzing how they behave will only tell you half the story. Once you understand the beliefs and emotions that underlie those behaviors, everything changes. You’ll be able to develop strategies and content that connect emotionally and elevate their experience.
- Make it real for people. If you want to influence your business stakeholders, don’t stop at the data. Bring it to life by telling the stories of the real consumers and employees the data represent. This creates an emotional connection, and can influence decision-making significantly.