Our brains are hardwired to absorb stories. We assimilate information in the context of who, what and why, and begin to form an emotional attachment to the outcome. So why are so many of us stuck on presenting facts and figures to advance our businesses instead of crafting a memorable selling story?
Our brains are hardwired to absorb stories.
Creating an effective selling story is essential to your sales strategy in today’s market. Best selling author Donald Miller tells us that customers are looking for brands that can help them thrive and survive, but the message must be conveyed clearly and simply. The easiest way to do this is to communicate facts through stories. Great stories not only entertain; they effortlessly teach us what the storyteller wants us to learn. In addition, they help the information stay in our brains. So, what information do you want to stay with your prospects?
In 1969, two Stanford professors wished to compare the memorability of random words on a list versus words embedded in stories. The professors conducted a series of tests asking students to memorize and recall 10 sets of unrelated words. Next, they asked a group of students to create a story using the same 10 words. The students who crafted stories containing the words were able to remember 6 to 7 times as many words compared to the random set.
As molecular biologist John Medina explains in his book “Brain Rules”, something amazing happens in the brain when it detects an emotionally charged event. It signals the Amygdala to release dopamine which not only aids in memory but flags the memory as important.
Engaging a prospect emotionally with a meaningful selling story does the same thing. When reading listed data, only 2 parts of the human brain are active: the Broca’s area, which is responsible for language processing, and Wernicke's area, which is responsible for language comprehension. Stories engage more parts of the brain than just facts and information do. Your brain changes when you are told a story.
Stories stick in your brain.
Here are 4 Ways to Make your Selling Story more Effective:
- Concentrate on the characters - Researchers in the UK found that the brains of those engaged in character-centric stories release oxytocin, a chemical that is connected to feelings of love and empathy.
- Stick to your purpose. If you are a great storyteller with a vivid imagination, you may need to remind yourself to stick to your story. Don’t get so involved in the drama that you lose sight of your goal. Storytelling is a powerful tool to make your brand stand out. But, while you endeavor to make it interesting enough so that the reader can’t put it down, remember the purpose you are trying to serve. Think about what your goal is first. Then, use it as a compass if you get lost in the writing.
- Remember who your audience is. One sure way to terminate an emotional connection with a reader is by using improper communication. All language and jokes should be appropriate for each unique audience. You may tell the same story in a completely different way when you consider the age of the audience, where they come from, or what they do. The audience’s desires should always be more important than suiting your personal preference. Forgetting this could cause you to undo an otherwise winning presentation. Customize the content to the audience to ensure that they can actually hear the message.
- Be Concise. Considering you have less than 20 seconds to hook your reader enough to continue with your story, make it as short and concise as possible. A good writer can convey meaning and emotion with few words.
Remember to Go Backwards
Business storytelling is not like fictional storytelling. In a business article, it is important to let your audience in on where the story is going. Try going backwards with the story. Giving the ending first takes some of the guesswork out of the story and helps the business reader determine if they’d like to continue. After you’ve given most of the ending away, let the reader know how you got there.
Practice makes perfect! Write your story and send it to a friend who will give you honest feedback. Is it too long or short? Which parts affected them emotionally? Does anything go too far?
Having trouble getting someone to agree with your facts? Explore engaging them emotionally by “transporting” them into a story. Once transported into a story, your audience is more likely to believe the data presented within.
Once transported into a story, you evolve into an active participant.
Storytelling takes your product into a different dimension. Remember Microsoft’s controversial study that rendered the 8 second attention span rule? Stories get around it. Studies show that once you have been transported into a story, attention span is no longer a factor. The readers have become an active participant in the story.
So, take your prospects for a wild ride by sharing your honest story. Why did you start your business? How did it affect you, personally? What did you do to solve the problem? How are you doing now, after implementing the solution?
As always, if you need help crafting your selling story, call SurveyMe!