Your brain on stories

Your brain on stories

As a writer and marketer (who happens to also be single), I tell stories all day (and listen to them at night).

And yet, most of the time no "neural coupling" (nor any other kind of coupling) occurs.

Why not?

In his 2016 Ted Talk, Princeton neuroscientist Uri Hasson explained it roughly this way: Coupling occurs when two people's brains are in sync.

Stories stick when the listener's and the teller's neurons mirror each other. A beautiful coherence takes place.

For many months, I've been exploring ways to tell better stories. I stood up at the Moth. And I've been practicing and performing at improv.

Most recently, I’m taking an online course, Storytelling for Influence, with IDEO.

The course, I thought, could help me serve my clients with sticky content. And it would give me ideas for refreshing the stories I tell the world about myself. 

Who am I? Why do I do what I do? And what makes me—as a writer, storyteller and consultant—different and better?

I'm learning why so many stories fall flat.

The key to effective storytelling, of course, is empathy. And any storyteller worth his or her salt cares about the receiver.

She wants to know her audience. She will identify what it needs and cares about. And she will take the time to choose a medium that suits the message.

Then she crafts the story. Gets the feedback. Revises. And reflects. 

That's a lot of steps! 

And they all take time. 

We live in a busy world. Shortcuts and distractions call. So we tell our stories on autopilot. Over and over again. And we focus mainly on ourselves.

Like the Greek nymph Echo, who loved the sound of her own voice, a storyteller who merely self promotes is destined to be ignored.

So how can we be heard?

IDEO gives these six tips for story impact:

  • Make it personal
  • Get emotional
  • Use anecdote and reflection
  • Make it visual
  • Include a call to action
  • Stay inspired

Easier said than done, my friends, but I'm giving it a go. In my work and in my personal life.

I'm going to choose every word carefully. Spend my storytelling (and story receiving) energy with full intent.

Let the coupling begin. 

Solving for joy

Solving for joy

Risky business

Risky business